This building, which stands adjacent to and south of the West Gate, has had a varied history. In the later medieval and Tudor periods it stood in St. Michael's Square and consisted of a cloth hall on the first floor, with an open arcade below housing the fish market. In 1634 the building was in such a state of disrepair that the town council sold it to Alderman Edward Exton on the understanding that he dismantle and remove it. Exton had it rebuilt on its present site next to the West Gate. It was probably used as a storeroom or warehouse after this, its lower floor being closed in. For most of the 20th century it was officially referred to as Tudor Merchants' Hall, but its traditional and popular name, the Guardroom, suggests it may have also been used to house a garrison of soldiers or possibly the town watch. There are traditional stories of the recovery of pikes etc. from the roof timbers suggesting that, whatever its primary use, it may well have afforded shelter to the watch and ward patrols or to the parliamentary garrison during the Civil War. The council reclaimed ownership of the building in c.1890 and used it as a museum store and workshop until 1975 when it was taken apart and renovated before starting a new lease of life as a lecture hall. It was renamed Westgate Hall in 2010. It is Grade II* listed.

Westgate Hall

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Photograph, 2010

Westgate Hall

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Photograph, 2015

Westgate Hall

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A view of the southern end of the hall from Cuckoo Lane, c.1920


Further reading:
Excavations in Medieval Southampton, by Colin Platt (ed), p75-77. (HS/f)
‘Tudor Merchants Hall: Its Documentary History up to its Re-erection in 1634’, by Sheila D. Thomson, in Southampton Archaeological Society Bulletin, No. 25, p1-18. (HS/f)
Southampton Archaeological Society Bulletin, No. 17, p11. (HS/f)


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