Despite its Anglo-Saxon origins, history has not always been kind to Southampton, especially during the twentieth century when extensive Second World War bombing and (sometimes) misguided town planning combined, resulting in the loss of many fine and interesting buildings. Even now, some of what remains is under long-term threat from casual neglect or disuse. Aside from the major tourist attractions like the Bargate, the so-called Canute's Palace or the Tudor House, at first glance modern Southampton can appear bland and rather chaotic.
However, by taking a sample of fifty buildings, not all of them always so obvious or that well known, this book sets out to chart the town's thousand-year-plus chronological history. From the medieval era through to its eighteenth-century popularity as a spa, its gradual, but since continuous, expansion as a commercial docks throughout the last 200 years, the dramatic changes to its shoreline and topography, and, by the late twentieth century and into the twenty-first, its transformation into a new, dynamic, bustling city. On the way we discover ancient public houses, historic churches, eccentric monuments, changing fortunes (both commercial and political), dramatic examples of civic and mercantile aspirations, and an eclectic mix of many different, contrasting architectural styles.