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|Type of Record:||Monument|
|Name:||Town Defences - The Arcades, Western Esplanade|
|Grid Reference:||SU 4182 1133|
|Map:||Show location on Streetmap|
The part of the town wall known as the Arcades stretches from Simnel Street southwards for a distance of about 80 metres. It consists of a curtain wall fronted by a line of round-arched, machicolated arcading that supports a wall-walk. The curtain wall is partly formed by the walls of a earlier stone houses, the doors and windows of which have been blocked. Inverted keyhole gunports have been inserted in places along the curtain wall. The arcading may originally have extended further south beyond Westgate; two medieval arcades survive there, and three more were rebuilt in the 20th century (see MSH1113). The Arcades are architecturally unique in Britain and are possibly the earliest surviving defences in the country designed for artillery. Guns are first mentioned in Southampton in 1380, probably for the castle, and the town brought a hand gun in 1382.
The town wall on this part of the western shore was not constructed until the later 14th century. The lanes leading down to the quayside may have been gated after the French Raid of 1338, if not before (there may have been gates here in the late 13th century). In 1360 an inquisition into the state of the town’s defences ordered the blocking of Pilgrims’ Gate (later Biddlesgate on Simnel Street, MSH2285) and the Postern Gate (on Whytegod’s Lane, now Blue Anchor Lane, MSH3156), and the blocking of all house doors and windows on the waterfront. It is not clear when work began and there was much resistance from the merchants who wanted to retain direct access to the quayside. In 1377 the architect Henry Yevele came to Southampton to rebuild the castle defences, and it is likely he also undertook construction of the Arcades from about 1380. The Arcades are comparable to those of Rouen in France, known to have been designed by Yevele. There were three towers along the Arcades (see MSH1865, MSH1866 and MSH1867) and one at Pilgrims’ Gate (MSH920).
There have been several archaeological investigations along the Arcades. In 1972/1973, almost the whole length of the east side/inside of the town wall between Simnel Street and Blue Anchor Lane was excavated (SOU 122). In 1984/5 a programme of wall recording took place at the Arcades and all exposed wall surfaces were drawn (ESH1886). In 1985, a watching brief took place on test pits (SOU 242). A further excavation took place along much of the west side of the Arcades in 1987/1989 (SOU 301). In 1994 there was a small excavation inside one of the arcade bays after a blocking wall had been removed (SOU 571). In 1994/1995 King John's Palace, just inside the Arcades, was the subject of a partial building recording, watching brief and excavation (SOU 681). The 1980s archaeological work was accompanied by a programme of wall conservation and presentation.
The archaeological work yielded evidence of the quayside and the row of stone houses that pre-dated the town walls in this area (see separate records). The relationship between the house walls and town wall was investigated both below and above ground. The remains of the Pilgrims’ Gate were found, and the foundations of a tower (perhaps half-round) that blocked or defended the gate (MSH920). The tower was probably built soon after 1360, although had been demolished when the Arcades were built in about 1380. When construction of the town wall began here, the west walls of some stone houses were incorporated into the new wall; one of these, at the south end, is the building known as King John’s Palace (MSH2258). However a house immediately north of Blue Anchor Lane, which projected about 1m west of the new wall line, had its west wall demolished and rebuilt to the east. Another house (in the 11th arcade bay from the north) projected some 0.5m and was left intact; the town wall here was not aligned until the late 16th century. The line of machicolated arcading was added to the west fronts of the houses/curtain wall. At some stage, probably in the medieval period, a stone facing was added to the whole of the east side of the curtain wall between Simnel Street and the north wall of the projecting building. The foundations of three half-round towers, known from the documentary sources, were exposed during the excavations. These were crudely-built compared to the Arcades and the Pilgrims’ Gate tower. They may have been inserted into gaps between the houses some time after the construction of the Pilgrims’ Gate tower and before the Arcades were built, however the sequence is uncertain.
In the post-medieval period some openings in the curtain wall were unblocked and some new openings were made. The southernmost tower seems to have been demolished in the early 17th century, the remaining two towers in or after 1775. Pilgrims’ Gate/Biddlesgate was demolished in the early 19th century. The existing battlements are Victorian and it is likely that other repairs were carried out in that period. In the Victorian period the lower parts of the arcade bays were walled up with “modesty buttresses”, intended to stop people loitering there; these were removed in 1984/5. A further blocking in Bay 10 was probably removed in 1994.
