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.........
....is 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.