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Southampton Castle and City Walls

Visited July 2016

Location Southampton, Hampshire
Entrance Fee No 
Railway Station Nearby Yes
Parking City Centre
Facilities City Centre








The castle at Southampton was massively important in its heyday, positioned as it was to protect Southampton harbour from attacks, it housed in its cellars wine and cloth and other expensive goods. Then the town walls were built around it to enclose the thriving settlement. However, it was almost completely destroyed in the 19th century, and only few parts remain visible today. The walls however are mostly intact, and make an interesting walk around the old part of the city.





The problem with walking the walls at the moment (2016) is that there is so much redevelopment going on that parts are closed off to the public, and the parts that are still open are right next to a massive building site, which does not make for a pleasant excursion. I am sure that once the building work is finished it will be worth it, but I would recommend delaying any visit for the time being until the redevelopment is completed.


One notable part of the wall to visit is the Bargate, which stands in the middle of the main shopping street. This was built in 1180 and was the main gate into the town. It has recently been renovated, and the day we went the scaffolding had literally just come off.




On the site of the actual castle is a 1970s tower block, but nearby the old castle cellars still remain, but they are in such a poor state of repair they can only be viewed from a walkway above. There are also some vaults still intact, but access is as part of an official guided tour only.


There are also some arches on Castle Way, these are the remains of the outer wall of the castle. Once again the local authorities seemed to have ignored the historical importance of preserving the castle remains and they are now in a public car park. 


Next to the arches are the scant remains of two drum towers which made up the entrance to the castle. They once stood at over twenty feet high but today they are reduced to almost nothing.


The good news is that the closer you get to the town quay, the better the ruins become. The remaining walls are more impressive, and can be walked on at full height in places. There is also a Medieval Merchants House, which is open on certain days. The most impressive site to visit is the Tudor House and Garden, which incorporates the remains of King John's Palace with its fine Norman architecture, including a chimney and fireplace. See our section on 'Other Places of Interest' for further information.


Although the walls are disappointing at the moment, the shopping is good and there will probably be even more choice of retailers once the development work is completed.





More info:  Southampton Castle

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