Visit Romsey and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Romsey, Hampshire, like Christ-Church, grew up around the abbey. It lies on the banks of the River Test and the statue of Lord Palmerston gazes out over the market square. His former home, Broadlands, lies just over the bridge. A splendid porticoed house, built by Capability Brown and John Holland, it now belongs to Lord Mountbatten of Burma. Also in the market place is the former Swann Inn, where, as an old story has it, a soldier was hung from the bracket which can still be seen outside.
King John's Hunting Box was built at the beginning of the 13th century, and later suffered various vicissitudes, becoming, in turn, abbey guest house, cottages and even a workhouse, and was only rediscovered during this century. It is a flint and stone house with dogtooth moulding. In 1306 Edward I probably visited with attendant nobles, for scratched on the plaster walls of an upper room are the heads, shields and mottoes of various nobles, as well as a lifesize drawing of the King, complete with crown. A century before, King John had sent his daughter here to be educated, paying the governess just 2d. a day.
The abbey dates back to the start of the 10th century. During restoration work Anglo-Saxon foundations were discovered and can still be seen by lifting a trapdoor in the church. But the main body of the building as it stands today was built by Henry de Blois, Bishop of Winchester, in the 12th century. Later, in spite of the fact that it had all its Royal charters confirmed during the time of the Dissolution, the convent buildings were ruthlessly swept away, and the abbey itself was sold to the town as a church for £100. Except for the west front, the abbey is almost entirely 12th-century. The Norman nave is over 250 ft long and soars to a height of some 70 ft. There are wonderful treasures to be seen. At the back of the altar in the south choir aisle is a small Anglo-Saxon rood, showing Christ with angels and soldiers. A Crucifixion, with the hand of God reaching down, hangs on the west wall of the south transept, and dates back to Anglo-Saxon times. It was found facing into the wall, which is probably why it has survived. An early l6th-century painted reredos shows the Resurrection, and there is also a portion of an ancient cope and an old chest, about 1500, on display. Among the monuments, the 13th-century effigy of a woman in Purbeck marble and the monument to Sir William Petty, who helped found the Royal Society, are outstanding. The vestry contains the Romsey Psalter, an illuminated manuscript of the 15th century, and the deed of sale of the abbey to the townspeople, signed by Henry VIII.
East Wellow lies a little west of Romsey and is mainly remarkable for its church. Florence Nightingale, who lived at Embley Park nearby, lies buried in the churchyard. Inside are some remarkable l3th-century wall paintings. A woman carrying a spindle gazes at a knight nearby, while crowned figures watch the scene. Part of St Christopher holding a child remains, and there is a very faint painting of the murder of St Thomas a Becket.
Nearby cities: Salisbury, Southampton, Winchester
Nearby towns: Andover, Eastleigh
Nearby villages: Beaulieu, Blackhill, King's Sombourne, North Baddesley, Stockbridge, West Wellow, Whiteparish
Have you decided to visit Romsey or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Romsey bed and breakfast (a Romsey B&B or Romsey b and b)
- a Romsey guesthouse
- a Romsey hotel (or motel)
- a Romsey self-catering establishment, or
- other Romsey accommodation