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The Ancient City of York.

York is a cathedral city in the county of North Yorkshire in the north east of England. It is a walled city with a long history stretching over 2000 years, although it is believed that the area has been inhabited from as far back as 7-8000BC.  The city was founded by the Romans in 71AD, they called it Eboracum. This was the name of one of the tribes living in that area at that time. This northern part of Britain was named Britannia Inferior by the Romans and the city was made the roman capital of this province. Once the Romans left in 415AD it was taken over by the Angles and renamed Eoforwic and became the capital of the Kingdom of Northumbria, In 866AD the Vikings captured the city and it was renamed again Jorvik and was once again a capital but this time of the greater part of northern England also being named Jorvik. Once the Norman invasion of 1066 took a hold of Britain the name of York was used and the city evolved into a major wool trading centre. During the Middle Ages the Province of York was one of the two centres of power for the Church of England and shares this power with that of Canterbury to this day.

With its location being exactly midway between the two capitals of London and Edinburgh it has long been a centre of much importance, significantly so in during the rise of the railway system of the 19th century. In recent years much of that industrial past has been lost together with its other notable industries of chocolate and confectionery. During my time living in that area I lived very close to the Rowntree factory, that and Terry’s were one time two of the major employers of the city. Sadly these two confectioners along with all the others have moved their production to overseas. The major industries of the city today are the University of York, the health services and tourism. The most notable of attractions is the York Minster, the first Minster or church was built in the 7th century for the baptism of Edwin in 627, Edwin then ordered the small wooden church be rebuilt in stone but he was killed in 633 and the task of rebuilding it fell to his successor Oswald. Around this time the oldest school still in existence today in England was founded now known as St. Peter’s school. During the time of the Norman invasion of Britain the people of York rebelled and much of the city was burnt to quell this uprising including the stone Minster. It was decided to begin building a new Minster on a new site and in 1080 the then Archbishop Thomas oversaw its beginning, recent excavations have found this site to be on top of the original fortifications laid down by the Romans.

As the city further prospered it became a major centre for trading. Cloth, wax, canvas and oats were imported from places like Belgium and Holland and grain and wool were exported to these areas as well as to parts of what is now France.

In 1190 York was the centre of an infamous mass killing. The Jewish population of the city sought sanctuary after being besieged by a mob and they were trapped inside the fortified Clifford’s Tower. After a few days inside a fire was started and up to 150 of those trapped inside perished.

Guy Fawkes was born and educated in York and he was one of the key members of the gunpowder plot that attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament while all the rulers of the country were inside including the King James I in 1605.

Much of the city’s history through the rail industry is on show at the National Railway Museum which opened in York in 1975, despite its being 200 miles north of London fast trains between the two cities take only 2 hours. York was voted European Tourism city of the year in 2007, beating 130 other European cities to gain that honour.

At one time it was believed that 365 pubs or public houses were situated within the city walls, so you could drink at a different one each night for a year, sadly many of these drinking dens are no longer in existence but there is still plenty to do within the city and beyond for both the drinker and teetotaler.


Its References Within Literature Colchester or Camulodunum as it was known then was mentioned in 'The Annuls of Imperial Rome' by the Roman historian Tacitus. It was described as an established settlement which was then later raised to the ground by

Colchester is the only town in the UK to be mentioned in the novel 'Nineteen Eighty Four' by George Orwell. In the novel it was described as being the target of attack by nuclear weapons.

The book describes many cities in North America, Europe and Russia as being under attack. Only Colchester, England is mentioned by name.

It is also reputed to be the setting for three of the better known of English nursery rhymes. 'Old King Cole', 'Humpty Dumpty' and 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star'. King Cole or Coel was a legendary king of ancient Britain, with Colchester being his capital (this was at a time when the present day Britain was made up of many smaller kingdoms). Chester deriving from the Latin term for fortified place (castrum), so many thought Colchester meant Coles Castle. Cole's daughter Helena married the Roman senator sent from Rome. Their son became Emperor Constantine I. The towns emblem of a cross and three crowns is from this era.

