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Southampton Kings House

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
King John's Palace

In the civil parish of Southampton.
In the historic county of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Modern Authority of Southampton; City of.
1974 county of Hampshire.
Medieval County of Hampshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SU41821128
Latitude 50.89964° Longitude -1.40666°

Southampton Kings House has been described as a probable Palace.

There are no visible remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.

Description

Circa 1170. Early C14 and mid-C14. Remains of a merchant's house, the ground floor originally used for storage and the upper floor as living quarters. It originally stood on the quayside. The west wall was incorporated in the city defences after the French raid of 1338. The roof was removed in the early C20. Two storeys stone. North and west arcades have original C12 windows of 2 round-headed lights in round-arched frames. The west facade also has the blocked archways which led directly on to the quays, one C12 round-headed arch and 2 early C14 segmental-headed arches. Within these blocked arches are 2 vertical defensive slits of the C14 defences which may be the earliest surviving gunports in Britain. Parts of the original stone fireplace on the north side of the first floor survive, including both jambs, with inset shafts and scalloped capitals. Against the east wall is a late Norman chimney of circa 1200, removed from No 79A High Street, in the form of a long round stone shaft rising from a square base. This house is one of the most complete of the larger C12 town houses surviving in the country. (Listed Building Report)

Immediately to the south of the postern and behind the last three bays of the arcade is the twelfth-century house called locally 'King John's Palace.' It is in two stages, and measures on the south side 44 ft., on the east 41 ft., on the west along the town wall, of which it forms a portion, 35 ft., and on the north, along Blue Anchor Lane 43 ft. On the first floor is a large room with an original fireplace and chimney, and five original windows, one a mere loop and four of two lights each, all in the west or outer wall excepting one two-light window on the north facing the lane and the site of the destroyed Norman house opposite. On the same floor a wall passage started at the middle of the east side and led round through the south side to the town wall. This passage, or what remains of it, is now hidden by a lean-to roof constructed within the eastern half of the house. The ground-floor has two Norman doorways; one in the lane, the other in the archway next to the postern. (VCH)
Comments

Royal visits to Southampton were frequent, since this was the main port used to get to the French territories of the Crown, and there are records of a King's house providing supplementary accommodation to Southampton Castle, presumably for the court rather than the king himself. The identification of the merchants house now called 'King John's Palace' as the site of this royal house by Turner is unproven and probably fanciful although the house is of considerable architectural and historic importance. It is possible, of course, the house was owned by the Crown and let out.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated before 1 February 2016

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