The land on which Albion Place stood - formerly gardens belonging to the Reverend John Hoadly, rector of St Mary's - was sold at auction on 30 August 1794. The original development was the child of John Plaw, an enterprising and innovative architect who had recently moved to Southampton from London. The Universal British Directory (volume 4, compiled 1795/6 by two Hampshire promoters, Peter Barfoot of Droxford and John Wilkes, a Winchester printer) gives a spirited account of what was planned:

"Albion Place has two approaches, one from the High Street and the other one from Castle Lane, both of which are so happy a combination as renders this place a perfect rus in urbe; as the street from within seems to have no connection with the town, although it enjoys all its advantages, and opens an extensive western view up the river Anton [Test]. The principal street is 40 feet wide, with paved footways. The eight houses on the north side are of Grecian character, while the ten on the opposite side are rather in the Venetian style. Ten more about the approaches complete the proposed building. All are restricted to regular elevations. Trades of nuisance are prohibited under heavy penalties. At the extremity of the principal street is reserved a public terrace [along part of the town wall], and a bastion [probably Catchcold Tower] with a pleasure-seat for the use of the inhabitants and their friends, each inhabitant to have a key. The water views and forest scenery are truly picturesque."

This is less a directory entry than an advertisement to attract prospective investors. A boarding school for twelve young ladies, run by Mrs Payne, moved to Albion Place in January 1802, although five years later she moved to a larger and more commodious house, with a secluded garden, in the High Street. Baker's Southampton Guide of 1804, whilst referring to Plaw's scheme, is merely “happy to learn it is intended shortly to be accomplished”. At the end of the year two houses in Albion Place were to be let or sold, together or separate, with John Plaw, now moved from Spring Place to Albion Terrace, named as architect. Four lots in Albion Place were auctioned in April 1807 (Salisbury Journal, 23 March and 6 April 1807) on Plaw's emigration to Canada, possibly to escape his creditors. Lot 1 was a recently-built house in the architect's possession. Lot 2 - the adjoining house westward - was a lady's small boarding and day school (possibly the above-mentioned school). Lot 3 was an unfinished brick house, “in a style very desirable for a purchaser to finish in a style agreeable to his own taste”. Lot 4 was “a house the proprietor built for his own residence, had not his present avocations altered his pursuits”. This backed on to lot 3, with its front towards the head of Southampton Water. The house itself was freehold, but the garden, greenhouse and entrance were owned by the Corporation. This leased land included a terrace [on the town walls] and the top of the adjoining tower, separate from the front garden. Neighbouring tenants were allowed the privilege - by each paying 2s.6d to the proprietor of lot 4 - for a key (subject to not abusing that privilege). The room under the tower was connected with the offices of the house.

Full development of Albion Place occurred in later decades. There was room in July 1829 for Charles Green to make an ascent in his balloon from Albion Place. The Town Map of 1845-46 (image 2) shows the northern side of Albion Place (called Albion Terrace on the map) developed, and several houses on the approach from the High Street.

1. Albion Place, 1802

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A section of Baker's Map of Southampton, 1802

2. Albion Place, 1845-46

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A section of the Town Map of Southampton, 1845-46

Further reading:

Sale catalogue. Nos 7 and 8 Albion Place, Southampton and Catch Cold Tower adjoining, with cottage, garden, stabling and land at Nursling, 17 August 1838. In Archives, D/Z 55.


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