Area of the week: Winchester

Last year The Sunday Times named Winchester the best place to live in Britain, and it's clear that plenty of people have already seen the attraction. Demand for property in the city is high, with prices rocketing by 79% in the past ten years and city councillor Ian Tait currently calling on the council to build more homes to keep up with demand. With arts festivals, chocolate-box cottages and easy access both to London and the countryside, Winchester offers small-town living with a big-city heart.

Rich and varied history

Properties in Winchester have been in demand since 150BC, when King Alfred chose the Hampshire city as his capital. According to legend, King Arthur's round table was based in the city too. The impressive Winchester Cathedral, one of the largest in Europe, is a reminder of this majestic heritage. Construction started in 1079 and today the grand building often plays host to events and exhibitions.

Food, glorious food

If you live in Winchester and want to sell your house to a foodie, you're onto a winner. Hampshire is renowned for its farmland, so it's unsurprising that Winchester is home to one of the largest farmers' markets in the country. It's famous, too, having appeared in Rick Stein's TV programmes. Speaking of Rick Stein, the beloved celebrity chef has a restaurant in Winchester (as does Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall). For elegant fine dining, there's The Black Rat on Chesil Street, a Michelin-starred restaurant set in a 17th century building.

Festivals and culture

There's rarely a dull moment in Winchester during the summer, as the city plays host to a range of festivals. The Hat Fair takes place at the end of June – a weekend of outdoor theatre and street performance. In July, the slightly more highbrow Winchester Festival takes place with a range of talks, guided walks, classical concerts and indoor theatre performances. For year-round entertainment, there's the recently refurbished Theatre Royal, which offers a range of comedy, plays and music events.