Humpty Dumpty is also strongly connected to the town, during the siege of Colchester (1648) during the English Civil War (1641-51), a sniper known as one eyed Thompson used the advantage of height from the belfry and was given name of Humpty Dumpty because of his size. Thompson was shot and eventually the town was overrun.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star was written in 1806 by Jane Taylor and originally published with the shorter title 'The Star'.

Colchester has also been linked to being the possible sight of Camelot, mainly through its Roman name of Camulodunum. If Camelot ever existed it is usually thought to have been much at a location much further to the west than this one.

The author Daniel Defoe is connected with the town, although these connections appear to be through his writing of the plague and its affect on Colchester rather than his actually having lived in the town.

The Oldest Town in Britain! Colchester is a town with a population of a little over 100,000 in Essex in Eastern England. I was based in the garrison town in the late 1970's during my military service. It is the oldest recorded Roman town in  Britain; Colchester also makes a claim as to being the oldest town in Britain. It was considered by the Romans as their capital while they occupied a large part of Britain, the town also declares itself to have the oldest recorded market in the United Kingdom. The town is located just 56 miles to the northeast of London with good road connections via the A12 and regular rail links to the capital.

A settlement has been on the site of the present day town since before the Roman invasion of Britain, it was at that time known as Camulodunon, meaning 'the fortress of the war god Camolus.' Slight variations in spelling occurred during the years of its being under the occupying force from 43AD. A legionary fortress was established here which was attacked and destroyed by Queen Boudicea during her rebellion in 61AD. After this destruction of the city the role of capital of the Roman province of Britannia moved to London. The Romans built the town walls between the years 65-80AD, these fortifications were some 3,000 yards in length. In 2004 during an archaeological dig during redevelopment of the barracks the discovery was made of the remains of a Roman Circus or Chariot race track, this was a unique find in Britain and gives more proof of the importance of this site to the Romans.

After the Romans left and the next force in Britain were the Saxons, they called the town Colne Ceaster, the tower of the Holy Trinity Church dates from the Saxon era. The Vikings from nearby East Anglia overran most of Essex including Colchester in the late 9th century; it remained under Viking rule until the year 920 when it was retaken by the army of Edward the Elder.

Colchester Castle dates from the 11th century and was built on top of the vaults of the Roman temple. There are a few surviving buildings from medieval times including the gateway to the Benedictine abbey of St John the Baptist and the ruins of the Augustinian Priory known as St Botolphs.

The second half of the 16th century brought the arrival of weavers and cloth makers from Flanders (parts of Belgium, Holland and northern France), this was due to its being an area of high wool production, and the area  became famous for the production of quality cloths. During this time Colchester was one of the most prosperous towns in the country.

The author Daniel Defoe(1659-1731) write in his novel 'A tour through England and Wales' mentioned of the effect on Colchester by the plague or Black Death in 1665. He stated that the number that died here was more than that of London.

In 1884 a very rare event for Britain hit the town, now known as the Colchester earthquake it measured 4.7 and caused extensive local damage.

Since the Roman invasion there has been a military garrison in the town, it is also home to the only military corrective training centre in the UK. Known as the glasshouse it houses servicemen and women from all the services sentenced to spend time in detention. It is much stricter than civilian prisons and very few reoffend after being released from there.

Continuing on with the series of towns and cities within the United Kingdom the latest being the town of Aldershot. The town is located in the county of Hampshire and just 37 miles to the south west of London on the  county border with neighbouring Surrey.

The town has a population of less than 35,000, and is famous for its links with the British Army. Rising from a small village on heath land to a sizable permanent camp and area of military manoeuvres in Victorian times, Aldershot is now known as the home of the British Army, in fact it became my home for almost 2 years in the mid 1970's.

