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Arts and Culture in Winchester - From Modern Performance to Historical Artifacts

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Winchester is a place where the past and present collide, and nowhere is this more apparent than at the city's arts venues. In a single day, you can watch a contemporary play in a 900-year-old building, view modern art in the grounds of an ancient church, and compare 21st-century warfare with centuries-old methods at a renowned museum. It's a thrilling, unpredictable place to absorb culture.



Live dramatic performance flourishes in and around Winchester. There are 2 main theatres, each of which offers a good mix of highbrow productions and lighter fare. In the warmer months, outdoor theatre is popular with locals and visitors alike: Several festivals incorporate open-air plays into their programs and a number of stately homes in the region host performances on their grounds.


Theatre Royal Winchester


This restored Edwardian building is Winchester's biggest performance venue and is busy throughout the year. The program is eclectic: In addition to drama, there's dance, children's entertainment, and comedy, plus occasional live music.


Jewry Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23Tel: +44 1962 840440


Theatre Royal Winchester website


Chesil Theatre


The Winchester Dramatic Society, a long-running amateur company, puts on shows in this converted 12th-century church. It's an atmospheric venue and it only seats 75, so there's not a bad view in the house. Productions here are often quirky.


Chesil Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 0HU. Tel: +44 1962 867086


Chesil Theatre website

Art galleries


Although it’s home to the University of Southampton's renowned School of Art, Winchester does not have a major visual-art gallery. Instead, the city and its surrounds are dotted with small, private galleries and exhibition spaces that are a joy to discover. There's also an array of outdoor art, including a stainless-steel tower beside Winchester Cathedral called Luminous Motion and a series of controversial painted bollards in the city centre.


The Minster Gallery


This small but popular venue opposite the cathedral collaborates with several "core artists" who continuously bring in new canvases to be displayed. There are also one-off exhibitions by international practitioners and emerging British talent.


3A Great Minster Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9HA. Tel: +44 1962 877601


The Minster Gallery website


Link Gallery


Though less well known than that of the University of Southampton, the University of Winchester has a strong art program, too. Its tucked-away Link Gallery showcases Hampshire artists and curates group exhibitions of European work, much of it theological in nature.


West Downs Centre, Romsey Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO22 5HT. Tel: +44 1962 841515


Link Gallery website


Military museums


Winchester has museums for kids and medieval history museums, but it is perhaps best known in the U.K. for its collection of museums detailing Britain's military past. There are 5 in total: the Museum of The King’s Royal Hussars, the Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum, the Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum, the Gurkha Museum, and the Guardroom Museum. They're all within meters of each other, right in the city centre.


Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum


The Royal Green Jackets regiment, renamed the Rifles regiment in 2007, was heavily involved in the post-9/11 Afghanistan conflict. Alongside memorabilia from that campaign, there are artifacts stretching right back to the Battle of Waterloo.


Peninsula Barracks, Romsey Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 8TS. Tel: +44 1962 828549


Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum website


Museum Of The King's Royal Hussars


Also known as HorsePower, this museum traces the history of 3 mounted regiments over a 300-year period. You'll find intricate life-size models of both man and beast, plus carefully preserved uniforms, medals, and weaponry. The historical photographs are particularly illuminating.


Romsey Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 8TS. Tel: +44 1962 828541


Museum Of The King's Royal Hussars website