|Winchester is a city in southern England, and the administrative capital of the county of Hampshire.
It is the seat of the City of Winchester local government district which covers a much larger area. Winchester was formerly the capital of England, during the 10th and early 11th centuries.
Important historic buildings include Winchester Cathedral, built in the 12th century; the Great Hall, the only surviving portion of the old Royal Palace; and Winchester College, a public school founded in 1382.
The Great Hall was rebuilt, sometime between 1222-1235, and still exists in this form. It is most well known for King Arthur's Round Table, which has hung in the hall from at least 1463. The table actually dates from the 14th Century, and as such is not contemporary to Arthur. Despite this it still attracts many tourists. The table was originally unpainted, but was painted for King Henry VIII in 1522. The names of the knights are written around the edge of the table surmounted by King Arthur on his throne. In the grounds of the Great Hall are a recreation of a medieval garden along with the Wedding Gates and Law Courts.
Settlement in the area dates back to pre-Roman times, and there is evidence of Iron Age hill forts around the city. Under the Romans the town, then named Venta Belgarum, was of considerable importance.
The town has historic importance as the capital of the ancient kingdom of Wessex from 519. Although it was not the only town to have been the capital, it was established by King Alfred the Great as the main city in his kingdom in 827. Winchester remained the capital of Wessex, and then England, until some time after the Norman Conquest when the capital was moved to London. A serious fire in the city in 1141 accelerated its decline.
William of Wykeham (1320-1404) played an important role in the history of the town; as Bishop of Winchester he was responsible for much of the current structure of the cathedral and also founded Winchester College.
During the middle ages, the city was an important centre of the wool trade, before going into a slow decline. St. Swithun was Bishop of Winchester in the mid ninth century.
The famous novelist Jane Austen died in Winchester on 18 July 1817 and is buried in the cathedral.
The ancient Pilgrim's Way begins at Winchester, and runs to Canterbury.
As well as the public school, Winchester College, Winchester is home to the largest state sixth form college in the country, Peter Symonds College. University College Winchester (formerly King Alfred's College) is situated within the city, as is the Winchester School of Art, part of the University of Southampton.
Since 1974 Winchester has hosted the annual Hat Fair, a celebration of street theatre that includes performances, workshops, and gatherings at several venues around the city.
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Panoramic views posted: 5/10/01 11:13:20
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