Medieval Merchant’s House – The Shop

The shop looking out to the street

The final room in the Medieval Merchant’s House is the most important – the shop.  The wine merchant didn’t just live in the house, he also worked there.  The shop was the centre of his business. Today this room is the visitors’ shop run by English Heritage who manage the building. The goods on display above are theirs.

There was almost nothing left of the original building in this room, so this is a complete reconstruction. The window looks out onto French Steet, which was the second most important street in the town for centuries.  English Street (today’s High Street) was the most important. Even today it’s the main shopping street.

Not only did customers come into the shop, but the shop could be extended into the street. The windows of the shop were unglazed and were shuttered by boards which could be let down to make a serving counter. The shutter can be seen in the photograph below, as can the entrance to the undercroft beneath the house.


The undercroft is not sound enough strucuturally to allow visitors to enter it, but some barrels are visible from the top of the steps, giving an impression of what it used to contain. It runs the length and width of the house, demonstrating the scale of the merchant’s business.

The shop takes up the front room of the ground floor. Its floor is just beaten earth. There would have been no other floor covering.

English heritage wares

At the moment there is an exhibition in the shop of fourteenth-century pottery fragments which were dug up locally.

Exhibition of fourteenth century potter

The Medieval Merchant’s House is at 58 French Street, Southampton, SO1 0AT. Details of opening times are on the English Heritage Website.



Filed under Fourteenth Century

8 responses to “Medieval Merchant’s House – The Shop

  1. Thanks again for giving us this tour. I’ve had to be pstirnt (something I’m not good at) but I’ve enjoyed each room and I appreciate the historic details you’ve provided.


  2. It would be wonderful to know how the economic activities were like in medieval times. Despite all the supposed breakdown in the road system from Roman days, there is evidence of trade all the way from the British isles through the continent to the mediterranean!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve got an interesting book about merchants in the Middle Ages. Most of it is focused on early fifteenth-century Italy, but a lot of it is relevant to an earlier period. I’ve only read bits of it, but I am going to work my way through it one day soon. Many merchants left records and letters, so quite a bit is known about trade.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The Medieval Merchant’s House | A Writer's Perspective

  4. I always learn something when I come to your blog April. So interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

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