I promised a while ago that I would begin writing a range of travel posts for the spooky and the damned, but I thought I'd start with somewhere a little unconventional than the obvious Goth haunts such as Salem, Whitby and Romania. Winchester is an English city of middling size, famed predominantly for its School of Art and University. At first glance, it doesn't look like the best place for a spooky type to go a-wandering - the high street is crammed with mainstream stores, slightly higher-end than Peacocks and New Look and as such practically useless to the discerning Goth. But Winchester has more than its fair share of hidden gems, as you are about to see...
First and foremost, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Winchester's variety of wonderful market stalls. As well as the usual array of ethnic clothing and unusual jewellery, you can pick up delicious cupcakes and, if you wander off the high street to the right and go past Primark (worth a visit in itself to pick up basics, and patterned tights), there is a stall selling CDs of all genres and descriptions, where I've found everything from Alice Cooper to the Dresden Dolls, and never for more than £5. Across the road from here you will find a fancy dress shop selling coloured contacts, skull jewellery, and lipsticks in bizarre colours.
Wandering around the streets of Winchester will yield some brilliant second-hand bookshops (the Oxfam one is the best; two floors of books, CDs and records from all genres), several vintage shops - the most well-known of these being Charming Magpies on Parchment Street - a lovely lingerie store where you can stock up on corsets and petticoats, a tattooist and body piercer's called Asgard (where I had my scaffold piercing done), a chocolate shop called Montezuma which has some incredible window displays for Halloween, and a vast array of charity shops. It's also worth looking down all the weird alleyways and backstreets; once I managed to find an enormous alt store called Sunflower, selling everything from craft supplies to Gothy bags to body jewellery and much more, but it was up a staircase from a little courtyard and I never managed to find it again! Down another winding alleyway and below a vintage store you will find a most unusual little place called Angels, where you can buy jewellery, have your Tarot or angel cards read, get a tattoo or have your hair done! I had my purple hair extensions applied here and can highly recommend the staff at Angels, they are all really helpful and charming.
Of course, the most obvious stop for Gothy shoppers in Winchester is Stinky Fish, the city's only alt clothing store, which I have reviewed previously here. Chilcomb, on the outskirts of Winchester, is about half an hour's walk from the high street and plays host to Hampshire Wardrobe - check the website before your visit to see if they are holding a sale on some of their hire costumes from all eras of history.
The city of Winchester itself is full of eye candy for those interested in history and architecture; not only is it the home of Winchester Cathedral but at the very top of the high street (opposite, incidentally, the office building where I used to work) are the Westgate and the Great Hall, which visitors can enter and explore. Beyond the Great Hall is a Medieval herb garden, which, I believe I read, was once tended by a queen.
|Source: Google Images|
If it should rain, you could always make your way to Winchester Discovery Centre. It's an enormous library with a cafe and gift shop; you can find works from dozens of Goth-beloved authors including Tanith Lee, Poppy Z. Brite and Gavin Baddeley to while away some time. Plus, on the top floor there are often art or museum exhbitions - I once managed to catch a display of incredible dresses and accessories from the 1920s.
For quirky fashion and jewellery, a little sightseeing, or adding to one's book collection, the Goth traveller could certainly do worse than scheduling a stop in Winchester.