Winchester CastleA year after the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror built a castle at Winchester to protect the the government's seat and the most important stronghold at the time. Originally built in 1067, Winchester Castle defended the south west corner of the Roman town walls which surrounded Winchester.
Under the reign of Henry II, Winchester Castle was extended and the new facilities included a keep, a chapel and royal apartments. These efforts were razed shortly after when the castle was badly damaged in a siege during the reign of King John of England (1199-1216). Faced with the ruins of his birthplace, Henry the Third set about reconstructing Winchester Castle. He rebuilt the eastern defences, the royal chapels and chambers. Of his renovations, all that survives is the Great Hall which has a reputation for being the finest of its kind.
Winchester Castle continued to develop and the combined efforts of Henry the Third and his son Edward I saw Winchester Castle reach a peak of military and domestic development. However, in 1302 the royal apartments were destroyed in a fire which almost claimed the lives of Edward and his second wife.
The Civil War saw a second siege on Winchester Castle. Defended by the Royalists it was attacked Cromwell and after an extensive struggle, Winchester Castle fell into Cromwell's hands. To safeguard his new position, he ordered the destruction of the remains of Winchester and only retained the Great Hall for court assizes and assemblies.
In 1682-85, Charles II built a palace designed by Christopher Wren on the site. The palace was never occupied and became a barracks in 1687. Although few remains of Winchester Castle actually survive, you can enter the castle cellar via a small flight of stairs accessed across the courtyard from the Great Hall. Close to these foundations of Winchester Castle, lies Westgate, a wee museum detailing medieval life in Winchester.
Address: Winchester Great Hall
Postcode: SO23 8PJ
Town/city or near: Winchester