The original name for the settlement was Alder, meaning a wet or boggy place. In the Doomsday book of 1086 it was referred to as Alreshete. Before 1850 Aldershott, as it was spelt at that time was an area of common land, a wasteland of unsuitable use for agriculture with a wild and scant population, so no surprise it was given to the military. It was known as a dangerous area, on the London to Winchester turnpike. The area of the road between Bagshot and Farnham known as the Farnborough Road was often a place of highway robberies. Many infamous highwaymen would hold up the coaches travelling on the road. Dick Turpin (1705-39) being the most famous of these.

In the 1850's and with the ongoing war in the Crimea the heath land was acquired and the military base began to grow rapidly. The area had a population of just 875 in 1851, to over 16,000 inhabitants just ten years later. Queen Victoria became a regular visitor to Aldershot and a royal pavilion was erected for her Jubilee review on 21st June 1887. 60,000 troops were lined up for this parade, with royalty and VIPs from all over Europe and the British Empire in attendance.

The presence of the military led to the emergence of the Aldershot Military Tattoo. Becoming the Military Searchlight Tattoo hosting spectacular displays from each of the branches of the military services, this annual  international event ran from 1922 until 1939. Before the emergence of the Edinburgh Tattoo the Aldershot show was the largest military show of its kind. The Aldershot show still runs to this day, scaled down after the Second World War, held at the Rushmoor arena and now known as the Army Show.

In 1972 the military town was a victim of a bombing campaign by the IRA. Seven people (all civilian staff) were killed (one a Catholic Priest) when a car bomb was placed outside the HQ of the Parachute Brigade. This led to a heightened level of security of the military bases. Until that time many of the military areas were open, the erection of high security fences and road closures changed the face of the military areas of the town.

In the 30 or so years since this attack many of the military establishments have moved to other locations elsewhere in the UK, or to the outer edges of the town.

At one time just about every soldier serving in the British Army would have passed through the garrison during his service, Winston Churchill being based there during his early military career. Charlie Chaplin had his first stage appearance in Aldershot at the age of 5, before moving on to much bigger things.

Aldershot has had its share of museums, the Aldershot Military Museum being all that is left now, the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces Museum used to be housed in the military town; it was moved elsewhere in to the Imperial War Museum in 2007.

Away from the military the town has good rail and road links with London. The town has had to adapt to the loss of much of its employment due to the relocation and cutbacks of the military, with many of the areas previously used as barracks now being redeveloped for housing.


Continuing on with a series I recently started on places or cities within the United Kingdom I recently had a request to write on a city I do not know too well. I have not visited the city in recent years, but the  historical significance of the city remains largely the same.

Newcastle, or to give it the full title of Newcastle upon Tyne is a city and metropolitan borough situated in the north east of England. It lies on the north bank of the River Tyne; the area the city now occupies was once the site of a Roman settlement called Pons Aelius. The city's name is due to a castle being built in 1080 by Robert the 2nd, the oldest son of William the Conqueror. The area around the city was once an important centre for the wool trade and later it became a major area for the coal mining industry.

The 16th century brought about a rise in the port and it was once the largest area of shipbuilding and ship repairs in the world. These industries have over the years declined and eventually closed. The city today is largely renowned for its business and cultural centre as well as being classed as being one of the best locations for a night out in the UK.

The city is famous throughout the world for one of its exports Newcastle Brown Ale, an alcoholic drink known as Newky. The Tyne Bridge similar in style to the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia is another famous sight. The city has some areas of poverty ranging to others of great prosperity; the city is classed as being the 20th most populous in England. People originating from the city are known as Geordies, and are easily identified by their heavily accented English.

The Romans were responsible for building a fortified settlement as well as Hadrian's Wall, to keep out invaders from the north. Parts of the wall are still visible today as it stretches 73 miles across the narrow width of Britain at that point.

