"Bargate" Southampton Things to Do Tip by illumina

Southampton Things to Do: 72 reviews and 115 photos

The Bargate was built as the main gateway to the city at the northern end of the walls c. 800 years ago, and is often used as a symbol of the city. As you approach from the north, you can see the two drum towers, added in the 13th century, and the crenellations above which probably date from the 15th century. To either side of the arch stand 18th century lions, part of an old Southampton legend.

As you pass beneath the centre of the archway, look out for the great hinge supports which held the massive wooden doors in place. Also notice the stone slots where the portcullis was dropped and the arrow slits in the drum towers on each side.

On the south side, interesting features include a 1605 watch bell, one of five originally in the town, a 1705 sundial that is six minutes out from GMT, a statue of George III imitating the classical style of the Emperor Hadrian and the old town lock ups, with graffiti dating from the 14th century.

The hall at the upper level was used as the town's Guildhall until the 1770s. It has recently been reopened to the public as a gallery, containing some rather bland modern art, but being able to see the interior of this fine structure is worth braving the rather earnest people on the door (especially as it's free). The gallery also contains two great paintings of the mythical guardians of the city which once hung on the outside of the gate for over 350 years until they were removed in 1881. They depict Sir Bevois, the legendary founder of Southampton, and his squire Ascupart who reputedly protect the city from 'outsiders'.

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  • Written Jun 13, 2006
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