There isn’t much of the old city left of Southampton but it is easy to find. Parking at Ocean Village is an ideal base for exploring the waterfront area and what is left of the ocean liner days but virtually ‘right next door’ along Canute Road you will see what is left of the Southampton city wall. Following it around on to The Western Esplanade you are immediately squashed between the old and the new, what’s left of the wall and the rather spectacular Grand Harbour Hotel with its fabulous triangular glass entrance.
Alongside the wall is a replica of a 14th Century cargo ship as this area was once the West Hythe Quay which eventually became a boat building area until the early 1900’s. You can walk through the archways of the wall onto Blue Anchor Lane which was once the main thoroughfare for traded goods coming in from the sea and into the city, a major property ownr at the time was John Wytegod and you can learn more about him in the Tudor House and Garden which is open to the public.
We chose to spend our time in the very welcoming St Michael’s Church where one of the Friends told us a little about the history and they are clearly proud that this church survived WW2 in an area clearly targeted by the enemy being so close to the port. There are other monuments such as Gods House Gate which gave us the first reference to Jane Austen which has inspired us to return and find out more about her time there.
A church which was damaged by enemy bombing is Holyrood which is just a stone’s throw from St Michael’s. A plaque now tells us that the ruins have been preserved as a memorial to the Merchant Navy who lost their lives at sea. The artwork protecting the alter area is sympathetic to the area with gulls decorating an iron gate.