Vibrant Ancient Cultured
As athletes from all over the world prepare to compete in England’s modern-day capital city, the country’s ancient first city of Winchester offers the perfect location for a training camp. Only an hour’s journey south of London and well served by train, coach and plane connections, this attractive location is a long-time favourite with visitors.
An unspoilt cathedral city on the edge of the South Downs, Winchester was the former seat of King Alfred the Great, one of history’s outstanding scholars, soldiers and statesmen. Popular today for its shopping streets and architecture, its floral season and quirky open air events, Winchester is most well known for its eleventh century cathedral and for its Great Hall which houses the centuries-old Round Table. Winchester College is one of the finest and oldest schools in the country, whilst the Hospital of St Cross - a medieval almshouse - still offers the Wayfarer's Dole to travellers as it has done for more than eight centuries.
Home of the English language, birthplace of the modern game of cricket and burial place of author Jane Austen, Winchester draws four million visitors each year. There are plenty of places to eat and drink, providing for most tastes and budgets. With a clement climate (temperatures varying by no more than one or two degrees from London) and plenty of year-round attractions and activities, Winchester is a city for all seasons.
Winchester’s 40,000 residents include an energetic student population from two university sites. Winchester is compact and families tend to live here for generations, so it is a friendly place with a strong sense of community. With a low crime rate and very low unemployment, it is small wonder Winchester was named the number one place to live in the UK in 2006.
There is great interest in leisure and learning opportunities. The city is already considering an arts festival to celebrate the nationality of any visiting teams in the run-up to the Olmpics. Winchester’s sporting profile has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years and the planned athletics track is already providing a focal point for 2012. Residents love public events which bring world culture to their doorstep, and the region’s media are enthusiastic partners in the promotion of cultural and community initiatives. Winchester is also proud of its own history and heritage, and current proposals to build an international visitor attraction based on the development of the English language are driven both by this pride and by the natural enterprise and creativity which pervades the city.
The Winchester welcome
Winchester has welcomed tourists for many centuries and provides an excellent introduction to the English way of life. The Mayor of Winchester loves to receive people in the official residence at Abbey House. As part of its support for 2012, local attractions would certainly wish to offer special admission arrangements to enable visiting teams and their families to make the most of the city’s varied facilities from the cathedral to the zoological park, and from the theatre to the leisure centre.
The district’s dozen twinning organisations already organise inter-country exchanges, including a youth football tournament in 2007 sponsored by local businesses. Families regularly host visiting sports teams, choirs, actors and other performers.
The city is keen to welcome those with a range of disabilities, with a range of services and assistance available for those who need it. The historic heart of Winchester boasts a wheelchair trail marked out by pavement discs, and tourist guides are trained to offer walks or talks for those with special needs or in other languages.
There is good transport provision in the city including taxi, bus, car/van hire facilities and community minibuses. There is even a fleet of volunteer-powered heritage buses to provide a vintage view of the city. Winchester Tourist Information Centre – which won a national gold award for its services in 2006 – offers first-hand advice about every aspect of a visit.
Find out more about Winchester at www.visitwinchester.co.uk and take a look at the photos gallery on www.visitwinchester.co.uk/photo-gallery