5 Facts about Winchester
1. The legend of St Swithun originates in Winchester – according to the legend, the saint’s remains were moved against his dying wishes from their final resting place in the grounds of the cathedral to the inner sanctum, whereupon it proceeded to rain for 40 days as a sign of his displeasure. Now, if it rains on the saint’s day (15th July), it is said to herald another 39 days of rain!
2. The Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time potting shed is located at Sparsholt College, just outside of Winchester. Sparsholt is also one of the few regular venues in the UK for lawnmower racing.
3. Marwell Wildlife is the only place in the UK where you can see the Coquerels Mouse Lemur and the Dorcas Gazelle. It also has some of the world’s rarest big cats including the Amur leopard and the snow leopard, and one of the smallest – the enchanting sand cat. Visitors can stay at the adjacent Marwell Hotel – a unique safari-style building in a woodland setting.
4. Feast your eyes on the spectacular Avenue of Limes at charming 17th century Lainston House. Measured at 9/10ths of a mile, it is the longest line of limes in England, with trees dating back as far as 1716. Guests staying at the hotel can enjoy a truly English weekend with croquet on the lawn, fishing on the River Test and clay pigeon shooting.
5. Despite Winchester’s association with King Alfred, no one has ever found his remains. Thanks to excavations at the end of the 1990s, the location of a medieval abbey church was identified at Hyde, situated on the northern outskirts of the city, and this was found to be the last known resting place of Alfred the Great. Kim Wilkie, one of the foremost landscape architects in the UK, has designed a contemporary garden to mark the site. Sadly, the bodies of Alfred, his Queen and his son which were buried here have still not been found…