SOUTHAMPTON – THE WALLS.

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THE WALLS

“Of yore, SOUTHAMPTON, by thy briny flood,
Girt with his courtly train, great Canute stood;
And, taming from the disobedient wave,
A check severe to servile flattery gave.”

THE accompanying View shows a portion of those ancient fortifications
within which the town of Southampton was originally enclosed. The walls are in many
places quite demolished; but in others they still present a venerable, though dilapidated
appearance, with the remains of several towers at regular intervals, after the manner of
fortified cities. The circuit of the walls is computed at nearly two miles. With regard to
the precise date at which the walls were erected, there is no certain record. The north,
east, and south walls bear every mark of uniform regularity in their structure: the gates
of the town are apparently of the same date with the walls, and much resemble each
other in the massy, fiat form of their pointed arches, which rise at an angle from their
piers, being struck from centers below the level of their spring — a mode of construction
chiefly used in the reign of Edward the First. Yet the remains of semicircular towers, still
visible on the Bargate, and which flanked its round arch, very much resembling the
towers on the north and east walls, lead us to suspect that the wall, on the land side at
least, is of higher antiquity than the time of the Edwards, and that the present gates
were, built later than the wall. The very singular position of the Water-gate, which retires
thirty feet behind the eastern part of the south wall, and the awkward position of the
South-gate, at the very angle of the wall, seems to indicate that these gates were not
parts of the original design. From the south-west angle of the wall, quite to the Bridle-
gate, which was close to the vallum of the Castle, the whole wall is a mass of irregular
and almost inexplicable construction. It is conjectured that the side of the town,
protected as it was by the Castle, and covered by the sea, was not at all, or but very
slightly fortified, until the fatal experience of the sack of the town by the French proved
that some further defense was necessary. The hue of the town wall, south of the West-
gate, is irregular in its construction; and the wall between the West and Bridle-gates
bears evident marks of having been built in the hastiest manner, and with the greatest
economy of materials. This wall, in its present form, Sir Henry Englefield supposes to
have been built about the period when, according to the old historians, Richard the
Second fortified the town, and built, or probably repaired and strengthened, the Castle,

for it had evidently been built several centuries before his reign.

At the accession of Henry the Eighth, the port of Southampton was much
frequented by foreign merchant vessels, particularly those of Venice, which traded
largely in wool and tin. But the exportation of wool being prohibited by the legislature,
the Levant merchants gradually resorted to other ports, and, now deserted by her
commercial friends, Southampton found her resources greatly impoverished. About the
commencement of the last century, however, the tide flowed once more in her favour,
and, continuing to increase, has at length placed her in a position of unprecedented
prosperity. But to this happy result the erecting of new docks, an improved harbour,
and, above all, communication with London by railway, has mainly contributed. The
terminus to the latter, begun and completed in 1839, is a very pleasing piece of Italian
composition, with a projecting rusticated arcade of five arches below, and the same
number of pedimental windows to the upper floor. The fa9ade, nearly seventy feet in
length, is considerably extended in its lower part by screen-walls, which take a sweep
from the building.

The principal trade of Southampton is with Portugal and the Baltic, and with the
islands of Guernsey and Jersey. Hemp, iron, and tallow are imported from Russia; tar
and pitch from Sweden; and from Portugal, wine and fruit.

The environs of Southampton are particularly interesting and agreeable —
enlivened with elegant seats, romantic ruins, picturesque villages, and much beautiful
scenery, which never fail to attract a great confluence of visitors during the fine season.
Among these Netley Abbey is the grand attraction. The town itself is rich in vestiges of
antiquity; and, in its modern character, presents all the agremens to be met with in our
most fashionable watering-places.

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