musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Retrospective: The Old Southampton City Walls (2)

Continuing where we left off. 

I have attached the map from page 1 into this post too because it is relevant to the information below.

Key to image above:

1 – Bargate, 2 – John Le Fleming, 3 – Arundel Tower, 4 – Catchcold Tower, 5 – Castle East Gate, 6 – Medieval Boat Building,  7 – Westgate, 8 – Pilgrim Fathers and Stella Memorial, 9 – Yacht Club, 10 – The Wool House, 11 – Watergate, 12 – God’s House Tower 13 – Round Tower, 14 – Friary Gate, 15 – Polymond Tower, 16 – York Gate,  

Across High Street.

If you manage to get across High Street without being flattened by a car/bus there is not all that much to see until you get to the corner of the block, in fact there is very little left of the walls from here onwards, although there are a number of interesting structures that may or may not be connected to the original city walls.  (Don’t you love the name “Winkle Street”?)

God’s House Tower

This building is probably not part of the original fortifications judging by the stonework, but it is not a recent addition either. There are 2 plaques affixed to this building. The first identifies the building as “God’s House Tower“, and an inevitable Jane Austen reference is added in just for information. I believe that part of the building used to be the Museum of Archaeology but it had closed in 2011.

The area behind the archway looks like this

And this area is quite interesting too is it contain the only other remaining substantial part of the original hospital, the Church of St. Julien,  I was really curious about this building but never pursued it. From what I heard it was very difficult to get a visit to. 

and of course just outside the gate is the Old Bowling Green, the oldest bowling green in the world which dates back to at least 1299 and of course Queen’s Park with the General Gordon Memorial

The map below really shows the context of this area quite well. 

John Speed’s map of Southampton 1611

In it you can see the spur that is Town Quay at the bottom and the West Quay jutting out on the right and God’s House Tower with the green line heading upwards which where the Town Ditch is/was. The shoreline at that point was where the street is now, and if you know Southampton you will understand how much land reclamation has happened over the years. 

Round Tower and Friary Gate

The town ditch area looks like this now (as at 2013). The small gated area in the distance to the right  is called the Round Tower and is explained in the plaque and image below it.

From here on upwards it is difficult to find a part of the wall that has some sort of identifiable feature left, probably because not much has survived over the years. The city outgrew its walls and once the land reclamation happened the walls became a feature instead of an integral part of the ebb and flow of the city. The walls occupied space and that space could be used for revenue earning things instead. 

This gateway is known as the Friary Gate, named after the Franciscan Friars that settled in Southampton around 1224 and occupied the south-east quadrant of the town. In 1373 the town wall cut off their access to Newton and they successfully lobbied for Friary Gate to be added. Permission was granted as long as they defended it themselves. Once the city started to grow eastwards the gate became moot anyway. The Friary was closed by Henry VIII in 1538, during the Dissolution

The Friary (John Hodgson 1986)

Yuppie pads now look out over the remnants of the eastern walls, although these have been incorporated into the area. In 200 years time the walls may still be here but the yuppie pads would have probably fallen down or been overtaken by bigger and more expensive yuppie pads or hovercar parking, or maybe a space port?

The Eastgate

There are no remnants of the East gate that probably stood at the end of East Street and to the east of Back-of-the-Walls. The Eastgate was one of the earliest gates in the medieval town (along with the Bargate), and was built around 1110 and demolished in 1774. It was originally just a free-standing tower with a gateway through it and ramparts on either side. 

York Gate and Polymond Tower

Apart from a very short stretch of wall near East Street the next major section of the wall is up by York Walk. Polymond Tower is the hooked piece on the right of the image below.

I do not really remember this area very well, in fact it is really just a section of wall and not much else.

  

The yellow car is parked by what is known as the Polymond Tower, and by some strange miracle I have a photograph of the information plate.

In the image above there is an opening to the right of the wall, and if you walked through that opening you would be passing through what was once known as York Gate, although it is now just a gap in the wall leading into the Bargate Shopping Centre entrance.

The Bargate Shopping Centre was closed when I was in Southampton, but one of the entrances led out into the pedestrian area surrounding the Bargate. 

That more or less concludes my retrospective of the walls surrounding Southampton. Surprisingly I managed to get images of a lot of it, but they are somewhat disjointed because of the often haphazard way I discovered things. I am NOT an expert on them and it is probable that my understanding of them is not always correct. I may relook this post at some point and change it all; it has taken long enough to actually complete as it is!

Acknowledgements.

There are probably much better sites out there that can give a more coherent picture of the walls, and one of these is CastlesFortsBattles.co.uk that has a whole page dedicated to the ancient fortifications of the city.

Wikipedia has a few pages dedicated to various parts of the wall, the Town Walls Page is a good place to start

Don’t panic! The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Earth Edition has a good write up on the walls  too

Sotonopedia has a searchable index that is quite helpful too

There is a very nice PDF available for download at at discoversouthampton.co.uk

The Southampton City Council also has an 1870 Ordnance Survey Map of the city available

Much of the information here is from the numerous information boards and plaques provided by the Southampton City Counceil that relate to specific places in the walls, and they are a mine of information as well as useful images. I do not know who did the original artwork that I have used and would love to credit them accordingly. 

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