Winchester History


Winchester began as a Roman town in 70 AD and was made a regional capital. At the beginning of the 3rd century Winchester was the 5th largest town in Roman Britain. Winchester declined in the 4th century and was abandoned. Late in the 9th century Alfred the Great revived the old Roman town. There was also a Royal Palace in Winchester, probably built in the early 10th century which William the Conqueror rebuilt at twice the size of the old Saxon palace.

Between 1135 and 1154 there was civil war in England between Stephen and Matilda. In 1141 a battle was fought in Winchester, which became known as the rout of Winchester. More trouble followed in 1264 when there was civil war between the king and his barons led by Simon De Monfort.  Winchester declined during the 12th and 13th centuries and in the mid 13th century the royal mint was moved from Winchester to London.

During the civil war that started in 1642 Winchester changed hands several times. In 1651 Cromwell's men destroyed Winchester castle to prevent it ever falling into royalist hands again.

During the 18th century much of Winchester was rebuilt and in 1939 hundreds of schoolchildren from Portsmouth and Southampton were evacuated to Winchester.