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History Revenue, Customs and Coastguards

Cowes Custom House

REF NR: 1003

Cowes was originially considered part of Southampton's port. The first reference to customs 'tax' being collected at that port was the yield of tax from the period between July 1203 and November 1205 which amounted to £712 3s 8d. This was during the reign of King John. 


The origin of customs at Cowes is not clear. According to Forster Delafield Arnold-Forster (author of at War With The Smugglers), the custom house was originally built at East Cowes in 1575. It seems unlikely that a permanent custom house was built at that time, although it's possible that there was a presence on the island around that date.  What seems more likely is that the residences of the customers / collectors were the original custom houses. 

Shown on the 1898 map.