Medieval merchant's house and associated deposits at 58 French Street


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014618

Date first listed: 16-May-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 01-Aug-1996


Ordnance survey map of Medieval merchant's house and associated deposits at 58 French Street
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: City of Southampton (Unitary Authority)

National Grid Reference: SU 41916 11179


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Merchants' houses were a feature of towns during the medieval period; examples survive in Chester and Norwich, and Southampton alone is known to have had at least 60 examples. While sharing many features of internal arrangement with other less specific building types, a common feature f the merchants' house was the setting of the building above a cellar so that its main floor was raised above street level. The cellars of many examples survive in London, Guildford, Tonbridge, Lincoln, Rye and Winchelsea. The merchant's house at 58 French Street is the only building of its type to survive substantially intact. Detailed investigation of the fabric of the building together with limited excavation of associated archaeological deposits have provided considerable insight into the date, construction and subsequent modification of the building and have enabled it to be restored to its medieval state.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a late 13th century merchant's house and associated archaeological deposits lying on the west side of French Street within the medieval borough of Southampton. The house, which is orientated east-west, comprises a vaulted cellar, accessible from both the street (the east end) and the yard at the rear, above which lies an entrance passage leading to a shop and living accommodation. On the ground floor this comprises the hall or principal room of the house and a more private inner room. On the upper floor, above the shop and inner rooms, are two substantial bedchambers linked by a gallery across the hall. The main walls of the house are built of limestone, for the most part Bembridge stone, although Purbeck stone was used for 14th century alterations. The lower part of the north wall and all of the cellar are built of coursed squared ashlar, but the remainder of the building comprises random rubble set in a mass of mortar. The half bay at the street frontage is timber framed. The original roof, which was clad with Cornish slate, comprised 47 common rafter couples supported by a collar purlin. The purlin was carried on braced crown posts which were themselves set on tie beams. On stylistic grounds the house appears to have been built in c.1290, a date confirmed by tree ring dating of its major timbers. A second phase of building can be seen at the west end, where part of the south wall and the west gable wall were rebuilt after the collapse of the south west corner of the building. An original window was blocked and the rear entrance to the cellar moved during this phase. Internal alterations were carried out from the 16th century onwards and, after a variety of uses, the house was damaged by a bomb in 1940. Investigations carried out by English Heritage between 1983 and 1985 revealed the extent of the surviving medieval structure and subsequent restoration has returned the house to its medieval appearance. The ground within the curtilage adjacent to the west and south walls of the house has been shown by limited excavations in 1976 and 1987 to contain deposits which both pre-date its construction and also relate to its period of construction and use. The latter include a smaller building, possibly a lock- up shop, on the street frontage, a latrine tower set over a substantial pit to the south west of the house and a stair from the cellar into the yard. The building is Listed Grade I and is in the care of the Secretary of State. Excluded from the scheduling are all additions and reconstructions dating to the 1983-1985 restoration; also excluded are all electrical fittings, security and shop fittings and all portable objects contained within the building; the external office/toilet block is also excluded as are the property boundary wall to the west of the building, paving, railings, gates and the brick and wood cover to the cellar entrance, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 26711

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Coppack, G, Medieval Merchant's House, (1991)
Faulkner, P A, 58 French Street in Platt and Coleman- Smith, (1975), 104-107
Robey, T S, Excavations at 58 French Street SOU 288, (1988)
Hinton, D A, 'Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club Archaeological Society' in Excavations at 58 French Street, Southampton 1976, , Vol. Vol 34, (1978), 43-47

End of official listing