Arundel Tower – The Eyes and Ears of the South Coast

By Patrick Austen-Hardy

Now overlooking restaurants such as Zizzy and Byron’s Burgers around the Westquay Shopping Centre, the 60ft high north west corner of the wall would have been a viewpoint of attacking armadas.

Standing at 60ft high, and perfectly overlooking the sea, it is unclear as to exactly what period of the 13th century the castle was constructed in.

In October 1338, the city of Southampton was viciously attacked by a fleet of French and Genoese pirates.

The Pirates sailed up the Southampton waters, landed on the unfortified Westquay and proceeded to devastate the city while they were at mass.

Contemporary stories of the traumatic event details witness accounts of rape and pillage on a terrifying scale.

In the aftermath, Edward III visited the coastal city the following year and ordered a full defensive, enclosing circuit of walls to be constructed to defend the city from attacks of that nature.

The progress of the construction of the city’s defences, was slow due to the ongoing Hundred Years War, and the outbreak of the Black Death causing significant labour shortages.

The tower was named after former governor of Southampton Castle Sir John Arundel, who was entrusted with developing the Tower’s defences after the French carried out a similar sequence of raids across the English coast most notably in Portsmouth in 1370.

The Tower was designed without any machicolations (floor openings in which things like boiling water or rocks can be thrown through onto attackers) and acted as a key viewpoint of the sea and for archers to rain down arrows on enemy attackers.

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