City of Winchester Trust
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A Winchester street scene?

St Alphege Building, University of Winchester

The thumbnail image above (click on the image to enlarge) is of a water-colour taken from a colour slide in the Winchester Research Unit’s archive. It is filed there together with other slides taken in the 1970s of Winchester views, especially of pictures in the collections of the Society of Antiquaries at Burlington House, but is not identified.

Our assumption is that this is a Winchester view, perhaps loaned to us for photography, but there is no associated paperwork and we know of other Winchester water-colours in this particular style. The date is probably about 1800, which is also older than other water-colour views of Winchester streets.

The water-channel running along the right-hand side of the street and the street lamps (post-1771, if Winchester) suggest this might be a view of the lower half of High Street, looking west, perhaps slightly uphill. If so the two streets coming in from the right would be Middle Brook Street (also with a water-channel on its far side, as was the case) and Upper Brook Street, or perhaps (as seems more likely) Upper Brook Street and Parchment Street. If the latter the street leading off to the left in the foreground would be what is today called Market Street.

The painted sign on the projecting upper story of the building in the foreground on the corner to left of the main street reads ‘WHITE LION INN’. This is a problem because there does not appear to be an inn/tavern of that name in Winchester at any date. Such names were however often changed and were sometimes of short duration.

This is a length of the Winchester High Street the north side of which is otherwise unrecorded except in Godson’s plan of 1750. The view would be of some importance if it can be safely identified and we would be grateful for any suggestions.

Given the water-channels, the other possibility is that this is a view of Salisbury, where however there is also no record of a ‘White Lion’.

Martin Biddle



In the century between 1770s and the 1870s much of the townscape of medieval Winchester was lost.

The North, East, and South Gates, and probably Durn Gate, were demolished to allow traffic and pedestrians to pass more safely. Many of the medieval churches were demolished then or even later.

St John’s House and chapel to the north of The Broadway and Abbey House to the south survive, but otherwise The Broadway is a 19th-century creation. In 1802 a range of houses running down the middle of the street were removed, together with the City Bridewell onto which they backed. In 1800 a new police station was built at the corner of Colebrook Street. In 1871-3 the present Guildhall was built. And in 1813/14 the City Bridge at the east end was rebuilt.

Elsewhere throughout the city, medieval buildings which appear in drawings and watercolours of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries were gradually removed.

The Historic Town Atlas of Winchester, Volume 11 of Winchester Studies, shortly to go to press, includes eight A2 sheets with fifty or more reproductions of watercolours and engravings showing streets and buildings in Winchester as they were in 1700s and 1800s. The evidence is rich, but for some areas totally lacking. There are no pictures of the vanished North, East, Durn, or South Gates, no certain pictures of the east end of High Street before The Broadway was created, no pictures of the medieval bridge over the Itchen at East Gate, no good early images of most of the mills, no street scenes in the Lower or Upper Brooks, of Jewry Street before the gaol was built in 1805, or of South Gate and St Thomas Streets.

If you have or know of the existence of any of these missing pictures, or know of any images you think we may have missed, please contact: Martin Biddle and attach an image however good or bad, and we will get back to you at once.

Issued by the Winchester Excavations Committee, 11/11/2013.