X Marks the spot – outside Holyrood
Outside Holyrood Church is a brass cross embedded in the pavement.
There are two stories connected to this. The first is that it marks the spot where King Philip of Spain knelt down to pray and thank God that he survived the sea crossing from Spain on his way to marry Queen Mary in Winchester Cathedral in 1554.
On 15th October 1862 the Hartley Institute, the forerunner of the University of Southampton, was opened in the High Street by the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. Large crowds lined the street. Some of students climbed up onto the tower and spire of the Holyrood Church to get a better view and dislodged a spherical stone ornament which crashed down into the crowded street below. Luckily, the stone did not hit any of the spectators.
Thus, the second story is that the stone landed on the same spot where the King had knelt over 300 years before. Following this miracle, the Mayor, Sir Frederick Perkins, had a brass cross put into the pavement to mark the event.