Montage of Southampton. Clockwise from top-left: Bargate; Guildhall; Top of west walls; Wool house and custom house; Southwestern house
Montage of Southampton. Clockwise from top-left: Bargate; Guildhall; Top of west walls; Wool house and custom house; Southwestern house
"Soton/So'ton", The Gateway to the World
Southampton shown within Hampshire
Southampton shown within Hampshire
Coordinates: 50°54′N 1°24′W / 50°54′N 1°24′W / 50.9; -1.4

Southampton (n/ (About this soundlisten)) is the largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire, England. It is 70 miles (110 km) south-west of London and 15 miles (24 km) west north-west of Portsmouth.[7][8] Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest. It lies at the northernmost point of Southampton Water at the confluence of the Rivers Test and Itchen,[9] with the River Hamble joining to the south of the urban area. The city, which is a unitary authority, has an estimated population of 253,651.[3] The city's name is sometimes abbreviated in writing to "So'ton" or "Soton", and a resident of Southampton is called a Sotonian.[10]

Significant employers in the city include Southampton City Council, the University of Southampton, Solent University, Southampton Airport, Ordnance Survey, BBC South, the NHS, ABP and Carnival UK.[11] Southampton is noted for its association with the RMS Titanic,[12] the Spitfire[13] and more generally in the World War II narrative as one of the departure points for D-Day, and more recently as the home port of a number of the largest cruise ships in the world.[14] Southampton has a large shopping centre and retail park, Westquay. In 2014, the city council approved a neighbouring followup Westquay South which opened in 2016–2017.

In the 2001 census Southampton and Portsmouth were recorded as being parts of separate urban areas; however by the time of the 2011 census they had merged apolitically to become the sixth-largest built-up area in England with a population of 855,569.[1] This built-up area is part of the metropolitan area known as South Hampshire, which is also known as Solent City, particularly in the media when discussing local governance organisational changes. With a population of over 1.5 million this makes the region one of the United Kingdom's most populous metropolitan areas.[2]


Early Southampton

Archaeological finds suggest that the area has been inhabited since the stone age.[15] Following the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43 and the conquering of the local Britons in AD 70 the fortress settlement of Clausentum was established. It was an important trading port and defensive outpost of Winchester, at the site of modern Bitterne Manor. Clausentum was defended by a wall and two ditches and is thought to have contained a bath house.[16] Clausentum was not abandoned until around 410.[15]

The Anglo-Saxons formed a new, larger, settlement across the Itchen centred on what is now the St Mary's area of the city. The settlement was known as Hamwic,[15] which evolved into Hamtun and then Hampton.[17] Archaeological excavations of this site have uncovered one of the best collections of Saxon artefacts in Europe.[15] It is from this town that the county of Hampshire gets its name.

Viking raids from 840 onwards contributed to the decline of Hamwic in the 9th century,[18] and by the 10th century a fortified settlement, which became medieval Southampton, had been established.[19]

11th–13th century

Following the Norman Conquest in 1066, Southampton became the major port of transit between the then capital of England, Winchester, and Normandy. Southampton Castle was built in the 12th century[20] and surviving remains of 12th-century merchants' houses such as King John's House and Canute's Palace are evidence of the wealth that existed in the town at this time.[21] By the 13th century Southampton had become a leading port, particularly involved in the import of French wine[19] in exchange for English cloth and wool.[22]

The Franciscan friary in Southampton was founded circa 1233.[23] The friars constructed a water supply system in 1290, which carried water from Conduit Head (remnants of which survive near Hill Lane, Shirley) some 1.1 miles (1.7 km) to the site of the friary inside the town walls.[24][verification needed] Further remains can be observed at Conduit House on Commercial Road.

