Winchester is a city and the county town of Hampshire, England. The city lies at the heart of the wider City of Winchester, a local government district, and is located at the western end of the South Downs National Park, along the course of the River Itchen. It is situated 61 miles (98 km) south-west of London and 13.6 miles (21.9 km) from Southampton, its closest city. At the time of the 2011 Census, Winchester had a population of 45,184. The wider City of Winchester district which includes towns such as Alresford and Bishop’s Waltham has a population of 116,800
Winchester developed from the Roman town of Venta Belgarum, which in turn developed from an Iron Age oppidum. Winchester’s major landmark is Winchester Cathedral, one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, with the distinction of having the longest nave and overall length of all Gothic cathedrals in Europe. The city is home to the University of Winchester and Winchester College, the oldest public school in the United Kingdom still to be using its original buildings.
The area around Winchester has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with three Iron Age hillforts, Oram’s Arbour, St. Catherine’s Hill, and Worthy Down all in the nearby vicinity. In the Late Iron Age, a more urban settlement type developed, known as an oppidum, although the archaeology of this phase remains obscure. It was overrun by the confederation of Gaulish tribes known as the Belgae sometime during the first century BCE. It seems to have been known as Wentā or Venta, from the Brittonic for “town” or “meeting place”.
After the Roman conquest of Britain, the settlement served as the capital (Latin: civitas) of the Belgae and was distinguished as Venta Belgarum, “Venta of the Belgae”. Although in the early years of the Roman province it was of subsidiary importance to Silchester and Chichester, Venta eclipsed them both by the latter half of the second century. At the beginning of the third century, Winchester was given protective stone walls. At around this time the city covered an area of 144 acres (58 ha), making it among the largest towns in Roman Britain by surface area. There was a limited suburban area outside the walls. Like many other Roman towns however, Winchester began to decline in the later fourth century.
Following the Roman withdrawal from Britain in 410, urban life seems to have continued at Venta Belgarum until around 450 AD, and a small administrative centre might have continued after that on the site of the later Anglo-Saxon palace. Ford identifies the community as the Cair Guinntguic (“Fort Venta”) listed by Nennius among the 28 cities of Britain in his History of the Britains. Amid the Saxon invasions of Britain, cemeteries dating to the 6th and 7th centuries suggest a revival of settlement.
The city became known as Wintan-ceastre (“Fort Venta”) in Old English. In 648, King Cenwalh of Wessex erected the Church of SS Peter and Paul, later known as the Old Minster. This became a cathedral in the 660s when the West Saxon bishopric was transferred from Dorchester-on-Thames. The present form of the city dates to reconstruction in the late 9th century, when king Alfred the Great obliterated the Roman street plan in favour of a new grid in order to provide better defence against the Vikings. The city’s first mint appears to date from this period.
In the early tenth century there were two new ecclesiastical establishments, the convent of Nunnaminster, founded by Alfred’s widow Ealhswith, and the New Minster. Bishop Æthelwold of Winchester was a leading figure in the monastic reform movement of the later tenth century. He expelled the secular canons of both minsters and replaced them with monks. He created the drainage system, the ‘Lockburn’, which served as the town drain until 1875, and still survives. Also in the late tenth century, the Old Minster was enlarged as a centre of the cult of the ninth century Bishop of Winchester, Saint Swithun. The three minsters were the home of what architectural historian John Crook describes as “the supreme artistic achievements” of the Winchester School.
The consensus among historians of Anglo-Saxon England is that the court was mobile in this period and there was no fixed capital, but Winchester is described by the historian Catherine Cubittt as “the premier city of the West Saxon kingdom.”
There was a fire in the city in 1141 during the Rout of Winchester. William of Wykeham played a role in the city’s restoration. As Bishop of Winchester he was responsible for much of the current structure of the cathedral, and he founded the still extant public school Winchester College. During the Middle Ages, the city was an important centre of the wool trade, before going into a slow decline. The curfew bell in the bell tower (near the clock in the picture), still sounds at 8:00 pm each evening.
