Future of the Great Hall in Winchester secured as Hampshire Cultural Trust to take over management

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The historic building’s future has been guaranteed.

A new organisation will be at the helm of the Great Hall in Winchester after cash-strapped Hampshire County Council agreed to transfer its management.

Plans were first released after a decision by the leader of the county council, Cllr Rob Humby, on November 30 to transfer the management of the Great Hall in Winchester to Hampshire Cultural Trust.

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The decision to move the management and operation of the medieval building, founded in the 12th century by Bishop Henry of Blois, was due to financial constraints the council is facing with a current financial gap for 2025/26 of £132 million.

Great Hall in WinchesterGreat Hall in Winchester
Great Hall in Winchester | Visit Winchester

The council said the move would guarantee the building’s future, which is home to King Arthur’s Round Table.

After months of joint work, both parties have agreed on all concerns raised in the November and December 2023 reports.

Now, a report said the agreement has been finalised, except for the lease which should be agreed by April 15.

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A tenancy-at-will, which allows the trust to occupy the building with the county’s consent indefinitely and which either the landlord or tenant can end the arrangement, has been granted.

The report said this type of tenancy would provide the “most secure” arrangement with “appropriate clarity of responsibility and liability”.

A spokesperson from Hampshire County Council said the trust has an established track record in managing and operating a number of its visitor attractions, such as Milestones Museum in Basingstoke and The Arc in Winchester.

“The trust aims to enhance the heritage offer in the city by creating a joined-up ‘Winchester Castle’ visitor experience, re-connecting The Great Hall to both the ruined keep and the city’s only surviving mediaeval gateway, the Westgate,” they said.

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“While the trust has taken on the management and operation of the Great Hall, the building remains in the ownership of the local authority.”

Cllr Humby said in December that the Great Hall “is one of the most important heritage venues in England” and he “can think of no better custodian than Hampshire Cultural Trust who I am confident could maximise the venue’s potential and increase visitor numbers.”

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