14th century

Part of Southampton's Town Walls

The friars granted use of the water to the town in 1310.[24]

The town was sacked in 1338 by French, Genoese and Monegasque ships (under Charles Grimaldi, who used the plunder to help found the principality of Monaco).[25] On visiting Southampton in 1339, Edward III ordered that walls be built to "close the town". The extensive rebuilding — part of the walls dates from 1175 — culminated in the completion of the western walls in 1380.[26][27] Roughly half of the walls, 13 of the original towers, and six gates survive.[26]

In 1348, the Black Death reached England via merchant vessels calling at Southampton.[28]

15th century

Prior to King Henry's departure for the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the ringleaders of the "Southampton Plot"—Richard, Earl of Cambridge, Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham, and Sir Thomas Grey of Heton—were accused of high treason and tried at what is now the Red Lion public house in the High Street.[29] They were found guilty and summarily executed outside the Bargate.[30]

The city walls include God's House Tower, built in 1417, the first purpose-built artillery fortification in England.[31] Over the years it has been used as home to the city's gunner, the Town Gaol and even as storage for the Southampton Harbour Board.[27] Until September 2011, it housed the Museum of Archaeology.[32] The walls were completed in the 15th century,[19] but later development of several new fortifications along Southampton Water and the Solent by Henry VIII meant that Southampton was no longer dependent upon its fortifications.[33]

During the Middle Ages, shipbuilding had become an important industry for the town. Henry V's famous warship HMS Grace Dieu was built in Southampton and launched in 1418.[20]

The friars passed on ownership of the water supply system itself to the town in 1420.[24]

On the other hand, many of the medieval buildings once situated within the town walls are now in ruins or have disappeared altogether. From successive incarnations of the motte and bailey castle, only a section of the bailey wall remains today, lying just off Castle Way.[34]

16th and 17th centuries

The friary was dissolved in 1538 but its ruins remained until they were swept away in the 1940s.[23]

The port was the point of departure for the Pilgrim Fathers aboard Mayflower in 1620.[26] In 1642, during the English Civil War, a Parliamentary garrison moved into Southampton.[35] The Royalists advanced as far as Redbridge in March 1644 but were prevented from taking the town.[35]

18th century

Southampton became a spa town in 1740.[36] It had also become a popular site for sea bathing by the 1760s, despite the lack of a good quality beach.[36] Innovative buildings specifically for this purpose were built at West Quay, with baths that were filled and emptied by the flow of the tide.[36] Southampton engineer Walter Taylor's 18th century mechanisation of the block-making process was a significant step in the Industrial Revolution.[37] The port was used for military embarkation, including during 18th-century wars with the French,[38]

19th century

The town experienced major expansion during the Victorian era.[20] The Southampton Docks company had been formed in 1835.[20] In October 1838 the foundation stone of the docks was laid[20] and the first dock opened in 1842.[20] The structural and economic development of docks continued for the next few decades.[20] The railway link to London was fully opened in May 1840.[20] Southampton subsequently became known as The Gateway to the Empire.[39]

In his 1854 book "The Cruise of the Steam Yacht North Star" John Choules described Southampton thus: "I hardly know a town that can show a more beautiful Main Street than Southampton, except it be Oxford. The High Street opens from the quay, and under various names it winds in a gently sweeping line for one mile and a half, and is of very handsome width. The variety of style and color of material in the buildings affords an exhibition of outline, light and colour, that I think is seldom equalled. The shops are very elegant, and the streets are kept exceedingly clean."

The port was used for military embarkation, including the Crimean war[40] and the Boer War.[41]

20th century

From 1904 to 2004, the Thornycroft shipbuilding yard was a major employer in Southampton,[20] building and repairing ships used in the two World Wars.[20] In 1912, the RMS Titanic sailed from Southampton. Four in five of the crew on board the vessel were Sotonians,[42] with about a third of those who perished in the tragedy hailing from the city.[26] Southampton was subsequently the home port for the transatlantic passenger services operated by Cunard with their Blue Riband liner RMS Queen Mary and her running mate RMS Queen Elizabeth. In 1938, Southampton docks also became home to the flying boats of Imperial Airways.[20] Southampton Container Terminals first opened in 1968[20] and has continued to expand.

