Monday 5 July 2021

God's House Tower is re-opening 9th July & this is why you must visit!

It felt as though as soon as God's House Tower opened for the first time in September 2019, it was closed again due to the pandemic but here we are, all those months later and it is about to re-open to the public on 9th July!

Southampton is awash with history and one thing I always say when walking around our beautiful city is to always look up because there is always something to discover and this wonderful place is no different. God's House Tower is an art and heritage venue in Southampton set within a 13th-century gatehouse, found on Winkle Street as part of the Old Town. It's somewhere I've walked around many times as it's such a beautiful part of the city and there's just so much to discover. 

As mentioned, God's House Tower is an art and heritage venue showcasing an exciting line-up of exhibitions and activities suitable for all ages plus there's a fab little cafe on the lower level with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. It's no longer Hoxton Bakehouse as GHT have taken the cafe in-house but there is still a selection of Hoxton buns available as well as The Focaccia Co serving up delicious sandwiches using Italian Focaccia bread with a selection of fillings and 27 Vegan Bakery supplying deliciously rich vegan brownies (the raspberry one is incredible).

It just makes for such a great location for a morning or afternoon out with friends or family and I can't wait to nip in for my coffee hit when I'm backing hitting the cobbled paving with a newborn bubba. 

From Stories Behind The Stones, the GHT Tower exhibition to Those Who Look Out and Those Who Look Back by Laura Eldret and Paul Vivian, there is still plenty to explore.

Stories Behind the Stones is a fascinating insight into GHT’s dark history and turbulent past. As you climb the tower you will uncover stories about the weapons that were stored here, the gunners and the gaolers who worked here and the prisoners who were held here against their will. All of this is brought to life by illustrations, animations and model maps.

The exhibits on the ground floor tell the origin story of GHT and the devastating French raid of 1338 that prompted the town to build defensive fortifications, including God’s House Tower, completely encircling Southampton.

On the second floor, you will find out more about the building’s original use as a defensive tower and learn about the lives of four town gunners. You can also explore a small hidden part of the building that was once a medieval toilet! As you climb the stairs to the third floor, you will hear the voices of prisoners speaking of their violent crimes and the gruelling work and hard labour that they were sentenced to at God’s House Tower.

Venturing up to the roof is something you must do, especially if the weather is clear as you'll see 360-degree views over Southampton, find out more about how the city's skyline has evolved over 700 years and get to see the comings and goings of Southampton's busy waters. 

To get to the top, you will need to take the original spiral staircase which is supported with a handrail. I was fine walking up but walking back down makes me a little nervous. I really don't get on with spiral staircases but if you're braver than me which won't be hard, you'll be fine. Ha!

You really should head up there though because the views are 100% worth it!

As part of the exhibition space, Laura Eldret and Paul Vivian's showcase their two-person exhibition with sculpture, fabric works and video that reflect forms of the sea. Here the sea is mothering and scolding, returning our glances with a warning that her powers are oceanic - it's enlightening and reflects perfectly on the city. 

Taken from the GHT Website
Paul Vivian’s works play with and upend clichés of the sea as a place of vicarious consumption or passive spectacle. Arranged in the space are a set of beach towels with specially printed imagery: a swelling ocean, an oversized pebble and a giant droplet. Nearby is a suite of 30 identical sea-farers cast in plaster by Vivian from an original ceramic collectable designed by the Bosson company in the mid-twentieth century. 

Laura Eldret’s works explore the sea from the perspective of its manifold inhabitants. A fabric piece hangs down, constructed from blankets and black neoprene (the material of wetsuits). The work opens up questions around bodies, nurturing and survival. Eldret’s video work Waters (link below) invokes the clichés of the sea-as-female – alluring, deadly or motherly. Featuring footage of bodies of water, boats zipping along, and a woman’s legs beneath the surface, the video is edited in rapid intercuts between vertical and horizontal lines, creating an intense and haptic rhythm.

God's House Tower really is somewhere to add to your to-visit list once it re-opens. I think it's so important to explore the history of where you live plus children will love it too, rain or shine it's the perfect activity to do with them and teaching them about history young is so important!

Keep an eye on God's House Tower's social media for news on the official opening times and information on how you can book your spot.

You can also find them on Twitter and Instagram

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