Place:Winchester, Hampshire, England


Alt namesCity of Winchester
Caer Gewntsource: Blue Guide: England (1980)
Venta Belgarumsource: Blue Guide: England (1980) p 113
Winchestersource: Getty Vocabulary Program
Wintaceastersource: Blue Guide: England (1980) p 113
TypeCity, Borough (municipal)
Coordinates51.067°N 1.317°W
Located inHampshire, England     (500 - )
Contained Places
Winchester Castle
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Winchester is a cathedral city in Hampshire, England. The city lies at the heart of the wider City of Winchester, a local government district, at the western end of the South Downs National Park, on the River Itchen. It is south-west of London and from Southampton, its nearest city. At the 2011 census, Winchester had a population of 45,184. The wider City of Winchester district, which includes towns such as Alresford and Bishop's Waltham, has a population of 116,595. Winchester is the county town of Hampshire and contains the head offices of Hampshire County Council.

Winchester developed from the Roman town of Venta Belgarum, which in turn developed from an Iron Age oppidum. Winchester was one of the most important cities in England until the Norman conquest in the eleventh century. It has since become one of the most expensive and affluent areas in the United Kingdom.

The city's major landmark is Winchester Cathedral. The city is also home to the University of Winchester and Winchester College, the oldest public school in the United Kingdom still using its original buildings.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia


The area around Winchester has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with three Iron Age hillforts, Oram's Arbour, St. Catherine's Hill, and Worthy Down all nearby. In the Late Iron Age, a more urban settlement type developed, known as an oppidum, although the archaeology of this phase remains obscure.

The settlement became an important centre for the British Belgae tribe; however, it remains unclear how the Belgae came to control the initial settlement. Caesar recorded the tribe had crossed the channel as raiders (probably in the 1st century BCE), only to later establish themselves. The Roman account of continental invaders has been challenged in recent years with scientific studies favouring a gradual change through increased trade links rather than migration.

To the Celtic Britons, the settlement was likely known as Wentā or Venta (from a common Celtic word meaning "tribal town" or "meeting place"). An etymology connected with the Celtic word for "white" (Modern Welsh gwyn) has been suggested, due to Winchester's situation upon chalk. It was the Latinised versions of this name, together with that of the tribe that gave the town its Roman name of Venta Belgarum.

Roman period

After the Roman conquest of Britain, the settlement served as the capital of the Belgae and was distinguished as Venta Belgarum, "Venta of the Belgae". Although in the early years of the Roman province it was of subsidiary importance to Silchester and Chichester, Venta eclipsed them both by the latter half of the second century. At the beginning of the third century, Winchester was given protective stone walls. At around this time the city covered an area of , making it among the largest towns in Roman Britain by surface area. There was a limited suburban area outside the walls. Like many other Roman towns however, Winchester began to decline in the later fourth century.[1]

Medieval period

Post-Roman Winchester

Despite the Roman withdrawal from Britain, urban life continued much as it had done into the mid fifth century. The settlement reduced in size, but work was carried out to improve the city's defences. The city may have functioned as a centre for a religious community or a royal palace, as they continued to use the Christian cemeteries established in the Roman period.

Winchester appears in early Welsh literature and is commonly identified as the city of listed among the 28 cities of Britain in the History of the Britons (commonly attributed to Nennius). The city is known as Caerwynt in Modern Welsh.

Between 476-517 AD, the town and surrounding areas seems to have been fortified by several Jutish settlements and to have operated as part of a larger polity.

Kingdom of Wessex

The city became known as Wintanceaster ("Fort Venta") in Old English. In 648, King Cenwalh of Wessex erected the Church of St Peter and St Paul, later known as the Old Minster. This became a cathedral in the 660s when the West Saxon bishopric was transferred from Dorchester-on-Thames. The present form of the city dates from reconstruction in the late 9th century, when King Alfred the Great obliterated the Roman street plan in favour of a new grid in order to provide better defence against the Vikings. The city's first mint appears to date from this period.

