The early medieval street running from West Street - where it had a very narrow entrance - to Biddles Gate in the western wall. The western section from the gate to Fish Street or Upper Bugle Street was sometimes separately named as Pilgrims' Pyt.

The origin of the name is uncertain, but possibly comes from the Old French 'simnel', the fine flour used for making simnel cakes, but firm evidence for the association is lacking. In the early 19th century it was known for a time as Derby Street. It was at this time both picturesque and severely dilapidated. Some of the ancient buildings were prevented from collapse only by the use of improvised wooden supporting beams which spanned the lane above head height. Many of the buildings were common lodging houses whose occupants included some of the poorest and most disreputable inhabitants of the town. There were also numerous courts and alleys leading off the lane making it one of the most overcrowded areas in Southampton. Most of the buildings were swept away during the slum clearances of the 1890s, which resulted from the death of Ellen Wren.

Simnel Street

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Simnel Street. Frank McFadden’s view of Simnel Street, c1891.

Simnel Street

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A modern (2015) view of Simnel Street.

Further reading:

Southampton Occasional Notes, by ‘Townsman’, p4-5. (HS/h)
Medieval Southampton, by Colin Platt, passim. (HS/h)
Housing Schemes carried out in the County Borough of Southampton, by Southampton Borough Council, p18. (HS/lk)
Southampton Archaeological Society Bulletin, No. 16, p15. (HS/f)
'Simnel Street always had an evil look' by George Campbell in Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society Newsletter, no. 64, Autumn 2015, p13-15. (H/h)

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