Wednesday, 23 March 2016

We Went To Winchester!

We decided to go out on Tuesday and explore Winchester. It was really good fun. Leaving home early, we got to the Park and Ride soon after 9, and went into town on the bus. Round the corner from the bus stop was Green's Wine Bar and Kitchen. A chap outside saw us looking at the menu and said "Best breakfast in Winchester in there, mate!" So we went in and sampled it. It was excellent - good food, well cooked, and great, friendly service.

Then we wandered round the centre - I was intrigued by "God Begot House" - but it seems that God Begot may mean Good Bargain, or possibly Getter of Goods, and there is no spiritual significance in the name at all. This part of town was, a thousand years ago,the property of Emma, wife of Ethelred the Unready. Parts of the house date back to 1050!

We looked at other old buildings- Winchester is full of them.
In the picture below, reading clockwise from top right- The Cathedral, The City Mill, The Guildhall, The Round Table, and The Great Hall.

We decided to forego the Cathedral - it costs £7.50 per person [twenty five years ago, I went round for nothing with Liz and Steph] "But what if I want to go in and pray?" I said to Bob - he said the sign said you could go in on a Sunday if you made a donation. 
The City Mill is a National Trust property, and very interesting- clearly geared up for school visits. It was great fun trying out different ways to grind corn- and to watch the mill race, and the millwheels turning. Henry VIII seized an earlier mill on the site, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries- and his daughter Mary Tudor gave it back to the city in recompense of the cost of her lavish wedding in the nearby Cathedral [she married Philip of Spain in 1554]  The Guildhall is a fabulous piece of architecture- many of the rooms now available for hire- and  "Eighteen71" is a lovely little eatery at one end.[good Jacket Potatoes]
The Great Hall is part of the Castle, and inside hangs King Arthur's Round Table. It has been there since 1463 - but it is very unlikely it is the real thing! It's free to enter. The Hall is decorated with names of Victorian Hampshire MPs at one end - and there are many stained glass windows, bearing the coat-of-arms of various members of the nobility. I was fascinated to see that only one commoner is commemorated - Elias of Dereham [I first heard about him last year in Salisbury
Winchester is full links with a variety of interesting people - Jane Austen is buried inside the Cathedral, and round the city there are pieces by modern sculptors like Antony Gormley [he of the Peckham Bollards] whose 'Man II' stands in the crypt, David Kemp [Hampshire Hog]and Elizabeth Frink [horse and rider], as well as a much older memorial of King Alfred the Great.
I really need to find out more about King Alfred - I have always felt an affinity with someone who was so busy thinking that he did not notice the cakes burning. 
Winchester is fun if you like history [as I do] - but a bit upmarket shop-wise. Not many God Begot-Good Bargains to be had there this week. 


  1. Thanks for this Angela. I left Winchester in 1976 - at that time the statue of King Alfred was at one end of the main street and was on top of a very tall piece of stone. I was a frequent visitor to the cathedral because it was free to enter and even at the tender age of 10 I loved architecture (I left there 3 weeks after my 11th birthday). It was wonderful to see all the old places again. We have plans to visit as part of a road trip which we'll hopefully undertake next year.

  2. Yes, the statue is still at the end of the main street, just past the bus station! Do use the park and ride wen you come, it is incredibly efficient and good value.

  3. I really do not agree with charging to enter a Cathedral - ask for donations yes, but it's God's house, and should be free for all to enter.

    We went to Winchester Cathedral for a friends ordination a few years ago - I couldn't resist singing a certain ditty...

    1. That's just typical of you! Perhaps regular worshippers are issued with a "Pray and Display" badge!

  4. Groooan-pray and display??? I have only been there once for a Gamelan gig so I didnt get a chance to explore. I hope you had fun!

  5. Thank you for the tour! I enjoy reading about the different places you visit.

  6. I wsas at college in Winchester for 4 years and loved it. Then you could get away with saying "I've just come to pray!" and they'd let you in. I used to love the early morning Eucharists. There was an old library around the corner in the cathedral close that we RS students were allowed to use - I really enjoyed working in the dusty silence of that old place. But yes, The Square was always out of our price range!! If you go again, the Wykeham Arms is a lovely old pub worth seeking out - though it too has gone a bit more upmarket than it was in my day!

  7. This is a fabulous area in which you live. I am so glad that you regale us with your travelogs! Especially when I read them on wet, windy spring days here in the Frozen North!


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