The Spirit of Winchester Christmas Market

What a better way to start the festivities than aboard the gracious carriages of UK rail tours? A full table was laden with tantalizing breakfast service, steaming through the countryside to arrive at a  surprisingly balmy December winter wonderland market, complete with an ice skating rink and German-style wooden stalls.

The main feature of this artistic city is the grandeur of the famous Winchester cathedral. My companions, Penny, Sheila, and John, explored the endless array of items by talented local artisans; from handmade felt, animal-inspired slippers to a shop laden with childhood memories of every sweet on the planet imaginable in old fashioned jars, straining on the shelves.

Simplistic Christmas wreaths completed the polished look on antique doors and stalls, and even the famous Rick Stein fish restaurant had its own mussel inspired wreath.

Instead of chestnuts on hot coals, I stumbled upon a local couple who were surrounded by giant copper bowls and equipment. He was toasting marshmallow kebabs as she whirled in the background, spinning yarns of candy floss.

The star of this Christmas serenade is the grand 15th-century cathedral with its awe-inspiring architecture. The history is so rich behind this extraordinary building. It even has the Winchester bible, which is housed in the cathedral library. It is the largest and possibly the best-preserved of all surviving 12th century English bibles. As I walked in, I was captivated by a choir performance specially held for the occasion. Although not being allowed to record, it was an ethereal sound that wrapped around me and that I will treasure amongst the other, visual, delights.  To find out more about how you can support the extraordinary 20 million restorations and preservation campaign and what is involved visit: Winchester Cathedral

As we explored further, we were enchanted by the angelic sounds and talents of the Hampshire Youth Training Band.

To finalize my angelic visit peeking through children’s Narnia hideaways was quite an unexpected quirky extreme mad visit to the hedonistic Jack Rabbits barber and shop. To start the experience they gently applied steamed towels to my scalp. The swift talents of Danny and his cut-throat razor glided eloquently removing my hair follicles. His muscle clad tattooed arm with mesmerizing oriental lotuses and serene Buddha were a welcoming sight during this tricky task.

All in all, what more could I ask to start the magic of Christmas?


Louis Mariette

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