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Southampton, England

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND, a municipal, county, and parliamentary borough of Hampshire, England, a seaport, and county in itself, 79 m. S.W. by S. from London by the London & South-Western railway. Pop. (1901), 104,824. It is finely situated near the head of Southampton Water, an inlet of the English Channel which forms the estuary of the river Test; on a peninsula bounded east by the river Itchen. There are considerable remains of the old town walls, dating from Norman times, but strengthened on various later occasions. The most remarkable portion occurs on the western side, where for a distance of nearly 100 yds. the wall is arcaded on its exterior face. The wall was strengthened by towers at intervals, such as the Arundel Tower at the north-western corner. The site of the castle, on the western side near the water, is built over, but the wall is well seen here. The castle was originally a Saxon fortress, and was rebuilt on the erection of the walls. It was partly demolished in 1650, and in 1805 its reconstruction was begun by the marquess of Lansdowne, but was not completed. Near the site there are some very ancient houses, one of which, known as King John's Palace, is of the highest interest, as it is considered to be earlier than any example of the 12th century in England, and is well preserved. Of the ancient town gates the Bar or North Gate, South Gate, West Gate, and Blue Anchor Gate remain. The first three are important; the South and West gates date from the early 14th century, while Bar Gate, as it stands, is later, and retains excellent Decorated work. Numerous early vaults remain below the houses within the walls. The two old churches, St Michael's, the central tower and lofty spire of which rise from Norman arches, and Holy Rood, partly Decorated, are greatly modernized. St Michael's contains a Norman font of black marble, comparable with that in Winchester Cathedral. All Saints' Church dates from 1795, and among numerous modern churches St Mary's, erected from designs by G. E. Street, is noteworthy, and occupies the site of a Saxon church. The chapel of St Julian, where French Anglican services are held, is of transitional Norman architecture, greatly altered by restoration. It was originally attached to the hospital of God's House, founded in the time of Henry III. for eight poor persons, the existing buildings of which are modern. In the chapel are buried the earl of Cambridge, Lord Scrope, and Sir Thomas Grey, who were executed in 1415 outside the Bar Gate for conspiracy against Henry V. The chapel was allocated as a place of worship by Queen Elizabeth to certain Protestant Walloon refugees. The priory of St Denys, an Augustinian foundation of 1124, gives name to a suburb by the Itchen, and has left only fragmentary ruins.

In the municipal offices interesting ancient regalia and records are kept. The Gildhall, used as a court-house, is in the upper part of Bar Gate. Noteworthy modern buildings are the public library, corn exchange, custom-house, and assembly rooms. The Hartley Institution, founded under the will of Mr H. R. Hartley, contains a library, museum, art gallery, lecture hall, laboratories, and school of science and art associated with that of South Kensington, London; the foundation was created for SOUTHAMPTON and Environs Scale. 1:100.000 English Miles the advancement of natural history, astronomy, antiquities, and classical and Oriental literature. The Edward VI. grammar school was founded in 1550 and reorganized in 1875, and occupies modern buildings. Alderman Taunton's trade school was founded in 1752, and includes a technical department. The ordnance survey office is the headquarters of the ordnance survey department of Great Britain and Ireland. The Royal South Hampshire Infirmary is the principal of numerous benevolent and charitable institutions. To the north of the old town are the East and West Parks and the Hampshire county cricket ground, and to the south the small Queen's Park. Southampton Common, with its fine avenue, north of the town, was formerly part of the manor of Shirley. There is a statue in the parks of Dr Isaac Watts, the theologian (1674-1748), a native of the town, in whose memory the Watts Memorial Hall was erected in 1875. The headquarters of the Royal Southampton and the Royal Southern Yacht Clubs are in the town.

