Southampton: An Overview
The first settlement of any consequence was founded by the Romans in the mid-first century.  Most historians believe it was called Clausentum (43-410 AD).  It was established on the eastern bank of the River Itchen; by present day Northam Bridge.  Outstanding archaeological finds include 2 lead pigs (bars) from the Mendip lead mines, inscription includes the letters VASPASIAN.  Another find is a stone alter dedicated to Celtic goddess Ancasta.
A second settlement was established in the middle Saxon period called Hamwic. Substantial archaeological evidence placing Hamwic on the west bank of the River Itchen around modern day St Mary's church from around 700 AD to 900 AD.  Hamwic may have been part of a North Sea and English Channel trading rim, evidenced by quernstones, pottery, and coins. There is archaeological evidence of metal and glass working.  Hamwic's decline is something of a mystery.  Reasons include silting-up, Viking raids, and the growth of Winchester as an administrative centre.  
Evidence of the emergence of the medieval town is scant. There is some occupation from 10th.century in the south west part (possible a Saxon burh) and to the east and north of the Bargate. However, the town was still of some importance, because Canute was proclaimed king of England there by the witan in 1016.
There was a reshaping of the town after the Norman conquest (1066 AD). The Domesday survey 1086 suggests population of 770 people, divided into distinct communities defined by  French Street and English Street both running north south through the town.  St Michael's church from 1070 AD, and Castle Hall (1100-1150 AD) both built in stone.

From 1154 came Southampton's first period of prosperity, when the town was favoured by the Angevin dynasty, for importation of wine from Gascony.  Records show expenditure for rebuilding the castle in stone, including the keep, and  castle vault. The keeper of the castle was given the title, 'Taker of the King's Wine'. There followed the 12th, 13th century flowering of the medieval town with building in stone, the Bargate (phase I & II); North Wall, Holy Rood Church, God's House Hospital, and substantial merchant houses. Franciscan Friary established. 1233.

Decline followed the French raid of 1338 and the Black Death ten years later.  The Hundred Years War (1337-1453) necessitated a late 14th century crash building of fortifications including a new castle keep and bailey wall, western walls, Arcades, eastern walls, Polymond Tower, Arundel Tower, West Gate (1380), and the Friary Gate. Early 15th century additions included Prince Edward Tower, Gods House Tower, and the north face of the Bargate. In 1415 the English expeditionary force under King Henry V embarked from Southampton.  The 1416 Grace Dieu, arguably the greatest medieval ship, was built in Southampton.
It was the Genoese ships that provided the main stay trade in the 15th .C  Records reveal a picture of Southampton in the mid 15th century at its medieval height. The streets are divided into long narrow plots, with timber-framed hall houses often built on stone vaults. Larger areas of land are occupied by capital tenements such as Bull Hall, or West Hall (and later Tudor House); or occupied by churches or religious foundations.  However, by the early 16th century Southampton's second period of prosperity had come to an end, probably brought about by the growth of London and Antwerp, better ship design, and political upheaval in Italy.
There is little architectural footprint representing the Elizabethan, Queen Ann, or Palladian periods giving testimony to the town's economically depressed state during that period. Nevertheless, the sailing of the Mayflower in 1620, and the arrival of the Huguenots in 1685 are important historical events of that century.  In 1724 Daniel Defoe described the town as 'decayed'. Yet, by mid-century Southampton was emerging as a Georgian spa town of high repute frequented by the Prince of Wales and his three younger sons. Enterprising individuals wasted no time in catering for their noble needs.  Baths, assembly rooms, hotels, shops, and stagecoach services sprung up and flourished.
The coming of the railway in 1840 heralded a new era. The natural shoreline began to disappear under the development of the docks.  The burgeoning population grew from 27,000 to 105,000 spread out from the Old Walls into new suburbs east and north laying the foundations of the modern town.  The Central Parks were developed. In the docks, the Royal Mail, and P&O shipping lines established services, and the port became central to the trooping the Empire. In 1894 the American Line relocated from Liverpool laying the way open for Southampton to capitalise on the North Atlantic trade and passenger routes.
At the opening of the 20th C. Southampton retained the characteristics of a country town despite its population of 105,000.  Shirley and Freemantle had only recently been incorporated, and to the north, many people considered that the country began at the Inner Avenue.  Apart from shipbuilding, and map making the town had few industries. However, as the century unfolded Southampton expanded its borough limits both into its surrounding districts, and enlarged the docks through an ambitious programme of land reclamation.
The sinking of the Titanic (1912) was a major disaster leaving a lasting legacy. During the Great Depression the town fared better than most. It was the golden age of luxury liners; and Supermarine was at the forefront of aviation pioneering. Moreover, Southampton benefited from large building projects including the Western Docks, the Sports Centre, and Civic Centre.
From the summer of 1940 to mid 1942 Southampton suffered air attacks.  Three were classified as major raids occurring at the end of November 1940. It was Southampton's darkest hour. From early 1943 there followed the gradual build up to D-Day and Operation Overlord. The US Army 14th. Major Port Transportation Corps arrived in July 1943 and took over control of the docks
Post war reconstruction was slow.  Nevertheless the town proved attractive to new industries. The 1950s witnessed rising prosperity; and a growth of employment in manufacturing. Southampton granted city status in 1964. However, by the century's end the city has de-industrialised, and reinvented itself as a centre of education, regional shopping, container port, and UK capital of the cruise-line Industry.