Once the Romans left Britain the area came under the control of the next invaders and became part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. During this period of its history it was known as Monkchester. A series of  battles with the invading armies of the Danes and then the Normans left the settlement in ruins. Once the wooden castle was erected in 1080 it became known as Novum Castellum or New Castle. Throughout the next turbulent few centuries a stone wall was erected to protect the town from the invaders during the border wars with the Scots. In the 16th century a royal act was passed giving all shipments of coal passage from Newcastle and creating a rivalry between the town and nearby Sunderland that still exists today. The Plague or Black Death hit the city hard with greater than 1 in every 3 inhabitants dying from this outbreak in the 1630's.

The development of the city owed most to its role as a coal city and the phrase taking coals to Newcastle was first recorded in the 16th century. Shipbuilding and engineering added to the cities wealth and it was amongst the leaders during the industrial revolution. Safety lamps for the miners were developed there, Stephenson's Rocket one of the earliest of the steam locomotives was built there.

Many buildings remain from these earlier industrial developments, castle keep from the 14th century being amongst the oldest. Sandhill and Quayside both contain buildings dating from the 15th-18th centuries.

The modern city today is one of the best shopping locations in the United Kingdom with some of the largest shopping centres in the British Isles. Voted the best city in the north in 2007, it has become a popular venue for stag parties and hen nights due to its lively nightlife.

At the last census in 2001 the city had a population of almost 190,000 with 93% of its residents being of white British ethnicity. Many in the city are of Scottish or Irish ancestry with many family names coming from the border towns just to the north. Large numbers of ethnic groups are mostly made up of Pakistani or Indian origin, Chinese and Eastern Europeans are present in the city.

The city has good transport links with the International airport being just 6 miles from the city and connected by the Metro Light Railway, making it possible to be in the city centre in less than 20 minutes. The railway station is one of the main stops on the East Coast main line between London and Edinburgh. London can be reached by train in about 3 hours. The Tyne and Wear Metro system covers a large area of the city and its surroundings with a mixture of over ground and underground track. The city is also very cycle friendly with a good network of off road cycle routes.

If you have enjoyed reading this article you may wish to read some of my other articles on British cities and towns, if wish me to write an article on a location I have not yet covered leave me a comment and I will do my best I can for your chosen place.


For anyone that lives any distance from my local area I always say that I am from Southampton that is because many of them (particularly if they are from overseas) will have not heard of my actual home town.

Eastleigh lies midway between the cities of Southampton and Winchester in the heart of Hampshire in the south of England. My parents moved here when I was just 6 years old and it remained my home until I finished school 
 some ten years later and I left home to join the army.

When I was growing up in the town it was back then known as a railway town, a large depot for servicing the trains that ran all across the country was situated on the edge of the town and many local people were employed at that site. On leaving school a number of my former school mates chose this as a career choice.

A settlement known as East Leah was first established on the site from 932AD. Leah being an ancient Anglo-Saxon word meaning 'a clearing or gap in a forest'. It was not until the building of the railway in 1838 and the choice of a station at the little village of Barton that gave rise to what has now become a large sized town. The London and South Western Railway Company were to originally call the stop Bishopstoke Junction. In 1868 the joint villages of Barton and Eastley were one parish and a noted local authoress at the time (Charlotte Yonge) was given the task of choosing the new name. She chose Eastley but with a new spelling and so this modern spelling took over as the name of the new parish of Eastleigh. In 1891 the railway company transferred its carriage and wagon works from London to the new site and the boom town began its expansion. The locomotive works were transferred to the town in 1909. This major employer of the town closed its doors in 2006 and a large part of the town's original industry was gone.

Many of the streets in the town centre were built to the west of the railway and the grid pattern of the centre still mostly exists today. A parish church, the Church of the Resurrection was built largely with a  donation by Charlotte Yonge although this church now is in ruins after a fire largely destroyed the building in the latter part of the 20th Century. I do remember my Gran living in one of the railway companies houses along Campbell Road one of the few roads in Eastleigh to be built across the railway tracks to the east of the rest of the town.

As well as the rapid expansion in residential developments, other industries were attracted to the town and it has continued to be a mostly prosperous place to live. It has continually been one of the places in the UK with the lowest levels of unemployment and that attracts further business. In 2006 it was ranked as the 9th best place to live in the UK.

