Two of Winchester’s most visited historical attractions, operated by Hampshire Cultural Trust, are to start charging entry fees permanently.
City Museum and Westgate, currently free-to-enter, will begin charging £5 and £3 respectively for an adult ticket.
Speaking to Hampshire Chronicle, CEO of the Trust, Paul Sapwell, justified the introduction of fees by saying, ‘a huge percentage of visitors to the City Museum are tourists and they will be expecting to pay to get into attractions, anyway‘.
The Trust say they will use the revenue to fund staffing and to organise a programme of cultural heritage events, from period music and family activities to historical re-enactments.
Mr Sapwell has admitted that he expects visitor numbers to dwindle in the wake of the fee introduction, but that a steady income (rather than relying solely donations) is vital for the good upkeep of the cultural sites. He also stressed that purchased tickets will be valid for an unlimited number of visits over a period of twelve months, and concessions prices will be available.
City Museum, located near to Winchester Cathedral, gives visitors the chance to handle genuine artefacts, try on Roman and Saxon clothing, and explore a scale model of the city in Victorian times. There is also a Jane Austen exhibition with artefacts from the Hampshire author’s life.
The Westgate is one of two remaining Anglo-Saxon fortified gateways originally built in the 12th century. Today, the walls serve as a museum and feature a fine painted ceiling made for Winchester College in anticipation of a visit by Mary Tudor.