A day in Southampton

I decided to visit Southampton to explore its rich, maritime history.  It’s a port city in Hampshire located on the south coast of England and is now known as the cruise capital of Europe.  The Pilgrim Fathers sailed the Mayflower from Southampton in 1620 taking settlers to the new world of America.  More recently, in 1912 the Titanic embarked on its fateful maiden voyage, taking over 300 local residents who sadly would never return.

Southampton Marina with Cruise Terminal Behind
Southampton Marina with Cruise Terminal Behind

For a much shorter journey, ferries depart hourly across the Solent to Cowes on the Isle of Wight, the journey taking approximately one hour on the Red Funnel car ferry and only 25 minutes on the high speed Red Jet ferry.  Cowes is extremely popular with the sailing fraternity and hosts several top regattas during the summer months.  Cowes Week held in August each year hosts around 1,000 boats and 8,000 competitors ranging from world class professionals to weekend amateur sailors.

Isle of Wight Ferries, Southampton
Isle of Wight Ferries

Wandering slightly inland, I came across an historic archway known as Bargate.  This entrance arch was originally built as the main gateway to the medieval city and the 800 year old Bargate stands as a prestigious entrance to the old town.

Bargate, Southampton
Bargate, Southampton

Along here can be found the third longest stretch of medieval defensive stone walling in England.  I followed signposts to walk beside these ancient remains, it’s no longer possible to walk on the walls but I enjoyed following the old city boundaries in the winter sunshine.

Remains of medieval walls, Southampton
Remains of medieval walls, Southampton

Ready for a hot drink, I spotted the Wool House, formerly the city’s only freestanding medieval warehouse.  Originally built by monks as a storehouse, from Norman times wool was brought here from as far afield as Wiltshire and then exported from the town quay docks bringing prosperity to the medieval port.  Since then, the Wool House has been used as a prison and the city’s maritime museum, it is now a gastro pub restaurant run by The Dancing Man Brewery.  The interior is resplendent with its vaulted ceiling and exposed oak beams but I took my drink outdoors to soak up a few rays of winter sunshine.

The Wool House, Town Quay, Southampton
The Wool House, Town Quay, Southampton

The final part of my tour around Southampton took me through the modern centre where I wandered into West Quay, a spacious indoor shopping mall featuring many high street names.  At the far end of Bargate, I reached the Civic Hall complex which is faced in white Portland stone.  Each of the four buildings face outwards and contain the SeaCity Museum, Council Offices, The Guildhall entertainment venue, City Library and Art Gallery.

Civic Hall Clock Tower, Southampton
The Civic Hall Clock Tower, Southampton

Many visitors to Southampton head straight to the cruise terminal to board their luxury liners but if time allows, a pleasant few hours can be spent exploring the waterfront and historic district of this south coast city.

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69 thoughts on “A day in Southampton

  1. Pingback: Looking around Lymington – Love Travelling Blog

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  4. We’ve been to Southampton a number of times but it’s usually a connection stop on the way to somewhere else. Never seemed to have enough time for more than an hour or two stroll. We will be back in Southampton next November to catch a cruise ship back to America. I think we will steal a day from Paris and add it to Southampton. Thanks…

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  5. I can’t begin to imagine how much painstaking effort and time it must have taken to create those crafted stones and place them perfectly to make buildings and walls that could last centuries. we’ve lost something in the art of building in today’s hurry up world where everything is made from mass produced sterile materials.

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  6. Pingback: A Sunny Day in Southampton — Love Travelling – Vietnam Travel & Trade Portal

  7. kimco95

    I love the stone walls. It reminds me of the medieval movies I saw. This is such a nice place I wanted to visit someday. I guess I would feel and experience how to live in the medieval times in this place. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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