TICKETS & PRICES
Children 5-16 Years: £3.00
Families (2 adults, up to 2 Children): £10.00
Visiting Winchester Castle
The remains of the majestic Winchester Castle lie in Winchester, Hampshire. William I built the first castle in 1067, and later royals rebuilt a stone keep castle. Only the Great Hall remains from the Civil War, and today, visitors may explore the gardens and Great Hall or use it as a wedding venue.
Winchester Castle lies in the city centre off the B3040 and visitors will find the Tower Street car park is a 5-minute walk from the Great Hall.
There are several other parking options in the town centre within walking distance of the castle.
Blue Badge holders will find limited parking on Castle Avenue by prior arrangement by phone at 01962 846476.
Child (5-16 yrs)
Children under 5
Groups of 10+ Persons Adults
Groups of 10+ Persons Children
Family (2 adults, 2 children)
Concessions (*Students, seniors, disabled cardholders)
Visitors may access the Great Hall every day between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The last entry is at 4:30 p.m.
You may buy admission tickets on the day, but Hampshire County Council advises visitors to book online to avoid queues. Also, check the castle website regarding opening times as there may be private functions at the castle site.
Location and Access
The Winchester Castle lies in the centre of the Winchester Village off the B3040, and visitors may find parking a short walk away at the Tower Street car park.
If you are travelling by train, the closest station is Winchester Station, a ten-minute stroll away. The castle address is:
Only the Great Hall remains of the once-mighty Winchester Castle, but visitors may also access the castle sally port underground. These secret passages allowed the castle occupants an element of surprise on enemies or a safe route to the castle in times of siege.
The Castle Avenue that leads to the castle has cobbled stones that might be uneven in certain areas. There is a wheelchair-friendly ramp that provides access to the Great Hall, gardens and visitors may also find seating in the Hall and garden.
The gift shop and bathroom facilities are at the top of a stone staircase, but there is a lift option for those with mobility impairments. Guide dogs and assistance dogs are welcome at the castle site, but pets are not permitted.
Visitors will enjoy the recreated medieval garden, which horticulturists have seeded with herbs and plants that would typically form the heart of a medieval garden. The garden also boasts a tunnelled vine arbour, a fountain, and turf seats.
Weddings and Venue Hire at Winchester Castle
The Hampshire County Council (HCC) offers the Great Hall for special events such as weddings or medieval banquets, and the Hall can hold up to 300 seated guests and 350 standing receptions.
The Hall is also a unique venue for exhibitions and performances and seats 180 guests in cabaret-style seating. Interested parties should email the organisers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Know Before You Go
- Winchester Castle offers wheelchair and lift access for disabled visitors.
- The castle custodians offer fun activities for children, such as colouring activities and dressing up.
- The long Hall Gallery is an informative selection of portraits of the castle's noble and not so noble occupants.
- Only guide or assistance dogs are permitted on the castle site.
- A gift shop is on the castle site and offers a selection of gifts and souvenirs.
- The castle offers Toilets on-site with baby changing facilities.
- The HCC offers guided tours be pre-arrangement and recommends that groups should book before their arrival.
- Visitors may join the daily guided tours between 11 am and 3 pm, subject to staff availability. However, the HCC advises visitors to contact them before their visit to ensure that the guided tours are operational on the day of their visit.
Places To Stay Nearby
Premier Inn Winchester hotel
The centrally located Premier Inn Winchester offers 101 comfortable and competitively priced rooms. The Premier Inn offers ensuite rooms with wifi and flatscreen TVs for a competitive price just a mile (1.60 km) from the city centre.
Winchester Royal Hotel
The Winchester Royal Hotel is a lovingly restored 16th-century building with 81 rooms, an award-winning restaurant, and a stunning walled garden. The hotel also offers venue hire and wedding hire at the hotel.
The Winchester Hotel
The 4 star Winchester Hotel in the heart of Winchester offers a luxury Sap Health Club and award-winning dining for guests. The hotel has 96 rooms on offer with wifi and Freeview flatscreen TVs. The hotel also caters for weddings and important events for up to 130 guests.
History of Winchester Castle
Winchester Castle evolved from Norman motte and Bailey in 1067 to a stone keep castle in the 11th and 12th centuries. The stronghold was a powerful royal residence and was host to several political attacks. Oliver Cromwell ordered the castle destroyed in 1649 after the Civil War.
- 70 AD
The Romans constructed an extensive earth rampart 240 metres (787.40 ft) long by 61 metres wide (200.13 ft). In addition, they built a fort on top of the massive mound to protect the Roman City of Venta Belgarum.
