Visit Winchester by Mouse
Winchester (Web site), in Hampshire on the river Itchen, is 68 miles southwest of London and 13 miles northeast of Southampton. This
historic city--It still has a remnant of the Roman wall that once encircled it-- is where King Alfred, a British hero, was educated
before joining with his father King Ethelred, to defeat Viking invaders in 871 AD. Ethelred perished in the battle and Alfred became
King. A regal statue of Alfred stands on a pedestal on the main street.
Winchester has two castles, Wolvesey, which dates from
1110, now a ruin, which we investigated, and the 12th century Winchester, which we did not get to see. Wolvesey was the Norman
bishop's residence. Queen Mary Tudor and her husband had their wedding breakfast there. Winchester castle has a celebrated
great room in which hangs a table purporting to be King Arthur' Round Table but it dates from the 12th century, after Arthur's supposed
time. Winchester College is very old, dating from 1382 and still teaching.
Winchester Cathedral (web site), is something of a miracle in itself. This cathedral is one of the largest in England, with the longest
nave. It was built beginning in 1079 on a bog, on top of a raft of criss-crossed logs. So of course it could not last long--only about
800 or 900 years--before it started to fall apart. In the early 1900's, a massive effort was launched to save the cathedral by reinforcing
its foundation. Ultimately this job fell on the strong, intrepid shoulders of one William Walker, who worked six hours a day for six
years in total darkness as a diver in a diving suit in the water under the cathedral , placing 25,000 bags of concrete, 115,000 concrete
blocks and 900,000 bricks to serve as a new underpinning. That did indeed save it. A statue of Mr Walker stands deservedly in the
We did not know all this when we were there. We had decided not to pay the entrance fee of five Pounds each,
or almost $20 for the two of us. We did walk around. By the time we got to it we had been walking for most of the day
and were pretty tired. Nevertheless, now that we know all this we should have made the effort.
The 19th century novelist, Jane Austen, fell ill and died in a house near Winchester Cathedral and she was buried in the cathedral.
Winchester and the Cathedral are the setting of several of Anthony Trollope's novels, for example, the six in the Barcetshire series,
including "The Warden" and "The Barchester Towers", which was the basis of the BBC mini series, titled The Barchester Chronicles,
which we enjoyed. Another reason why we should have entered the cathedral.
A walk down the high street, the main shopping street is very pleasant. You pass the huge, imposing Guildhall, built in 1871 and the
Mayor's home. In the stream that runs in front of it we spotted swimming trout. The town also has a very pleasant river walk alongside
the Itchen. And we can recommend the City Museum for the variety and quality of the exhibits that include archeological finds from
the area, and two reconstructed shops from ones that were on the high street during an earlier period in the town's history, a tobacconist
and a chemist shop. There are other interesting sounding museums (that we did not visit) listed on the City's web site on the link