The nearby airport now known as Southampton International Airport but actually lies within the borough of Eastleigh was the home to the spitfire so links the plane to the town. The first spitfires flew from Eastleigh aerodrome as it was then known. A replica spitfire is positioned on the traffic island at the entrance to the airport as a reminder of that past.

The town has a few links to some famous people, the most famous being the late comedian Benny Hill who during his early life lived in the town and worked as a milkman which was the inspiration for Ernie the fastest milkman in the west, a song that he recorded in 1971. A new road was named in his honour although many of the residents were not so amused by this choice.

I continue to have links to the town; both my parents lived the remainder of their lives there and two of my sisters still live in the town. Any time that I return I am interested to see any new changes as it continues to expand, though today at a slower pace


Southampton- My Home City! 

Some Facts and Other Information for You other information about my home city.

Southampton is positioned at the northern end of Southampton Water and at the confluence of two rivers the Test and the Itchen.

There has been a settlement on the site of the present city since the year 43AD, although it was not officially given city status until 1964.

The urban area of the city gives it a population of just over 300,000, making it the largest populated area in the county of Hampshire. The city is the third most densely populated city in England.

The city is situated 62miles south west of London making it easily accessible to the capital city and many commuters choose to make the journey daily.

There is a large University in the city which is responsible for keeping the average age of its residents to a relatively young age. Other large employers are Ford Motor Company (it is known as the home to the Transit), the Ordnance Survey and the NHS.

Southampton is one of the largest commercial ports in Europe with many cruise ships being based in the port. The famous unsinkable ship the RMS Titanic sailed from the port on its ill-fated maiden voyage with many of its crew being from the city. The port is one of the largest container terminals in the UK, as well as being an entry or exit point for many new cars.

A native of the city is known as a Sotonian, and the city is often shortened to Soton particularly on road signs.

The famous aircraft of World War 2 the spitfire was associated with the city; they were built on the site of the Ford Transit plant just to the north of the city and next to the airport.

 Evidence suggests that the area has been inhabited since the Stone Age; the Romans developed a fortress here in 43AD calling it Clausentum. After the Romans left the next occupiers were the Anglo-Saxons giving it the  name of Hamwic, this in turn became Hamtun and later Hampton. With the arrival of the Vikings and then in 1066 the Normans the importance of the growing settlement grew and in the 12th Century a castle was built to help protect the port. A few buildings survive from this period the most famous being King John's House.

The town walls were built and extended from 1175 until 1380. Parts of the original walls still survive today though much of it was lost during the Second World War. Some of the original towers and gates are still standing today. The present day Museum of Archaeology also known as Gods House Tower was built in 1417 and was the first purpose built artillery fortification in England.

It was once an important site for shipbuilding, and until its closure in 2004 the shipyard of Vosper Thorneycroft had built many ships for the British Navy for almost one hundred years.

The Bargate situated along the High Street (also known as Above Bar and Below Bar) has a bloodthirsty history as a former site of executions for the ringleaders of the Southampton plot after they were found guilty of treason against the King in 1415.

From the 18th Century the port has been the embarkation point for many going off to fight in wars overseas.

The Pilgrim Fathers set sail from Southampton on board the Mayflower in 1620 en route to the New World. The Cunard line was based in the city bringing in many wealthy passengers ready to voyage on the Queen's Mary and Elizabeth. The latest liner of that style the QE3 is based in the city.

Southampton is a city of many cultural and multi ethnical groups. The largest group is a mostly quite recent addition, over 10% of the city's population is from Poland, and the city also has large communities of Asian and Irish.

The opening of the WestQuay shopping centre in 2000 gave the city one of the largest inner city retail parks in the country and attracted many of the major high street stores. A further phase of expansion is due to open in 2012. With many other smaller shopping malls close by in the city centre Southampton was rated as the 13th best place for shopping in the UK in 2007.

