Exploring Winchester High Street is a delight, a visitor's dream. To the locals it is their city and they are proud of it with good reason.
Within all this history is the modern Winchester High Street. Up to date as can be, bustling, interesting, sometimes unique, shops selling both upmarket and ordinary goods, jewellers, fashion, antiques, chemists, cafes etc. Upper High Street is pedestrianised.
From the bridge over the River Itchen, through Broadway and King Alfred's Statue to the Castle at the other end. An ancient street with centuries of footsteps by the ordinary and the mighty from the Romans to the present.
At the eastern end the street is wide with King Alfred and a car park in the middle.
Walk further eastwards from King Alfred to the Bridge over the River Itchen, the City Mill is to one side and a pretty footpath alongside the river to Wolvesey Castle and Palace is on the other. In Chesil Street you will find the Chesil Rectory, nowadays a fine restuarant, but dates from 1459
No 1 High Street belongs to the Bishop on the Bridge pub. Good place for a pint or a lunch on the side of the river. Stunning views they say from the beer garden and the terrace and they are right!!
Coming back past the King again and looking towards the castle there is a delightful park, Abbey Gardens, to the left, lovely spot just to sit and relax. (Bring your lunch!) Alongside in the High Street is the stop for the National Express coaches and some buses. The bus station itself is on the other side of the street.
Abbey House is alongside Abbey Park. When it was built in 1750 it faced the other way into the gardens. Only stayed that way a few years for in 1771 the current front was built. Originally it was part of St Mary's Abbey but is now the residence of the Mayor of Winchester. Useful place as he does not have far to go to work, the Council Buildings are quite close behind the Old Guildhall!
A little further along and on the same side as the park is the old Guildhall, built in Victorian times but Old Gothic Revival in style, now a modern venue combining the old with the new. This is also on part of the site of the Abbey which was originally founded as a Nunnery, Nunnaminster (the earlier name for St Mary's Abbey) by Ealswith, widow of King Alfred the Great.
Upper High Street is pedestrianised giving ambience, legend of times past and scenic beauty to this streetscape that in places has not changed from the thirteen and fourteen hundreds. Look up and around as you wander. People looked out from those windows above centuries ago. Thousands of lives and loves inhabited those buildings. Who built them? Marvel at the skill of the builders.
The Butter Cross stands here more or less at the entrance to The Square. Dates from the 1400's and restored in 1865. At one time it was the place where goods were sold as in many towns. Useful spot in those days as lots of folk lived around here in those old buildings around and about the cross and The Square. Would have been bustling!
Look at those beautiful old timbers supporting the buildings by the Cross - how old are they - a thousand years - may be more?
The Westgate dominates the end of the High Street. In modern memory all vehicles went through that arch!!! The Westgate Museum has been in the building for many years.
Beside the Westgate is the Castle Great Hall well worth a visit. Have a peek at the excavations.
The iconic site of Winchester, its wonderful Cathedral. Wander in and around the lovely old architecture. To find out a little of the history of the Cathedral before you go you might like to click here.
The small area behind King Alfred's statue where you will find The City Mill, Chesil Rectory, the bridge over the River Itchen and the path down to Wolvesey Castle.
Amble down the river footpath that can be found at the side of the B3404 opposite The City Mill. The Castle is a delightful ruin that Cromwell knocked about a bit. Was the residence of the Bishops of Winchester for hundreds of years and saw the history of England made.
Can be found near King Alfred's statue. A delightful place to visit, a working flour mill alongside the chuckling River Itchen.
Can be found off the High Street near the Butter Cross. Leads through to the Cathedral.
The only part of Winchester Castle that now exists. It is an interesting museum as well as an example of fine architecture, was the 'edge' when it was built! Replica of Arthur's Round Table is housed in the Hall.
The old gate at the top of the High Street. Inside the Westgate there is the Westgate Museum. Go up on top, there is a fine view of the city.
A serene place in the water meadows. Can be found by travelling down Southgate St that becomes St Cross Road.
This lovely old gate with St Swithun's Church above. Winchester College and Jane Austen's House are also here. A hidden shopping area.
Hyde Abbey and St Bartholomew's Church in King Alfred Place. There is only the gatehouse left of the Abbey. King Alfred is buried at the east end of St Bartholomew's.
Winnall Moors Nature Reserve. close to Hyde Abbey and North Walls. Peaceful.
There is little left of they Abbey that once looked out on to Abbey Park, that pretty little park on the Broadway. Just what is now the Mayor's residence and some exposed foundations in Abbey Passage. Once called Nunnaminster it was built by King Alfred's wife.
With Winchester once being the capital of the country it is not surprising that there was a mint near the Royal Palace. Nothing exists of it now, but at one time it was very important.
aka The Book of Winchester. When the Domesday Book was originally written it was housed in the Royal Treasury in Winchester. It did not have a name to start with and was called by where it was kept, although it travelled round with the Royal Court from time to time for easy access. It was the population that nicknamed it The Domesday Book!
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There is plenty of accommodation in Winchester itself.
If you fancy a cottage in the villages around there are certainly plenty of those.
Taxis and Hire Cars are available in the city.
If you do decide the leave the car at home and help the environment too, why not go National Express They run coaches all over the country. Some pretty good fares too.
Just imagine - sit back and relax, no hassling with the traffic!!!
Do you know that you can book on your mobile phone and they will send the ticket as a text!!!!
Virgin Trains is an excellent main line railway.