This was once the capital of England - you really should visit!
Located South-west of London but once far more important than London. This small cathedral city is dripping in thousands of years worth of history. Some would even argue because the British Isles has had humans occupying it for hundreds of thousands of years this remarkable little place in ye old England has probably seen more action over time than even the greatest archaeologists could ever fathom. To ponder and wonder about it all would take a thousand lifetimes. And yet on a brisk overcast day in peak winter, I decided to explore this remarkable city in 1 hour! That city is - WINCHESTER.
From what we know for certain; Man had settlements where Winchester is today for at least 2,000+ years. Although the Winchester that exists today really started when the Romans landed in Kent in AD 43 and with little resistance from the nearby tribes to Winchester began building the first real roads that makeup today's Winchester. In the early days, Winchester was known as Venta Belgarum or market place of the Belgae. This Roman new town developed over the centuries of occupation to become the region’s capital, with streets laid out in a grid pattern to accommodate the splendid houses, shops, temples and public baths.
Sadly as the Roman Empire became more indulgent and short-sighted to the new arrivals who made up its empire it eventually collapsed at the end of the 5th Century AD. With this,
the Romans abandoned the ancient city of Venta Belgarum. For the rest of the fifth century and early sixth century, England entered what is now referred to as the Dark Ages. It was during these Dark Ages that the Anglo-Saxons became established in southern and eastern England. It was the Saxons that referred to a Roman settlement as a ‘caester’, and so in west Saxon Wessex, Venta Belgarum became Venta Caester, before being changed to Wintancaester and eventually corrupted to Winchester.
The fact is a small post on a blog can't really do Winchester any justice when it comes to digesting the history of this historic place. For those of you of a curious nature - I attempted to absorb as much of this fine city as possible in my latest YouTube video.
However, when you visit Winchester for yourself, I would urge you to make a weekend out of it. Support the local Airbnb's, Bed & Breakfasts & hotels for we all know that thanks to global lockdowns these people are going to need your assistance in the months to come.
When absorbing the city of Winchester, immerse yourself in its history, read up on England's Great King Alfred. For he truly was a remarkable chap and without him, England may be a very different place to what it is today. Although. Alfred was born at Wantage in Berkshire, he remains Winchester’s most famous son. Alfred "The Great". Alfred (Aelfred) became ruler of the West Saxons after he and his brother defeated the Danish Vikings at the Battle of Ashdown. In 871 at the tender age of 21, Alfred was crowned King of Wessex and established Winchester as his capital.
To protect his kingdom against the Danes, Alfred organised the defences of Wessex. He built a navy of new fast ships to defend against attack from the sea. He organised the local militia into ‘rapid reaction forces’ to deal with raiders from the land, and started a building programme of fortified settlements across England from which these forces could gather to defend.