A recent announcement was for an ice rink to be built in the city, since the closure of the last one in the 1980's it has been a long wait for a replacement.

The city has the longest surviving medieval walls in England, a Titanic Museum is planned to open in 2012 -100 years after the sinking.

Over 80% of the Titanic's crew were from the city, over a third of those that perished hailed from there. A titanic memorial in one of the city's parks remembers them.

The Southampton International Boat Show is held on the waterfront every September and is renowned as the largest on water show, attracting many thousands of visitors to the city each year and showing its strong links  with the sea.

In a survey of young singles it was rated as the best place to live in the UK outside of London, it is very much a student orientated city with an abundance of bars. Another survey rated it as the 3rd most dangerous city to live in the UK, again just behind London.

The Mayflower theatre hosts many shows from the West End of London when these go on nationwide tours, as well as many other live shows including music. The Nuffield theatre host more local productions and there are also a number of venues across the city for live music.

Sport is well represented across the city with the main two being football with the city's team being Southampton FC and playing its home games at the St Mary's Stadium in the city. Cricket is played at the Rose Bowl to the east of the city and is the home to Hampshire Cricket Club.

Accommodation within the city caters for many pockets from luxury hotels to smaller guest houses and hostels.

Winchester and Its Famous Buildings!
 The one building the city is most famed for is its Cathedral, work started on building the present cathedral in the 11th century, although an earlier site of religious worship was erected in 642ad and known as the Old Minster.

The full title of the present building is the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity, and of St Peter and St Paul and of St Swithun. It belongs to the Church of England, the religion created by King Henry the VIIIth to satisfy his wishes for divorce.

It is the seat of the Bishop of Winchester, belonging to the Diocese of the city and falls under the ruling of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is one of the largest Cathedrals in England; it has the longest nave and overall length of any of the Gothic Cathedrals in Europe. It is a little over 170 metres in length.

The site of the cathedral was built on somewhat unstable foundations and for many years it was in danger of collapsing, some major restoration work was carried out between 1905 and 1912. A diver (William Walker) had to work for six hours each day in total darkness in depths of up to 6 metres placing 25,000 bags of concrete, 115,000 blocks and nearly a million bricks to pack the foundations and save the cathedral from sinking further. He alone is credited with saving the cathedral and was later awarded the MVO (Member of the Victorian Order, a form of knighthood).

Many tourists visit the city every year, most are drawn for the Cathedral and its association with the novelist Jane Austin who died in the city and is buried in the Cathedral. Other writers have also written about the  city and its buildings, it has also been featured during filming movies the most recent being the De Vinci Code. It is also the only Cathedral to have had songs written about it. Since 2006 there has been an admission charge for visitors wishing to see inside the building, this is now a common practice in most buildings of this type throughout the United Kingdom and is an important part of the revenue raised to keep the buildings in the best condition possible.

Winchester College is another famous spot that attracts many visitors; the school has been in existence since 1382 and is the longest running school in England. The original plan of the school was to educate poor boys before they were moved on to a life in the church. It has become an elitist school with many of the country's top scholars attending here or at other similar schools like Harrow or Eton. Some of the more famous former pupils have been high in the church, politicians and even one person that was a later suspect as being Jack the Ripper.

Winchester Castle or all that remains is the Great Hall, is famous for its Round table dating from 1275. The Great Hall was built around 1220 to 1235 and today houses King Arthur's Round Table.

This table has hung on the wall since at least 1463, although named for the King and his legendary Knights of the Round Table it was originally unpainted but was completed in this way for King Henry the VIII in 1522. The Great Hall is close to the much more modern building of the Law Courts, close by are what remains of the Peninsula Barracks and several military museums.

The Hospital of St Cross is situated just outside the city centre was founded by Henry De Blois in 1130 as a place of pilgrimage and safe overnight rest for pilgrims on route to Canterbury along the ancient route of the South Downs. Since the 14th Century (and still available today) is a wayfarers dole of bread and ale issued to travellers on this route. They still make their own form of beer in the almshouse adjacent to the Norman Chapel.

