A Royal History

Henry II landed in Southampton in 1174, dressed as a pilgrim. He walked to Canterbury in penance for killing the Archbishop, Thomas A. Becket. Canterbury became renowned for miracles and we had an influx of French arriving in Southampton wanting to walk to Canterbury. A very wealthy Norman by the name of Gervase Ia Riche felt sorry for his fellow country man so much so that he purchased the bottom end of of the city. He had almshouses built and a hospice called Maison Dieu (House of God, Gods House Tower). The lawns laid to the old bowling green (Britain’s oldest bowling green) and St. Julian’s Church was built and named after the patron saint of pilgrims.

He left it to Richard the Lion Heart, who left it to his brother King John. In 1343 Edward III gave it all to his wife Queen Phillipa to start her new school Queens College Oxford. Which is why we have Oxford Street, College Street, John Street and Queens Park. The bulk of that estate is still owned by Queens College Oxford.

When Richard The Lion Heart was caught in the crusades and held to ransom it was Gervase la Riche that visited him and paid the bulk of the ransom. Richard The Lion Heart was king for only nine years, of that he only spent 6 months in England and the only Christmas he spent in England was in the royal castle in Southampton.

Bernard Street was originally Bridge St. Peter and Thomas Bernard paid to have the canal lled in (Canal Walk) which the bridge crossed over. Latimer Street is named after a protestant bishop Hugh Latimer, burned at the stake in 1555.

61 Oxford Street was the home of Lucia Foster Welch (died March 1940). She was Southampton’s first Lady Mayor, councillor alderman and first sheriff. Southampton is the only town in England were the Mayor has the title of Admiral of The Port. So Lucia Foster Welch was England’s first Lady Admiral.

Maritime History

Undoubtedly at the heart of Southampton’s maritime history, Oxford Street has played host to over a 100 years of international trade and war. Both have left their mark in the form of historic architecture and a wonderfully cosmopolitan atmosphere.

In 1907, the transfer of White Star Line’s transatlantic express service from Liverpool to Southampton established the city as England’s premier passenger port and by 1912 Southampton was the homeport to around 23 steamship companies including Royal Mail, Union Castle and American Lines.

April 2012 sees the 100th Anniversary of the ill-fated maiden voyage of RMS Titanic, which left Southampton from Berth 44 on 10th April 1912. Five days later in the early hours of 15th April she sank with great loss of life after striking an iceberg. The disaster made headlines across the world and had a devastating effect on the people of Southampton.

Most of the crew lived in the town and over 500 households lost at least one family member.

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