Interview by York Membery for The Telegraph
The actor Hugh Bonneville on the architectural beauty and appeal of the English cathedral city of Winchester.
Firstly, for the history. It has the cathedral, of course, which dates back to Saxon times – and the college, which often has a good exhibition, and some fabulous markets. It’s also a beautiful place to walk around. I’d love to retire somewhere like Winchester, where you have one foot on the pavement but a sense of being in the country as well.
ANYTHING SPECIAL I SHOULD PACK?
An inquiring mind, because of its architectural beauty, its museums and its rich history. Look beyond the façade because there’s a lot to see down the alleyways.
WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU DO?
After panicking about where I should park, I go for a stroll around Winchester Cathedral and the cathedral close, and just breathe in the city’s sense of history.
WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE TO STAY?
The Hotel du Vin is a very agreeable place to stay. It serves excellent food, is well-located and just has a very nice atmosphere.
WHERE WOULD YOU MEET FRIENDS FOR A DRINK?
I like The Green Man pub, which has recently been refurbished and offers a good glass of wine.
WHICH IS THE BEST PLACE FOR LUNCH?
The city is lucky to boast some great pubs and I would recommend the Black Boy which does the sort of pub grub that is sure to hit the spot.
AND FOR DINNER?
The Black Rat which has just got its first Michelin star. It’s a gastropub serving high quality, locally-sourced fare. The food is excellent.
WHERE WOULD YOU SEND A FIRST-TIME VISITOR?
Your first port of call should be the cathedral – the longest in Europe – which dates back to the 11th century. Another must is the castle’s Great Hall, where the so-called King Arthur’s Round Table hangs from the wall. I’d also make a point of visiting Winchester College.
WHAT SHOULD I AVOID?
The main thoroughfare – explore the side streets. And I’m not sure if I’d go into Winchester on a Friday night because it might be “a bit lively”. But that’s probably true of pretty much everywhere in Britain these days, isn’t it?
WHAT SHOULD I BRING HOME?
It has an excellent farmers’ market, so I’d go there. I’m a chutney nut – our kitchen cupboards are full of local stuff. “Flaming Hot B—–d Chilli Chutney” is the sort of thing I like.
ANYWHERE THAT ISN’T YOUR KIND OF TOWN?
I’m afraid bits of Hastings left me rather depressed when I was last there – but I’m more than prepared to give it a second chance. I always try to look for the best in most places.