NEW plans for investing in Winchester’s cultural offer are on the horizon as Hampshire Cultural Trust could take over the running of the Great Hall.

The plans moved a step forward following a decision by Cllr Rob Humby, the leader of the county council, on November 30 which paves the way for the council and the trust to work together on detailed proposals before a final decision is made.

The cultural trust’s ambition is to enhance the heritage offer in the city by creating a joined-up ‘Winchester Castle’ visitor experience, re-connecting The Great Hall to both the ruined keep and the city’s only surviving medieval gateway, the Westgate, through new interpretation.

Hampshire Chronicle: The Great HallThe Great Hall (Image: Terry Bond)READ MORE: Hampshire County Council secures funding for heat pumps for trio of schools

The Great Hall is home to King Arthur's Round Table.

Cllr Humby said: “We enjoy a very positive partnership with Hampshire Cultural Trust who have an established good track record in managing and operating a number of our visitor attractions such as Milestones Museum in Basingstoke and The Arc in Winchester.

“Undoubtedly, The Great Hall is one of the most important heritage venues in England and I can think of no better custodian than Hampshire Cultural Trust who I am confident could maximise the venue’s potential and increase visitor numbers.”

Paul Sapwell, chief executive of Hampshire Cultural Trust, said: “This is an incredibly exciting time: we are thrilled that Hampshire County Council has made the first step in a decision to transfer one of Winchester’s most iconic and historic buildings to Hampshire Cultural Trust to run.

“Our track record in operating public buildings speaks for itself, not only through our management of two city centre museums, the Westgate Museum and the City Museum but also through The Arc, which we took on in 2022, revitalising it as a space for the whole community.

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“We pride ourselves on putting the customer experience at the heart of what we do, on our creativity and innovation. Nowhere is this more in evidence than at our newest visitor attraction, 878 AD, where we have used live performance and groundbreaking technology to create something that is unique, not just in Winchester, but in the UK.

“It is this experience and expertise that we will be bringing to our vision for The Great Hall.”

Following this decision in principle, the County Council will now work closely with the trust on the details of the transfer. Subject to agreement being reached, it is anticipated that a transfer could take place in early 2024.