Southampton was designated No. 1 Military Embarkation port during the Great War[20] and became a major centre for treating the returning wounded and POWs.[20] It was also central to the preparations for the Invasion of Europe in 1944.[20]

The Supermarine Spitfire was designed and developed in Southampton, evolving from the Schneider trophy-winning seaplanes of the 1920s and 1930s. Its designer, R J Mitchell, lived in the Portswood area of Southampton, and his house is today marked with a blue plaque.[43] Heavy bombing of the Woolston factory in September 1940 destroyed it as well as homes in the vicinity, killing civilians and workers. World War II hit Southampton particularly hard because of its strategic importance as a major commercial port and industrial area. Prior to the Invasion of Europe, components for a Mulberry harbour were built here.[20] After D-Day, Southampton docks handled military cargo to help keep the Allied forces supplied,[20] making it a key target of Luftwaffe bombing raids until late 1944.[44] Southampton docks was featured in the television show 24: Live Another Day in Day 9: 9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.[45]

Some 630 people lost their lives as a result of the air raids on Southampton and nearly 2,000 more were injured, not to mention the thousands of buildings damaged or destroyed.[46] Pockets of Georgian architecture survived the war, but much of the city was levelled. There has been extensive redevelopment since World War II.[20] Increasing traffic congestion in the 1920s led to partial demolition of medieval walls around the Bargate in 1932 and 1938.[20] However, a large portion of those walls remain.

A Royal Charter in 1952 upgraded University College at Highfield to the University of Southampton.[20] In 1964 Southampton acquired city status, becoming the City of Southampton,[20] and because of the Local Government Act 1972 was turned into a county borough within the Hampshire county in 1973.

The local council for the city of Southampton succeeded Hampshire County Council and became a unitary authority in April 1997.[47]

21st century

In the 2010s several developments to the inner-city of Southampton were completed. In 2016 the south section of West Quay, or West Quay South, originally known as West Quay Watermark, was opened to the public. Its public plaza has been used for several annual events, such as an ice skating rink during the winter season,[48] and a public broadcast of the Wimbledon tennis championship.[49] Two new buildings, the John Hansard Gallery with City Eye and a secondary site for the University of Southampton's Nuffield Theatre, in addition to several flats, have been built in the "cultural quarter" adjacent to Guildhall Square in 2017.[50] In 2019 the retail and accommodation-based "Bargate quarter" redevelopment, replacing the demolished Bargate shopping centre, and enabling public access to the previously hidden sections of the city walls, will be opened.[51]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Southampton
العربية: ساوثهامبتون
asturianu: Southampton
azərbaycanca: Sauthempton
Bân-lâm-gú: Southampton
башҡортса: Саутгемптон
беларуская: Саўтгемптан
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Саўтгэмптан
български: Саутхамптън
bosanski: Southampton
brezhoneg: Southampton
català: Southampton
čeština: Southampton
Cymraeg: Southampton
Deutsch: Southampton
Ελληνικά: Σαουθάμπτον
español: Southampton
Esperanto: Southampton
estremeñu: Southampton
euskara: Southampton
français: Southampton
Gaeilge: Southampton
galego: Southampton
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Southampton
한국어: 사우샘프턴
հայերեն: Սաութգեմփթոն
hrvatski: Southampton
Bahasa Indonesia: Southampton
Interlingue: Southampton
íslenska: Southampton
italiano: Southampton
қазақша: Саутгемптон
Kiswahili: Southampton
Latina: Hantonia
latviešu: Sauthemptona
Lëtzebuergesch: Southampton (borough)
lietuvių: Sautamptonas
magyar: Southampton
македонски: Саутхемптон
مازِرونی: ساوت‌همپتون
norsk nynorsk: Southampton
Nouormand: Hantonne
occitan: Southampton
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਸਾਊਥਹੈਂਪਟਨ
پنجابی: ساؤتھمپٹن
polski: Southampton
português: Southampton
română: Southampton
Runa Simi: Southampton
русский: Саутгемптон
Simple English: Southampton
slovenčina: Southampton (mesto)
ślůnski: Southampton
српски / srpski: Саутхемптон
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Southampton
svenska: Southampton
Tagalog: Southampton
татарча/tatarça: Саутһәмптон
Türkçe: Southampton
українська: Саутгемптон
Tiếng Việt: Southampton
Volapük: Southampton
Winaray: Southampton
吴语: 南安普顿
粵語: 修咸頓
中文: 南安普敦