AN ARTS and heritage venue in the heart of Southampton's old town is no longer just a venue for school trips.

Since its refurbishment in 2019, God's House Tower (GHT) in Town Quay Road has been transformed into a heritage site that is brimming with fascinating history and art.

The building was constructed hundreds of years ago and has had many uses since that day, from a defensive structure to a prison.

But now the history in the walls of GHT has come to life, offering an immersive experience for visitors.

Daily Echo: GHT team. Photo by Phil BoormanGHT team. Photo by Phil Boorman

Venue manager of two years, Hannah Preston said: "We were keen to diversify GHT and make it a 21st century attraction. We wanted to diversify those stories of Southampton and make GHT reflective of the city that we live in and the people that live here.

"Here, we are taking research and making something that is tangible and understandable. A big part of our programme is to take Southampton's history and stories and reimagine it, interpret it, and hand it over to our artists and give them an opportunity to bring that history to life.

Daily Echo: Inside God's House towerInside God's House tower

"We're nestled just on the corner of Southampton's old town which is an area we're really passionate about rejuvenating and bringing life to.

"When you come in, there's a cafe on the ground floor which really helps to establish that this is a place for everyone, whether you come to relax, meet other creative, like-minded people or to just enjoy a coffee."

Daily Echo: Hoxton buns served in the God's House Tower cafeHoxton buns served in the God's House Tower cafe

God's House Tower closed shortly after reopening due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that didn't stop Hannah and the GHT team from sharing the city's history with the people of Southampton.

Hannah said: "We offered online courses during this time to keep people engaged with the building, even when it was shut.

"We offered lots of creative courses to keep the people and building alive. We also moved our artist shop online to keep investing in the artists.

"People really took to the online courses and it gave them a sense of togetherness."

A range of in-person 'creative wellbeing' courses, including an autumnal illustration course and zine-making course, are ongoing, along with a new exhibition.

The Lucky Dip exhibition brings together new work by nine Southampton artists.

Daily Echo: The Lucky Dip exhibition at God's House Tower The Lucky Dip exhibition at God's House Tower

From music to painting, planting and performance, the works are informed by a wide range of ideas, processes and practices.

Hannah said: "Our heritage offer is our Tower exhibition which tells the story of this building. The other part of our offer is the contemporary art gallery space for local artists to share their work, have a platform and for us to give new opportunities to those artists.

Daily Echo: On the God's House Tower roof. Photo by Phil BoormanOn the God's House Tower roof. Photo by Phil Boorman

"They can carry on creating and making in the city to make Southampton where creative people can flourish and establish long-term creative careers."

God's House Tower is open Friday to Sunday.ย