5 lesser-known historical facts about Winchester
The city of Winchester is steeped in history. Most streets have a story to tell and, as a result, prove a popular location for tourists and keen historians. Well, you may think you know everything about Winchester but we think these five facts will surprise some Winchester residents!
1. The Butter Cross was nearly relocated
In 1770, Winchester’s much-loved Butter Cross was purchased by Thomas Dummer to be re-erected at Cranbury Park, Otterbourne. However, the city residents weren’t prepared to say goodbye to the iconic landmark. When workmen arrived to remove the cross, inhabitants had organised a small riot. The protest was so successful the workmen were forced to abandon their task.
Imagine, where would everyone meet if we had lost the beloved Butter Cross?
2. The Cathedral almost collapsed
The experienced diver, William Walker, was called in to repair the waterlogged foundations of Winchester Cathedral in the early 1900s. The building had begun to sink into the peaty soil below. He worked underwater every day for 6 years, for 6 hours at a time in darkness, repairing the damaged foundations! We now share a drink in the popular William Walker pub in his honour.
3. The Discovery Centre building hasn’t always been a library
The public library has had many functions over the years. Originally a Corn Exchange in 1873, the building has also played host to a dance hall, cinema and restaurant. In addition, unbeknownst to many Winchester residents, underneath the rear car park lies a WW2 air raid shelter.
4. The 8 o’clock chimes are telling you to go home
Ever wondered why bells chime every day at 8pm in Winchester city centre? This custom dates back to medieval times and was originally used as a curfew bell for the residents of Winchester.
5. The Cathedral Close is home to the oldest hammer-beamed building
The oldest surviving hammer-beamed building in England stands in our much-loved city. The Pilgrims Hall, in The Cathedral Close, dates back to 1310 and now serves as an assembly hall for the boys at The Pilgrims’ School.