- Listed Building (I) 1179282: TOW WALLS: SECTIONS OF WALL RUNNING SOUTH ALONG ESPLANADE FROM SOUTH-WEST CORNER OF SIMNEL STREET TO UNIVERSITY AIR SQUADRON HEADQUARTERS AT SOUTH END OF BUGLE STREET. INCLUDES THE ARCADES, THE WEST GATE, BLUE ANCHOR POSTERN AND BIDDLES GATE
- Scheduled Monument 1001928: Town wall: section between Simnel Street and the site of the Bugle Tower excluding the West Gate
- Old Southampton SMR No/Backup file: SU 4111 SE 130 BU
- Old Southampton SMR No/Backup file: SU 4111 SE 36, 93 BU
- CURTAIN WALL (Built, Medieval - 1360 AD to 1377 AD (between))
- TOWN WALL (Built, Medieval - 1360 AD to 1377 AD (between))
- CURTAIN WALL (Altered, Medieval - 1377 AD to 1399 AD (between))
- TOWN WALL (Altered, Medieval - 1377 AD to 1399 AD (between))
Records for the town defences are currently being enhanced and it is intended that further details will be added to this description at a later date. The summary incorporates new information not yet included in this description. (SCC HER 8/12/09)
: Extract from Listed Building Description. TOWN WALLS. Sections of wall running south along Esplanade from south-west corner of Simnel Street to University Air Squadron Headquarters at south end of Bugle Street. Includes The Arcades, The West Gate, Blue Anchor Postern and Biddles Gate. (Also listed as: WESTGATE STREET - The West Gate including portions of Town Walls and arcades adjoining.) Grade I.
- Mediaeval City Wall built of stone rubble about 20 feet in height. It incorporates the Arcade, and arcaded screen wall built against existing Norman merchants houses forming a series of deep arched recesses to give a rampart wall at the top, 19 arches in all, and the West Gate. ….. Scheduled as an ancient monument.
[Derived from English Heritage LBS download dated 19/08/2005. Crown Copyright. Reproduced under the terms of the Open Government Licence.]
SOU 122 (Excavation on the site of St Michael's House in Upper Bugle Street in 1972/1973):
(Site unpublished, although  is quite a detailed report. See also  and .)
: Almost the whole length of the east side of the town wall between Simnel Street and Blue Anchor Lane was "mechanically excavated". It seems that the earliest length of wall runs from Simnel Street to the north wall of Building 3, a large 13th century stone house built on the reclaimed shore-line. Here it is interrupted, and does not seem to continue until the small length between Blue Anchor Lane and the gate of Blue Anchor Court. Building 3 clearly extended beyond the line of the town wall at this stage, as the north wall of the house can be clearly seen running through the town wall (also, the scar of "some arched feature" is visible on the west face of the town wall, alongside the north wall of the house). This earliest length preserves much architectural detail on its west face, of apparently medieval date, and has been interpreted as dating from the first period of wall building (along the western wall - IP), presumably in the mid 14th century. A facing then seems to have been added to this wall along the whole of the east face between Simnel Street and the north wall of the early medieval house. Owing to late cellaring, this second period of work could not be dated, although a doorway in the wall can be dated to the 16th century on architectural grounds. In the late 16th/early 17th century, Building 3 was abandoned and town wall was extended across its western end; a wall interpreted as the remains of an internal north-south wall of this building was uncovered against the town wall. The construction trench of this part of the town wall was found, excavated and clearly dated from pottery found; the footings were clay-bonded. Finally, the stretch of wall containing the gate into (the former) Blue Anchor Court incorporates a stone bearing the date 1644.
SOU 242 (Watching Brief on 3 test pits at The Arcades, Western Esplanade in 1985):
: Stone foundations of the buttresses of the medieval town wall and the earlier house walls "blocking" the Arcades were found.
SOU 301 (Evaluation Trench and Excavation at The Arcades, Western Esplanade in 1987/1988):
: This part of the town wall was built in c1380 AD. This incorporated the stone fronts of some existing merchants houses, but necessitated the demolition of a tower in Simnel Street, and of parts of some merchants houses. Three half-round towers were built along the line of the town wall (see separate records), and finally a line of machicolated arcading was added.
(See also .)
SOU 571 (Excavation at The Arcades in 1994):
: The medieval town wall and arcade piers, between pier 9 and pier 10, were exposed but not recorded.
Deposits exposed were of 18th century and later date (see separate record).
A 19th century stone blocking wall between the two town wall piers, and infill behind, were investigated. (These blocking walls were known as a "modesty buttresses", and were intended to stop people from loitering in the recesses of The Arcades.)
IP 23/7/04: The precise location of the SOU 571 trench is unclear and should be checked in the site archive.
SOU 681 (Building recording, watching brief and excavation at King John's Palace in 1994/1995):
: (This source does not give a detailed analysis of the results of the work.) The work included the examination of the interior face of the west wall of King John's Palace. Gunports in the medieval town wall, doorways, windows, were noted.
