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When in...Winchester
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When in...Winchester

Winchester is a place very close to our hearts. It boasts a rich history, ancient architecture, and of course, a rather spectacular cathedral. It was also the city in which we opened our first Neptune store back in 2012. We’re close to many specialist shops and independent eateries as well as places of historical interest, so we wanted to share with you a few of our favourites, should you wish to turn your visit to us into a lovely day out.

To do

Winchester Cathedral

If you’ve never visited this cathedral before, then it’s a must. Once you’ve encountered what is one of largest gothic cathedrals in Europe, it comes as no surprise that some 300,000 people visit each year. A wide range of events are held here throughout the year, from classical concerts and open-air theatre to themed lunches and children’s holiday activities, so it’s worth checking before you visit to see if something takes your fancy. Just be sure to visit the tranquil Dean Garnier Garden – this ‘secret garden’ is one of the cathedral’s hidden gems.

Jane Austen’s House Museum

Just outside the city centre, in the village of Chawton near Alton, is the Jane Austen’s House Museum – the house in which Jane spent the last eight years of her life (1809–1817). It was here that she wrote, revised and had published all her major works, including Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma. Visitors can stand behind her modest writing table, picnic in the cottage garden, and view family portraits, original manuscripts and first editions.

Long Barn

Another worthwhile trip just outside of Winchester is Long Barn in Alresford. Set in two acres of lavender fields, Long Barn grows and distills lavender for use in their own range of skincare and bathing products. There’s a charming cafe offering a fresh, seasonal menu, and a shop where you can pick up a jar of pink grapefruit and lavender marmalade, made by ‘the local jam ladies’ Sue, Liz and Glenda. From Easter, the plant terrace sells a collection of garden plants including, of course, lavender.

Winchester Farmers’ Market

Time your visit to the city to fall on the second and final Sunday of each month, and discover Hampshire’s farmers and artisan producers at Winchester’s Farmers’ Market. Officially the largest in the UK, there are more than 80 stalls, so it’s a great opportunity to pick up a few local ingredients to take home.  

To eat

River Cottage Canteen

Just off the broadway in Winchester city centre is the peaceful setting of Abbey Mill Gardens, where you can eat well, and in good conscience, at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Canteen. Don’t be put off by the word ‘canteen’, this is about as far removed from school as you can imagine. The ever-changing menu includes freshly prepared organic and wild food as well as local cider and beer, and there’s an impressive choice for any little ones you might have with you too.

No.5 Bridge Street

No.5 Bridge Street, with its wooden floors, bare brickwork and art collection, is a popular choice with locals. Located in the city centre, it’s open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner – their brunch menu is especially good, as are their Sunday roasts. You can even extend your stay and spend the night in one of their bedrooms situated above the restaurant.

Chesil Rectory  

One of Hampshire’s most historic independent restaurants, The Chesil Rectory occupies a 600-year-old, Grade II listed medieval house. Inside, a modern country look has been sympathetically woven through the old beams, timbers and inglenook fireplace. Independently owned by a group of food-loving friends, it offers a modern British menu, while upstairs in the ‘Merchant’s Lounge’ you can sip on a Hampshire Gin Martini or a Chesil Negroni.

Jude’s Ice Cream

Jude’s is a family-run Hampshire ice cream company. It all started in 2002 when, inspired to make something special using the milk from their cows, they started serving ice cream in the village pub. They use natural ingredients in all their flavours, and the milk comes from Matterley Farm just down the road. You can stop and enjoy a scoop at Coffee Lab, or alternatively, you can buy a tub from The Good Life Café and Farmshop or Twyford Post Office.

To shop

The Hambledon

The Hambledon has been described as ‘Winchester’s answer to Liberty’, and we think that’s a fair description. Occupying a four-storey, Georgian-fronted building in the town’s Cathedral Square, it’s a treasure-trove of good taste. Womenswear takes up three rooms on the first floor and menswear is housed in the basement, while homeware lives on the ground floor. A mezzanine level stocks a grown-up bath and beauty department, while in the Tudor rooms at the rear of the building, you’ll find stationery, books and a project space that houses temporary exhibitions and collaborations.

P&G Wells

At around 250 years old, P&G Wells is said to be the oldest bookshop in Britain. It’s a rather special place with old-fashioned counters and creaking wooden floorboards. A fascinating mix of the old and the new, it offers a wide range of non-fiction and modern classics alongside newly issued titles. If you have children in tow, head upstairs to the well-stocked children’s department. They even boast an in-house bookbinder. Once you’ve made your book choices, you can settle down in The Wykeham Arms next door to thumb through your purchases while sampling some of the local ale.

Catkin & Pussywillow

Catkin & Pussywillow’s bouquets look like they could’ve been plucked straight out of a 17th-century Dutch still-life painting. The shop’s owner, Ellie, beautifully sums up her business: “Flower shops, like bakers, are one of the last traditional retailers, where our product is patiently crafted by skilled flower mongers onsite.” Located at Winchester station, they’re open six days a week, and also sell house plants, botanical books and scented soy candles.

Sass & Edge

Independent womenswear boutique, Sass & Edge, is a relatively new addition to the city. Theirs is a collection of modern, functional and stylish wardrobe staples that will last many seasons. We love their beautiful cashmere, comfy loungewear and long-lasting denim. It’s a must-visit for anyone who wants to wear something that’s a little bit special.

Neptune Winchester

And while you’re in town, wed love you to stop by.

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