A little advance research on the internet revealed that we could spend some enjoyable and educational time visiting two museums operated by Southampton City Council. We were not disappointed.
1. SeaCity is located in the West Wing of the Civic Centre. Our visit was around two main galleries: Southampton’s Titanic Story concentrates on the people of the city who perished in the sinking. We learned that White Star Line’s transatlantic express service from Liverpool to New York, established in 1907, sailed via Southampton. Consequently over 500 crew from Southampton died in the sinking of Titanic. There are large audio-visual displays concerning the reports from survivors and the subsequent Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry. The former is really moving whilst the latter is a real insight into the morals of the time.
Southampton: Gateway to The World deals with those people who over thousands of years had arrived in, left from or settled in the city. Again the emphasis is on the records and possessions of individuals, which makes their stories really live. The centrepiece of the gallery is a large interactive map which reveals the development of Southampton from small stone age settlements into the walled medieval town and through the ages to its present size.
2. Tudor House and Garden is in the centre of the old town. Over 800 years of the house’s history are revealed inside. Like SeaCity it contains excellent audio-visual displays and gives an unique and atmospheric insight into the lives and times of both its residents through the years, and of Southampton itself. Tudor House Garden is a reconstructed knot garden and provides access to the ruins of King John’s Palace, a Norman house, dating back a further 300 years.
We spent around two hours in each museum and could have stayed longer had time permitted. A concessionary joint ticket for both museums costs a reasonable £9/person.