Before the Itchen Bridge, down on the mouth of the Itchen, that crosses between the centre of Southampton and Woolston, there was the Floating Bridge. This was a chain linked floating road/passenger ferry.
And before even the Floating Bridge, which started in 1836, there were men with rowing boats. From before Medieval times, and until the start of the Floating Bridge, the only way to cross the Itchen, at this point, was a man with a rowing boat.
But often, the interval between men with rowing boats turning up would be quite long. So a weather house built to protect passengers waiting for the ferry.
It consisted of two walls crossing each other at right angles, supporting a conical tiled roof, thus giving shelter from whatever point the wind might blow. A pretty neat idea really.
No one is really sure of the age of The Crosshouse, but according to legend, it was built by the bequest of a lady who lost her life from exposure whilst waiting for the ferry.
There is a plaque that bears the date 1634 (probably referring to repairs for the structure is medieval), the town arms, and the initials P C M (Peter Chungeon, Mayor in 1634). It was here that the boatmen of Itchen went annually through the ceremony of paying homage to the Corporation of Southampton for right of ferry and landing on the demesne.
Once the Floating Bridge started in 1836, the use of the Cross House as a shelter was pretty much redundant.
It survived as is until 1959 when damaged by a motor vehicle led to its partial demolition. The structure, at the time, was neither a scheduled ancient monument nor listed as a building of architectural or historical interest.
Of course, this has now changed. It has since been repaired and became a Grade 2 listed building in 1981 – assuring its continued survival.
It is well worth a visit whenever you are in Southampton – after all, it is one of the oldest structures in Southampton – just a lot of people don’t know that it is there. Look up Crosshouse Road on your map of Southampton, and you will find it.