A rainy afternoon in Winchester

Yesterday, Rich and I headed over to Winchester to check out the venues we're planning on booking for our England wedding. As it was a Sunday and the trains are only once an hour from our town to Winchester, we ended up with 45 minutes to spare before our appointment at the venue. Although it was a dreary, rainy afternoon, we decided to do all the touristy things that I failed to do during my 5 years as a student.

This is where we'll be having our wedding meal. Isn't it beautiful? Even in the rain, it looks lovely!

I wonder how old this sign actually is. It seems to me that they've added the later dates as time's gone by. I'd say this was probably put up in 1896 and presumably a replica of an older sign. What do you think? The building itself (on the left) dates from 1050 and the pub on the right from 1002. It's the pub we're going to be using for our meal- The oldest one in Britain, no less! 

We headed towards the Great Hall to see the Round Table, but on the way we nipped up to the Westgate museum. The Westgate was originally one of the main gates to the city in the medieval times and is now the last remaining. It was used as a prison for debtors in the 18th century and it is filled with prisoners' graffiti. Above, the preserved floorboard says:
This was cut by me John Burton May the 1 in the year of our Lord God 1738.
This carved stone is next to the window. It's so strange to think that Phillip and I sat on the same windowledge almost 300 years apart. I wonder what his view would have been like out of the window?
This was my view. Although it was rainy and miserable, it still looked beautiful. How many of these buildings would Phillip have looked down on in 1717?

There were fancy dress costumes, and I couldn't resist! I love a museum with dressing up opportunities!

I also coaxed Rich into dressing up and, as you can see, he was thrilled with the idea!

Then we headed up the steep stone steps to the roof of the gate.

The doorway was teeny tiny! Doors always seem to be a lot lower with old buildings. Were people actually a lot smaller centuries ago? (Edit: I just looked this up and the consensus seems to be that people were, on average, a few inches shorter than we are today).

The view from the roof! Ok, so there isn't actually that much of a view with the rain but I was surprised by how close everything was. It all seems much further away when you're walking but, from up here, I could see how compact the city centre is. Yep, this is the entire city centre. It's not exactly what you think of when you hear the word "city"!

After getting a bit wet on the roof, we took shelter inside the Great Hall, which houses the Round Table.

This isn't the actual round table (being a mythical legend and all!), but a replica that was created around 1290 and then painted centuries later during Henry VIII's reign. In fact, King Arthur was painted to look suspiciously like Henry himself! You can also see the Tudor Rose in the centre.

This is the east wall, where the table hung from 1348 until 1873. I don't know why it was moved during the Victorian restoration but it seems a huge shame to have changed position after 500 years of it being undisturbed.

The entire east wall is decorated with the names of Hampshire's knights and MPs. The empty banners used to hold the names of people who ran away with muggles. 
I've always found stained glass windows beautiful! (In fact, when I moved house at 7, one of my requirements was that our new house must have stained glass windows. I was sorely disappointed!). The Great Hall has these beautifully ornate windows everywhere. 
After our cultural and historical education, we timed ourselves walking from the pub to the Guildhall, our evening venue. It's literally 5 minutes down the high street, so that works out perfectly. On the way, we spotted this wonderful announcement in the Moss Bros window. The two mannequins were positioned as though they were walking down the aisle. So lovely!
I also had my day brightened up by this wonderfully eccentric busker playing a very jolly tune on his recorder. I don't think I've ever given money to a busker before, but I couldn't resist this guy since he made me feel so darn happy! Although it does look a little like Dumbledore's fallen on hard times...
Once we reached the Guildhall, I hurriedly snapped a photo of the space we're hiring. It's a little messy here as they were still cleaning up after an event the previous day but hopefully you can see the potential that I see. We're going to be hiring some lovely white chairs so we don't need to use the red and gold ones seen on the left, and we'll cover the noticeboards with some pretty fabric and photos of our loved ones attending the event. 
After checking all the information we needed for the Guildhall, we headed back to the Royal Oak to speak to the staff about our meal and to tuck into a Sunday roast! We finally managed to nab the sofa that we sat on for our first date back in 2008. Yay! 
Mmm yummy chicken! 
I was so excited about the lemon meringue pie but when it arrived, there was far too much lemon and nowhere near enough meringue. Boo!
As we were eating, a couple of American tourists came in and said the funniest thing I have ever overheard:
"Is that The Beatles where it says Razorlight? It must be".
Ok, fair enough, I can understand the question. A black and white photo of four (mostly) scruffy-haired men could possibly look like The Beatles if you're unfamiliar with them. It was the "It must be" that got me. Because there couldn't possibly be any photos of four men on a pub wall in England unless they were The Beatles.  
On the way home, we passed a market stall selling vintage instruments and I finally got the vintage accordion I have dreamed of for years! Let me tell you a little story. Picture the scene: It's October 2006 and a little emo kid has just started university in Winchester. One day, she heads into the city centre and sits down on the steps of the Buttercross monument to listen to an accordion player busking. She drops her Coca Cola bottle lid and the busker's dog eats it. 8 years later, in that very spot, is the market stall selling a 1960s accordion. Is that fate or what? 

I can't believe how much we packed into 3 hours! It was a very productive afternoon. I really love Winchester and I'm so happy that we'll be celebrating our wedding there this summer. 

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  1. 3 hours, wow! Good work! Winchester looks so interesting, I've never been before but there's obviously a lot to see. I love the pub, what a great place for your meal :) congrats! xxx
    La Lingua : Food, Life, Love, Travel, Friends, Italy

    1. It's a really lovely place. Small, but beautiful. I really recommend you visit sometime.

  2. I say it everytime you put anything about Winchester, but I bloomin' love the place! Absolutely love your comment about the people that ran away with muggles! xxx

    1. I'm so glad you noticed that! I sneaked it in there all serious-like just to see if anyone would sya anything haha!

  3. Haha Rich's face in that photo. I can tell he loves dressing up as much as my boyfriend does...
    Your venue looks amazing.
    Water Painted Dreams xxx

    1. Men and fancy dress, eh? They need to lighten up!

  4. Winchester is so beautiful, and thankfully quite a short trip from me so I get to go fairly often! You've captured some of it's most beautiful areas, and I'm sure your wedding there will be stunning! xxx

    1. I love Winchester. It's only a 25 minute train journey away but I only go once or twice a year. I should really visit more often because it's so lovely!

  5. I'm off to Winchester for a wedding at the end of the month. Any tips on what to see on a Friday evening/Sunday morning? x

  6. This looks like a lovely location for your wedding, I hope it's a bit more sunny though!


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