Long House

In Porters Lane, situated near the Town Quay, are the remains of a Norman building about 111 feet long. It is a great example of early Medieval or “Norman” architecture. As the tax was based on the front of the houses, the buildings were usually narrow and long.

Long House is also known as ‘Canute’s Palace’. The name ‘Canute’s Palace’ was first given to the building by Sir Henry Englefield (1752-1822) in his 1801 publication ‘ A Walk Through Southampton’. He wrongly suggested it was where King Canute ordered the tide back. Apparently, it worked – however, the water returned several hours later! The name “Canute’s Palace” is not really appropriate, as King Canute was crowned in 1016 and was not alive anymore when the house was built in the 1100s.

Long House is not to be confused with the “Long Rooms” that used to be situated at the Western Esplanade.

Before the town walls were built (after the raid in 1338) its doors opened straight on to the shore. The ground floor was the warehouse area. You can still see the supports on the wall where the lanterns or candles used to stand.

The windows on the ground floor were simple and rectangular in shape, whereas the windows on the top floor are rounded and of typical Norman architecture, which is a sign as well, that the owners used to be wealthy. The western end gable is still at full height, but a lot of it was reconstructed.

You can also see where the floor supports used to be. The living quarters on the first floor (built in style of a hall house) probably consisted of a large hall or living area, one or two bedrooms and an office (the counting house, on the eastern side). The first floor was reached by external stairs. You can still see the remains of the arched doorway on the first floor.