September 30, 2018|Reports

“An Armchair Tour of Medieval Southampton” with Dr Cheryl Butler

Did you know that Southampton has more medieval town walls surviving than either York or Chester?

On 25th September – our first ever September meeting – Dr Cheryl Butler gave thirty four members and guests of Wickham History Society a tour of medieval Southampton. There is no longer an official brothel on East Street (although there are records of married men who being fined for visiting it) but there are 80-90 surviving wine vaults!

Such an important centre (and so much wine!) required protection and as well as the surviving city walls, parts of four of the five town gates can still be seen. Maid Meg was Southampton’s largest gun, with a range of over a mile and the Grace Dieu, the largest european medieval warship, was built for King Henry V by a Southampton man William Soper – its remains are still in the River Hamble. Unlike Salisbury, which we visited in the summer, Southampton was a secular town, run by the Mayor and Council. It was first and foremost a trading city and the population used to double when the Italian trading fleet came to town. Its medieval prosperity means that many substantial houses of the period survive, thanks to the use of stone rather than wood and of tiles rather than thatch.

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