Southampton Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameSouthampton Castle
Alternative Namesmunitionem Hamptoniae; Hamtune
Historic CountryHampshire and the Isle of Wight
Modern AuthoritySouthampton; City of
1974 AuthorityHampshire
Civil ParishSouthampton

The establishment of a castle at Southampton, soon after the Conquest, probably marked the inception of the Mediaeval town. The earliest castle was a motte (some 200ft. in diameter) surrounded by a deep ditch and probably surmounted by a timber fort and with a defensive bailey, within a palisaded bank and ditch, on its northern side.

Major attention was paid to the castle throughout Henry IIIs reign, particularly to the King's cellars, the adjacent quay, and the royal lodgings. However, little attention seems to have been given to the defences of the castle, which Henry appears to have regarded more as a residence and wine depot rather than a defensible work. In 1286 the castle was said to be ruinous, and despite almost continual work on the towns defences, and the french raid of 1338, little provision was made for the castle's defences. The castle was granted to, and held by successive Queens as a dower house, until Queen Philippa demised it to Thomas West in 1333, and then to John de Beauchamp in 1343. In 1359 Philippa surrendered the castle to Edward III, who promptly granted it to the custody of first, Richard of Pembridge, and then in 1372 to John of Foxley.

In 1376 the men of the town of Southampton petitioned the King to take the town and its defence into his own hands, which led to the rebuilding of the keep, the creation of a mantlet and barbican, the works being completed in 1380. In 1386, Thomas Tredyngdon was appointed as keeper because of his expertise in artillery, several artillery pieces being kept within the castle. By 1585, the castle was described as ruinous.

The whole palisaded defence was replaced by stone by the latter half of the 12th.c. but the keep probably remained a timber structure until the end of the 13th.c. A new keep, with four turrets, was built 1378-80. In 1618 the ruined castle was sold to private hands and in 1804 the ruins were incorporated in a Gothic 'castle'

This was removed in 1818 and the mound was lowered in 1822. The site is now occupied by a block of flats. (PastScape)

Late C14 remains of the drum towers flanking the principal gateway to Southampton's Mediaeval Castle. These twin drum towers were added to the defensive bailey wall of the Royal Castle. Stone rubble walls to a height of nearly 20 ft with several arches, some now blocked. (Listed Building Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSU419114
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Guide Books

  • Hodgson. J., 1986, Southampton Castle (Southampton: Southampton City Museums)

Primary Sources

  • Rymer,T., 1739, _Foedera, conventiones, literæ, et cujuscunque generis acta publica Vol. 1 p. 5 online copy
  • Pipe Rolls 1155-6, 1186-7, 1190-3, 1204-8 (see Pipe Roll Society for published references)
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  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 234-5
  • E178/2031 (Survey of 27 Elizabeth) The National Archives reference
  • E178/5634 (Survey of 11 Charles I) The National Archives reference
  • SP14/49/82 (Survey of 1609) The National Archives reference


  • Fradley, Michael, 2011, The Old in the New: Urban Castle Imposition in Anglo-Norman England, AD1050-1150 (University of Exeter PhD Thesis) available via EThOS