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HER Number:MSH23
Type of Record:Monument
Name:Former Southampton Castle
Grid Reference:SU 4190 1146
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Summary

Southampton Castle may have been founded soon after the Norman Conquest as a motte and bailey castle with timber buildings, although there is no clear evidence for such an early foundation date. The earliest historical references are from 1153 and 1155. The surviving remains show that stone buildings were constructed at the castle in the early-to-mid 12th century; Castle Hall, the south bailey wall, the Castle Watergate, and perhaps the curtain wall immediately north of the Watergate are of this period. A shell keep may have been built on the motte in this period, and there was a chapel somewhere in the castle. The original extent of the castle bailey is uncertain; a now-demolished east-west wall and associated ditch just north of Castle Lane may have been the original northern defence, or an internal division within a larger bailey defined by a rampart and palisade on the line of the later north bailey wall (see below). Castle Hall and Watergate opened onto the castle quay, used for the importation of wine and other goods to royal palaces and castles. There may have been a gate in the south wall in the early 12th century. Castle Vault was probably built in the late 12th century; it also opened onto the quay.

In the 13th century the outer bailey, if not an original feature, may have been added; the dating evidence from the northern rampart is inconclusive. A 1241 writ may refer to the construction of the rampart. The repair of a palisade was ordered in 1249, perhaps associated with it. A barrel vault was probably inserted into Castle Hall in the early or mid 13th century, and a large garderobe tower built to the south, serving both as a latrine and a corner tower. In the late 13th century, limekilns in the north bailey (found during excavations) may have provided lime for the building of the north bailey wall, for the first phase of the Castle Eastgate, and for the north part of the west wall.

The documentary and archaeological evidence suggest little building activity in the 14th century before 1378. The castle and town were damaged during the 1338 French Raid. In 1339 the king ordered the completion of the town walls but there are no references to work on the castle defences.

In 1378 a major programme of building works at the castle began, the main objective being to build a new keep. Between 1378 and 1388 the castle was almost completely redesigned for defence using guns. Archaeological evidence has been found for alterations to the Castle Watergate and Southgate, and the Castle Eastgate in its present form dates entirely to this period. Keyhole gunports were inserted into the west wall of Castle Hall. The castle motte ditch had silted up during the 14th century, but was recut.

After this, only the west wall of the castle continued to have a defensive role as part of the town wall circuit. There is little documentary evidence for repairs to the castle in the 15th century and the last recorded expenditure was in 1518. In the 16th century the neglect continued, although the keep was perhaps still in a reasonable state of repair, being used for two royal visits. The castle green (bailey) became a dumping ground, and the castle green and ditches were divided into smaller garden plots. In 1618 the entire castle site was sold by the Crown. The site had various uses in the post-medieval period. In 1805 a mock-Gothic mansion known as Lansdowne Castle (MSH1830) was built on the motte. This was demolished in 1818 and the motte subsequently lowered, removing all trace of medieval buildings or structures there. Southgate and Castle Eastgate were demolished in the late 18th century. The castle site was redeveloped in the last half of the 19th century and early 20th century, and again redeveloped after WWII.

(See child records for details of individual parts of the castle.)

Protected Status: None recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record (ex OS Antiquity Record): SU 41 SW 4  Record for Medieval Southampton
  • National Monuments Record (ex OS Antiquity Record): SU 41 SW 96  Main NMR record for castle

Monument Types

  • CASTLE (altered (several times), Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1618 AD (between))
  • CASTLE (In use, Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1618 AD (throughout))
  • MOTTE AND BAILEY (Founded/built, Medieval - 1066 AD? to 1155 AD? (between))
  • CASTLE (?first mentioned, Medieval - 1153 AD? to 1153 AD? (in that year))
  • CASTLE (Extant / ?First mentioned, Medieval - 1155 AD to 1155 AD (in that year))

Full description

This parent record for Southampton Castle includes details relating to the whole castle and its development. There are separate child records for individual parts of the castle. The information in this description is arranged as follows:
- Summary list of sources; most details are on the child records, although some sources have not yet been checked.
- Background notes on the castle (surviving parts, layout, etc)
- Notes on the development of the castle, largely derived from the 1986 "Excavations at Southampton Castle" [23] with additional details from more recent fieldwork.
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[1][2]: Englefield, 1801/5. Reference to west wall p27; specific castle references pp 70-74; speculation pp82/83, pp87-89. (All specific refs, but not necessarily text, transferred to child records.)

[30]: 1865. Not yet checked.