The City Cross (also known as the Buttercross) has been dated to the 15th century, and features 12 statues of the Virgin Mary, saints and various historical figures. Several statues appear to have been added throughout the structure’s history. In 1770, Thomas Dummer purchased the Buttercross from the Corporation of Winchester, intending to have it re-erected at Cranbury Park, near Otterbourne. When his workmen arrived to dismantle the cross, they were prevented from doing so by the people of the city, who “organised a small riot” and they were forced to abandon their task. The agreement with the city was cancelled and Dummer erected a lath and plaster facsimile, which stood in the park for about sixty years before it was destroyed by the weather. The Buttercross itself was restored by G. G. Scott in 1865, and still stands in the High Street. It is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Three notable bronze sculptures can be seen in or from the High Street by major sculptors of the 19th and 20th Centuries, the earliest a monumental statue of Queen Victoria, now in the Great Hall, by Sir Alfred Gilbert (also known as the sculptor of ‘Eros’ in London’s Piccadilly Circus), King Alfred, facing the city with raised sword from the centre of The Broadway, by Hamo Thornycroft and the modern striking “Horse and Rider” by Dame Elizabeth Frink at the entrance to the Law Courts.
The novelist Jane Austen died in Winchester on 18 July 1817 and is buried in the cathedral. While staying in Winchester from mid-August to October 1819, the Romantic poet John Keats wrote “Isabella”, “St. Agnes’ Eve”, “To Autumn”, “Lamia” and parts of “Hyperion” and the five-act poetic tragedy “Otho The Great”.
In 2013 businesses involved in the housing market were reported by a local paper as saying the city’s architectural and historical interest, and its fast links to other towns and cities have led Winchester to become one of the most expensive and desirable areas of the country and ranked Winchester as one of the least deprived areas in England and Wales.
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Winchester es una ciudad situada en el extremo sur de Inglaterra. Es la capital administrativa del condado de Hampshire. Tiene una población aproximada de 35.200 habitantes. Es la sede del gobierno local del distrito 12.
La ciudad tiene importantes edificios históricos como la Catedral, su construcción se inició en el siglo XI y se terminó en el siglo XVI; la Gran Sala, el único resto existente del Palacio Real; y el Winchester College, escuela privada construida en el año 1382.
La Gran Sala se reconstruyó en algún momento entre los años 1222 y 1235. Es conocida porque en sus paredes estuvo supuestamente colgada la mesa redonda del Rey Arturo. La mesa actual está datada en el siglo XIV por lo que no es contemporánea del rey. A pesar de eso, sigue siendo uno de los principales atractivos para los turistas. La mesa original no estaba pintada. El rey Enrique VIII ordenó que se pintara en el año 1522. Los nombres de los caballeros están escritos alrededor de la mesa.
Los primeros asentamientos en la zona son del periodo anterior a la conquista romana y existen evidencias arqueológicas procedentes de la Edad de hierro. Bajo la ocupación romana, la ciudad, llamada Venta Belgarum, tuvo una importancia considerable.
La ciudad tuvo además importancia histórica al ser la capital del antiguo reino de Wessex desde el año 519. Winchester siguió siendo la capital de Wessex y, por extensión, de Inglaterra. Luego siguió el vikingo Canuto el Grande que también tuvo a Winchester como su capital durante su reinado (1016-1035)1 y tras la conquista normanda fue cuando la capital se trasladó a Londres. Un importante incendio ocurrido en la ciudad en 1141 aceleró su declive.
Guillermo de Wickham (1320-1404) desempeñó un importante papel en la historia de la ciudad. Como obispo de Winchester fue el responsable de la estructura actual de la catedral. Fue también el fundador del Winchester College.
Durante la Edad media, la ciudad fue un importante centro de comercio de la lana hasta que empezó a entrar en un lento declive. La famosa novelista Jane Austen murió en la ciudad y está enterrada en la catedral.