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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.