- 878 AD
King Alfred the Great refortified Winchester by using the line of the Roman town wall and enhanced the defence by digging out a double ditch. He modified the pre-existing Roman layout with a new grid structure and rebuilt the town gates.
- 1066 (Norman Stronghold)
Shortly after the Norman Conquest and coronation of William I as King, William began building a fortification on the strategic site.
To show his dominance over the area, he placed his fort in the southwestern corner of the existing town defences by tearing down fifty houses in his path and additional ten dwellings outside the defences for an unobstructed view.
The Roman town walls defended most of the fort, and an earth and timber rampart protected the remaining circumference. Historians suggest that a motte once stood on the southern end of the enclosed defences. The castle was sufficiently strong to imprison the Archbishop of Canterbury within its walls in 1070.
- 1100 (Stone Keep)
King Henry I commissioned the great stone keep at the northern end of the castle grounds and regularly resides there. It was the site of his marriage to Maud of Scotland, and his only son Arthur was born at the castle but died in the White Ship disaster of 1120
- 1141 (Siege)
In a rare case of double siege, Empress Matilda laid siege to the Stephen supporting Wolvesey Castle while Willian of Ypres besieged Winchester castle.
- The Early 1200s (Rebuild)
At the end of The Anarchy, Matilda's son became Henry II, and he spent a considerable sum on rebuilding Winchester castle.
The castle was sufficiently grand for Richard I to hold his coronation on his release from prison.
- 1222–1235 (Rebuild)
Born at the castle, Henry III commissioned the master, Mason Elias of Dereham, to rebuild the Great Hall. Elias built the hall in a double cube design measuring 33.5 metres by 16.8 metres (109.90 ft by 55.11 ft).
Made of stone and flint dressings, builders added two-light windows and plate tracery. Henry also commissioned the rebuilding of the towers along the curtain wall and added a barbican.
- 1302 (Fire)
In Edward I's reign, a fire devastated the royal apartments, and the King and his wife Margaret of France narrowly escaped losing their lives.
However, the repairs required were so extensive that the Crown decided not to conduct them. The castle ceased to be a royal residence, and the monarchs stayed at Wolvesey Castle instead.
Royal forces beheaded Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent, outside the castle wells for his treasonous support to the Despsener plot against King Edward III.
The Crown rebuilt the royal accommodation and began to make use of the Castle once more. Henry VII and his queen Elizabeth of York were two famous occupants, and their son Arthur was born in the castle.
Henry VIII entertained Emperor Charles V at the Great Hall.
Queen Mary I celebrated her marriage to Phillip II of Spain at the castle.
- The Civil War
The Royalist castle was the scene of a surprise attack shortly after the civil war erupted. In pursuit of a royalist force from Marlborough, Parliamentary forces under Sir William Waller stormed Winchester castle in which they were sheltering. The Royalists surrendered, and Waller's men went on to sack the town.
The Royalists once again recovered the castle until their defeat at the Battle of Cheriton. The parliamentarians attacked the castle again under Waller's command, but the Royalists withstood the siege.
Finally, the castle fell after Oliver Cromwell besieged the castle in 1645 after a courageous resistance.
Oliver Crowell ordered Winchester Castle slighted, and his forces destroyed the castle except for the great hall which Cromwell granted to Waller. He sold the Great hall to Winchester to use as a court, which played an essential judicial role until 1874.
- 18th century
The incomplete building ended up as a prisoner of war camp for much of the 18th century until 1803, when the Neoplatonic wars saw the King's house transformed into a barracks.
It continued in its purpose during the 19th century until an accidental fire destroyed the building entirely.
The Hampshire County Council owns Winchester Castle and offers visitors a glimpse into medieval history. The Great Hall is a Grade I listed building.
Winchester Castle Occupants
- 1066: King William I built the first Norman motte and bailey and occupied the site as a military and administrative centre.
- 1100: King Henry I used the castle as his royal residence and married his wife Maud of Scotland at the site. His only son Arthur was born in the castle but died before taking the throne.
- 1194: Richard I celebrated his re coronation in Winchester Castle.
- In the 1200s: Henry II extensively rebuilt the castle and occupied the site as his royal residence.
- 1302: Edward I and his bride Margaret if France occupied the castle until a fire devastated the royal apartments.
- 1472: King Edward IV's daughter, Margaret of York, was born in the castle.
- 1486: Henry VII and his Queen Elizabeth of York occupied the castle and had their son Arthur at the site.
