Our Guide to Winchester

Winchester is a large city in Hampshire, on the edge of the South Downs National Park. The city lies along the River Itchen and is situated 60 miles from London and 13 miles from Southampton. The modern city evolved from the Roman town of Venta Belgarum and today it boasts a number of eye-catching landmarks. This blog outlines some of the city’s highlights for anyone visiting or living in the city.

Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral is the centrepiece of Winchester’s heritage, where visitors can discover medieval paintings and carvings and experience the wonder of the cathedral. The cathedral is a Grade 1 listed building and is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, having undergone several transformations since the Pre-Norman period.

Visitors can explore the cathedral at their own pace or join one of the Cathedral tours, beginning each hour from 10am to 3pm. There is also a children’s trail designed especially for younger visitors. Anyone looking for a refreshing drink or something to eat during their visit can visit the café, with its own garden and terrace.

There are a number of events taking place at the Cathedral throughout the year, including classical concerts, open-air theatre and exhibitions. This means that there is always something for everyone all year round. Winchester Cathedral has also hosted several historic events in its long history, including the marriage of Queen Mary I to King Phillip II of Spain in 1554.

The Rifles Museum

The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum is one of five regimental museums in Winchester. Ticket prices are very reasonable at just £5 for adults, and under-16s can visit for free. You can even purchase a Military Museums Joint Ticket for £11, giving you entry to all of Winchester’s military museums.

The Rifles Museum records and displays the history of the Royal Green Jackets and their predecessors. The museum is set out chronologically, displaying information and artefacts in a clear and engaging format. The Waterloo diorama is particularly popular, featuring a 25 square metre model of the famous battlefield as well as 30,000 model soldiers.

There are also a number of new displays focusing on the First World War, particularly the impact of the war on families and the Home Front. The Victoria Cross display adds a personal touch to the theme of honour and sacrifice as it features a touch screen that visitors can use to view information on the actions and backgrounds of the regiments’ 59 Victoria Cross winners.

The Rifles Museum, with its range of exhibits and engaging presentation of the history of the Royal Green Jackets, is a great day out for adults and children alike. Furthermore, the presence of a number of other military museums in Winchester means there is plenty more to see.

Marwell Zoo

The 140-acre Marwell Zoo is home to a huge variety of exotic species, from tiny leafcutter ants to the unusual hamerkop bird to the graceful Rothschild giraffe. The zoo has undergone a significant upgrade; two new exhibits have been opened this year alone.

The zoo’s biggest ever exhibit, the Tropical House, opened Easter 2018 and marks the second phase of the £17-million investment programme. The exhibit spans two levels, allowing visitors to experience the rainforest from the floor to the canopy. The Tropical House offers a truly immersive experience because guests can see and hear the sights and sounds of the rainforest, from the cascading waterfall to the free-flying tropical birds. The exhibit is also home to 2,500 fish, all beautifully displayed in a 70,000-litre aquarium. Furthermore, the exhibit taps into 700 tonnes of animal dung, soiled bedding and leftover hay to heat the exhibit, making it more environmentally friendly.

Another new addition to Marwell Zoo’s collection of immersive exhibits is the Lemur Loop, a walkthrough exhibit where visitors can learn about different species of lemur and the evolution of the lemur. The exhibit boasts four different species of lemur and is planted to reflect the lemurs’ natural habitats. Like the Tropical House, the Lemur Loop offers guests the chance to view the animals up-close in an unrestricted environment.

Alongside the wonderful exhibits, there are great facilities, making Marwell Zoo a brilliant day out for families. The play areas give parents a rest whilst the children let off steam, and visitors can have a bite to eat at one of the many food outlets. The road and rail trains give visitors easy access to all parts of the zoo, so tired legs can have a break whilst you enjoy the ride!

With its range of animals, immersive exhibits and great facilities, Marwell Zoo is a must-visit for adults and children alike.

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