Southampton has had quite a blood thirsty past with raids by the Vikings on the old Saxon town of Hamwic and the French and Genoese raids in 1338 which decimated the town destroying a great deal of property and robbing it of much of its wealth and so pushing it into a period of decline from which it took a long time to recover.
Throughout the 100 Years War there was a constant fear of attack by the French with the consequence that the Town walls were heavily reinforced and extended. The people who guarded the walls included the gunners whose clothes regularly caught on fire and of course they needed lavatories of the crudest kind to be built into the walls, all of which you will see on our walk.
The plot against Henry V in 1415 led to the trials of the conspirators and their grisly execution in Southampton.
The judge at the trial of Guy Fawkes (who we all know as the leader of the Gun Powder Plot) was a local man and a descendant of the Fleming family. His verdict led to the most horrid execution of Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators.
One gruesome story relates to the murder of a young woman whose body was subsequently exhumed so that her corpse could be touched by her suspected murderer in an effort to convict him.
The worshippers at St Michael’s church for many years had to put up with the stench of the fish market right outside the door to their church until it was finally moved in 1634 near to the towns West Gate. This gate was complete with murder holes from which mayhem was inflicted on those trapped beneath them.
Blue Anchor Lane in Tudor times had many timber framed houses with first floor windows from which chamber pots were emptied onto unsuspecting people below.
Press gangs operated in Southampton in Georgian times and there is the tragic story of one unfortunate man who threw himself from the town walls rather than be pressed into the service of the navy.
The area of the town around Simnel Street was mainly slum houses in the 19th Century and there are tragic tales of women dying alone in their rented rooms and their bodies not being discovered for many days. The population density of this part of Southampton was greater than that of Dickens’s London.
All these stories and more are described in great detail in See Southampton’s Ghastly, Grim and Gory Walk designed for accompanied children aged between 8 and 12 years old. This walk is a feature of our programme of walks in the school holidays. See our walks section for more details.