Ad| Did you know that you can now tour Southampton’s vaults? Experience Hampshire’s guided tour is the perfect way to see a secret side to the city that you would otherwise walk straight past.
The opportunity to tour Southampton’s vaults hasn’t always been available and it’s been on my travel list for a long time. Now tours have restarted, get it on your list of things to do- it’s one not to miss.
Here’s everything you need to know about the tour…
Learn More About Southampton
Southampton has an extensive history and while plenty of new developments shape its present, geography and a useful double tide has carved its past.
If you’re not familiar with the city there’s no doubt its crowning glory is the Bargate, a historic entrance point to the city, and the old Southampton city walls.
Southampton’s old walls have many historic locked doors and passageways dotted around and I’ve always wondered what’s behind them.
This area now provides an iconic backdrop to the restaurant part of Westquay Shopping centre. It also connects the newer city scape to the old town which extends down to the port and shore.
What you might not know is why the Bargate and old Southampton walls exist. I always had a rough idea that it was because of its important port and market status – you really can’t avoid knowing that if you grew up in the county. However, my knowledge beyond this was mostly non-existent, until this tour anyway!
What I didn’t know was just how important it really was and why, and this is what Experience Hampshire’s tour of Southampton’s vaults helps explain.
The history of the building of the vaults to their use in the World Wars is covered offering fascinating insights into the city’s history.
The tour gave me a really different perspective and insight into what’s shaped Southampton into how it is today and showed me a completely different side to the city I grew up in.
New to Southampton?
Experience Hampshire’s tours are a brilliantly easy way to get to know the city’s history. If you’ve never been or you only have a short amount of time to spend there, this is a really fun and efficient way to seeing a lot and having a very memorable visit.
Touring Southampton’s Vaults
This tour is the ‘Explore Southampton City Vaults – Hidden Southampton walking tour’ which lasted for two hours, for £12 (price correct at time of publishing).
The Bargate in the centre of the city makes for an impressive and easy to locate starting point with plenty of access to public transport and car parks.
You also end very near to this location too which means it’s easy to go home or make use of the proximity to Westquay’s restaurants to grab a bite to eat afterwards.
Our Experience Hampshire guide was an incredibly knowledgable and charismatic gentleman named Jeff. Not only was Jeff funny but clearly he really knew his stuff too, expertly blending brilliant and poignant stories into more factual aspects of the city’s history.
The route wound around the walls and through the old town in one big loop. It wasn’t a difficult walk but due to the historic nature of the vaults accessibility into some of them may be prohibitive for those who are differently abled. My advice would be to check with Experience Hampshire prior to booking.
It’s also worth noting that the staircases and footing is historic stone, so make sure you’ve got decent shoes on. Experience Hampshire do make you aware of this when booking and remind you to bring torches.
I took a head torch and that was perfect because I’m terribly clumsy and it kept me hands free so I could hold onto the railings.
Experience Hampshire’s Tours
Experience Hampshire’s tours are the perfect opportunity to get to know more about the historic features of the city all while doing something new.
Cue my excitement when they invited me to one of their evening experiences to tour Southampton’s vaults. And yes, it does show you what’s behind quite a few of those old historic doors!
This isn’t the only tour they offer – walk topics, duration and price vary depending on the focus and location.
To find out the latest tours, times and how to book visit the Experience Hampshire website.
If you liked this, take a look at these other great places to visit nearby in Hampshire…