This July, Visit Winchester is celebrating Independent Business Month by visiting some of the best independents in the district.
For a city renowned for its medieval buildings and ancient history, Winchester is ahead of the curve when it comes to supporting local businesses. Over a hundred independents call Winchester their home, so whether you are looking to stop by a trendy café or a browse in one of England’s oldest bookshops, Winchester has something exciting to offer around every cobbled street-corner.
3-4 Kings Walk, Winchester, SO23 8AF
Opening at the end of 2021, South Down’s Social is a quirky café from the owners of The Handmade Cyclist. It offers freshly prepared food, including pastries, cakes and hearty snacks – perfect to fuel your cycle around the South Downs. For non-cycle enthusiasts, you can simply enjoy a locally-roasted coffee while soaking in the warm and welcoming atmosphere – and bike-themed décor!
The Social is a hub of local cycle groups and events. From Latte Art competitions to beer and pizza evenings with local club members, there is never a dull moment from their storefront on Kings Walk. Be sure to check out their in-store range of art, apparel and ceramics, along with a selection of cycling lifestyle goods from other indie brands. Find their website here.
6 Bridge Street, Winchester, SO23 0HL
La Gastronomia is unlike any restaurant in Winchester. Sergio, owner and chef, provides an authentic Italian dining experience for all customers, straight from his family’s recipe books. Growing up in Sicily to a family of chefs, it is no surprise that he serves up delicious home-cooked meals from his restaurant on Bridge Street. He also does so with passion and enthusiasm, wanting to share the food he loves with Winchester locals and visitors alike.
Sergio opened his doors in February 2023 after several years as a private chef for Italian dinner parties. Since then, he has been working on expanding the upper floors of the restaurant to offer private dining experiences, meetings, Italian clubs, and more. For now, we can enjoy the downstairs restaurant, all cooked to order with fresh ingredients and plenty of conversation. Find out more here.
31A The Square, Winchester SO23 9EX
Eclectic Hound stocks ethically sourced clothing, accessories gifts and homewares. Their moto is ‘buy better and wear longer’, emphasising the need to shop slowly and responsibly.
It feels like buying gifts for men in particular is a universal struggle, but it is made an easy task with Eclectic Hound’s fabulous selection of printed shirts, timeless suits and eclectic homeware. But don’t think that this is just a shop for men – there is a selection of womenswear and versatile gifts for everyone to enjoy. You can also order online, with each item carefully wrapped in eco-packaging and free delivery on orders over £30. Shop here.
11 College Street, Winchester, SO23 9LZ
The bookshop that has traded since 1891 as P&G Wells is Winchester’s longest-running retail business and Britain’s oldest bookshop (probably), having been at 11 College Street since 1789. Famous literary customers include Jane Austen, who wrote in 1798 about books bought here.
Walking though the doors is like walking back in time: the original floorboards and bookcases date back to the 18th century, while the children’s section (upstairs) has carefully preserved some original William Morris wallpaper revealed during renovations. The current manager, Steve, took on the role just as the Covid lockdown began. However, this did not stop his plans to take on the shop: he used lockdown as an opportunity to refurbish the sash windows, brighten up the space with new lighting and a fresh coat of paint, and de-clutter the shop to make browsing easier.
Today, P&G Wells offers vintage classics, new bestsellers and locally authored favourites to its loyal customers. It is a pleasure to shop in the footsteps of over 300 years of booklovers. Find out more about their stocklist and history here.
Find more independent businesses in Winchester.