Thursday, 8 September 2011

A Goth's tour of Winchester

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 you continue up the road beyond the Westgate and turn left down a wide alley past several flats, you will reach a large and beautiful cemetery. It isn't quiet as many students use this route as a shortcut to the university, but it's well worth a visit if you come to Winchester as it is simply one of the most gorgeous graveyards I have ever set foot in. It is built on a hill and so looks out over the whole town; there is a bench conveniently positioned at the very top of the hill which is a lovely place to hold an impromptu picnic or curl up with a book. The cathedral grounds would also make a handy location for picnicking Goths, but they are often very busy on sunny days.

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.


Clint Catalyst said...

Hi Amy,

Clint Catalyst here. I a staff writer at, a-- [ Imposed self-edit : no need for the ~extra; please excuse ]. Point of the matter is: I'm among the arsenal of authors you have listed on your previous site, which in turn forwarded me here. . .though I can't seem to find a tab or link to contact you directly.

At any rate, just wanted to extend my gratitude. . .part of which I don't feel comfortable posting in a public forum [ ditto, personal email ].

However, if by chance you're interested to engage in a dialogue, I'm a mere two clicks away :

One that leads you to my personal site

& the next? Toolbar, top of page, "Contact Clint" option.

Whatever the case,

Best Regards &
Darkest Dreams—


Tenebris In Lux said...

So. Much. Want. I wish I lived in the UK :-/

Louise said...

... and this is why I really need to visit Winchester more often. I've been meaning to go at some stage for the last couple of months, I just never seem to get around to it. :3

Silver Snow said...

Wow. England seems so beautiful. I can't wait to visit. :) America is too new. No old buildings like the gorgeous ones you see in Europe... Don't get me wrong, there's a few cool places, but Europe seems like it's so ancient. :) I hope I will be able to go there soon.

renee said...

I've been clicking on your site for a while seeing if you came back. I saw all these new posts and screamed out "OH MY GOD SHE'S BACK!!"

all hail the return of amy!

Anonymous said...

*hint: hire me for your mag? I love writing and I want to get into that kind of industry ;D*
Anyhow, sorry, to be a bother, but I have a question (when you can pick this up that is). I was thinking of joining blogspot and writing stuff about my babybat-filled life, cause you really inspired me to :-). But I hear you have to get a Google account, and I really don't see the point in getting one because I already have E-Mail and I'd never use it. Any advice? Is there another site I could maybe use? Sorry to be a bother but any help would be appreciated. :-) xo

Phoenix said...

Winchester looks beautiful, I'm definitely visiting there next time I'm in the UK!

ultimategothguide said...

Dear Clint - wow! Without wishing to sound too much like a swooning babybat, I'm a huge fan of your work and will be in touch as soon as possible (i.e., when not borrowing someone else's computer). Thanks very mcuh for contacting me!

Best wishes,

ultimategothguide said...

@ Louise - if you happen to bump into me on your next visit, say hello ;-)

@ Renee - haha, yeah, well, I'm working on it! More posts coming later this week. Can't to have my own computer again...

@ Anonymous - Not sure if I will be afford to hire anyone in the early stages, but I'm setting up an e-mail address specifically for the mag and will definitely be advertising for contributors as soon as I get proper computer access. Would be something to add to your portfolio at the very least.
You're certainly not a bother! If I have a Google account I've certainly never paid attention to it... I do find Blogspot very user-friendly, but I know that a lot of people recommend LiveJournal or Wordpress. Drop me a link, wherever you choose to get set up. :-)

@ Phoenix - drop me a line when you do and we can meet for coffee if you like ^^

david smith said...

There's an initiative called 'Open House London'where property usually off limits to the public are open for guided walks for a day or two,such as Brompton Cemetery.Phone for details as the catacombs may get opened.Picture on the does not show the bizarre part that is circular with roman style columns.Open 17-18 september ??

Anonymous said...

@ultimategothguide I'll be sure to do that! I've currently just moved up to Year 10 (the year of stressful GCSEs - save me!) so I may not update it as often as I may like to, but thank you for your advice and I'll send you a link ASAP. :-)

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