A Walk Around Winchester’s Medieval City

Walking around Winchester is difficult without seeing ancient buildings, castle ruins, a river that was narrowed by Romans, and iconic Water Meadows.

Winchester Cathedral was commissioned by William the Conqueror and its history dates back a thousand years. The Cathedral is fully intact, and visitors are overwhelmed by its beauty and tranquility.

The award-winning Kings and Scribes Exhibition includes the 900-year-old Winchester Bible. Written in Vulgate Latin (Old Latin) by one scribe; took him five years. It was commissioned by the Bishop of Winchester, at the time; Henry de Blois.

Winchester was developed from the Roman town of Venta Belgarum. The Romans departed in around AD 470 Winchester used to be a walled city, with ramparts to protect it from invasion.  Much has been destroyed, but there many areas that really do reek of ancient, medieval history. The walls, overlooking the River Itchen are imposing with crenellations.

Winchester is special in as much that a couple of minutes from the center, you are greeted by hills, river walks, and countryside.

The ruins of  Wolvesley Castle; the residence of Bishop Henry de Blois of Winchester, over from AD 1141. As bishop, the castle was actually a palace.  He was the grandson of William the Conqueror. Walking around the ruins, there is a sense of historic reality as if they are still ‘alive’.

Mary Tudor held her wedding in the palace.

Other ancient locations are the oldest pub in England, the Royal Oak which dates back to AD 1002. It was a wedding present gifted to Queen Emma, Great Aunt of William the Conqueror.  Queen Emma was also gifted the Inn next door. Now an Italian restaurant, but dates back to Tudor times and the current building would not have existed, but the location is also where Queen Emma resided. the Royal Oak existed during Queen Emma’s reign. There is said to be a haunted pub, the Eclipse Inn which was built in 1685. Half-timbered and seating outside, it is apparently rather spooky!

The Westgate, overlooking the High Street is a medieval example of what was one of the city’s gates and provides a wonderful view of the High Street down to King Alfred’s statue.

Winchester never ceases to amaze me.  Each ancient building is awesome and projects a unique atmosphere.

A city to love and admire. Living within walking distance, it is certainly a magnet for pleasure. Cafés and brasseries provide a very Continental atmosphere. Perhaps memories of William the Conqueror of Normandy who invaded England in AD 1066, but was responsible for commissioning a number of iconic structures.

A visit to Winchester is a walk through the history of the once capital of England.


Simon Lever
Simon Lever
Prior to his retirement, Simon engaged in software and services sector search and recruitment for American companies around Europe. He has retained the enjoyment of engaging with people from other countries and cultures. His energies are now directed towards voluntary community activities, journaling, and exhibition stewardship. He is a Featured Contributor for BizCatalyst 360°. As an Exhibition Steward, at the 1000-year-old Winchester Cathedral, he is responsible for guiding visitors from the world over, around the award-winning 'Kings and Scribes Exhibition', which includes the 900-year-old Winchester Bible. The exhibition introduces visitors to Winchester's historical significance as a former capital of England. Simon's journaling activities are published on BizCatalyst 360° and accompanying posts on LinkedIn, He acknowledges the inspiration afforded him by Carol Campos of Massachusetts: Life Strategist, Writer, and Intuitive Business Leader who introduced him to writing with feeling; from the heart. Simon's forté is creative writing; the accent on the natural environment, transforming feelings, emotions, sights, sounds, and scents of Mother Nature's landscape; hills and rivers and woodland into words, transporting the reader to the locations. Essays include accounts of his life in former days. Instinctively writing in such a spontaneous manner, descriptions become life-like. His often emotionally charged writing, whether describing a surreal 'Son et Lumière' at the Grand Place in Brussels to experiences acquired during European business travel. Journaling and Exhibition Steward activities are his key sources of inspiration and creativity. Kindness is ever more important, where he is a promoter of Shelly Elsliger PPCC's 'Decide to be Kind' Campaign. Simon champions Positivity, Empathy, and Kindness and has been described as a 'Beacon of Positivity'.

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  1. Hello Charlotte,

    You would be most welcome! St Catherine’s Hill was once a fortified (with chalk ) during a period at least a few thousand years’ ago. The pathways around the hill are still visible. It must have been challenging placing enormous stones on top of each other! The Cathedral is quite recent compared with more ancient ruins. Many were destroyed including William the Conqueror’s Castle, a short walk from the Cathedral. I have no idea why they were destroyed.

  2. One fine day I will be knocking on your door, Simon.

    The picture of Wolvesley Castle brought me back to remnants of crusader fortifications, that can be found all over the Mediterranean coast. The ironic part is that next to the much older ruins of Greek, Roman, and Eastern origin – and the cathedral itself – these castles are a bunch of rubble. Having figured out to make mortar – or perhaps the oyster lime you mentioned in another post – the need for having nicely balancing stone blocks went away and less refined walls became an option. Much faster to build – and less likely to be used as a quarry later.