Trying to find the perfect activity to do in the beautiful, historical area of Winchester can be difficult. Covering everyones wants and needs adds a challenge to sorting the perfect day out before the weekend is over.
To the surprise of many, there is an array of activities and places to take part in and visit in the lovely village that is Winchester...
If you're struggling for ideas, this guest post will hopefully give you an inside view on what to do on your next weekend off in Winchester - for yourself, a couple or the entire family.
If you have a love for history and learning about the past, then the world famous Winchester Cathedral is a must have on your to do list.
Dating back to the 11th century, the Cathedral was built in the 7th century. It features a unique combination of romanesque decor crafted on the walls of the building, combined with late gothic vaulting - for the more dark history lovers out there. The stunning medieval cathedral even offers tours of the many rooms and halls that make up this miraculous building.
Even more, thanks to it being a spectacular and atmospheric location, the cathedral is used for endless list of events. From classical concerts that echo through the walls to draw dropping performances by theatre companies - even if you don't want to visit the cathedral for its history, you can go for all of its other amenities.
Winchester City Mill
This incredible piece of history is a top idea for a quaint yet scenic day out. Winchester City Mill features a serving and working urban corn mill, dating back to 1743, a rare occurrence!
Powered by the fast flowing river Itchen, this mill is a fantastic sight to see. While you are there you can witness various different breeds of wildlife typical to this part of Winchester.
Not only can you explore, marvelling at the beauty of history and nature, but you can also participate in the many other activities organised around the mill too. For example there are flour milling and baking demonstrations, educational workshops and lectures. There are even a few informative videos dotted around, relating to the mill and the area around it, for those wanting to touch up on your knowledge! And remember it is opening for FREE as part of Winchester Heritage Open Days this September.
Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey)
The spectacular building that is Highclere Castle is one of the select must-see historic homes near Winchester. The 1000 acre, 18th century building is pure breathtaking to withhold. Surrounded by the beauty of untouched forestry and look-out points, this castle is something to boast about. The castle is home to the Earls of Carnarvon, who still resides within the building to this day.
Winchesters fabulous piece of architecture features a spectacular amount of rooms such as the mansions gothic saloon-made up with leather wall decorations, and the stunning library. Found in the library is over 5,600 historically rare books for your eyes to generously wander over during a tour.
For a truly immersive experience, there is the chance to book an unforgettable dinner within a private reception room, or any of the mansion in fact- if your budget allows.
Even though only the Great Hall remain, this tremendous piece of history still resides in the town of Winchester. The castle was built in 1067 during the reign of William the Conqueror, but was sadly demolished by parliament in 1647 while under power by Oliver Cromwell.
The castle is home to much history from these time periods such as the Doomsday Book, and has been visited by a number of royalty and parliamentary figures. An experience to remember, walk the same halls as the future King Henry the Third or Edward the First. And remember it is opening for FREE as part of Winchester Heritage Open Days this September.
The Royal Oak
What is the Royal Oak, I hear you ask? Reputed to be one of the oldest licensed bars in England, the lower bar of the Royal Oak is thought to have brewed its first brew over 1000 years ago.
With many guests popping into this watering hole to marvel at the original barware and play one of several medieval board games, other drinkers seen propping up the bar are proud regulars who enjoy wasting away the hours in this historic bar licensing to the memory of history rippling among the beams. With a selection of events and ale tasting sessions taking place throughout the year at the Royal Oak, keep an eye on their calendar to be in the know. And remember it is running ale sessions for FREE as part of Winchester Heritage Open Days this September.
A stunning red brick building, the Brickworks Museum with lime washed walls has been welcoming visitors for centuries. One of the last steam-driven brickworks in the UK, the Brickworks Museum found on the outskirts of Winchester in Swanwick, you can experience the same sights, sounds and smells as the Victorian workers.
Still working, make your own brick and play in the clay in one of their active buildings and discover some a piece of history owned by Winchester. And remember it is opening for FREE as part of Heritage Open Days this September.
Designed and built in the early 1930s by Charles Schwedth, the Lido found on Hyde Church Lane was given as a gift to the community.
A grand building, the Lido was designed as a Club House and Swimming Pool and at the time was one of the best equipped facilities in England. Turned from a Lido into a Military base during the war in 1934, the once gift to the community was later turned into a dane and bingo hall before being turned back into a Lido hall back in 1968. The swimming pool once a top location for those wanting to cool down in Winchester during the summer months, these days the site is now registered charity running family and sports activities. And remember it is opening for FREE as part of Heritage Open Days this September.
Once you’ve visited all of these historic, iconic spots in Winchester, discover the modern side to what the city has to offer. The Science Centre and Planetarium has hundreds of exhibits and hands on planetarium shows for you and your whole family to enjoy. If you’re opting for a more intimate setting, take a short drive to Stockbridge where you’ll find The Wykeham Gallery. Hosting a selection of solo, group and themed shows throughout the year, this contemporary art gallery is one of the best of its kind and exhibits the work of some very exciting artists.
Our guest blogger finishes with a great overview
Winchester is an amazingly scenic area of Hampshire. Home to much history, we are confident that there is an attraction suited to all needs and interests. With some basic research, you are sure to be captivated and will be excited to book and organise your first adventure, exploring the exciting past of Winchester.
All photos belong to Winchester Heritage Open Days.