The Old Court House is in Castle Lane, opposite Lansdowne House.

It was purpose-built in 1851/52. The building work was undertaken by the local firm of builders, Joseph Bull and Sons . It is just possible that the original plans were drawn up by Thomas Sandon Hack, as he was active in Southampton during the 1840s, favoured the Italianate style and was responsible for the temporary court on the High Street. However, Hack left Southampton in 1849, so cannot be regarded as the actual architect.

The Southampton County Court first met in the building in late June or early July of 1852. The Hampshire Advertiser noted that two wine shops opened nearby at the same time, presumably in anticipation of lawyers' custom.

In the Forbes & Marshall directory of 1853, the building is shown as Hampshire County Court, Court House, Castle Square. The telephone directory of 1976 indicates that it was still in use as Court House, but in the 1977 directory the county court is at Ulster House, Town Quay. This early-twentieth century building can be seen in a 1920 image at PortCities, to the right.

In 1987 the new court complex was built in London Road and the Combined Court Centre (Crown and County Courts) is listed as such in the 1987 directory.

The Old Court House is Grade II listed. The entry reads:

1851-3. Elaborate Italianate design with large 2 storeyed central feature and two 1-storey wings. Yellow brick with rusticated stucco quoins and cornice. Recessed arch in centre with rusticated stucco voussoirs, and Royal Arms above the cornice which is carried across at the springing of the arch. Additional cornice at the top of the central feature, supported on overhanging curved brackets. Side wings have 2 windows and rusticated arch, out of which is a secondary entrance. Cast iron area railings.

The Old Court House

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Photograph, Caroline Andrews, 2016.

The Old Court House, showing Public Entrance sign.

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Photograph, Caroline Andrews, 2016.

The Old Court House, main entrance with heraldic device.

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Photograph, Caroline Andrews, 2016.

The Old Court House, side view from Castle Way.

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Photograph, Caroline Andrews, 2016.

Newspaper clipping:

Further reading:

Southampton’s Historic Buildings, by R. J. Coles, p42. (HS/k)
Building of England: Hampshire and the I.O.W., by Nikolaus Pevsner and David Lloyd, p527-8. (H/i)
Thomas Sandon Hack: Architect of Southampton 1841-49, by Richard Preston: Southampton Occasional Papers no. 3


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