Southampton Museums
Image by Carlesmari under Creative Commons License.

England, Southampton Guide (A): Southampton Museums

Delve into the fascinating history of Southampton through six excellent museums that tell the story of the city - from humble Roman beginnings to Medieval fortification of the city walls to the ‘unsinkable’ cruise liner Titanic and the Spitfires of the Second World War.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: Southampton Museums
Guide Location: England » Southampton
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 3.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: City Art Gallery   SeaCity Museum   The Tudor House Museum and Garden   Saint Michael's Church   Medieval Merchants House   Museum of Archaeology   Solent Sky Hall of Aviation  
Author: Steve Bond
Author Bio: Steve Bond has lived in and around Southampton for the past six years. He is a certified yacht skipper with an interest for local history.
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City Art Gallery

1) City Art Gallery

The City Art Gallery is a gem within the city. Inside is an internationally renowned collection of artwork spanning six centuries of European art history. The gallery also hosts travelling exhibits and a full programme of educational activities.

The gallery is open every day from 10am to 5pm.

Admission is free.
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SeaCity Museum

2) SeaCity Museum

SeaCity is a unique museum that tells the story of the city, its people and their relationship with the sea. Using interactive exhibits and hands on activities you'll be guided through the ages, from early stone age settlements to the Romans, the Mayflower and the epic legend of the Titanic.

SeaCity is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm, except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

Entry is £8.50 for adults and £6 for children and concessions.
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The Tudor House Museum and Garden

3) The Tudor House Museum and Garden

The house was originally built in 1495 for Sir John Dawtry, the city’s controller of customs. Since then it has also been the home of many famous Southampton residents, including Chief Justice Sir Richard Lyster and George Rogers, a successful gentleman artist of the 18th century.

The building has also served as a dye house, a bookbinders and as a family home.

In 1892 the house was developed into Southampton’s first museum. Recently, it’s benefitted from a huge renovation program lasting three years and costing £2.3 million pounds.

Step inside to discover the history of the house and the people that lived within it. The museum is open daily and admission is free.
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Saint Michael's Church

4) Saint Michael's Church

St Michael’s Church is the oldest building in Southampton with the original fabric and foundations dating back to 1070. Originally, it was cruciform in shape, but was added to and extended in the 14th, 15th and 19th centuries to its current form. Originally, there were five churches within the old walled city. St Michael’s is the only one to survive and still be in use today.

Inside are a number of interesting artefacts, including the Richard Lyster Tomb, an ornamental Jacobean press, a 12th century Belgium marble font and an ornate 14th century lectern that was saved from Holy Rood, a nearby church that was destroyed in a German air raid during the Second World War. A detailed booklet of the Church’s history is available on request.

The church is open daily and admission is free, though visitors are asked to respect religious services when held.
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Medieval Merchants House

5) Medieval Merchants House

Built in 1290, this was once the home of John Fortin, a successful merchant who made his fortune trading with Bordeaux.

Around this time Southampton was very cosmopolitan, bustling with traders and sailors from around the world. Many of the local streets were named after the people that lived there, including French Street, where the museum stands, and High Street, which until the 16th century was called English Street.

Local bakers lived in Simnel Street, named after a type of fine flour, whilst butchers resided around Bugle Street, a bugle being a traditional name for a young bullock.

The house has recently been restored to 14th century condition - complete with replica furniture and fittings - to provide an insight into medieval life within the city.

The museum is open every Sunday between the hours of 12 noon and 5pm.
Image by Tim Knight under Creative Commons License.
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Museum of Archaeology

6) Museum of Archaeology

Housed within the old city walls, the museum holds a collection of architectural artefacts excavated from local digs over the last fifty years, tracing the city’s history from its Roman origins to the Victorian era.

The building that houses the museum is called God’s House Tower. It was built in 1417 and was England’s first purpose-built artillery fortification. The main firing platform was situated on the roof, whilst gunpowder and shot was stored below in the basement. At the time, the gunner that manned the canon was the city’s highest paid official.

By the beginning of the 17th century the tower had fallen into disrepair, but in 1786 it was restored and used as the city’s gaol for the next sixty nine years.

The museum is open Thursdays and Fridays, between 10am and 6pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 6pm.
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Solent Sky Hall of Aviation

7) Solent Sky Hall of Aviation

The Southampton area has played a massive part in the history of aviation. From some of the very first powered flights in 1911 to the building of the Avro biplanes of the First World War and the Supermarine Spitfires of the Battle of Britain.

On display are many of the local aircraft that made history, including the Avro 504, the Folland Knat, the De Havilland Vampire, a Supermarine S6 Sea Plane and a Supermarine 356 Spitfire.

The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm, and Sunday 12noon to 5pm.