Winchester named Britain's best place to live

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The English cathedral city of Winchester in Hampshire was Sunday named the best place to live in Britain.

It won the coveted title after beating off competition from hundreds of towns and cities across the country.

Winchester, said a panel of judges, has centuries of history, streets of gorgeous houses, dozens of independent shops and a huge helping of community spirit.

They describe Winchester as practically perfect, saying "you delve into the back streets and you emerge somewhere between the Norman Conquest and Pride and Prejudice in a historic core with a sweep of medieval and Georgian buildings."

In the imposing Winchester Cathedral, one of the largest in Europe, is the tomb of one of Britain's most famous writers, Jane Austen.

In Winchester Castle one of the star attractions is the round table where the king's knights once sat.

Around the edge of the table are the names of King Arthur's knights. In order to become a Knight of the Round Table, knights had to prove they were chivalrous, promising to uphold the rules. Today a similar oath is sworn by people made knights by the Queen, allowing them to be given the title of "Sir".

Winchester was once the capital of the old Anglo Saxon kingdom of Wessex, and later capital of England, before that crown went to London.

Today the city is home to one of the biggest farmers markets in Britain and on the doorstep of the scenic South Downs, popular with walkers heading for a break to the countryside.

The city is also just an hour's journey time by train from London's Waterloo station.

The list was compiled by one of Britain's leading broadsheet newspapers, the Sunday Times.

Home editor Helen Davies said: "Winchester thoroughly deserves its status as the best place to live in Britain. It offers a tasty slice of authentic history, with great transport links and fine schools. It also has an irresistible mix of food, festivals and feel-good factor."

The annual survey also listed regional winners which included central London's Fitzrovia as the best place in live in Britain's capital city.

The survey team said London's Marylebone was the buzzing neighborhood, but the fashionable center of gravity has now moved to Fitzrovia, which once had a "slightly sleepy, student and even scruffy air". But now it has acquired a "bit of style".

A Crossrail station at Tottenham Court Road is fuelling a development frenzy in the area where the real gems are Georgian townhouses on quiet backstreets. People heading there need just over 1 million U.S. dollars to buy property in Fitzrovia.

Other regional winners were East: Orford in Suffolk, Midlands: Ledbury in Herefordshire, North East: Harrogate in North Yorkshire, Northern Ireland: Ballycastle in County Antrim, North West: Whalley in Lancashire. Scotland: Stockbridge in Edinburgh, South East: Midhurst in West Sussex, South West: Falmouth in Cornwall, Wales: Penarth in Vale of Glamorgan.

As well as being decided by a panel of experts, the survey relies data and robust statistics, from crime rates to house prices and school performances.

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