[3]: Davies, 1883. Map facing page 63.
Pages 29, 30, 32, 35, 59, 91-92, 253, 464, 468 – documentary refs
Pages 73-84 – specific references and description, including more documentary references.
(All specific refs, but not necessarily text, transferred to child records.)

[3] pp 74/75: (Describing the demolished line of the castle wall on the south side.) “The castle wall .... turned nearly due east, portions of it still existing behind the houses on the south of Castle Gardens. At about 110 feet from the south-west angle it crossed Castle Lane (south). Here was the south gate of the baily, demolished about 1770. Beyond this the wall continued eastward some 40 feet till it struck the lofty mound of the keep, deeply intrenched and boldly scarped, round which it described three parts of a circle for about 400 feet, the hill’s diameter being 200; it then started off obliquely with a north-eastern inclination for about 60 feet, then in a north-westerly direction for another 85 feet, crossing at this point Castle Lane (north), where was the principal gate of the castle, destroyed also in the last century.....”. ETC

[4 ]: VCH, 1908. Description of west wall and rest of circuit, largely derived from [3] with some updating of information, all transferred to particular child records.

[21]: 1934. (Source not yet checked.)
[5] in [6]: O'Neil, 1951. References to west wall of Castle including Norman buttress.

[13]: (Popular museums publication). Sections on Gates and Bailey Wall of Castle, Vault in West Wall of Castle, and Castle Watergate. Says west wall is late 12th century.

[7]: Colvin, 1963. (Referenced in [23].)
[8]: 1967. (Referenced in [23].)
[9]: 1968. (Referenced in [23].)
[10]: 1971. Short reference.
[11]: 1973. Various references throughout to the castle, although it is not always clear what are the sources. Some refs to "forthcoming" publications which were not published.
[12]: 1974. (Referenced in [23].)

[22]: 1975. (Information transferred to child records.)

[25]: 1976. This source is about the 1454 terrier of the town defences, which mentions the castle in passing.

[17]: NMR Record - Medieval Southampton. Castle Quay, Castle Vault, Castle South Gate, Mound and wall all marked on map. (References [22] but not [23].)
[18]: NMR Record - Southampton Castle. (References [21][22] but not [23].)

[23]: 1986. Used below and on child records.

[14]: (Popular booklet) Acknowledgements state that information is largely derived from [23]. See especially the pages on the three main structural phases of the Castle (pp 8-9, 22 and 28), which include plans showing conjectural details not in [23].

[15][16]: (Popular booklets). Some pages on castle, with photos. No new details.

[19][20]: Ancient Monument Files (these contain photos and other sources not yet entered as sources).
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In its final form, in about 1400, Southampton Castle consisted of a motte with keep in the southeast corner, an inner (south) and outer (north) bailey (probably divided by a wall), a curtain wall on the south, west and north-east sides (and perhaps on the motte) with an Eastgate, Southgate and Watergate, a rampart and ditch on the north-east side, a ditch around at least part of the motte, and various buildings inside. The west wall of the castle formed part of the line of the west town wall, although it was not considered to be part of the town wall for administrative purposes. At the south end of the west wall was the Castle Quay. The northern part of the west wall was washed by the sea. The buildings and curtain wall on the west side were on the shore, at the foot of a natural cliff, with the motte and most of the bailey being at the top of the cliff. Castle Hall, in the southwest corner, was on the shore at the south end of the west curtain wall; originally it was not part of the curtain wall but was incorporated into the curtain in the late 14th century. The gap between the cliff and west curtain wall of the outer bailey may originally have been left open as an extra line of defence.

The “above-ground” remains consist of:
- The north bailey wall (MSH2221) on Albion Place
- The Castle East Gate (MSH800) on Castle Way
- The west wall, incorporated into the line of the town wall on Western Esplanade, Forest View and Cement Terrace (overall record MSH3418, child records MSH553, MSH715, MSH854, MSH855, MSH3413)
- Castle Vault (MSH710) on Western Esplanade
- Castle Hall (MSH743)
- Castle Watergate (MSH740)
- Castle Garderobe (MSH564)
- A remnant of the south bailey wall (MSH3420)
The much-truncated castle mound (motte) (MSH708) is still visible on Lansdowne Hill. The rest of the walls were demolished in the post-medieval period and the ditch was gradually filled in. Further details of the various parts of the castle are given on the child records.

