The Polygon scheme of the 1760s was an ambitious plan designed to match the new, genteel buildings of other spa or resort towns like Bath and Tunbridge Wells. The idea was conceived by Isaac Mallortie and John Carnac who commissioned the architect Jacob Leroux to draw up plans. The original plan of c.1768, was for a polygonal ensemble covering about 22 acres and consisting, within an encircling carriage road, of 12 large houses with long gardens, assembly rooms and a hotel. Lack of money caused the scheme to be aborted by 1773, with only three of the central buildings completed. These included the hotel, part of which survived until the early 21st century. Mallortie was declared bankrupt in July 1773 and his assets sold off.

The area, still generally known as the Polygon, gradually filled with good quality houses and large gardens in the 19th century as affluent families moved into the more rural parts of the town. A few buildings from this era remain; no. 21 a two-storey yellow-brick building with a parapet was built about 1840, as were nos. 23-27, a terrace of three yellow-brick, three-storey houses.

From the early years of the 20th century more modest housing was developed, much of it by the Newcombe Estates Company. The names of many of the new roads reflect the firm’s East Midlands connections, including Coventry, Kenilworth and Harborough Roads.

The Polygon

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Drawn by Metz, engraved by Walker, 1783

see also:

Further reading:

More Stories of Southampton Streets, by A. G. K. Leonard, p9-20. (HS/h)
Hill, the Polygon and Freemantle, by Bob Culley (et al), p4-11. (HS/h)
Southampton Occasional Notes, by ‘Townsman’, p55. (HS/h)
History of Southampton Vol 1, by A. Temple Patterson, p52-54. (HS/h)
‘Polygon Southampton – Recent Fieldwork’, by Stuart Robertson, in Hampshire Field Club Proceedings, Vol. 56, 2001, p192-201. (H/f)


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