Southampton- A Cultural Heritage
With its bustling student nightlife and busy shopping centre, you almost forget that Southampton is a city with a rich history dating back to the Romans. Being a former student myself at Southampton Solent University, I was nothing but fascinated about what this vibrant city had to offer.
In the Saxon era, the high streets were once filled with cattle and carpenters, blacksmiths and craftsmen who lived in wooden houses and made combs from animal bone. With wool being the main export from Southampton, local women cluttered corners and wove wool into clothes. Today, all of this has been transformed into a string of shops, eateries and an arcade parlour.
Walking through the town centre towards the Bargate leads you to the eerily mysterious and pre-historic Southampton Town Walls. Demolished during the French raids in 1338 more than 600 years ago, Henry II and many other Kings and Queens of England used the archway to pass through the Bargate, and has become a symbolic monument for the area. The two lion heads based on both sides of the Bargate were built in 1522 to honour Sir Bevis of Hampton who was the legendary founder of Southampton. The walls can still be admired today with Bargate and Westgate being the best well- preserved town walls in the UK.
Southampton is probably best known around the world for the it famous docks and the Hollywood Smash the Titanic- the greatest ship of all time, which made it’s doomed maiden voyage from Southampton docks in 1912. The Titanic memorial ground is based in East Andrews Park and pays tribute to the loss of hundreds of lives.
But not all of Southampton’s past has been doom and gloom; the parks in the surrounding area also attract a vast amount of attention. The city council began to develop the chain of parks in 1844 and was originally developed on the ancient medieval grounds, which were destroyed during the Second World War and covers over 21 hectares of land in the city centre.
The grand Central Parks include Hoglands Park , East Andrews Park , which are minutes away from the town centre. In 2001, a £4.5 million lottery restoration fund was completed. Other parks include nature reserves , Greenways and Southampton Common , which is used regularly for live radio broadcasts such as Power FM’s Power in the Park to the Environmental Road show- a special summer road show that takes place in July and August in local parks to highlight environmental issues and concerns.
The most popular park, which regularly attracts visitors, is the MayflowerPark that has a magnificent riverside frontage and view of the wildlife in New Forest and Southampton docks.
Despite all the modern developments over the years, the city has a lot to offer and is still very much in touch with its cultural heritage firmly putting Southampton on the map and attracting visitors from around the world.