Winchester repeatedly tops surveys of the best places to live in Britain. With its compact town centre made up of historic old buildings and great shops surrounded by miles of rolling Hampshire countryside, it’s not hard to see why.
Winchester Farmers’ Market
Chef Rick Stein considers Winchester’s farmers’ market to be one of
the finest in the country. One thing’s for sure, the crowds get here
early to load up on home-made preserves, artisan breads, hand-made
cheeses and succulent sausages, all made with love and care by
passionate food producers from across Hampshire.
Visit the Hampshire Farmers’ Market website for upcoming dates.
Hampshire Food Festival
A month-long celebration of local food and farming, with an exciting schedule of events covering pubs, cookery schools, farms, restaurants and town-centre attractions. The Old Vine serves ‘gastropub classics with a local twist’ throughout, using the best local produce.
Mid-Hants Railway – The Watercress Line
A popular local attraction, this heritage railway operated by passionate volunteers relives the excitement and nostalgia of the steam age, and covers miles of stunning Hampshire countryside between Alresford and Alton. For details visit www.watercressline.co.uk
Winchester town centre has plenty to keep dedicated browsers busy: from big high-street names and upmarket boutiques to one-off, independent stores and cutting-edge art galleries. Some of Winchester’s most unusual shops can be found in the streets around the Old Vine, and also a short walk away in Parchment Street.
Winchester has become a bit of a foodie hot-spot of late. Following
hot on the heels of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s paen to local and
seasonal eating – River Cottage Canteen – is Rick Stein’s eponymous fish restaurant, the first to open outside of Cornwall.
You’ll also find all the usual chains – Ask, Cote and Brasserie Blanc – as well as a wealth of fabulous local independent restaurants, from the cosy Corner House to the Michelin-starred Black Rat and us of course!
The most iconic landmark in Winchester, our cathedral has its origins
in the 7th century, when a Christian church was first built on this
site. Since then it has played a fundamental part in the daily life of
this ancient city, and an important role in the history of our nation:
it is the burial site of kings, bishops, saints – and novelist Jane
More recently it has appeared in the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, and also houses a work by the contemporary sculptor Antony Gormley. The Inner Cathedral Close also houses the famous Pilgrims’ School, surrounded by delightful gardens which contain sculpture by Dame Barbara Hepworth.
South Downs Way
England’s newest national park, the South Downs, stretches eastwards
from Winchester’s St Catherine’s Hill, where an energetic climb is
rewarded with a magnificent view of the city.
Walkers, cyclists and horse riders can explore 160km of lovely countryside along the South Downs Way, which stretches from Winchester cathedral to the white chalk cliffs of Beachy Head near Eastbourne in East Sussex.
Reserves at Old Winchester Hill and Beacon Hill are home to wild flowers and rare butterflies, and offer a tranquil haven for nature-lovers. For more information see www.southdowns.gov.uk
This 13th-century building contains perhaps the greatest symbol of medieval mythology: King Arthur’s Round Table.
Jane Austen’s House
Close to Winchester College is the house where novelist Jane Austen came to convalesce until she died in 1817. She is buried in Winchester Cathedral. The house where she lived for most of her life, and where she completed some of her most famous novels, including Pride and Prejudice, is at Chawton near Alton. Now housing a Jane Austen museum, the house is 20 minutes drive from Winchester.
The Winchester Christmas market and accompanying ice-rink (look out for our chalet selling mulled wine and mince pies!), July’s Hat Fair street festival and the year-round schedule of concerts in the Cathedral. Contact Winchester tourist information office for details: +44 (0)1962 840 500 or follow this link to their website.