Tudor House, which since 1912 has been a museum, is situated on the west side of St. Michael's Square. It was constructed between 1491 and 1518 by Sir John Dawtrey. Some portions of the house, probably including part of the banqueting hall and the cellars, may belong to the earlier capital tenement of John Williams. After Dawtrey’s death in 1518 his widow married Sir Richard Lister (or Lyster), Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer and later Lord Chief Justice. Lister retired to his Southampton house in 1552 and died in 1554, after which the house passed to his grandson, also named Richard Lister.

In the late 18th century the property passed into the hands of the Bernard family, after whom Bernard Street is named. Ownership remained in this family until 1860 when it was acquired by William Lankester, principal of the well-known firm of Southampton iron and brass founders and furnishing ironmongers, and later by his son William Goddard Lankester. For much of the second half of the 19th century it was used for industrial and commercial purposes. From 1883 the central portion was leased to George Cawte, bookbinder, and the northern section to George Henry Pope, dyer and furniture cleaner (image 2). The building was given the address, 10 St Michael's Square.

In the Victorian and Edwardian periods the house was sometimes referred to as Henry VIII's Palace and Old Palace House, both without any authority.

Between 1898 and 1910 extensive and meticulous restoration work was undertaken by William Francis Gummer Spranger, who had purchased the property from the Lankesters in 1886. Externally, this involved removing the stucco from the walls and restoring as far as possible the original Tudor brick and timber work. The front of the ground floor was restored to replace the shop fronts built in the 19th century. In spite of the restoration, the main structure of the building remains much as it was during the 16th century. In 1911 Spranger, with the help of Councilor Edward Bance, persuaded the council to purchase the house with a view to converting it into a museum. Southampton’s first museum was duly opened in July 1912. It is Grade I listed.

A plaque in the garden commemorates Garibaldi's visit to Southampton in 1864.

1. Tudor House

Image Unavailable

Photograph, c2000

2. Tudor House

Image Unavailable

A photograph from c1890, before restoration work.


See also:

Spranger, William Francis Gummer


Further reading:

Medieval Southampton, by Colin Platt, p183. (HS/h)
Southampton Occasional Notes 2nd Series, by ‘Townsman’, p22-23, 32. (HS/h)
Excavations in Medieval Southampton, by Colin Platt (ed), p117-124. (HS/f)
Buildings of England: Hampshire and the I.O.W., by Nikolaus Pevsner and David Lloyd, p529-531. (H/i)
The Saving of Tudor House, by A. G. K. Leonard, p17-23. (HS/k)
'Analysing Tudor House Museum, Southampton' by Peter N Davies, in Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society, Section Newsletters, New Series, no. 9, Spring 1988, pages22-5


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