An invitation to walk in Keats’ footsteps

Press Release: 13/10/2009

John Keats by William Hilton - National Portrait Gallery

Jane Campion’s latest film ‘Bright Star’ has reignited an interest in the life and loves of the romantic poet John Keats.  For the many who are inspired by the film, Winchester City Council’s tourism service has the perfect proposal – to visit Winchester and walk in the footsteps of the great poet.

Winchester Tourism is launching a modernised version of its self-guided trail known as the Keats Walk to encourage people to follow in the poet’s footsteps.

Keats visited Winchester in 1819.  Letters he wrote at the time show he spent a happy period here, taking a daily walk along the river to St Cross. On 19 September 1819 he was so inspired by one of these walks that he composed his famous ode ‘To Autumn’. As the October mists roll in, Winchester City Council has seized the opportunity to revise and print the popular trail, supported by a marketing campaign to encourage more visits to the city from fans of the film and the poet.

Ellen Simpson, Tourism Marketing and Development Manager for Winchester City Council, explained: “When we first learned of the film Bright Star we were naturally interested. Many people in the area are proud that the riverside walk in our city inspired one of the most atmospheric poems in the English language.  An autumn film premiere provided a golden opportunity to invite people to follow Keats’ walk in scenery virtually unchanged since his day.”

Cllr George Beckett , Leader of Winchester City Council and Portfolio Holder for Economy and Tourism, said: “Few urban destinations boast the benefits of leafy walks in water meadows so close to the heart of a bustling city. Winchester City Council is constantly seeking new ways to help draw visitors to the area in all seasons to sustain the local economy. Autumn has traditionally been a quieter time for visiting so we are hoping for a really good level of interest. It’s hoped that this more modern leaflet will bring our links with Keats to the attention of a new audience at a time when modern interest in his work will peak.”

To download your copy of Keats: A Winchester walk in the poet’s footsteps, please visit www.visitwinchester.co.uk or pick up a free copy from Winchester Tourist Information Centre while stocks last.

The tourist information centre is open from to Monday to Saturday. The team can be contacted on tel 01962 840 500, e-mail tourism@winchester.gov.uk or via the website at www.visitwinchester.co.uk.