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(30th August 2017)

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My day trip to Winchester came about as I had always wanted to visit the beautiful Winchester Cathedral, and this was my chance.  Just a one-hour train trip on Southwestern Railways from Waterloo and you're there!  This was my tenth day trip on my rail pass (days 8 and 9 were to and from the wedding) and it was working well.  No lines to stand in for tickets, you just go to your platform and board your train!  The cathedral is a stunner and I think my very favorite so far, and turns out to be the longest in the world apparently, at 169m (554ft)!  Construction on the cathedral began around 1079.
Winchester Cathedral

Sticking to my tradition of walking in a circle and not doubling back, I walked from the station to the Information Centre (quite a walk) just off the pedestrianized section of High Street in the beautiful Guild Hall.  Do make the effort as the Guild Hall is beautiful.  I got my city map and some helpful information from an employee as to where I should walk to make the most of my short visit.  The first thing that caught my eye was the lovely black clock jutting out from a small building over High Street.  Not only was there the Winchester Cathedral to visit, but also the grave of Jane Austen, the City Mill, the Great Hall which houses fantastic stained glass windows with the crests and names of kings and bishops, and also the fabled King Arthur's Round Table.

I continued along High Street to the City Mill and up St John's Street to stop by the quaint and very old (before 1142) St John the Baptist Church.  I walked along Water Lane back to the High Street where I crossed over and walked along the River Itchen, by the ruins of the Old Bishop's Palace, the old Roman wall, Winchester College and came upon Jane Austen's house.  I wasn't surprised to see more city gates and I passed through the Kingsgate before spotting the cathedral.

Now the cathedral.  There are any number of well-known bishops, kings and dignitaries buried there, and the one that I wanted to see was novelist Jane Austen, who died in 1817.  I marvelled at the exquisite beauty and craftsmanship of this cathedral, in particular the Quire, which should not be missed!  There are intricately carved spires and columns which are beautiful, as are the many crypts of so many gone before.  One notable is William Walker, who single-handedly saved the cathedral by diving down and underpinning the sinking foundations between 1906 and 1911.  I also saw a statue of Joan of Arc.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Winchester Bible (1160 and done almost entirely by one man and his artists) and the Holy Sepulchre Chapel paintings that are paintings of the Passion of Jesus Christ from the 12th and 13th centuries.

Jane Austen, England's beloved novelist, is buried here, and when I visited there was a display which included her life story and copies of a few of her books that were published back in the 1800s!

Winchester Cathedral is so stunning that I recommend you spend at least a full hour there, if not taking one of their free tours.  The staff are really helpful and knowledgable.  You can light a candle in remembrance of past loved ones (I usually do) or sit in one of the pews and absorb the enormity of this historical place.  So much history surrounds this area and the cathedral is its crowning glory, and not to be missed.  You can research as much as you like but nothing will prepare you for the awe you experience when you enter through the huge doors.

After my cathedral visit I walked around in search of the Great Hall where I saw the legendary King Arthur's Round Table, complete with the names of the knights.  It's a beautiful old hall with stunning stained glass windows depicting kings, queens, earls, bishops and other important figures.  The Great Hall was once a royal residence, a courtroom, a wedding venue and even a defensive stronghold, and it is truly worth seeking out and spending some time there.  It's free to visit and the Great Hall is near the West Gate at the north end of High Street.  (I have to admit that I was looking for a table with legs standing on the floor!)  The gift store is also worth stopping into.  Admission is £8 ($10.80) for adults.

You don't have to walk around as much as I did as the cathedral is one block south of High Street behind the Guild Hall.  I am not one of those people who can retain and quote historical names and dates, so I acknowledge them but struggle to remember them.  That's not to say I'm not interested or impressed, I am, but I don't quote them as though they were second nature.  I do know that Winchester was the first capital of England back in 1519 and King Egbert was crowned there in 827.  Today was the first day I was glad I had my umbrella!  No blue skies either!

Winchester Cathedral - 9 The Close, Winchester SO23 9LS
Tel: 01962 857 200 (M-F)
Web: Winchester Cathedral
Email: cathedral.office@winchester-cathedral.org.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/winchestercathedral
Twitter: twitter.com/WinCathedral
Instagram www.instagram.com/winchestercathedral/
Admission is £8 ($10.80) for adults.

The Great Hall - Castle Avenue, Winchester SO23 8UJ
Tel: 01962 847 782
Web: www.hants.gov.uk/greathall
Email: the.great.hall@hants.gov.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GreatHallWinchester/
Twitter: twitter.com/GreatHallWinch

Winchester Tourist Information - Winchester Guildhall, High Street, Winchester SO23 9GH
Tel: 01962 840 500
Web: Winchester Tourist Information
Email: tourism@winchester.gov.uk

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