Sunday 10 May 2015
For the second year we returned to learn more of Southampton’s ancient past with a visit to the Grade 1 listed Tudor House Museum. Our excellent guide, Andrew Skinner, took us on a fascinating tour of the site covering 830 years from the adjoining King John’s Palace dating from Norman times, to the Tudor House as viewed today.
The house was originally three small houses, which were converted in 1491 into one property by John Dawtrey, an MP and Sheriff, who supplied food for Henry VIII’s navy.
The visit began in the delightful knot garden which gave us the opportunity to view the external features before entering the house where various forms of construction including brick, wattle and daub walls could be seen before descending into the wine cellar, which had been used as an air raid shelter in the second world war.
Moving up through the rooms of the house, we learnt that in the 1600s the house was owned by wool and cloth merchants. It is likely that it was also used as a boarding house for seamen whose maritime graffiti is still visible on some of the walls.
Significant alterations, including a Georgian wing, were added in the 18th century. By the 19th century this part of the city became very rundown and disease-ridden and the whole area, including Tudor House was due for demolition. Philanthropist William Spranger recognised its importance and in 1886 bought the house, hoping to turn it into a museum, which finally opened in 1912.