Westgate special summer opening 2014

Winchester’s history will be even easier to explore this summer.

The Westgate Museum, based above the medieval monument that dominates the top of the High Street, will open during week days in July in addition to its usual weekend opening hours. Admission remains free of charge.

The grey stone arch is one of the oldest buildings in the city and one of Winchester’s most famous landmarks.

A climb up the ancient stone steps leads to the chamber above the gate which houses a museum packed with interesting objects and activities for all the family. There are also great views of the city from the Westgate roof.

Visitors to the Westgate will discover that it was used as a fortified gateway to the city, a debtors’ prison, a pub clubroom, and a home for the city’s treasures and records.

The portcullis arch and arrow slots survive, and the stone walls are covered in prisoners’ graffiti. A set of gibbeting irons hang as a gruesome reminder of what happened to a traitor during the American War of Independence.

The Westgate chamber houses a fine collection of Tudor and Stuart objects from Winchester including armour, coins and reputably a boot belonging to King Charles II. There is also a fabulous Tudor ceiling from the time of the marriage of Mary Tudor to Philip of Spain in Winchester Cathedral 460 years ago on 25 July 1554.

Visitors to the Westgate can try on replica Tudor and Stuart armour and costumes, sort finds, have a go at brass-rubbing, and try the Westgate spotter trail.

Geoff Denford, Head of Museums at Winchester City Council, said:

The opening of the Westgate this summer is an excellent example of the benefits arising from the close partnership between the museum teams of Winchester City Council and Hampshire County Council.

Councillor Keith Chapman, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Recreation and Countryside, said:

We are delighted that the Westgate Museum will be opening every day during the summer. This is a great example of how working together can help to extend our offer to the public and to continue our ambition for cultural services.