Living Southampton

50th Anniversary of City Status

In 2014 Southampton celebrated a very special occasion
On 24 February 1964. Southampton was awarded city status by royal charter and this year will celebrate its golden jubilee.

50 years on the Mayor, Councillor Ivan White, opened his Parlour in the Civic Centre on 24 February to local schoolchildren and citizens starting a year of celebrations in the city.

Visitors were personally greeted by the Mayor and Mayoress, Mrs Mary White, to view the extensive collection of gifts received from visiting dignatories the world over.

A painted portait of Her Majesty the Queen, commissioned by public subscription is a highlight of the other artworks that is also displayed. Later on the same day at 5pm, a Service of Thanksgiving  took place at St Mary’s Church.
    • 50 Home Office Letter

    50 Home Office Letter

    • Schoolchildren in the Mayor's Parlour on 24 February 2014

    Schoolchildren in the Mayor's Parlour on 24 February 2014

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About City Status

Southampton has received around 30 royal grants of rights and privileges from the 12th century to the present.

It was the third most important port in England in medieval times and enjoyed a rich and varied commercial life. In the 19th and 20th century its role in shipping was world renowned. But it did not become a city until 1964. It is often thought that a town automatically becomes a city when it has a cathedral or a university or has a large population. In fact it can only become a city when it is granted that status in a royal charter.In September 1958 the County Borough of Southampton petitioned the Queen for the town to be raised to the status of a city. Reasons why it was thought that Southampton should be come a city included:

1. The growth in the size and population of the town.
2. The growth of the importance of the town in the shipping world and in the Country’s economy.
3. The long history of public administration and the efficiency of its municipal services.
4. The record of voluntary service, public spirit, practice of charity, the maintenance of historical records and customs, and the existence of a true sense of citizenship.

On the 7 February 1964 the town received a letter from the Home Office advising that the petition has been successful.

The Charter granting City Status is dated 24 February 1964. The Great Seal is fixed to the charter by silk thread, and has two faces. One face has in relief the image of the Queen on horseback representing her military role, the other the Queen seated in majesty enthroned representing her administrative role (now conducted through Parliament) The seal is heavy and sits in a protective case richly decorated with the royal coat of arms

    • Commemorative Items

    Commemorative Items

Commemorative range celebrates city’s 50 years
A range of ‘story products’ designed by local artists to celebrate Southampton’s 50 years as a city are available from Tudor House Museum and online from Solutions Southampton website.