Part of the Southampton Old Town Walk, the Castle Vault is the biggest vault in Southampton. It was built around 1180 when the Kings of England invented a new tax called the ‘King’s Prise’ which applied to wine. As Southampton was an important place in the wine trade it made sense to have a storage point here, under the castle, where the king’s butlers could keep an eye on it.
The wine casks would have been brought in and out by boat to a wooden or stone quay, as the water came right up to the walls outside.
During the Second World War this was a large air-raid shelter. You can still see traces of the blast walls that spanned the vault and the foundations for the entrance and toilets can be seen.