Some of the other notable buildings to visit in the city areWolvesey Castle and Palace, built in 1110 by Henry De Blois only the ruins remain today. Dating from 1871 the Guildhall built in the Gothic style and a number  of watermills survive or have been restored. The Winchester City Mill is one of the better examples of this restoration and you can watch corn being milled by water power, the mill is owned by the National Trust. Although the city remained largely untouched by the devastation other city's suffered during the Second World War many of its old town walls were removed post war to make way for more modern building projects. Since the 1980's much has been done to replace this destruction and redevelop some of the medieval history lost in that period of wanton development.


Ancient Capital of England The ancient English city of Winchester lies in the heart of the southern county of Hampshire; the city is the county town or administrative centre of the county. Winchester is a small city by comparison with many others  around it, with a population of just over 41,000 at the last census it is dwarfed in population by many towns in the area.

The city lies at the western end of the South Downs, a line of chalk ridges stretching away to the point where they meet the English Channel some 70 miles away at Beachy Head. The River Itchen runs through the city, the river was at one time widened and straightened (called the Itchen Navigation Canal) to allow boats to navigate their way upstream from Southampton. The introduction of the railway brought about an end to the canals commercial use.

There is evidence of settlements on the site for thousands of years, at one time it was known as Winton, it has one of the largest Cathedrals in Europe and is the ancient capital of Wessex and later England. The Romans set up the town of Venta Belgarum on the site of what is now the city, fortifying it with walls which became the base for the modern city.

The Cathedral is the landmark that is at first spotted, it is one of the largest in England and has the longest nave and overall length of all the Gothic style of Cathedrals in Europe.
 Before the arrival of the Romans there was an Iron Age fort close to the location of the present day city. After the Romans left the name of Wintanceastre was adopted with the arrival in 519 of the Anglo-Saxons.  
Winchester became the capital of Wessex in 686 after King Caedwalla of Wessex defeated his rival King Atwald of Wight. Saint Swithun was the bishop of the city in the mid 9th Century; from where we now get St. Swithun's Day on the 15th of July (Tradition has it that whatever the weather may be on that day, then that will be the weather for the next 40 days and nights). The street plan laid out by Alfred the Great is still evident today and overlaid the Roman system. The fortified towns were laid out across the Kingdom of Wessex by Alfred as a form of protection from invaders and were known as Burgh's or Burhs. The Roman walls were mostly destroyed with only one section still remaining; the medieval walls are still able to be seen in places. There were four main gates into the town one in each of the directions of the compass as well as the additional ones of Durngate and Kings Gate.

At the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 Winchester was still the capital of England, the Doomsday Book was compiled in the city in 1086 (the first accounts of landowners and thus the first form of taxation).

Winchester's role as the capital was coming to an end with William the Conqueror preferring the location of London for his capital, a fire in 1141 reduced much of the city to ashes and its days as the leading city in the land were to soon be over. William of Wykeham (1320-1404) was important in restoring much of the city, in his role of bishop of Winchester he was largely responsible for the current structure of the Cathedral, he was also given the credit for the public school at Winchester College (this school still exists to this day. Some of the UK's richest people send their children to this very exclusive school). During the middle ages it was an important centre for the wool trade before that industry went into decline. A curfew bell would ring out at 8pm each evening for the city's fires to be extinguished in each person's homes until the morning; this bell still rings out at that hour to this day.
The famous novelist Jane Austen died in Winchester on 18th July 1817 and is buried in the city's Cathedral. The poet John Keats lived in Winchester during part of 1819 and wrote some of his works there.

There are a number of historic buildings within the centre of this small city, a city steeped in the history of the Kingdom of Wessex and later of England, with the more modern links of motorways and train it is easily reached from the present capital in about one hour, with many places to stay overnight if the one day is not enough to learn all there is about this small but important place in Britain's past.



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