The history of the modern importance of Southampton as a port begins with the creation of a pier and harbour commission in 1803, and the erection of the Royal Victoria Pier (opened by Princess, afterwards Queen, Victoria) in 1831. But its present prosperity really dates from the opening of railway communication with London in 1840. The harbour is one of the finest natural harbours in the kingdom, and has the advantage of a double tide, the tide of the English channel giving it high water first by way of the Solent and two hours later by way of Spithead. In 1892 the docks, which lie at the southern end of the peninsula, became the property of the London & SouthWestern Railway Company. They measure about 300 acres, comprising extensive quays in both the Test and the Itchen rivers, with 28 ft. and upwards of water at low water of ordinary spring tides, and over 15,000 lineal feet of accommodation; the Empress dock, i8 acres, with a depth of 26 ft. at low water spring tide; the outer dock, 16 acres, with 18 ft. at low water spring tide; and the inner dock, 10 acres. In 1907 the construction of a new dock was undertaken, to cover 16 acres, with a depth of 40 ft. below low water. There are also two coal barge docks capable of floating 10,000 tons of coal at one time. There are five dry docks, having from 29 ft. to 12 ft. depth of water over blocks at neaps. The Prince of Wales, or No. 5 dry dock, opened in 1895, was at that time the largest single dock in the world; it is 750 ft. long by 87! ft. wide at sill, and 112 ft. at cope level. In 1905 a sixth graving dock was opened, having a length of 8751 ft., and a width of 90 ft. at sill and 125 ft. at cope level. The principal passenger steamers sailing from the port are those of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company for the West Indies and the Pacific (via Panama) and for Brazil and the River Plate, etc., and the Union-Castle line for the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, East Africa, etc., both of which companies have their headquarters here. New York is served by the American line, the North German Lloyd line, etc. Regular steamers serve the Channel Islands, Cherbourg and Havre, the principal English ports, Dublin, Belfast and Glasgow; and local steamers serve Cowes (Isle of Wight) and other neighbouring ports. The Southwestern Company owns the local railway stations (Town and Dock and Southampton West, besides suburban stations), but through connexions are made with the north by way of the Great Western and Great Central and the Midland and South- Western Junction railways. Among the principal imports are cocoa, coffee, grain (including Indian corn), fruit, provisions (including butter, eggs and potatoes from France and the Channel Islands) , wines and spirits, sugar, wool, and other foreign and colonial produce. Exports are all kinds of manufactured goods, such as cotton, linen, woollen, worsted and leather goods, machinery and hardware.

Southampton gives name to a suffragan bishopric in the diocese of Winchester. The parliamentary borough returns two members. The county borough was created in 1888. The town is governed by a mayor, sheriff, senior and junior bailiffs, 13 aldermen, and 39 councillors. The area, which includes the suburbs of Shirley, Freemantle and others, is 4501 acres.

History. There was a Roman settlement of some importance on the site of the suburb of Bitterne on the E. bank of the Itchen. It was walled, and inscribed stones, coins, pottery, etc., have been found. It is probable that after the Danish invasions of the 11th century the modern Southampton (Hantune, Suhampton) gradually superseded the Saxon Hantune as the latter did the Roman settlement, the site being chosen for its stronger position and greater facilities for trade. It was a royal borough before 1086, and a charter of Henry II. (1154-5) declares that the men of Southampton shall hold their gild liberties and customs as in the time of Henry I. Richard I. in 1189 freed the burgesses from tolls and all secular customs. In 1199 John repeated the grant and gave them the farm of the customs of their own port and those of Portsmouth at a yearly rent of 200. Henry III. in 1256 granted all the liberties and customs enjoyed by Winchester. Grants and confirmations were made from the reign of Henry III. to Henry VI., that of 1401 (2 Henry IV.) granting further to the mayor and bailiffs cognisance of all pleas to be held in the Gildhall (guyhalda). The charter of incorporation was given by Henry VI. in 1445, under which the town was governed by a mayor, 2 bailiffs and burgesses, while by charter of 1447 the neighbouring district was amalgamated with the new borough as a distinct county under the title of " the town and county of the town of Southampton." Further privileges were granted by successive kings, and a charter was finally given by Charles I. in 1640. Southampton has returned two members to parliament since 1295. The inhabitants appear to have had a prescriptive right to hold a cattle-market, which was confirmed by Henry IV. in 1400, and later by Elizabeth. Markets on Wednesday for cattle and Friday for corn are now held. Trinity fair, dating from the year 1443, is now a pleasure fair. In medieval times Southampton owed its importance to the fact that it was the chief port of Winchester. It had a large import and export trade, and in the 13th century was the second wine port in England. Wool was very largely exported, and the fact that it was brought to this port to be shipped probably led to the first establishment of the woollen trade in the W. of England. The rise of London as a port, the prohibition of the export of wool, the loss of the Winchester market after the suppression of the monastic institutions, and the withdrawal of the court led to the gradual decline of trade from the 16th century onwards until railway facilities and the opening of new dockyards gave Southampton the position it holds to-day.

See Victoria County History: Hampshire, iii. 490 seq.; B. B. Woodward, History of Hampshire (London, 1861-9); Rev. Silvester Davies, History of Southampton (London, 1883).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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