Winchester began as Venta Belgarium under Roman rule but later developed as the Saxon Capital of Wessex under Alfred the Great. A visit to this ancient and historically important city will be greatly enhanced by a Blue Badge Guide who will ensure that you gain insight into the city and its people past and present.
By 1079 the building of the present Cathedral had begun. On the north side of the Cathedral the site of the two earlier building; the Old and New Minsters, can still be seen. The present building has architecture spanning the years from 1079 to 1360.
There has been an ecclesial See at Winchester from 678 AD. Later the famous St Swithun became Bishop of the Diocese, his death in 852 AD and the subsequent removal of his body led to the legend of St Swithun’s Day and the threat of rain for 40 days and nights.
Evidence of the continued importance of Winchester after the Norman invasion can be seen in the medieval Great Hall with its Round Table. The Great Hall is what remains of the royal castle built in early 13th C and finally demolished in 1651. The Round Table is said to be of the mythical Arthur and his Knights, but some will tell you differently.
Bishop William of Wykeham founded a school in 1382 to train boys for the church. It continues in the same location today. Near by is the house where Jane Austen lived for the last few weeks of her life, this and her grave in the Cathedral, have become places of pilgrimage for those who admire the woman and her work as a writer.
If time allows, your guide will lead you over water meadows to the Hospital of St Cross where you will be rewarded not only by the beautiful 12th C church and medieval and Tudor alms houses of St Cross but also perhaps “The Wayfarer’s Dole” bread and beer for the traveller.