Visit Southampton and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Southampton, Hampshire. The story of a great seaport must, in broad outline, tell the history of a seafaring nation. So it is with Southampton. Today it is a spreading city, commercially important as well as a seaport, but its history stretches back centuries. The Romans had a station nearby at Bitterne. The Danes plundered on several occasions and in 1016 Cnut was offered the crown of England here. It is said that he rebuked his courtiers by commanding the waves to recede at Southampton.
Armies embarked for the Crusades from here, as they did to win the battles of Crécy and Agincourt. Philip II of Spain landed here on his way to marry Queen Mary, and the Emperor Charles V also visited. Southampton has played an important part in all matters connected with the sea, and in 1620 the Mayflower set out from here to America, a fact which is now commemorated by a column.
Southampton was the main English port of call for Venetian ships till the 16th century, after which its trade declined. In the 18th century it became a fashionable resort with the assembly rooms and theatre associated with this development in Georgian times. Pope, Swift, Horace Walpole and Jane Austen all came on visits. It was an embarkation port in the Napoleonic wars and began to develop again as a trading port after the opening of the first dock in 1842. Thereafter Southampton developed into the great passenger port of today.
Southampton suffered heavy devastation during the Second World War and much of the building is new. Although the old castle has long since disappeared, much that is old has miraculously survived.
Situated on a peninsula, the town was often attacked and needed fortifications. The south and west walls of these defences faced the River Test, and the east and north walls were moated. Bar-gate is one of the finest town gates surviving. It dates back to Norman times, though altered and restored later, and a statue of George III in a toga stands near.
The 15th-century Catch Cold and the round 14th-century Arundel towers are close by, while God's House Tower has now become a museum for local archaeological exhibits. There is also a fine series of arches with houses above.
Some interesting houses have also survived. The Wool House, now the Maritime Museum, is early l4th-century and in the 18th century was used for Spanish prisoners of war. One l2th-century house is called Canute's House, and another Norman two-storied building, with a fire-place and chimney, is named King John's Palace. In Simnel Street is some l4th-century vaulting, but perhaps the most interesting house of all is the Tudor House. Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, it is said, stayed here, and there is still a panelled banqueting room and minstrels' gallery to be seen. Now a museum showing local antiquities, Tudor House has an attractive Elizabethan garden.
Of the churches, St Michael's is the oldest, with tower arches dating back to Norman times, though the rest has been much restored. Inside is an early black font, one of the few in this country, imported from Tournai.
Nearby cities: Portsmouth, Salisbury, Winchester
Nearby towns: Cowes, Eastleigh, Fareham, Gosport, Lymington, Locks Heath, Romsey
Nearby villages: Brockenhurst, Beaulieu, Burley, Fair Oak, Hythe, Isle of Wight, Marchwood, North Baddesley, Swanmore, Wickham
Have you decided to visit Southampton or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Southampton bed and breakfast (a Southampton B&B or Southampton b and b)
- a Southampton guesthouse
- a Southampton hotel (or motel)
- a Southampton self-catering establishment, or
- other Southampton accommodation