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Medieval merchant's house and associated deposits at 58 French Street

A Scheduled Monument in Bargate, Southampton

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Latitude: 50.8986 / 50°53'54"N

Longitude: -1.4053 / 1°24'19"W

OS Eastings: 441915.905162

OS Northings: 111179.435099

OS Grid: SU419111

Mapcode National: GBR RQH.C3

Mapcode Global: FRA 76YQ.NBB

Entry Name: Medieval merchant's house and associated deposits at 58 French Street

Scheduled Date: 16 May 1951

Last Amended: 1 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014618

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26711

County: Southampton

Electoral Ward/Division: Bargate

Built-Up Area: Southampton

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Southampton City Centre St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Winchester


The monument includes a late 13th century merchant's house and associated
archaeological deposits lying on the west side of French Street within the
medieval borough of Southampton.
The house, which is orientated east-west, comprises a vaulted cellar,
accessible from both the street (the east end) and the yard at the rear, above
which lies an entrance passage leading to a shop and living accommodation. On
the ground floor this comprises the hall or principal room of the house and a
more private inner room. On the upper floor, above the shop and inner rooms,
are two substantial bedchambers linked by a gallery across the hall. The main
walls of the house are built of limestone, for the most part Bembridge stone,
although Purbeck stone was used for 14th century alterations. The lower part
of the north wall and all of the cellar are built of coursed squared ashlar,
but the remainder of the building comprises random rubble set in a mass of
mortar. The half bay at the street frontage is timber framed. The original
roof, which was clad with Cornish slate, comprised 47 common rafter couples
supported by a collar purlin. The purlin was carried on braced crown posts
which were themselves set on tie beams.
On stylistic grounds the house appears to have been built in c.1290, a date
confirmed by tree ring dating of its major timbers.
A second phase of building can be seen at the west end, where part of the
south wall and the west gable wall were rebuilt after the collapse of the
south west corner of the building. An original window was blocked and the rear
entrance to the cellar moved during this phase. Internal alterations were
carried out from the 16th century onwards and, after a variety of uses, the
house was damaged by a bomb in 1940. Investigations carried out by English
Heritage between 1983 and 1985 revealed the extent of the surviving medieval
structure and subsequent restoration has returned the house to its medieval
The ground within the curtilage adjacent to the west and south walls of the
house has been shown by limited excavations in 1976 and 1987 to contain
deposits which both pre-date its construction and also relate to its period of
construction and use. The latter include a smaller building, possibly a lock-
up shop, on the street frontage, a latrine tower set over a substantial pit to
the south west of the house and a stair from the cellar into the yard. The
building is Listed Grade I and is in the care of the Secretary of State.
Excluded from the scheduling are all additions and reconstructions dating to
the 1983-1985 restoration; also excluded are all electrical fittings, security
and shop fittings and all portable objects contained within the building; the
external office/toilet block is also excluded as are the property boundary
wall to the west of the building, paving, railings, gates and the brick and
wood cover to the cellar entrance, although the ground beneath all these
features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Merchants' houses were a feature of towns during the medieval period; examples
survive in Chester and Norwich, and Southampton alone is known to have had at
least 60 examples. While sharing many features of internal arrangement with
other less specific building types, a common feature f the merchants' house
was the setting of the building above a cellar so that its main floor was
raised above street level. The cellars of many examples survive in London,
Guildford, Tonbridge, Lincoln, Rye and Winchelsea. The merchant's house at 58
French Street is the only building of its type to survive substantially
intact. Detailed investigation of the fabric of the building together with
limited excavation of associated archaeological deposits have provided
considerable insight into the date, construction and subsequent modification
of the building and have enabled it to be restored to its medieval state.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Coppack, G, Medieval Merchant's House, (1991)
Faulkner, P A, 58 French Street in Platt and Coleman- Smith, (1975), 104-107
Robey, T S, Excavations at 58 French Street SOU 288, (1988)
Hinton, D A, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club Archaeological Society' in Excavations at 58 French Street, Southampton 1976, , Vol. Vol 34, (1978), 43-47

Source: Historic England

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