A parish boundary on the 1846 map [28] may, at least in part, follow the line of by-then-demolished walls of the castle. Working from the western castle wall by the shore, the boundary initially runs due east, but then dog-legs to the south and then east again, before continuing around the “Site of Southampton Castle” (the motte), and then on to Castle East Gate. The boundary is in the same position on the 1870 map [29], although is by then a “Ward Boundary”, except in the area immediately west of the motte, where the dog-leg is absent. Davies in 1883 [3], in his description of the line of the demolished castle wall, is clearly following the 1870 boundary. (A monument record has been created for the parish boundary – MSH3411.) The form of the boundary west of the motte may reflect the form of the South Gate; according to Englefield [1][2] and Davies [3] this was demolished c1770. It may indicate that there was a barbican outside the gate.

Around the motte, the curved parish boundary (also a major property boundary) is partly marked by a wall in 1846. Part of the wall may have been found during an excavation in the 1950s (SOU 131, see MSH827); it seems to have been a post-medieval retaining wall for the motte. Immediately inside the boundary is a lane or path, which starts on the north-east side and follows the curve of the boundary before terminating towards the west end. This curved boundary seems to mark the approximate inner edge of the motte ditch, eventually backfilled and developed in the early post-medieval period, if not before (archaeological evidence has confirmed this in a few places). The boundary and lane are also clearly shown on the 1771 map [27], and may be shown on Speed’s 1596/1611 map [26]; the latter seems to show a low-ish wall at the foot of the motte, with a lane between the motte and wall. Also on the 1611 map, what looks like a small gate is shown at the west end of the wall. In a possibly similar position on the 1870 map, and at the west end of the lane, is an apparent entrance way leading southwards to a building called “Castle Court” (this is less clear on the 1846 map). These may all be post-medieval features, but clearly pre-date the construction of Lansdowne Castle and subsequent truncation of the mound in the early 19th century. (There may be other documentary evidence in the form of property documents for the post-medieval period.)
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The following summary of the documentary evidence and development of the castle comes largely from the two final chapters of Oxley’s 1986 account in “Excavations at Southampton Castle” ([24] in [23], including fig 47); there is no definitive historical account of the castle. This is supplemented by more recent work where this suggests a different interpretation. A timeline incorporating the evidence to date is included in the HER backup file. (Note that there is much more detail in [24].) Specific references to individual parts of the castle are included on child records.

The documentary record is difficult to interpret, particularly as so little architectural evidence survives. The archaeological evidence is limited and also difficult to interpret.

In 1986, approximately 10% of the total area of the castle had been excavated. The two main excavations (SOU 29 and SOU 123) were within the bailey. The castle ditch had been partially investigated at SOU 124 and other sites. The motte was considerably lowered in the early 19th century, and limited excavations, although indicating its method of construction, produced no evidence of any associated structures. The castle quay has never been excavated. There is a lack of high status finds, probably as the main excavations have been within the bailey which would have been kept clear during the heyday of the castle; most material waste was probably dumped in the ditches and waterfront.

Archaeological work undertaken since 1986 has been of limited extent, mainly confined to Castle Vault and the Watergate Passage, and to the west castle wall to the north. This work has suggested different interpretations of some aspects of the development of the castle than given in Oxley.
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DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE AND DEVELOPMENT OF SOUTHAMPTON CASTLE

THE EARLY CASTLE ([24], figure 47A – early 12th century)

Documentary evidence:
There is no archaeological or documentary evidence which provides a definitive date for the foundation of Southampton Castle. The first documentary reference is to a “munitio” in a treaty of 1153, followed by regular references to a “castellum” from 1155; the possible significance of the two different terms is unclear. The early references may be to repairs on an existing castle, or the tail-end of the construction. Between 1155-62 the following are mentioned: the bridge of the castle, the bridge of the bailey, the chapel, a brattice for the bailey bridge, and the chamber of the king and queen. In 1186-7 material was purchased to build a stone treasury (thalamus), and slates to roof 'the king's chambers and houses' on the motte, and there are further references to buildings 'in the tower' (in turri); this might be evidence for a shell keep on the motte. The castle quay is first mentioned in 1189-90. By then most of the main features of the castle had been mentioned, although there had been no direct reference to the castle walls or ditch. Expenditure at the castle between 1191-5 has been associated with the construction of the west wall (Colvin 1963, 840; O'NeiI 1951, 251), although the archaeological evidence from SOU 29 might suggest otherwise (see below).