Circa 43 - 410 AD Roman Southampton
Circa  700 - 900 AD Hamwic
1016  Canute proclaimed king at Southampton
1070  St Michael's Church
Circa 1100-1150 Castle Hall
1154  Henry II accedes to the throne
1174  Henry II lands at Southampton on pilgrimage of penance
Late 1100s Rebuilding of Castle in stone. Circa 1180 Castle Vault
Circa 1175 Bargate (phase1)
Circa 1190- rebuilding of Southampton in stone begins; major stone houses
1196 Gervase founds God's House
Late 1100s Canute's Palace (incorrectly named)
1233 Franciscan friars settle in Southampton
1260-90  A long series of grants to repair castle and fortifications; North Wall, Bargate (phase 2). Curtain wall of the Castle
1290 Grant of spring in Hill Lane to the friary
1320  Re-siting of Holy Rood Church
1338 Southampton raided and burnt by French and Genoese Fleet
1344 Grant of God's House Hospital to Queen's College Oxford
1348-9  The black Death ravages Southampton
1369 Wall building resumes
1377 Sir John Arundel appointed keeper and orders extensive work on walls and towers
1379  Work on new tower keep at Castle
Circa 1380 Arcades, West Gate, Wool House, Watergate, Eastern Wall
Early 1400s Prince Edward Tower, God's House Tower, Bargate (phase 3)
1410 New Watergate Quay completed
1415 Henry's expeditionary force mustered at Southampton. Unmasking of conspiracy
1447 Southampton becomes the 'town and county 'of Southampton following charter of incorporation
1454 Southampton Terrier (land survey) compiled
Circa 1494  Tudor House
1567 Queen Eliz II grants St Julian's as French Church
1620  Sailing of the Mayflower
1634 Tudor Merchants Hall re-erected
1750- 1830 Spa Town period
1799 First Northam Bridge
1803 Watergate largely demolished
1806-09 Jane Austen living in Southampton
1820 first steam ship based in Southampton
1833 First Royal Pier
1836 First Floating bridge to Woolston
1836 Dock foundation stone (Ocean Village)
1840 Railway to London completed
1840 P&O start using the dock
1842 Royal Mail Steam Packet Co start using docks
1846 First dry dock opened
1851 Inner Dock opened
1853 Crimean War
1857 Union Steam Ship Co. begins service to South Africa
1867 Imperial Hotel (South Western House)
1873 Construction of Itchen Quay started
1890 Empress Dock
1892 New Royal Pier
1893 American Line moves to Southampton
1895 Prince of Wales Dry Dock opened
1899 Boer War
1905 Trafalgar Dry Dock opened
1907 White Star Line moves some services to Southampton
1910 Eric Roland Moon building aeroplane in Wool House
1910 Eric Roland Moon makes first flight at what becomes Southampton Airport
1911 Ocean Dock completed
1912  RMS Titanic sails
1914  WW1 No. 1 Military Embarkation Port
1924 Floating Dry Dock arrives
1931 Supermarine's S6 wins
1932 first liner berths at Western Docks
1933 King George V graving Dock opened
1919 Cunard Line move to Southampton
1937 Flying Boat Services commence
1940-42 Air-raids
1943 14th Major Port
1948 Marine Air Terminal
1948 Nationalisation of the Docks
1950 Ocean Terminal opened
1952 Esso Oil Terminal opened at Fawley
1954 STC cable factory opens
1956 Union Castle Terminal Opened
1958 Last Flying Boat service
1960 Mayflower Terminal opened by Viscount Slim
1962 End of troop transport by sea
1964 Railway steamers end service
1964 Filling in of Inner Dock
1964 Southampton granted city status
1965 Decasualisation of dock labour
1968 Container Terminal opened
1969 International Boat Show inaugurated
1976 Saints win the FA Cup
1977 Itchen Toll bridge
1980 Closure of Ocean Terminal
1982 ABP formed to take over the docks
1982 47 Berth Grain Silos fully operational
1982 Falklands War
1983 Ocean Terminal Demolished
1983 36 Berth Grain Silos opened
1984 Ocean Village development
1991 Canary Fruit & Vegetable Terminal opened at 104 Berth
1992 Windward Terminal opened for  Geest
1996 Oceanography Centre opened
2000 The Container Terminal handled 1 million TEU (containers) for first time
2000 West Quay Shopping Centre
2003 City Cruise Terminal opened (revamp 2006)
2003 Mayflower Terminal- rebuilt
2009 Ocean Terminal opened


