Living in Winchester
What is life like in Winchester
Winchester is a beautiful and historic city located in central Hampshire, famous for its popular cathedral and fascinating past.
It is the birthplace of modern cricket and the resting place of Jane Austen, underlining its cultural credentials. As with many parts of Hampshire, Winchester is renowned for its gastronomic delights, as well its street theatre and fine architecture.
The largest farmers' market in England takes place in Winchester on a regular basis, providing local people with a chance to purchase delicious local produce. There are also many real ale pubs and cosy tea rooms to enjoy.
Another factor in its favour is its location, as the city lies just a few miles north of Southampton, while it is also close to Portsmouth and Bournemouth. This allows those people who work in those cities to maintain their jobs while living in the beautiful surroundings of Winchester.
The first settlers arrived in Winchester in around 150 BC, opting to build a hill fort on St Catherine's Hill. The Romans later created the town of Venta Belgarum, which gained the status of regional capital until 410 AD.
King Alfred the Great chose Winchester as the capital of England and the city remained a royal residence for many centuries. The present cathedral, the most famous landmark in the city, was built from 1079 and boasts wonderful architecture spanning more than 500 years.
In Georgian times, Winchester began to prosper as more professions were carried out in the city and small shops started to open. The arrival of the railway in 1840 was another significant step, helpingto bring tourists and visitors to the area and further boosting trade.
Several famous people have come from Winchester over the years, such as glamour model Lucy Pinder who was born there in 1983. The late A Knight's Tale actor Christopher Cazenove is another who hailed from the town.
Entertainment, sport and days out
At the very heart of the city is the Winchester Discovery Centre, which hosts a programme of exhibitions and events, as well as live performances and entertainment shows. It is not uncommon for authors to talk about their work or for comedy and theatre productions to take place.
The Theatre Royal Winchester is another great venue and offers a similar range of live performances and shows. Alternatively, people might wish to head to the 12th-century St Peter's Church, where the Chesil Theatre Company puts on various stage productions.
Other places of interest in and around Winchester include Jane Austen's House Museum, the city's famous cathedral, the City Museum, Abbey House and Gardens and the Great Hall and King Arthur's Round Table.
Those seeking a relaxing day out should look towards the New Forest National Park, which is just a short distance from Winchester and boasts some of the most stunning landscapes in southern England. It is famous for its flat terrain, making it ideal for walking and cycling as well as other outdoor activities.
Beaulieu is the country's most high-profile motor museum and is also well worth a visit, while Wolvesey Castle is another place all locals should make the effort to visit.River Park Leisure Centre is the primary sports venue in the city and offers a swimming pool, a fully-equipped gym, workout classes and tennis sessions.
Eating, drinking & shopping
Winchester is a wonderful place for couples, families and friends to gather for a bite to eat or a drink or two. There is a plethora of high-quality and charming venues around the city, such as the Black Rat, which boasts a prestigious Michelin Star.
Brasserie Blanc, No.5 Bridge Street, Tanoshii Fusion and Kyoto Kitchen are among the other establishments that foodies in Winchester must make sure they visit.
The city is also home to a huge number of pubs, many of which boast traditional features, real ale and other homely comforts. Some of the very best anywhere in Winchester include the Black Boy, the Corner House, the Wykeham Arms and the Green Man.
Shoppers will find a wide range of retail zones and stores in Winchester, with everything from popular high street chains to independent boutiques operating in the city. Whether people are looking for a chic treasure trove or a big-name store, they will find it simply by taking a stroll through the city centre.
Schools & healthcare
The schools in and around Winchester are generally of a very high standard, with many scoring highly in Ofsted's ratings. Among the primary institutions in the city, St Faith's C of E and St Peter's Catholic are deemed to be 'outstanding' by the regulatory body.
Of the secondary schools available, Westgate scored well with Ofsted, Henry Beaufort is 'outstanding' and Kings' even managed an 'exceptional' ranking. Another option is Winchester College, which is one of the most prestigious colleges in the country.
Winchester is home to several medical facilities that can help people with any type of injury or illness. The Royal Hampshire County Hospital is located in the town, as is the Sarum Road BMI Hospital. Other nearby options include the Friarsgate Surgery and Nuffield Health Wessex Hospital in Chandlers Ford.
Winchester enjoys a perfect location for those who need to travel around the region and beyond. By road, it is just 13 miles to Southampton and approximately 65 to central London, making both destinations reasonably easy to reach.
People in Winchester are also just a few miles from Southampton International Airport, providing a direct link between central Hampshire and the continent.