Archaeological and architectural evidence:

Castle Hall is an early to mid 12th century structure. On SOU 29, a dark soil layer or layers found across the entire site is dated to the mid to late 12th century, though the layers probably span the period before and after the castle's construction. A terminus ante quem for the castle of the first half of the 12th century is suggested. The castle may have been founded in the late 11th century, soon after the Norman Conquest. This is based on the strategic importance of the town and the size of the motte, which was possibly over 10m high; mottes of this size tend to be early structures (Cathcart-King 1972, 103).

The castle in the early 12th century might have consisted of the motte, surmounted by a shell keep, with its ditch towards the south, west, and east (there is no evidence as yet for the ditch on the north side of the motte). The bailey was defended on the south by the south wall of the bailey (there was no ditch associated with the south wall). The northern extent of the castle in this period is uncertain; the northern bailey may be an original feature or a later addition. The evidence from SOU 29 suggests that the primary northern defences may have been a ditch and associated wall found towards the south end of that site*; the wall is thought to be a wall shown on Speed’s map of 1611, by then marking an internal division of the bailey. Supporting this, the buildings in the southwest corner of the castle are a cohesive 12th century development, and there are no known buildings north of the SOU 29 ditch. The west curtain wall to the north of the point at which the ditch would have intersected the wall is of a different character, allowing for later re-facings, from the wall to the south (this has not been checked – SCC HER). Davies [3] records a broken bond in the masonry of the wall at this point (actually [3] appears to be referring to a point slightly further south – SCC HER). However, the SOU 29 ditch was much smaller than the motte ditch excavated on SOU 124. Also, some 13th century pottery found in the northern rampart on SOU 29 may be intrusive, in which case the rampart could be of 12th century date. (SCC HER: This somewhat misrepresents the evidence given in the SOU 29 report in [24]. The SOU 29 rampart contained mainly 12th century pottery, some late 13th/early 14th century sherds being rejected as intrusive. It is said that the 12th century pottery could be residual, so the rampart could be of 12th or 13th century date. See child record.) A 12th century pottery sherd found sealed below the rampart on SOU 132 may be further evidence of an early date for the northern rampart. Certainly the size of the northern rampart found on SOU 29 compares well with the large motte ditch excavated on SOU 124.
The western facade of the castle would have been formed by the two-storey Castle Hall and perhaps a similar structure in the area now occupied by Castle Vault**. In front of these buildings would have been the castle quay. The Watergate may have existed at this time**. This arrangement would have made this western frontage vulnerable to attack. Castle Vault was probably built in the late 12th century, probably between 1191 and 1195. It would have had an upper storey, but what form this took is unknown.
There may have been a gate in the south wall in the early 12th century (see fig 47), although the archaeological evidence for this from SOU 123 is tenuous.

[* Since 1986, the wall found on SOU 29 has been traced to the west (see MSH3412), although the ditch has not been found. This suggests that the SOU 29 ditch was of less significance than originally thought, and that the ditch and wall were only an internal division.]

[** Following the SOU 441 fieldwork in 1991, it was suggested that the first phase of the Watergate and the curtain wall to the north were built in the early 12th century, and that Castle Vault was inserted against an existing curtain wall; the evidence was inconclusive however. The top of the curtain wall had been rebuilt in the medieval period, possibly when Castle Vault and its upper storey were built. An early structure on the site of Castle Vault is not ruled out by the new evidence.]
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13th CENTURY ([24], figure 47B – early 13th century, figure 47C – late 13th century)

Documentary evidence:

Between 1201 and 1208 there was another period of heavy expenditure on the castle (more details given). The construction of the bailey wall may have continued during this time (Colvin 1963, 840), although the SOU 29 results could suggest otherwise. It is impossible to say what other fortifications or buildings resulted from this period of activity.

Between 1214 and 1239 the castle quay needed frequent repairs, and the hall, houses, chamber, chapel, and cellar were attended to. The castle quay is mentioned most frequently in this period; Southampton Castle was a major centre for the collection and redistribution of wine and other goods to royal palaces and castles throughout southern England.

Between 1239 and 1260, repairs and work at the castle were usually ordered by general writs – usually general maintenance orders which may not have resulted in much work being carried out. These include an otherwise potentially important writ of 1241, 'to cause the king's buildings at Southampton which need it to be repaired, the chapel to be re-roofed, the bailey to be enclosed and a chamber to be made'. A writ of 1249 refers to money to remake the fence (haya) around the castle. A writ dated 1252 includes the instruction 'to make a new wardrobe for the queen therein'. In this period, the castle chapel is mentioned in the general writs, but is also the subject of specific writs.

