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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