The Domesday Book records the existence in Southampton of a colony of French-speaking Normans planted in here by William I after the conquest. This settlement has been identified with the traditional parishes of St. Michael, who was the patron saint of Normandy and St. John, the most popular dedication in France. The main street of the quarter was the aptly named French Street which ran from New Corner (the High Street corner of West Street) to the Town Quay and constituted the main artery of the French-speaking quarter. Today the whole of the northern portion has been incorporated in the Inter Ring Road called Castle Way. In the Middle Ages some documents are explicit that French Street did not include West Street. Others cite the north and south sides of French Street in contexts that make it abundantly clear that West Street is included.

There are a few medieval remains in modern-day French Street, including vaults under 46, 48 French Street, a stone wall in St John's School grounds which may be a remnant of St John's Church and the Weigh House.

French Street Gate
This gate was mentioned in 1330, before the walling-in of the seaward bounds of the medieval town. It probably indicates an entrance to 'Le Coleye' - Porters Lane - and its quayside.

French Street Quay
Before the walling-in in the mid 14th century the quay here extended from Bugle Street in the west to the gate of French Street in the east.

see also

Further reading:
Medieval Southampton, by Colin Platt, p46-49. (HS/h)
Southampton Occasional Notes, 2nd Series by ‘Townsman’, p20. (HS/h)
Excavations in Medieval Southampton, by Colin Platt (ed), 104-109, 195-200. (HS/f)
Building of England: Hampshire and the I.O.W., by Nikolaus Pevsner and David Lloyd, p548-549. (H/i)


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