Westgate Hall (Tudor Merchant Hall), which is now situated next to the West Gate, once stood in St Michael’s Square and housed the Cloth Hall and the Fish Market. The first mention of the building was in 1428, but it may have been in existence for 20 or 30 years before. All woollen cloth brought into the town by merchants who were not resident in Southampton had to be stored and sold in the Cloth Hall. The building consisted of the Cloth Hall upstairs and an open arcade underneath, in which the fish market was housed, although in subsequent years the fish market overflowed into St Michael’s Square itself and even stretched all the way to the High Street.
By 1632 the building was in such a poor state that the town council, fearing it might collapse, sold it to Alderman Edward Exton on the understanding that he take it down and rebuild it elsewhere. In 1634 he re-erected it at its present location on a site adjacent to West Gate. The open arcade was filled in to provide a closed hall, the building then being used as a warehouse. The building returned to council hands in the early years of the 20th century. It was used as a museum store and workshop until 1975 when it was renovated for use as a public lecture theatre.


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