Adrian Rance (1986) Southampton: An Illustrated History.
This is a standard text, covering all aspects of Southampton's history.

A G K. Leonard (1984) Stories of Southampton Streets
Useful for more in depth research

Saxon / Medieval
Sharon Pay (1987) Hamwic: Southampton's Saxon Town.  Southampton City Museums Archaeology Series.
Informative booklet, published before the St Mary's excavation.  Nevertheless, very informative on Hamwic.
Sharon Pay (1992)  Walk the Southampton Walls.  Southampton City Leisure Committee.
A ring bound booklet ideal for walking the Walls.
Colin Platt (1973) Southampton, Port and Community.
This is the definitive book on medieval Southampton. Containing chronological tables, appendix, and notes on primary sources. Essential for serious research.

John Hodgson.  Southampton Castle. Southampton City Museums Archaeology Series.
A very useful booklet charting the development of Southampton Castle.

Georgian / Victorian
The four books below are recommended for more in depth research. Bygone Southampton is the best book covering Southampton's Spa town period.
A.J. Brown. Georgian and Victorian Southampton.
R.J. Coles. Southampton's Historic Buildings.
A. Temple Patterson (1962) The History of Southampton, 1700-1914. Southampton Record Series.
Stovold, J (1984) Bygone Southampton.  Phillimore

The five books mentioned below are essential reading for the subject areas mentioned

Forsyth, Hyslop & Jemina (1994) Titanic Voices. Oral History, City Heritage.  Second Edition now in print.
Frankland, Hyslop & Jemima (1990) Southampton Blitz. Oral History Team, Southampton Local Studies' Section.
Peckham, Hyslop & Jemina (1994) Southampton and D-Day. Oral History, City Heritage
Arnott, A (2002) Maritime Southampton.  Breedon Books
Mike Roussel (2009) The Story of Southampton Docks. Breedon Books

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