1) For many years the City's Maritime Museum, the Wool House has had a varied history. It is a two-storey stone-built warehouse, dating from either the late 14th or early 15th century and is the only survivor of several medieval wool houses from a time when Southampton was a leading wool port. It is situated at the south end of Bugle Street on Town Quay. David Lloyd (Buildings of England: Hampshire and the I.O.W.) argues that the 14th century arched collar-braced roof is the best feature of the building. It is essentially unaltered except for the hipped front part, which was reconstructed in the 18th century. The wood is Spanish chestnut.

Its history and association with the wool trade are by no means clear, but it may have been built as a wool store for the Cistercian Monks of Beaulieu Abbey, hence it was sometimes referred to as the Beaulieu Woolhouse. Colin Platt in Medieval Southampton, however, states that it was probably built by Thomas Middleton, mayor of Southampton in the first decade of the 15th century. For most of its post-medieval existence it has been used as a warehouse or corn store. It has also been known as the Allum House and the Spanish Prison, indicating alternative uses.

The building fell into disrepair in the late 19th century, but was put into working order in 1904 when the Carron Iron Co. rented the building. Later it was occupied by Edwin Rowland Moon’s aviation works, Moonbeam Engineering. In the mid 20th century it was acquired by the town council and converted into the Maritime Museum. After the maritime museum moved to the Seacity Museum the Wool House was converted into a wine bar. It is Grade I listed.

2) Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries the name was also applied to the Long House on the south side of Porters' Lane.

Wool House

Image Unavailable

Photograph, c.1900

Wool House

Image Unavailable

Photograph, c.2000


Further reading:

Excavations in Medieval Southampton, by Colin Platt (ed), p72-75, 207-210. (HS/f)
Medieval Southampton, by Colin Platt, p142-143. (HS/h)
History of Southampton, by Rev. J. S. Davies, p94. (HS/h)
Excavations in Medieval Southampton, by Colin Platt (ed), p36-38, 142-149. (HS/f)
Historic Buildings of Southampton, by Philip Peberdy, p33-36. (HS/k)
Southampton Archaeological Society Bulletin, No. 1, p10-11. (HS/f)
Southampton Archaeological Society Bulletin, No. 2, p12. (HS/f)
Southampton Archaeological Society Bulletin, No. 3, p14-15. (HS/f)


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