Visit Southampton

Southampton History

Sotonians include Jane Austen, who lived in what is now Old Town, and it is rumoured that Southampton Water is the site where King Canute tried to hold back the tides. The renowned novelist lived in Southampton from 1807 to1809. There is a Jane Austen Trail through Southampton's Old Town
The city has an important aviation and maritime heritage. Henry V marched his troops through the Westgate (still standing) to sail for France and the battle of Agincourt. The Mayflower sailed from Southampton taking settlers to the New World of America. The Titanic embarked from Southampton on its fateful maiden voyage, taking over five hundred Southampton residents who would never return. Southampton was home of some of the first flying boats, and it is thought that the term ‘air port’ was first used in reference to Southampton in this role. Local resident RJ Mitchell designed the Spitfire and it had its maiden flight from what is now Southampton airport. Local people kept production of this vital plane going throughout the war. The port also served as a critical base for American soldiers amassing in secret for the D Day landings.
In 1620 the Pilgrims chartered the Mayflower to sail to the New World to escape religious oppression in England. They also bought a smaller boat the Speedwell, which was originally built in Southampton, to use permanently when they reached America.
Old Town today still contains a wealth of historical attractions – the Bargate which was originally built as the main gateway to the medieval city, the 800 year old Bargate stands as a prestigious entrance to the Old Town where you will find the third longest stretch of unbroken medieval defensive walling in England and Tudor House are some of the many sites worth visiting.
Oral History is an archive of live story interviews and projects recording history of local communities.
More information on Southampton's archives are available here.
Text courtesy from Southampton City Council.
    • The Spitfire - invented in Southampton

    The Spitfire - invented in Southampton

    • Enjoying Tudor House Garden

    Enjoying Tudor House Garden

    • Front view of Tudor House

    Front view of Tudor House

    • Old City Walls

    Old City Walls

    • Southampton Bargate

    Southampton Bargate

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