Winchester (Anglo-Sax. Witanceaster; Anc. Venta Belgarum), a city and the capital of Hampshire, England, on the Southwestern railway, 12 m. N. N. E. of Southampton, and 62 m. S. W. of London; pop. in 1871, 16,366. It is on the right bank of the river Itchin, which is navigable to the sea as a canal. The ancient W. gateway, surmounted by a massive Norman tower, is still entire. The cathedral is 545 ft. long, the width of the transepts 186 ft., and the height of the tower, which rises only 26 ft. above the roof, 139 ft. It was first built in 648, and parts of the present edifice date from about 980. The church of St. Lawrence is also very ancient; there are several other churches, and a Benedictine nunnery. Winchester college, founded by William of Wykeham in 1387, occupies an extensive range of buildings. The town hall; the chapel of the old castle, now converted into a county hall, and containing the curious round table, said to have been King Arthur's, suspended above the judge's seat; the barracks for 2,000 men, occupying a splendid building, once the palace of Charles II.; a fine county hospital; St. John's house, once belonging to the templars,'now a public assembly room; and the ruins of Wolvesey castle, are particularly interesting. There are also a small theatre and a public library and reading rooms.
There are no important manufactures. - Winchester was a place of importance in the days of the ancient Britons, who called it Caer Gwent or the White City. The Romans are supposed to have built the walls. In 519 Cerdic, the Saxon chief, captured it, and afterward made it the seat of his government. Under the Danes it became the capital of England, and so remained until after the reign of Henry II.