The East Gate was the only town gate in the east wall (the Friar’s Gate was for the private use of the friars).

The original gate dates from the 12th century with the two drum towers and front projection being added at a later date. In 1540 John Leland described the gate as being “stronge but nothing so large as the Barre-gate”. The gate was defended by a heavy door and portcullis. A bridge spanned the ditch in front of the gate. It was not very well designed as a defensive structure as its projecting buttresses provided cover for any assailants.

The original medieval bridge was rebuilt in 1670 using stones from the castle. Above the gate was a chapel dedicated to St Mary, which by the 18th century had been desecrated and was being used as a warehouse. The gate itself was demolished in 1775 to help traffic flow along East Street. Its former site in modern East Street is a little to the east of Back-of-the-Walls and can still be traced by the fragments of the town wall still remaining.

East Gate Bridge spanned the ditch outside the wall.

1. East Gate

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Pencil drawing by T. G. Hart, presumably copied from an earlier print as the gate was demolished before Hart was born.

2. East Gate

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Drawn by Francis Grosse, engraved by Godfrey, this image dates from 1772, just before the gate was demolished.

3. East Gate

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Engraving by Harper, 1784

Further reading:
Historic Buildings of Southampton, by Philip Peberdy, p13-14. (HS/k)
Southampton Occasional Notes, 2nd Series, by ‘Townsman’, p5, 16. (HS/h)
Southampton Occasional Notes, by ‘Townsman’, p70. (HS/h)
Southampton Archaeological Society Bulletin, No. 14, p5. (HS/f)
History of Southampton, by Rev. J. S. Davies, p104. (HS/h)


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