Winchester

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Set among the chalk downs of the Itchen Valley in Hampshire, Winchester is a city of exceptional historic charm and natural beauty. Wild countryside reaching right into the heart of the city provides a setting for atmospheric remains from almost every era of its rich past. Settlement began four thousand years ago with a Bronze Age fort. Since then it has been a Roman capital, the walled city of St Swithun, the capital of Wessex under Alfred the Great, and the first English home of William the Conqueror.The mighty cathedral constructed by the Normans in 1079 has dominated the city ever since. The power and wealth of successive bishops has been key to the architectural integrity and preservation of the old town. They built opulent palaces, abbeys, halls and gateways. To accommodate the pilgrims travelling from all over Europe to the tomb of Saint Swithun, Bishop Henry of Blois erected the great Hospital at St Cross in 1136. In 1387 Bishop Wykeham opened Winchester College. To this day between them the Cathedral, the Hospital and the College own and occupy just about every building in the old city, keeping it almost free of modern architecture. The rest of the vallley floor is a natural flood plain of the Itchen River. Its unsuitability as building land has allowed it to be preserved as water meadows of outstanding natural beauty. Chris Caldicott's stunning photographs capture the different moods of this wonderful old city with its iconic buildings and water meadows through all the seasons.