In the early 10th century there were two new ecclesiastical establishments: the convent of Nunnaminster, founded by Alfred's widow Ealhswith, and the New Minster. Bishop Æthelwold of Winchester was a leading figure in the monastic reform movement of the later 10th century. He expelled the secular canons of both minsters and replaced them with monks. He created the drainage system, the "Lockburn", which served as the town drain until 1875, and still survives. Also in the late 10th century, the Old Minster was enlarged as a centre of the cult of the 9th century Bishop of Winchester, Saint Swithun. The three minsters were the home of what architectural historian John Crook describes as "the supreme artistic achievements" of the Winchester School.[2]

The consensus among historians of Anglo-Saxon England is that the court was mobile in this period and there was no fixed capital. Martin Biddle has suggested that Winchester was a centre for royal administration in the 7th and 8th centuries, but this is questioned by Barbara Yorke, who sees it as significant that the shire was named after Hamtun, the forerunner of Southampton. However, Winchester is described by the historian Catherine Cubitt as "the premier city of the West Saxon kingdom" and Janet Nelson describes London and Winchester as Alfred the Great's "proto-capitals".

There was a fire in the city in 1141 during the Rout of Winchester. In the 14th century, William of Wykeham played a role in the city's restoration. As Bishop of Winchester he was responsible for much of the current structure of the cathedral, and he founded the still extant public school Winchester College. During the Middle Ages, the city was an important centre of the wool trade, before going into a slow decline. The curfew bell in the bell tower (near the clock in the picture), still sounds at 8:00 pm each evening.

Jews in Winchester

Jews lived in Winchester from at least 1148, and in the 13th century the Jewish community in the city was one of the most important in England. There was an archa in the city, and the Jewish quarter was located in the city's heart (present day Jewry street). There were a series of blood libel claims against the Jewish community in the 1220s and 1230s, which likely was the cause of the hanging of the community's leader, Abraham Pinch, in front of the synagogue of which he was the head. Simon de Montfort ransacked the Jewish quarter in 1264, and in 1290 all Jews were expelled from England.

Modern period

The City Cross (also known as the Buttercross) has been dated to the 15th century, and features 12 statues of the Virgin Mary, other saints and various historical figures. Several statues appear to have been added throughout the structure's history. In 1770, Thomas Dummer purchased the Buttercross from the Corporation of Winchester, intending to have it re-erected at Cranbury Park, near Otterbourne. When his workmen arrived to dismantle the cross, they were prevented from doing so by the people of the city, who "organised a small riot", and they were forced to abandon their task. The agreement with the city was cancelled and Dummer erected a lath and plaster facsimile, which stood in the park for about sixty years before it was destroyed by the weather. The Buttercross itself was restored by George Gilbert Scott in 1865, and still stands in the High Street. It is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The city walls were originally built in the Roman period covering an area of around , and were rebuilt and expanded in sections over time. A large portion of the city walls, built on Roman foundations, were demolished in the 18th and 19th centuries as they fell into ruin and the gates became a barrier to traffic and a danger to pedestrians, with only a small portion of the original Roman wall itself surviving. Of the six gates (North, South, East, West, Durn, and King's Gates), only the Kingsgate and Westgate survive, with sections of the walls remaining around the two gates and near the ruins of Wolvesey Castle.

Three notable bronze sculptures can be seen in or from the High Street by major sculptors of the 19th and 20th centuries, the earliest a monumental statue of Queen Victoria, now in the Great Hall, by Sir Alfred Gilbert (also known as the sculptor of 'Eros' in London's Piccadilly Circus), King Alfred, facing the city with raised sword from the centre of The Broadway, by Hamo Thornycroft and the modern striking Horse and Rider by Dame Elizabeth Frink at the entrance to the Law Courts.

The novelist Jane Austen died in Winchester on 18 July 1817 and is buried in the cathedral. While staying in Winchester from mid-August to October 1819, the Romantic poet John Keats wrote "Isabella", "St. Agnes' Eve", "To Autumn", "Lamia" and parts of "Hyperion" and the five-act poetic tragedy "Otho The Great".

In 2013, businesses involved in the housing market were reported by a local newspaper as saying that the city's architectural and historical interest, and its fast links to other towns and cities, had led Winchester to become one of the most expensive and desirable areas of the country and ranked Winchester as one of the least deprived areas in England and Wales.

Research Tips

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Winchester. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.