A fascinating time beneath cathedral’s vaulted ceilings

Karel Doubleday, who used her mum's blue badge so she could park close to her workplace

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You live in a place for many years, but sometimes you forget to appreciate what’s on your doorstep.

Has that ever happened to you? Some 20 or so years ago, I spent every day for a year in Winchester at art college.

In that time I saw the inside of my art department, a few shops in the city selling relevant supplies and an awful lot of pubs (some of them truly awful).

But I never did the actual tourist thing, stepping back and looking at what was on offer and making an effort to experience all that the city offered over and above student nightlife.

So when during half-term my youngest daughter pointed out to me that we hadn’t left Gosport in some time and that really we should be intrepid and get off the peninsula, Winchester sprung to mind. And, in particular, its cathedral.

That felt about right to me, a destination, a city, a trip down memory lane and hopefully not too much cash being splashed.

I thought it would take us maybe 20 minutes to have a quick scoot around the cathedral and then we’d be off to a café for a cup of tea.

Three hours later we were still beneath the vaulted ceilings, totally enraptured by, well, everything.

The history contained in this one building is tremendous. You can time travel through all the most pertinent moments in Britain’s past – from the Norman/Roman architecture to where Mary (Henry VIII’s daughter) got married to a Spaniard, via Jane Austen’s grave, through the two world wars and right up to the present day.

I particularly loved the tiled floors and the old wall paintings, Joan of Arc’s statue and...the list goes on and on.

It’s a true testament to how the guides bring the place to life that both my daughters (aged nine and 11) were as interested as me, their boffin mother.

Winchester proved to be very giving in more ways that just the cathedral. It’s peopled by rich, good-looking specimens who stink of money and therefore the charity shops offer some pretty awesome pickings.

Plus the public loos are dreamy compared to my local ones. All in all, the perfect day out.