An inquisition held probably in 1260 into the state of the king's houses in Southampton reported that 'the king's houses and the walls of the court there fell down. . . . The timber roof, doors and windows, bolts, and hinges were removed by some persons unknown'. Expenditure was ordered to repair the defects and this was subsequently carried out (discussed). Repairs to the chancel of the chapel, the hall, the kitchen, the quay, and the king's buildings are mentioned in this period. In 1268 a writ ordered the repair of 'the windows of the hall, privy chamber and chapel of Southampton and the chapel itself’; this order is very specific so the work was probably carried out. However, in 1286 the castle was said to be 'in ruins'.

The references to the castle in 1282 and 1286 occur in murage grants to the town. Apart from these, there are very few references from the latter 13th century and the first half of the 14th century, perhaps because from 1272 to 1359 the castle was held by the queen.

Archaeological and architectural evidence:

In the 13th century the defensive emphasis may have switched away from the motte and its shell keep to the provision of a strong perimeter rampart and wall. The archaeological evidence suggests much activity in the outer areas during the 13th century.

The archaeological dating evidence for the northern rampart excavated on SOU 29 is uncertain; some 13th century (actually late 13th-early 14th century – SCC HER) pottery found in the rampart may be intrusive, in which case the rampart could date to the 12th century. (It is argued in the SOU 29 report that the 12th century pottery could be residual and the rampart could be of 12th or 13th century date. SCC HER) If the rampart was constructed in the 13th century, this may have followed the 1241 writ. A palisade, the repair of which was ordered in 1249, was perhaps associated with it. Such a development may have made redundant and led to the silting of the SOU 29 ditch (see above) and that section of the motte ditch within the new enclosure. The wall associated with the SOU 29 ditch probably continued in use as an inner division of the bailey. (NB: [24] seems to be misrepresenting the SOU 29 evidence here. SCC HER)

[See above for archaeological evidence since 1986.]

The barrel vault in Castle Hall may have been inserted in this period. The large garderobe tower was probably built at the same time, serving both as a latrine and a corner tower. Two periods for its construction can be suggested; either during the expenditure of 1201-8 or after the 1252 writ (the new 'wardrobe'). Neither date is contradicted by the archaeological and architectural evidence.

Although the main structures of this western range of buildings survive, no service areas or other buildings have been found and the chapel has not been located.

A cursory examination of the documents suggests that the castle was in decline in the late 13th century. However, the 1286 reference to the castle being in ruins may refer only to the motte and its shell keep, and possibly to the palisade on the rampart. The archaeological evidence suggests that large-scale building works were being undertaken in the north bailey in the late 13th century, perhaps funded using the murage grants of 1282 and 1286. A large and well-constructed limekiln was found on SOU 29, last fired 1270 +/- 20. The lime may have been used to build the north wall of the bailey, and perhaps also the part of the west wall north of Castle Vault. An industrial feature was found in the partially backfilled flue of the limekiln; this was perhaps associated with the production of pitch for waterproof cement, for use on the west wall. On SOU 124, it was found that shortly after this, the motte ditch on the south side of the castle had been allowed to silt up, although why is unclear. (Fig 47 shows a conjectural late 13th century phase to the Castle Eastgate, in the line of the north castle wall.)

[Note that the shape of the natural cliff may provide supporting evidence for the northern part of the west wall being of later date. It seems to have been eroded further back north of Castle Vault...... but perhaps this pre-dates the castle entirely.]
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14th CENTURY ([24], figure 47D – late 14th century)

Documentary evidence:

The lack of substantial documentary evidence between 1286 and 1378 suggest a considerable amount of dereliction occurred in this period. This is supported by the archaeological evidence.

The castle and town were damaged during the French Raid of 1338. Following this, some repairs were made to the king's houses. In 1339 the king ordered the completion of the circuit of the town walls. There are no references to the defences of the castle being strengthened at this time. All expenditure was concentrated on the town walls and ditches. In 1369 certain works were ordered at the castle.

In 1378 a large-scale programme of building works at the castle was ordered, the main objective was to quickly build a new tower on 'Old Castell Hill'. The two leading architects of the day, William Wynford, as master mason, and Henry Yevele were appointed to take charge of the works. The work took place in 1378 and 1379.

Between 1378 and 1388 the castle was almost completely redesigned. The new keep was probably similar to other towers added to castles in the 14th century, for instance Caesar's Tower and Guy's Tower in Warwick Castle. The new tower may have been designed to replace the ageing buildings on the quayside as well as to augment the defences of the castle. The implication of Colvin's assessment of the monies spent between 1378 and 1388 is that the work was confined to the motte, with its new tower and surrounding wall and barbican. Surviving archaeological evidence indicates that attention was also paid to the rest of the castle (see below). The castle was now intended to be defended by guns. Thomas Tredyngton was appointed castle chaplain in 1386 'expressly because he is an expert on guns and the management of artillery'.

