The site was bought in the late-19th-century by the Winchester Corporation. It was partly developed and partly pleasure ground. The summit and south-west slopes were preserved as open space with a walk, trees, terraces and views over Winchester City.
The area belonged to the Bishop of Winchester and was the site for centuries of St Giles Hill Fair. In 1878, Winchester Corporation bought a large area (the 'front' of the Hill, facing the city) direct from the Commissioners for £1250 and continued to make further acquisitions. The Corporation laid out the pleasure ground area and employed Milner, a well-known landscape gardener to advise them.
Visitor FacilitiesSt Giles Hill has an area of open public space.
Detailed DescriptionThe Corporation laid out the pleasure ground area and employed Milner, a well-known landscape gardener to advise them. However, at the end of the 19th century there was also villa building and many trees were planted. Public outcry stopped the building and saved the summit and southwest slopes of the hill as open space which offered magnificent views over the city and St Catherine's Hill. The attractive wooded slope now looks down over the river and city and closes the vista looking east along the High Street.
An unsuccessful bid for Millennium project money was made to develop St Giles Hill as a major tourist attraction for Winchester. Although there has been continued residential development of the Hill since the financial reform of the 19th century, it has been in the main sympathetically carried out. The pleasure grounds on the eastern side have been retained and there are pleasant walks with seats on the terraces with wide sweeping views over the city of Winchester. It is considered to be an important amenity and recreation area owned by Winchester City Council.
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Access Contact DetailsSt Giles Hill has an area of open public space.
Detailed HistorySt Giles Hill is the summit of a chalk spur which falls steeply to the east bank of the River Itchen and originally belonged to the Bishop of Winchester. It was formerly a bare down on which St Giles Hill Fair was held. By the time the diocese lost its real estate in the financial reform of the mid-19th-century, the Fair had degenerated and become the Magdalen Hill Fair. The financial reform also made the development of the Hill possible.
In 1878, Winchester Corporation bought a large area (the ‘front ‘of the Hill, facing the city) direct from the Commissioners for £1250 and continued to make further acquisitions. A small purchase was made from the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway. The purpose of those purchases by the Corporation was to make what the contemporary newspapers called a ‘pleasure ground'. In 1894, during the mayoralty of Thomas Stopher, Lord Northbrook gave the area sloping down to Morn Hill Road. It was a generous present and was reciprocated by an acknowledgment in the form of a vellum roll presented to Lord Northbrook.
Hampshire Gardens Trust