Recent restoration of the first floor room now known as The Trade Room has revealed a rare and significant collection of late 16th – early 17th Century graffiti.
Unlike the present day when most graffiti is considered a form of vandalism, in earlier centuries the drawing of graffiti was widely tolerated and is found in many historic buildings. It was usually small-scale, scratched or marked on a surface, and most of the individuals who created it were not trained artists but ordinary people, doodling or sometimes making detailed drawings that represented aspect of their lives.
Tudor House and Garden stands close the former waterfront of Tudor and Stuart Southampton, and belonged to ship owners in the late 1500s and early 1600s, when the town was a base for privateers and pirates. The graffiti in the room includes many different kinds of images of ships and people, caricatures of people in authority, sketches of animals and symbols and other shapes. The types of ships and costume enable us to date them with reasonable accuracy. Many of the images are probably the work of sailors, and reflect the daily reality of life as lived by people 400 years ago.