Archaeological and architectural evidence:

There is little archaeological evidence of 14th century activity within the castle before 1378. One of the few possible 14th century assemblages was a group of skeletons found on SOU 29, in the backfill of the limekiln and in a grave cut in the upper fills of the SOU 29 ditch. These may have been casualties of the 1338 French Raid.

On SOU 124 it was found that the ditch south of the motte had certainly silted up during the 14th century, and been encroached upon by tenements backing onto it. The north wall of the bailey and its rampart might have been substantially intact. Buildings fronting onto the quayside might also have been in a reasonable state of repair.

It is clear from the archaeological evidence and surviving architectural features, if not from the documents, that the work undertaken between 1378 and 1388 was not confined to the motte and its new keep.

There is no archaeological evidence for the work on the keep (although some possible robber trenches were found on SOU 145 – SCC HER). On SOU 124, a recut of the castle ditch south of the motte may be attributable to this period. The arch of the Castle Watergate is of this period, suggesting the Watergate was either built or altered in this period**. The SOU 147 excavation showed that the Castle Eastgate was built in this period, at least in its present form (although the gate may have had an earlier phase). Part of the late 14th century phase of the Southgate may have been found on SOU 123, probably dating to 1378-88 7. The west wall of Castle Hall was altered in this period by the insertion of keyhole gunports into the ground floor openings; these are suggested by the outline of a keyhole gunport on the exterior of the west wall; the gun embrasures as they survive on the interior are later alterations.

[** SOU 441 fieldwork since 1986 suggested it was altered.]

This late 14th century activity was the last attempt at maintaining the castle's overall defensive and residential role. The defences of the town, redesigned for artillery from the mid 14th century onwards, in many ways rendered the new keep and castle immediately redundant. The emphasis had shifted away from a single strong defensible position to the enclosure and defence of an entire town. Furthermore, the castle was no longer fulfilling a useful economic role. Only the west wall of the castle continued to fulfil a defensive role as part of the town wall circuit.
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POST-14th CENTURY

There is little documentary evidence of repairs to the castle in the 15th century. (The reference in 1418-19 to the 'king's new tower', interpreted by Platt (1973, 142) as referring to the castle keep, may be to God's House Tower.) A draft letter, probably dating to 1460, describes the castle as being in poor condition, its well blocked, and its seaward wall 'sadly decayed'. In 1498-9 the 'highest of the castle walls' was thrown down and the stone used to repair the Watergate quay. This probably refers to the north bailey wall, an interpretation supported by the existence of a common right of way between the chapel in the castle and Catchcold Tower to the north, and by the omission of that wall from Speed's 1611 map. The last recorded expenditure on the castle was in the early 16th century - 1512-14 and 1518.

The 16th century evidence indicates that this neglect continued. In about 1540 Leland described the keep as 'the Glorie of the Castelle . . . that is both large, fair and very stronge'. Elizabeth I visited the town in 1569, so the keep was perhaps still in a reasonable state of repair. From 1550 onwards there were frequent presentments to the Court Leet concerning the state of the castle and especially the bailey (castle green), which was being used as a dumping ground (1551, 1569, 1573 and 1574 references). The archaeological evidence from SOU 29 confirms this. In 1585, a special commission was appointed to survey the castle, and it produced a detailed report. The castle mount was 'very ruynaise and in greete decaye both withyn and without being uncovered the lead gone and the timber all downe and rotten the stone walles of the said castle only standinge'. The walls of the castle were 'downe' save for those against 'the water side and the south-west' and a small piece of wall towards the north part of the town which was 'Verrye Ruinouse' .

The castle was held by James Parkinson, captain of CaIshot Castle. He had divided the castle green and ditches into smaller garden plots. In 1590 Parkinson was presented to the Court Leet for letting out the castle green to the butchers for their sheep ‘[which] hathe so spoiled the hyll most rewynousse'. In the same presentment it was also stated that the windows and the gate of the castle tower 'lyeth open to all theninhabetants'. The town spent money, including on 'making clene above the Castell Ringe', and on 'medswett for to scoure the wyndoes for hyr mageste'; perhaps this was done to tidy up the castle for the visit of Elizabeth I in 1591.

