I was sitting in the ladies at SeaCity Museum (Southampton). On the back of the cubicle door was a small poster. It read something along the lines of: ” Why not visit the Tudor House Museum?”  and showed a picture of an attractive black and white Tudor house.

Why not indeed, I thought to myself. So I did what any U3A group leader would do when they discover a potential place to visit and took a photo of the poster on my mobile ‘phone before I left.

Once home, I researched the museum and it looked like a great place to offer to our Tea at the Museum members. It was mid-March 2020. Little did any of us know that it would be a full two and a half years before my lavatorial discovery could be shared with the group…

On January 19th  this year, members of the Tea at the Museum group gathered at Tudor House Museum in Southampton’s old town, close to the remains of the city walls and the harbour. The following two hours flew past as we explored the house, built in 1491 by wealthy merchants, the reconstructed Tudor knot garden and the remains of King John’s Palace, built in the 12th century. Together, they make up the oldest surviving buildings in Southampton and the site of its first museum, opened in 1912.

Extensively, but sympathetically, restored between 2002-2011, the museum is a wonderful example of late mediaeval and Georgian building, its occupants and their occupations. Upstairs displays include paintings of the harbour before land was reclaimed for the modern docks, maritime exhibits, a fascinating video about the restoration of the building and much, much more. Of particular note was some late sixteenth and early seventeenth century graffiti of ships, reckoned to be the finest examples of their time. We would have loved to stay longer but the museum closes at 3pm.

Group members whom we spoke to afterwards all agreed that Tudor House Museum was well worth a visit and how much they had enjoyed it. What’s more, the excellent staff on duty that day have given us some ideas that we can follow up, with potential for a return visit. Watch this space.

I’m glad I needed to ‘spend a penny’ that day at SeaCity!

Pam Small,

Joint Group Leader, Tea at the Museum group