- 1520: Henry VIII entertained Emperor Charles V at the Great Hall.
- 1554: Queen Mary celebrated her marriage to Phillip II of Spain at the castle.
Images of Winchester Castle
Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package
Winchester Castle Facts
- Sir Thomas Malory, who wrote the original Le Morte D'Arthur, the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, identified Winchester castle as Camelot.
- The beautifully painted Round Table mentioned in Arthurian legend stands on the wall of the Great Hall.
- Edward I maintained the castle well and rebuilt the great bridge, and repaired the castle walls. Historians believe that the round table in evidence at the castle dates back to this time.
- In its function as a court, the famous Sir Walter Raleigh stood trial for treason in the Great Hall for his role in the Main Plot against King James I.
- The Winchester assizes sentenced Alice Lisle to death at the Great Hall for her role in the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685.
Winchester Castle Q&A
What Kind of Castle Was Winchester Castle?
The first Norman castle, built by Wiliam I was a typical motte and bailey fort of the time. The Normans introduced this form of a medieval castle to England, which involved a large mound of earthworks topped by a tower and wooden palisade.
The enclosed area of the embankment was called a bailey which adjoined the motte and contained ancillary buildings.
The motte at Winchester was replaced by a tower keep castle of stone in the 1100s and later changed into an enclosure castle with walls, mural towers and barbican in the early 13th century.
What Happened to Winchester Castle?
Winchester Castle was a Royalist stronghold and was subject to several Parliamentarian attacks during the English Civil War. After losing and regaining the castle, the Royalist forces finally succumbed, and the Royalists surrendered the castle to the forces of Oliver Cromwell.
Cromwell ordered the castle slighted for fear that the Royalists might regain their stronghold, and his parliamentarian forces destroyed it. However, Cromwell only left the Great Hall as a gift for Sir Waller, who spearheaded several attacks on Winchester Castle.
Location of Winchester Castle
William I did not build his Norman fort on the original site of the Saxon royal palace in the centre of town. Historians suggest William I strategically moved the original Saxon castle site to the southwestern edge of the town to provide an escape should the hostile locals turn against his authority.
When the old palace in the town burned down in 1140, the Crown did not rebuild the palace, although Charles II started a new palace next to the castle site in 1140. The incomplete building was called the King's House and served as a prisoner of war camp and later a military barracks.
Other Places To Visit Near Winchester Castle
Wolvesey Castle was the primary residence of the Bishops of Winchester in the middle ages. The extensive remains of the once-powerful castle primarily date mainly to the 12th-century palace of Henry the Bishop of Blois, King Stephen's brother.
The castle was once a residence fit for a king, and many royals inhabited the luxurious residence. Henry of Blois had an early form of plumbing with a piped water supply and a lavatory that emptied into the moat.
Wolvesey declined and fell into ruins when Bishop Morley abandoned the castle favouring a new site in the 1660s.
Winchester Cathedral is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe and boasts the greatest length of any Gothic cathedral. The original religious site dated back to 662 AD and was once home to the bones of St. Swithburn, credited with the holy powers of healing.
An elaborate shrine held the saint's bones, and his devotees could crawl beneath it to reach close to his healing bones.
Unfortunately, the sacred bones were lost in Henry VIII's destructive dissolution of monasteries during the Reformation.
The cathedral is home to the grave of Jane Austen, who had a stained glass image appointed to her in the early 1900s. The cathedral houses the Winchester Bible, one of the greatest literary treasures of 12th century England as well as the Triforium Gallery and Library.
Highclere Castle is a Grade I listed country house and dates back to 1679, although the owners extensively renovated it in the 1840s. The imposing castle-type mansion rose to fame as the setting of the successful Downton Abbey series in 12109.
The beautiful house features an Egyptian exhibition and beautifully maintained gardens designed by Capability Brown and is open to the public in summer and certain holidays such as Christmas and Easter. The castle is the country residence of the Earls of Carnarvon of Anglo-Welsh descent.
- Hampshire County Council UK: VISIT THE GREAT HALL
- Visit Winchester UK: The Great Hall
- Gatehouse Gazetteer: Winchester Castle
- Historic England UK: Winchester Castle
- Wikipedia: Winchester Castle
- Castles Forts Battles UK: Winchester Castle and Winchester Town Halls
- Wikipedia: Highclere Castle
- Winchester Cathedral UK: Discover Winchester Cathedral
- English Heritage UK: Wolvesey Castle (Old Bishop’s Palace)