In 1618 the castle site, including all walls and ditches, was sold by the Crown to two London men, and then in 1619 to George Gollop, a Southampton merchant. In 1636 a final survey of the 'old decayed castle' was made. This concentrated particularly on encroachments upon, and gardens within, the castle ditch. In 1650, during the Civil War, permission was given for stones to be taken from the castle in order to repair the town walls. In the following centuries the motte was used successively as the site for a windmill and a Banqueting House. In 1805 a mock-Gothic castellated mansion was built on the motte by the Marquis of Lansdowne. This mansion was demolished in 1818 and the motte subsequently lowered. The roof and walls of Castle Hall were demolished some time in the 17th or 18th century, and by the mid 19th century the building was completely filled with rubbish. Castle Vault had become dilapidated by the late 18th century, with its doorway and window blocked. Southgate and Castle Eastgate were demolished in the late 18th century. The castle site was redeveloped in the last half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. Upper Bugle Street was inserted and council dwellings built along and around that street. Subsequent redevelopment took place after WWII, including the construction in 1963 of the Castle House block of flats on the remains of the motte.
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Sources / Further Reading

---SSH3068 - Unpublished document: Ancient Monument File AM17 - North-west town walls.
---SSH3661 - Article in serial: RG Thomson (Ancient Monuments Officer, Southampton City Council). 1986. Visit to Southampton, 14 September1986.. Soc Architectural Historians Great Britain, Annual Conf 1986, pp 49-59.
---SSH4213 - Article in serial: 1872. Annual Meeting at Southampton, 1872.. Archaeological Journal, Vol 29, 1872, pp368-378 etc.
---SSH4214 - Article in serial: Builder (magazine). 1872. (Description of Southampton's town walls and castle wall.). Builder (magazine), Dec 28th, 1872.
---SSH4803 - Article in serial: EM Sandell. 1957. A castle stood on Lansdowne Hill….. Daily Echo, 1 August 1957.
[1]SSH944 - Bibliographic reference: Englefield. 1801. A Walk Through Southampton (First Edition).
[2]SSH782 - Bibliographic reference: Englefield. 1805. A Walk Through Southampton (Second Edition). (Considerably augmented: To which is added, Some Account of the Roman Station, Clausentum.).
[3]SSH664 - Bibliographic reference: JS Davies. 1883. A History of Southampton.
[4]SSH634 - Bibliographic reference: 1908. Victoria County History Hants Volume 3 (1908). 3. pp 497 - 500
[5]SSH3205 - Article in monograph: BH St J. O'Neil. 1951. Southampton Town Wall. p 251, Plate XIA
[6]SSH3204 - Monograph: WF Grimes (ed). 1951. Aspects of Archaeology in Britain and Beyond (Essays presented to OGS Crawford)..
[7]SSH3202 - Bibliographic reference: HM Colvin. 1963. The History of the King's Works, II..
[8]SSH3207 - Bibliographic reference: HR Loyn. 1967. The Norman Conquest. p 104
[9]SSH3208 - Bibliographic reference: DF Renn. 1968. Norman Castles in Britain. p 29
[10]SSH3209 - Bibliographic reference: H Turner. 1971. Town Defences in England and Wales. p 169
[11]SSH3210 - Bibliographic reference: C Platt. 1973. Medieval Southampton - The port and trading community, AD 1000-1600..
[12]SSH3211 - Unpublished document: A Deacon. 1974. A Documentary History of Southampton Castle..
[13]SSH3195 - Bibliographic reference: Southampton City Museums. 1960. Historic Buildings of Southampton - Illustrated Guide. pp 27-31
[14]SSH3196 - Bibliographic reference: J Hodgson. 1986 +. Southampton Castle. all
[15]SSH914 - Bibliographic reference: S Pay. 1992. Walk the Southampton Walls.
[16]SSH3197 - Bibliographic reference: S Jones. 2000. Walk the Southampton Walls - A DIY Guide to the Old Town.
[17]SSH2624 - Unpublished document: NMR/OS. 1969-1982. NMR/OS Antiquity Record SU 41 SW 4.
[18]SSH2655 - Unpublished document: NMR/OS. 1969. NMR/OS Antiquity Record SU 41 SW 96.
[19]SSH3073 - Unpublished document: Ancient Monument File AM21 - Southampton Castle.
[20]SSH3120 - Unpublished document: Ancient Monument File AM66 - The Castle/Castle Vault.
[21]SSH3199 - Article in serial: PG Stone. 1934. A Vanished Castle. PHFC&AS Vol XII Part 3, 1934, 241-270. pp 241-70 (plans and illustration)
[22]SSH508 - Monograph: C Platt and R Coleman-Smith et al. 1975. Excavations in Medieval Southampton 1953 - 1969, Vol 1: The Excavation Reports.
[23]SSH516 - Monograph: J Oxley (ed). 1986. Excavations at Southampton Castle. Southampton Archaeological Monograph 3. all
[24]SSH516 - Monograph: J Oxley (ed). 1986. Excavations at Southampton Castle. Southampton Archaeological Monograph 3. the two final chapters and fig 47
[25]SSH567 - Bibliographic reference: LA Burgess. 1976. The Southampton Terrier of 1454. various
[26]SSH681 - Map: Speed. 1596/1611. Speed's Map of Southampton published 1596 and 1611 (black and white version). Paper.
[27]SSH921 - Map: P Mazell. 1771. A Plan of Southampton and of the Polygon 1771. Paper.
[28]SSH679 - Map: Campbell/Royal Engineers. 1846. 1846 OS map of Southampton (date of publication). Paper.
[29]SSH977 - Map: Ordnance Survey. 1870. OS 1870 1:500 series (Sometimes referred to as the 1868 map). Paper. 1:500.
[30]SSH1105 - Article in serial: Rev E Kell. 1865. On the Castle and Other Ancient Remains at Southampton. JBAA, Vol XXI or XXII, 1865, 1-21 (or 197-293).

