King John’s Palace
The house is called King John’s Palace as historians mistakenly believed that King John stayed in it during the early 1300s, however, there is no evidence for it.
Wealthy Norman merchants built their houses on the western shore of the town.
Around the 1180s, when the original house was built, Southampton was already a busy trading port. The house was ideally located on the quayside where ships loaded and unloaded their cargoes.
In the 1300s it was owned by John Wytegod, who was a wealthy merchant and mayor. After the French raid in 1338, King Edward III ordered the completion of the town walls (see Arcades).
The door and windows in the front of the house were blocked up with stone or converted into gun slits and the building was integrated into the town walls.
Although now only a shell, King John’s Palace is one of the finest surviving examples of Norman architecture in the country.
When no 79 High Street was being demolished following bomb damage in WW2, a rare Norman chimney was found. In 1953 it was re-erected in King John’s Palace.