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Why I Love Winchester: The Architecture

Ahh, Winchester. As someone who spent her teenage years feeling like Newcastle Upon Tyne wasn't that big and it was a city that didn't have that much to do, no one was more surprised than myself when I decided to move to the tiny city of Winchester for university. The "city" is pretty darn small and really only has it's city status because of its beautiful cathedral and the fact that it was once our capital city (that's right London, move over, you didn't always hog the lime light). I first moved to Winchester just over 4 years ago now and considering I'm still here holds testament to how great I think it is. So now that my posts all about Rome have sadly come to an end, I thought I'd fill this wee travel gap with a place I fell head over heels for and I'm very pleased and proud to now call my home.

Okay so first up we've just got to talk about the architecture. I can remember getting off a coach I had been on for 10 hours, with all my belongings packed into one suitcase, and as soon as I looked up at the town hall with it's amazing architecture, all the flowers blooming outside of it in the setting sun, I knew I had made a good decision to move there. This city is steeped with old buildings - quite similar to York or Durham in a lot of ways - but it also has a modern contemporary buzz to it because of the thriving universities in and around the city. I'm a huge fan of architecture. Give me all of the old buildings, the historical essence of a place and I will undoubtedly instantly fall in love. Although Winchester is a small place in the grand scheme of what you think of when you hear the word "city", the amazing buildings more than make up for what it might lack else where.

Whilst the high street is beautiful in itself, if you hop down the side streets or walk in pretty much any direction from the high street, in around 10 minutes you will stumble across a gorgeous old church that gets overlooked, a cute as a button thatched cottage that someone luckily calls home, or just simply somewhere that has been converted to meet the needs of contemporary society. One of my favourite spots for this is the YMCA café at the bottom of the high street which is actually in an old medieval hospital. If you ever happen to pop in there and you're sat enjoying your coffee (don't get coffee - I'd 110% recommend a white hot chocolate from there if you've got a sweet tooth!), just take a look around you. You can still see on the walls where the partitions used to be for each hospital bed's privacy; the coffee shop has a wall running down the centre of it which makes it feel like it's two separate cafés but it's actually the original wall that separated the men's and women's wards... That's just one place out of many that is soaked in history and still displays it's gorgeous architecture many years later.

But even if you're ever just paying Winchester a flying visit - a wander around will surely suppress your architecture-loving appetite. The same rule applies to Winchester that seems to apply to many other cities and towns across England which is to "look up" when you're walking around. The high street for instance has all your typical multi-million pound stores (Boots, Starbucks, Costa, The Body Shop, WHSmith etc.) but if you look up past the glaring shop signs and sale windows, you will see old tudor buildings, old roofs that are far from straight, and also the odd Freemason symbol or two signifying where they once met. If you're majorly into your history, of course, Winchester is going to be a place you will enjoy. Not only do you have the beautiful cathedral to explore but also many other churches, old hospitals, museums and - possibly the best destination - The Royal Oak which claims to be the oldest pub in England (records date back to as far as 1002!).

If you couldn't tell already by this gushing post, I do love living here. It's a breathtaking place all year round and the buildings definitely support the awe and splendour that the nature also provides (but I'll talk about the natural side of Winch in another post). I've tried my best to photo dump a *small* selection of architecture photos from all around the city but you really need to visit here to fully appreciate it's beauty if I haven't enticed you enough already. If you've enjoyed this post, please make sure to keep an eye out for future ones talking all about the joys of nature in and surrounding Winchester and all the independent places I'd recommend grabbing a bite to eat, a coffee to slurp, and where to waste all our hard earned money on handmade items and vintage treasure.

If you'd like to see more of my photography from Winchester, make sure to check out my Flickr account and my Instagram for more daily photos.

- A.
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