The Heart of the Ancient Capital

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Introduction

Wheelchair Accessible
children
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The walk begins at the Winchester Visitor Information Centre in the Victorian Guildhall, where the City Council meets. This walk is approximately one mile of level walking, generally suitable for wheelchairs. Allow about an hour.

To start, turn right towards King Alfred’s statue.

Steps

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The High Street

The High Street started life as a routeway some 2,500 years ago, leading to a crossing point on the River Itchen. It was the main thoroughfare for Roman, Saxon and Medieval Winchester and lays claim to be the oldest street in any English city.

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Abbey House

A short distance ahead is the Mayor’s official residence, Abbey House 2 . Excavated remains of St Mary’s Abbey, founded by Alfred’s Queen, Ealhswith in the early 10th century, can be seen along Abbey Passage to the right.

Opposite Abbey House is St John’s House, originally part of a Medieval hospital. The first floor was used as a meeting place for the Mayor and citizens of Winchester in the later Middle Ages.

The Victorian statue of King Alfred the Great is on the left. Continue straight ahead to the river. A plaque to the right marks the site of the Medieval Eastgate.

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The City Bridge

The City Bridge is said to have first been built by St Swithun, the 9th century bishop and patron saint of Winchester. The current structure, built in 1813, is thought to occupy the same site. Across the road is the City Mill.

Turn right and follow the river walk.

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Roman Town Walls

To your right is a surviving remnant of the original Roman town walls 4 . First built of stone in the 3rd century AD, the wall was regularly repaired and rebuilt following the original Roman lines.

The River Itchen provided part of the eastern defences of the city by forming a moat. The river also provided power for 12 mills flourishing in or near Winchester by the mid-12th century.

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Wharf Mill

Continue to Wharf Mill, which is on the site of a Medieval mill. Turn right to see the best-preserved part of the City Walls to their full Medieval height. Continue on to Wolvesey Castle.

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Medieval Bishops' Complex

The Medieval bishops’ complex occupied the entire area now used as playing fields. To the left is the current bishop’s residence, built as a replacement in 1684.

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Winchester College

Opposite is Winchester College, founded by William of Wykeham in 1382 and believed to be the oldest continuously running school in England.

Cross College Street and continue to the main college gate and past the headmaster’s house.

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Jane Austen's final resting place

The next building, now a private residence, is where Jane Austen 8 spent her final weeks receiving medical care. She died here and is buried in the cathedral.

At the end of College Street, turn right to face Kingsgate with the tiny church of St Swithun above. Continuing through the gateway, you come to the Close Wall, first built in Saxon times to separate the monastic communities from the rest of the town.

Turn right and go through Prior’s Gate.

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Cheyney Court

On your right is the Medieval Cheyney Court, where bishops met to hear legal cases involving the areas they controlled, known as the Soke.

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Pilgrim's School

Passing the medieval stables on your right, now used as music rooms, you will see the main buildings of Pilgrims’ School 10. The oldest parts of the complex are two adjacent, early 14th century timber-framed halls, said originally to have provided accommodation for pilgrims. Today, among the boys educated there, are the boys of the cathedral and college choirs known as Choristers and Quiristers respectively.

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The Deanery

Ahead is the Deanery 11, originally built in the 13th century as the home of the prior of the cathedral.

Head towards the cathedral.

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Dean Garnier Garden

Note the blocked arches in the wall on your right. The larger central arch provided the entry to the medieval monks’ dormitory. Go through the 13th century doorway a little further on and up the steps to Dean Garnier Garden, where interpretive panels explain the cathedral architecture and the plan of the close.

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Chapter House

Leave the garden and continue towards the cathedral. On your right are the massive columns marking the entrance to the former Chapter House.

On reaching the cathedral nave turn left, walking beneath the flying buttresses designed by architect T G Jackson to support the south nave wall in 1911.

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Norman Westwork

At the west front of the cathedral 14, the stone in the wall to the left indicates the extent of the Norman westwork, demolished around 1300.

Turn past the west front to the site of the Old Minster dating from the 7th century, now marked out in brick.

The New Minster was built on the instructions of Alfred the Great and completed by his son Edward the Elder. It was located alongside the Old Minster until 1110 when the church was moved to the northern suburb of Hyde.

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15

St Maurice's Covert

Follow the diagonal path with the railings on your right, crossing the site of the New Minster church. Turn left just before the Wessex Hotel towards the tower of St Maurice’s Covert 15 where this loop ends.

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End