Winchester is the capital city of Wessex. One of the greatest and most populated towns in England, it was also a royal city, home to King Ecbert and his family, as well as being an important trading center.
The area around Winchester has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Winchester was the first and former capital city of England. It remained the most important city in England until the Norman conquest in the 11th century.
The city became known as Wintan-ceastre (meaning "Fort Venta") in Old English. In 648, the church that would later become the cathedral was erected. The present form of the city dates from reconstruction in the late 9th century, when King Alfred the Great obliterated the Roman street plan in favor of a new grid in order to provide better defense against the Vikings. While the Kingdom of Wessex had a court that was mobile in this period and there was no fixed capital, Winchester continued to be a "proto-capital."
- Today the city of Winchester is home to the University of Winchester.
- It is also home to Winchester College, the oldest public school in the United Kingdom still using its original buildings.