10 things you probably didn't know about Southampton

The 21st century redevelopment of Ocean Village marina in Southampton is nearing completion seen her

The Ocean Village Marina in Southampton on a sunny day. - Credit: Sterling750/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Southampton is one of Britain's most famous port cities, it has a rich history and regularly attracts visitors from all over the world. Here are some fascinating facts you probably didn't know...

1) Evidence found by Archeologists suggests that humans have inhabited the Southampton area since the Stone Age. It became a major trading post under Roman occupation, when the Anglo Saxons came into power they moved the settlement across the Itchen River. At this time it received the name 'Hamwic' which evolved to Hampton over many years, this is also where the county of Hampshire gets its name.

2) The Titanic set sail from Southampton port on the 10th of April 1912. In a tragic irony, the 'unsinkable ship never made it to its destination. The youngest and last surviving passenger Millvina Dean, who was 2 months at the time of boarding the ship passed away in 2009 at the age of 97. She was cremated and her ashes were scattered in Southampton, at the docks where the Titanic set sail.

3) Some famous faces from Southampton include singers Craig David and Foxes, Coldplay drummer Will Champion, TV Presenter and Naturalist Chris Packham, Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais, Suffragist Emily Davies and comedian Benny Hill.

4) In 2007, the Wellington Arms tried to declare itself the official consulate for the Kingdom of Redonda, a remote Caribbean Island in the hopes of exploiting a loophole in the smoking ban that came into action that summer that prohibits smoking in enclosed workplaces, including pubs. They were however unsuccessful. 

5) According to legends while in Southampton Viking King Cnute seated himself upon his throne at the shoreline and demanded that the incoming tide stop, so as not to wet his clothes. The tide of course still came. It was said that his demonstration was to show that while Kings wield great power they are not all-powerful, only God is. Cnute was later crowned King of England in Southampton in 1016 and as a tribute to him, the port's floating crane was named HLV Canute after him.

6) Southampton became a major shipbuilding centre in the medieval era, due to The Hundred Years' War. The most famous ship built during the war was Henry V's Grace Dieu, it was said to be one of the most magnificent ships built in the middle ages. So much so that Florentine Captain Luca di Masa degli Albizzi remarked "I never saw so large and so beautiful a construction". The Grace Dieu was destroyed by a fire on the River Hamble after being struck by lightning in 1439. The wreckage was lost for many years and also mistaken for a Danish galley or a simple merchant ship until 1933 when a survey on the wreck was undertaken. 

The yellow hazard marker is situated on the wreck of Grace Dieu in the River Hamble

The yellow hazard marker is situated on the wreck of Grace Dieu in the River Hamble - Credit: Hethurs / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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7) Southampton is twinned with several towns and cities around the world. These include Hampton in Virginia and Miami in Florida both of which are in the USA, Le Havre in France, Rems-Murr-Kreis in Germany, Trieste in Italy, Qingdao in China and Busan in South Korea. 

8) Southampton Old Bowling Green is the worlds oldest Bowling Green, it was first used in 1299.

9) Southampton is one of the warmest and sunniest cities in the UK due to its Maritime Climate and sheltered position. Consequently, Southampton has held the highest recorded temperature in the UK for the month of June since 1976. Temperatures reached a staggering 35.6 °C (96.1 °F) on the 28th of the month, something that thankfully hasn't occurred since.

10) Southampton was the birthplace of cruise holidays with P&O first introducing a passenger service in 1844. The ship departed from Southampton and headed to the Mediterranean, soon Alexandria in Egypt and Constantinople (Istanbul) in Turkey were added due to the rise in popularity of Orientalism, a 19th-century fascination with all things 'exotic'.

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