: A watching brief took place on a trench dug in the south-west corner of KJP (see figure 1 and 2). Two sections of stone wall, probably forming one north-south wall, were partly exposed. This wall was undated, but was probably part of the original west wall of KJP, or strengthening associated with the later town wall (the above-ground west wall of KJP at this point is a 20th century rebuild).
(Check  for possible references to the Arcades.)
SCC HER 10/5/10: Preliminary report  not checked - probably superceded by later reports.
Sources / Further Reading
|---||SSH1038 - Bibliographic reference: R Douch. 1968. Monuments and Memorials in Southampton. Southampton Papers Number Six. |
|---||SSH2840 - Serial: DF Renn. 1965. "The Southampton Arcade". Medieval Archaeology Vol 8, pp 226-8. all|
|---||SSH3085 - Unpublished document: Ancient Monument File AM33 - West Walls (Town Walls). |
|---||SSH3086 - Unpublished document: Ancient Monument File AM34 - Western Arcades (Town Walls). |
|||SSH1914 - Excavation archive: SOU 242 Archive. Notes and section drawings|
|||SSH1913 - Excavation archive: SOU 301 Archive. Archive Guide and location plan P45|
|||SSH680 - Serial: The Society for Medieval Archaeology. 1988. Medieval Archaeology, Vol 32, 1988 (for 1987). p 254|
|||SSH871 - Serial: The Society for Medieval Archaeology. 1989. Medieval Archaeology, Vol 33, 1989 (for 1988). p 192|
|||SSH626 - Serial: M Hughes (ed), Hampshire County Council. 1988. Archaeology in Hampshire Annual Report for 1987. pp 22 - 23|
|||SSH869 - Serial: M Hughes (ed), Hampshire County Council. 1989. Archaeology in Hampshire Annual Report for 1988. p 25|
|||SSH712 - Serial: Morton, AD (ed), SCC. 1990. Annual Report of the Southampton Archaeological & Heritage Management Section 1990. p 64|
|||SSH521 - Serial: Morton, AD (ed), SCC. 1991. Annual Report of the Southampton Archaeological & Heritage Management Section for 1990-1991. pp 26 - 27|
|||SSH924 - Serial: SARC. 1973?. Southampton Archaeological Research Committee Annual Report for 1972-3. St Michael's House, including figure 1|
|||SSH890 - Serial: SARC. 1972?. Southampton Archaeological Research Committee Annual Report for 1971-72. St Michael's House (etc)|
|||SSH1936 - Serial: Southampton City Museums Archaeological Society. 1972. Southampton City Museums Archaeological Society Bulletin No 23, Spring/Summer 1972.. St Michael's House (p 4 or 17?)|
|||SSH194 - Archaeological Report: M Smith. 1994. Report on an archaeological excavation at The Arcades, Western Esplanade, Southampton.. SOU 571. All|
|||SSH1983 - Archaeological Report: MP Smith. 1995. Detailed archive guide to the archaeological observations at King John's Palace, Blue Anchor Lane, Southampton.. SOU 681. |
|||SSH256 - Archaeological Report: MP Smith. 1995. Report on the archaeological watching brief at King John's Palace, Blue Anchor Lane, Southampton.. SOU 681. All|
|||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). pp 19 - 21|
|||SSH2888 - Digital archive: English Heritage. 2005. Listed Buildings System dataset for Southampton. |
|||SSH3323 - Archaeological Report: M Daniells. 1973. St Michael's House Excavation: Progress Report.. SOU 122. |
Associated Finds: None recorded
- ESH122 - Excavation on the site of St Michael's House in Upper Bugle Street in 1972/1973 (Ref: SOU 122)
- ESH1550 - Excavation at The Arcades, Western Esplanade in 1987/1988 (part of Phase 2 of work on The Arcades) (Ref: SOU 301)
- ESH1561 - Building Recording at King John's Palace, Blue Anchor Lane in 1994/1995 (Ref: SOU 681)
- ESH242 - Watching Brief on Test Pits at The Arcades, Western Esplanade in 1985 (Phase 1 of work on The Arcades) (Ref: SOU 242)
- ESH301 - Evaluation Excavation at The Arcades, Western Esplanade in 1987 (first part of Phase 2 of work on The Arcades) (Ref: SOU 301)
- ESH571 - Excavation at The Arcades on Western Esplanade in 1994 (Ref: SOU 571)
- ESH681 - Watching Brief and Excavation at King John's Palace, Blue Anchor Lane in 1994/1995 (Ref: SOU 681)
|MSH14||Child of: Town Defences - town wall, towers and gates|
Associated Links: None recorded
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