Associated Finds: None recorded

Associated Events: None recorded

Related records

MSH2744Parent of: 1 Forest View - Stone Wall
MSH1824Parent of: 3 - 6 Forest View - Deposits
MSH833Parent of: 4, 7, 8 and 11 Maddison Street - part of the former bailey of Southampton Castle
MSH978Parent of: Lansdowne House, Lansdowne Hill - Stone Wall
MSH1839Parent of: Maddison Court in Castle Lane - medieval evidence from north bailey of Southampton Castle
MSH709Parent of: Maddison Street (North Side) - part of the bailey of Southampton Castle (Below- Ground Evidence)
MSH3399Parent of: Maddison Street (West Side) - ditch inside castle bailey
MSH3400Parent of: Maddison Street (West Side) - wall inside castle bailey
MSH3413Parent of: Southampton Castle - "buttress" at north end of west curtain wall
MSH3406Parent of: Southampton Castle - Barbican (?on Castle Quay)
MSH3410Parent of: Southampton Castle - barbican in front of South Gate
MSH3412Parent of: Southampton Castle – boundary wall marking internal division within castle bailey
MSH3415Parent of: Southampton Castle - building within bailey
MSH3421Parent of: Southampton Castle - buildings and other structures on the motte
MSH800Parent of: Southampton Castle - Castle East Gate (Castle Eastgate)
MSH564Parent of: Southampton Castle - Castle Garderobe Tower
MSH743Parent of: Southampton Castle - Castle Hall
MSH708Parent of: Southampton Castle – Castle Motte (Castle Mound)
MSH3405Parent of: Southampton Castle - Castle Quay
MSH710Parent of: Southampton Castle - Castle Vault, Western Esplanade (below Cement Terrace)
MSH740Parent of: Southampton Castle - Castle Watergate (and Watergate Passage)
MSH3404Parent of: Southampton Castle - ditch of the outer bailey
MSH3403Parent of: Southampton Castle - Motte Ditch
MSH2221Parent of: Southampton Castle – north curtain wall/bailey wall
MSH3407Parent of: Southampton Castle - possible earlier building on site of Castle Vault
MSH605Parent of: Southampton Castle - site of the outer bailey bank or rampart
MSH855Parent of: Southampton Castle - site of tower along west curtain wall
MSH3408Parent of: Southampton Castle - small garderobe at south-east corner of Castle Hall
MSH3420Parent of: Southampton Castle - south curtain wall (standing and demolished sections)
MSH3409Parent of: Southampton Castle - South Gate
MSH3416Parent of: Southampton Castle – the castle chapel
MSH3418Parent of: Southampton Castle – west curtain wall (all)
MSH553Parent of: Southampton Castle – west curtain wall next to Castle Hall
MSH854Parent of: Southampton Castle – west curtain wall of north/outer bailey
MSH934Parent of: Upper Bugle Street - below-ground evidence
MSH822Parent of: Upper Bugle Street - possible part of bailey wall of Southampton Castle
MSH821Parent of: Upper Bugle Street - Stone Wall

Associated Links

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