Friday, 20 April 2012

Winchester - Down the High Street on a Mild March Day

On a bright March day, we drove up through the chalk downland of Northern Hampshire, to spend a day in Winchester. We parked at the top of the hill and walked down the old, familiar High Street into the city.

Winchester is the county town of Hampshire and has been an important settlement since the Iron Age. The Romans built their market town here, named Venta Belgarum, on the banks of the River Itchen. Saxon settlers named the town Winton, and they built the first fine church on the site of the present cathedral. Winchester has been the capital of England and the capital of Wessex, so the city has a long and distinguished history. A walk along the present day High Street shows so many glimpses of life in past centuries, yet the oldest of buildings are often standing alongside the most modern.

We set off downhill, with the medieval city gate behind us.

The bronze sculpture of Horse and Rider, by Elizabeth Frink, stands on the hill overlooking the city. A symbol of the travellers and invaders who have ridden these southern hills over thousands of years and found , in a sheltered valley, a place to settle and to thrive.

Georgian shop fronts..........

.....some still displaying the visual shop signs of past years. Here, a quill pen and fountain pen signify the stationer`s shop beneath.

Down towards the bustling market square, where buildings of so many centuries stand together.

The town clock

Old and new.....

Down the side of the medieval Godbegot building in the market square......... a narrow alleyway. In one of these buildings is the oldest public bar in England.

Looking back towards the city gate.

The medieval Buttercross has been a meeting place for townspeople for centuries. A wealthy landowner once tried to buy and remove the Buttercross as an ornament for his landscaped park. The people of Winchester threatened to riot and the Buttercross stayed where it was!
It is still the focal point for people to gather.

An accordian player serenaded congregating students on the Buttercross steps as the High Street grew busier and people came out to walk among shops and market stalls.

Boots the Chemist has occupied these fine old buildings for many years.

More bow fronted buildings....

.......Spring flowers on a market stall..........

The Guildhall on the right and a first sight of King Alfred.

This Georgian coaching inn is now renamed "Alf`s", in honour of the Saxon King........

.......who stands overlooking his fine city as twenty first century motor traffic passes by.
Winchester is one of the few English cities where you can stand in the middle of town and see green hills and trees around you. If I ever had to live in a city again, this would be the one.


Mum said...

Thank you for the tour. What an interesting city.
Love from Mum

Down by the sea said...

What a lovely post I haven't been to Winchester for many years. I enjoyed your walk highlighting interesting features. I must go on a visit there too! Thank you

Rowan said...

I love Winchester, it's my favourite English city, so full of wonderful old buildings and history. I love Queen Eleanor's garden - have you been in there? Probably better seen in late May/June though.

Kath said...

great photos, what a lovely town. I particularly liked the horse and rider statue.

Bovey Belle said...

Many many years since I was last there too, but I agree, it's a lovely city. My mum and gran used to go to the cinema there every Wednesday, back in the 1930s and 40s.

Anna at the Doll House said...

Britain is so good at taking care of its heritage. I love all the quirkiness, particularly the "Good Bargains". Thank you for sharing your visit.

WOL said...

Yet another British town I'd love to be let loose in. I delight in your pictures of it! The town of 200,000+ inhabitants I live in was founded in 1890. Before then, there was literally nothing here but bald prairie and buffalo chips. It's hard for me to get my head around the layers and layers of history you walk through and live with all around you as just another aspect of your daily life. Buildings from the 11th century, kings from the 9th century. Romans, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes. The mind boggles. We've got cowboys, clod-busters, Comanches, and Clovis man, and that's about it. Oh, and some cavalry. Briefly.

Ragged Robin said...

Thanks so much for the lovely tour of Winchester - I found it really interesting. It looks well worth a visit.

angryparsnip said...

Oh my goodness, my tourist radar is on super alert.
I would love to be right there walking down the streets !
What a beautiful town. I would live there too.
Thanks for the walking tour.

cheers, parsnip

BilboWaggins said...

Since moving to the Lake District I miss very little about "down south" but I do have the occasional pang of longing for Winchester. We were only 15 minutes away and it was my regular shopping town if I needed bigger stores than our village could provide. Thank you for the tour, it is a wonderful place.

Have you ever visited the Hospital of St Cross? Highly recommended, particularly if you like medieval buildings.

Aunt Jane's Attic said...

What a lovely guided tour of Winchester, I felt I was actually there. I was small when I last visited there. Julie xxx