Winchester is the kind of city that has always displayed a wealth of heritage, distinguished with its medieval links and celebration of culture. Which is the reason you need to take a look at the businesses and historic streets of the city. Newly opened Incognito, the cocktail, prosecco and gin parlour located on The Broadway, offers the city ‘old fashioned glamour’. This roaring 20’s inspired establishment provides an array of hats for the guests and boasts an excess of over 50 gins. With signature cocktails, vodka and rum to world whiskies, wine and a carefully selected gin menu, the diverse range caters to all tastes. Each signature cocktail follows the historical trend with an engaging tale and some adorned with botanical garnishes. The venue, open 7 days a week, provides live piano performances giving guests a taste of a Jazz Age experience. What is most notable about Incognito however, is the story of Chadwick Smithfield, the supposed cat and owner. His character’s story is intriguing. His anecdotes visible in his drinks menus, allowing the guests to become part of his narrative. The parlour claims to possess a 200 year old copy of William Hogarth’s ‘Beer Street’, a print in support of the 1751 Gin Act. Definitely worth a look on a visit there.
The Ivy Winchester Brasserie with its Parisian styled terrace and art deco influenced furnishings is another popular business. The modern British restaurant can be found on the historic High Street. The original Ivy was established in 1917 by Abel Giandellini and the brand has maintained a high standing amongst celebrities and more recently in media circles. For those wanting a glamorous photo for their Instagram pages this should be your first stop! Following suit, Greens Bar & Kitchen located on the significantly historic Jewry Street is a family run business. As one of the longest running bars in Winchester it is celebrating over 25 years of trade. The venue is popular for its food and active nightlife, with cuisine evenings every last Thursday of the month. The servers are attentive and one trip allows you to understand why this particular bar has outlasted and maintains its popularity amongst countless in the city.
A few doors down from Greens visitors will find The Old Gaol House, now another pub in the Wetherspoons brand, the original building was once a debtor’s prison. Built in 1805, the grade II listed building shows an influence of G Dance’s 1770 Newgate Prison. The frontage most notably was designed by the architect George Moneypenny who was quite prominent in the 19 th century. The building was criticised as being too grandiose for prisoners but in the modern day seems somewhat simple when in comparison to the stylish Turtle Bay down the street. Warren & Son is yet another business that holds historical links to the city, the current location of the stationers on the High Street offers a look into the past. The building was once the local court house and home to the prison governor. A more interesting aspect are the traces of underground tunnels in the cellar of the building which would originally have led to the city prison on Jewry Street. For those wanting to further their knowledge on these long established Winchester businesses it is a great idea to book onto one of the talks on our future events.
Or better yet try your hand at some medieval board games at The Royal Oak, the pub that brands itself as the ‘oldest bar in England’. Once the residency of Queen Emma of Normandy and recently featured on Channel 4’s ‘Britain’s Most Historic Towns’. Historically frequented by royalists, guests are invited to visit from 11am until 12am most days.
When walking down Jewry Street you can see the architectural influence of Renaissance Italy and the Roman styled columns on the Corn Exchange so it is safe to assume that it has quite a heritage. But Jewry Street is most noteworthy for its Jewish history. Jews occupied in and around this street for centuries with synagogues being built close by. The Jews were famous for their financial acumen but were hated by certain members of the aristocracy. One distinguished Jewish woman, who has been explored in previous festival events, is Licoricia of Winchester. As a moneylender Licoricia made prominent name for herself amongst her community and across the country. Some have even gone as far as to name her the ‘Richest Jew in Winchester’. From records it is known that she lived on Jewry Street and as the most notable Jewish woman in the country many books have been published about her story. This medieval financer became famous for her somewhat strategic and advantageous marriages and overall smart thinking that brought her to wealth in 13th century England. Licoricia’s medieval business success saw her make important business contacts and even close relationships with the aristocracy most surprisingly King Henry III. This was until her untimely death in 1277 where she was found murdered alongside her Christian maid, Alice of Bickton.
Licoricia is also known for her marriage to David of Oxford in 1242 who some proclaim was in fact the ‘Richest Jew in England’ so together they made quite a formidable force. She had dealings with Simon de Montfort, 6 th Earl of Leicester alongside other wealthy clientele. Later in her life she was confined to the Tower of London whereby the king used this to ensure that a large sum of her late husband’s fortune could be taken and used to rebuild Westminster Abbey. With her later undertaking business ventures of her own on her return to Winchester.
There are many businesses and even more figures of Winchester that can be celebrated. But getting a better understanding of the heritage behind Winchester’s most famous streets is a great place to begin. Hopefully via Heritage Open Days we’re helping to prove that even in 2019 Winchester celebrates its heritage whether that be the thriving modern businesses, the architecture or giving a nod to the extraordinary people and history of Winchester.
Heritage Management Masters Student at the University of Winchester. Specialising in illicit antiquities, art & artefact forgeries in the UK and internationally.