At the end of last year, I desperately wanted to get out of London for a couple of days to enjoy the countryside. After throwing around ideas, I finally decided upon Winchester. To tell you the truth, I knew little about the place, other than it being a small medieval city that's home to one of the biggest Cathedrals in the country. With little to go on, I didn't really have any expectations other than enjoying the discovery of somewhere new. But Winchester ended up surpassing any expectations I had. Not only did it charm me with its eclectic architecture, I was also rewarded by its significant place in history and literature (embarrassingly, I didn't even know it was the first and former capital of England!).
Upon arrival in Winchester we figured we'd start with its most famous landmark: the cathedral. The external walls of the building are impressive, but what lies waiting inside is even more impressive. I looked up at the ceiling and almost had to pick my jaw back up off the floor.
Not only is the cathedral one of the biggest England has to offer, it's also one of the world's longest medieval churches. Another fascinating fact is that Jane Austen is buried here along with other important figures. In case you're not familiar with English writers, Jane Austen was an 18th Century writer whose legacy includes such works as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma. If you love Period dramas, there's a strong chance you've seen at least one of the film adaptations. With fifteen centuries of history behind it, kings buried within its walls, and endless legends circulating around it, the cathedral is an inseparable part of Winchester's heritage.
Only a short walk away from Winchester Cathedral is Wolvesey Castle, once home to the Bishops of Winchester throughout the Middle Ages, with the extensive remains dating from the 12th century.You can walk among the ruins and imagine how it would have been in its glory years when it hosted Queen Mary I and Philip of Spain in 1554. But those days weren't to last when it fell victim to destruction in 1646 during the English Civil War.
St Giles Hill Viewpoint
After, it was time to see the city from its highest point at St Giles Hill. We passed the ruins of the city wall, the iconic stone bridge and wind mill and soaked up the bucolic atmosphere for a few moments. Then we followed the sign posts up Magdalen Hill and on towards St Giles Hill which opens up to a wide green space at the top and the viewpoint is located on the left lower side.