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Wolvesey Castle, Winchester

#5 of 13 in Historic Sites in Winchester
Castle · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
Wolvesey Castle, also known as the "Old Bishop's Palace", is a ruined building in Winchester, Hampshire, England that was a bishop's palace, and was briefly fortified during the later years of Henry of Blois, the Bishop of Winchester. The first building on the site, an eyot in the River Itchen known as Wulveseye or Wulf's island, was constructed around 970 by Æthelwold of Winchester, the Bishop of Winchester from 963 to 984, as his official residence or palace. Winchester came under siege during the Rout of Winchester in 1141 by the Empress Matilda during the period of civil war known as The Anarchy, and held out for three weeks until relieved by Stephen's wife, Matilda. Subsequently Henry, the brother of Stephen, King of England, enlarged and fortified the palace by building a curtain wall, giving the palace the appearance of a castle. The fortifications were slighted by Henry II after the death of Henry in 1171.

The palace was the location of the wedding breakfast in 1554 of Queen Mary and Philip II of Spain. It was destroyed by the Roundheads during the English Civil War in 1646. The ruins are located next to the existing bishop's palace, near to Winchester Cathedral, and are currently owned and maintained by English Heritage.

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Wolvesey Castle reviews

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  • SO cool! Especially in autumn with the trees all around, it's very atmospheric, and the information dotted around is great. Just make sure to check online if it's open when you go, as we walked past.....  more »
  • We took about an hour to explore these lovely ruins, building mental pictures of how it looked at various stages in its evolution from past glories to abandonment and neglect. Good living history.  more »
  • Not a lot to do here, so not necessarily recommended for young children - but free access makes this a treat for history fans. Detailed signs are posted around the site, meaning you'll be able to make sense of what remains of the castle, and although understandably small, what does remain is impressive and gives a good insight into its time period. A lovely gem hidden in Winchester and a definitely-recommended visit.
  • This place is the ruins of an old castle. It is a very quiet cultural heritage, which is actually good for tourists. Winchester itself is a very small town with a population of less than 200,000. There is not much going on in the city. There are not that many tourists, so not many people visit the attractions here. Probably because of that, admission to this attraction is free of charge! With some little signs showing relevant information at different places of the castle, you can have an idea how the building was like in the medieval time.

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