Friday, 22 August 2014

Travel: My favourite place in the UK - Winchester

My favourite place in the UK, without a doubt is Winchester. I moved down to Winchester for university in 2009 and came back home in 2012. University wasn't the best three years of my life, but living in Winchester certainly was.

For those of you that don't know, Winchester is just 13 miles away from Southampton and is the county town of Hampshire. It was also the capital of England back in 1519, so as you can imagine there's a lot of history behind this little city. It's the best place I could have studied Archaeology, there's a lot that can be learned just by walking down the High Street.

The most famous landmark in Winchester is of course the cathedral. Winchester's cathedral boasts the longest gothic nave in the UK and you have to admit that it's beautiful. Although you can't see in my photo up there, that stained glass window is actually a mosaic. During the Civil War, the North window was destroyed and the pieces were kept and were later on put back in a random fashion to create this mosaic.

The King Alfred statue is also a famous landmark. He stands at the bottom of the High Street and it's almost like he's guarding the city.

The River Itchen runs through the city and if you follow it from the bottom of the High Street, you'll come across some amazing countryside and it makes for a great walk. I managed to spot a deer one day, just a few minutes away from the city centre. In the photo above you can see part of the river and what remains of the city walls. There's little bits of history everywhere which is fantastic if you're a history geek like I am. If you follow the river from where that photo was taken, you come across my favourite pub in Winchester, The Black Boy. This is the most quirky and unusual pub that I have ever been in; everywhere you turn there's taxidermy animals and creatures in jars. It's such a fantastic place with a brilliant atmosphere, I definitely recommend you pop in for a drink if you're around.

Here's a couple of photos that I took in The Black Boy three years ago, including a cringey photo of me with my arm around a taxidermy baboon in a kilt. Oh, and there's also a donkey and a load of fire buckets..?

I love how all of the buildings in the city centre are different, no two are the same and each one has it's own history. There's a brilliant book that I've been meaning to get called Winchester, Look Up which tells the story behind each building. When you walk down the High Street you don't tend to look up above the shops and you don't appreciate the buildings for how interesting and beautiful they are.

Just outside the city centre is the Hospital of St Cross which is a medieval almshouse and is the most stunning building. It's actually the oldest charitable institution in the whole of the UK. The church is beautiful too, I was there last weekend to see my friend get married there. It was the most perfect location for a wedding. 

The Westgate is one of two of the four gates that are still left standing around the city centre. It dates back to Anglo-Saxon times although it has been rebuilt since then. What many people don't know is that there is actually a museum on the inside of this and you can go to the top, a lot like the Arc de Triomphe.

The photo above was taken from the top of the Westgate around four years ago. You can see the top of the High Street and also St Giles Hill in the background which is where I was when I took the first photo at the top of this post.

If history isn't your thing, then don't worry! There's plenty of other places to go and things to see while you're in Winchester.

If you're looking for a nice cafe, I'd suggest Ginger Two For Tea. If you want a nice burger, then try Buddy's Diner. If you want a nice old fashioned pub, then The Royal Oak is the one for you! It's the oldest pub in Britain so it's definitely worth a try and they do delicious food too.

Winchester has all of the usual shops, such as Debenhams, M&S, Primark, Cath Kidston, River Island, New Look etc. but there are also many independent shops that are definitely worth a visit. My favourite independent shop is The Hambledon.

If you're looking for somewhere to stay, try Magdalen House - I couldn't recommend it enough and the view from the rooms is fab.

 This is my entry into the UKBreakaways competition. If you would like to enter too, you can find all of the information that you need here


  1. It looks like such a lovely place! I've never gone that far down south before aha! xo

  2. There is some wonderful places in England, great post.
    The Beautifully Disastrous

  3. I have never been to Winchester before but it looks lovely


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