Westgate Museum closes for the winter

The Westgate, Winchester City Council's museum at the top of the High Street, has now closed for its usual winter break.  It will re-open to the public on Thursday 1 February 2007.

The team of hard working visitor assistants, Signe Higgins, Nick McPherson and Catherine Ferrier welcomed over 35,000 visitors during 2006. They hosted family fun weekends such as the Sealed Knot's Civil War Siege in February to ghostly story telling just a few days ago at Hallowe'en.

The ancient monument found itself hosting the BBC's Politics Show at the beginning of the year. The show was broadcast live from the upper chamber of the ancient monument which had, in its time, been used as a debtors' prison in the 16th and 17th century.  Peter Henley, interviewed notable guests Nick Herbert MP (Cons) for Arundel & South Downs, Chris Huhne MP (Lib Dems) for Eastleigh and Cllr. Richard Williams (Lab) for Southampton City Council.  The programme wrestled with the thorny issue of policing.

The Westgate Muster in February enjoyed record numbers with nearly 2,000 people enjoying the performances by the Sealed Knot including drill formation, loading the cannon and learning all about life during the Civil War.  Pikemen, musketeers, artillery and camp followers besieged the ancient monument and onlookers were taught how to drill and handle themselves in battle.  Even the camera crew from Meridian television was caught up in the action.

In September, a living history society called The Tudor Group took over the Westgate for Winchester Open Weekend.  Members of the public had a chance to step back in time and experience what life was like in the Tudor times.  Visitors met a Tudor artist who revealed the secrets of his craft, and they also found out all about day-to-day domestic life during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

On Tuesday 31 October the Westgate opened its doors for a ghostly evening of ghoulish stories told by national story teller Michael O'Leary.  (See image with this press release).

Besides all these popular family events the museum hosts lots of family fun activities on a daily basis including replica armour for children and adults to try on, seasonal quizzes and brass rubbing.  The view from the roof of the Westgate is one of the best in the city and offers the visitor the chance to see King Alfred's city from on high.

Cllr Patricia Stallard, Winchester city council's cabinet portfolio holder for culture, heritage and sport, said, "It is such a pleasure to see one of our museums used in such a creative way from politics to family events with each experience relating to the history of Winchester or to the history of the ancient monument.  Well done to the museum team for all their hard work this year"

Sher Kent, visitor services manager for the city's museum service, commented, "The Westgate is a special place.  Many visitors from home and abroad tell us how much they enjoy their visit to the museum and the climb to the roof to see the view of the city.  I feel it is a jewel in the crown of Winchester Museums.  We will re-open the museum to visitors in February and hope to welcome Winchester residents and visitors to our first event - Valentine's Night - love stories in the Westgate."

The City Museum in The Square, Winchester remains open throughout the winter months.

Opening hours:
Tues-Sat 10am - 4m
Sunday noon - 4pm
Monday - closed