A visit to this fine Great Hall at Winchester Castle creates the atmosphere of the grandeur of the age of Winchester in its heyday. This was the hall where the great and mighty met, where decisions were made that affected the history of the country.
The only part of Winchester Castle that now exists is the Great Hall. Cromwell demolished the rest during the Civil War. The castle was built in about 1067 and joined the other Norman building projects of the time in the city. The Hall is Early English Gothic and was the first of its kind to be built light, bright and furnished with comfort in mind. Cutting edge technology then!
Henry III, added the Great Hall the following century. He was born in the castle and was generally called Henry of Winchester (Not to be confused with Henry Blois, the one who built St Cross, a century earlier who was also called Henry of Winchester. That Henry was Bishop of Winchester from 1129 until he died.)
Today the Great Hall is a museum and an interesting one. An imitation of Arthur's Round Table hangs in the hall and has done since the 1200's. There was a period when it was housed and hung on the wall in the Westgate Museum. Henry VIII had the table repainted and the names of King Arthur's knights painted on the edge. King Arthur is said to resemble Henry VIII. (Irreverently the table looks a bit like a dartboard with King Arthur as double top!)
The Castle is still an important and imposing place. For years it housed the Hampshire County Council, now moved to more modern premises.
At times the Great Hall is closed for important civic functions. Certainly makes a fine impressive venue.
Outside visit the excavations of the castle. A lot of work has been done to uncover the original foundations. One can see how much was known about construction of large and heavy buildings from the foundations that are there. To construct them must have taken a lot of men a lot of time. No modern machinery! Architecturally these Norman castles are fine buildings created with exceptional skill.
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Daily 10 am to 5pm with the exception of Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
However The Castle is still an important place and civic functions take place at times. Check the above link for days when the Great Hall is closed.
Up to date admission prices can be found in the Visit Us section.
There is a gift shop but it is in a separate building, quite easy to find. Lots of Winchester Castle gifts.
There is also a handy online shop too