Infobox UK place
official_name= Romsey
country= England
map_type= Southampton
region= South East England

static_image_caption= Arms of Romsey Town Council
latitude= 50.989
longitude= -1.4966
post_town= ROMSEY
postcode_area= SO
postcode_district= SO51
dial_code= 01794
constituency_westminster= Romsey
shire_district=Test Valley
website= [ Romsey Town Council]

Romsey is a small market town in the county of Hampshire, England.

It is 8 miles (13 km) northwest of Southampton and 11 miles (18 km) south-west of Winchester. Just under 13,000 people live in Romsey, which has an area of about 4.93 square kilometres [ Hampshire County Council. [ Romsey] Retrieved 2007-11-03] .

Romsey lies on the River Test, which is famous for fly fishing, predominantly trout. [Environment Agency (2006). [ Fact file on the River Test] Retrieved 2007-11-03] . It is one of the principal towns in the Test Valley Borough. A large Norman abbey dominates the centre of the town.

Romsey was home of the late Lord Mountbatten of Burma, the 19th century British prime minister Lord Palmerston, and the 17th century philosopher and economist William Petty.

Romsey's MP has been Sandra Gidley of the Liberal Democrats since a by-election in 2000 after the previous Conservative MP Michael Colvin died with his wife in a house fire [ BBC News (2000). [ MP feared dead in fire] Retrieved 2007-11-01] . Gidley's majority was cut to 125 votes in the 2005 General Election, possibly because she was targeted by supporters of fox hunting [ This is Hampshire (2004). [ Fox-hunting strategy could see battle for Gidley seat] Retrieved 2007-11-01] .

Romsey is twinned with Paimpol in Brittany, France and Battenberg, Germany [Romseynet. [ Romsey twinning] Retrieved 2007-11-01] .


Middle Ages to The Civil War

The name Romsey is believed to have originated from the term "Rūm's Eg", meaning "Rūm's area surrounded by marsh". Rūm is probably an abbreviated form of a personal name, like Rūmwald (glorious leader).

What was to become Romsey Abbey was founded in 907 AD. Nuns, led by Elflaeda daughter of Edward the Elder, son of Alfred the Great, founded a community — at his direction — in what was then a small village. Later, King Edgar refounded the nunnery, circa 960 AD, as a Benedictine house under the rule of St. Ethelflaeda whose devotional acts included chanting psalms while standing naked in the cold water of the River Test.

The village swelled alongside the religious community. The Vikings sacked Romsey in 993 AD, burning down the church. But the village recovered, and the abbey was rebuilt in stone in circa 1000 AD. The religious community flourished as a seat of learning, especially for the children of the nobility. A market was established outside the abbey gates.

The Normans built the large current abbey that dominates the town (between c. 1120 and 1140 AD) on the site of the original Saxon church. By 1240 AD, 100 nuns lived in the convent.

King Henry I granted Romsey its first charter. This allowed a market to be held every Sunday, and a four-day annual fair in May. In the 13th century, Henry III permitted an additional fair in October.

The lucrative woollen industry appears to have powered Romsey's growth during the Middle Ages. Wool was woven and then "fulled" or pounded with wooden hammers whilst being washed. It was dyed, and then exported from nearby Southampton.

Romsey continued to grow and prosper until plague struck the town in 1348-9. The Black Death is thought to have killed up to half of the Romsey's population of 1000. The number of nuns fell as low as 19. Prosperity never returned to the abbey. It was finally suppressed by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. Many religious buildings were destroyed during this time.

But the abbey was saved from demolition because part of it was a parish church for the people of Romsey. The town purchased the abbey from the Crown for £100 in 1544. Ironically, the part of the abbey that had saved the abbey, the church of St Lawrence, was then demolished.

By the mid-16th century Romsey's population was about 1,500; its woollen and tanning industries fuelled growth. On 6th April 1607 King James I granted the town a charter making it a borough. This gave official status to an informal local government that had been running the affairs of the town since the Dissolution of Romsey Abbey in 1539. Romsey could now have a corporation comprising a mayor, six aldermen and twelve chief burgesses, with a town clerk for 'office work'. Furthermore, there was to be a local law court under a Court Recorder, assisted by two sergeants-at-mace. Over all, was the prestigious position of High Steward, the first of whom was the Earl of Southampton. (Lord Brabourne, grandson of Lord Mountbatten of Burma, is the current High Steward.)

Romsey changed hands several times during the English Civil War. Both Royalist and Parliamentary or Roundhead troops occupied and plundered the town. Royalists remained in control of the borough until January 1645.

18th to 20th centuries

The town's woollen industry survived until the middle of the 18th century, but was beaten by competition from the north of England. But new fast-growing enterprises soon filled the gap with brewing, papermaking and "sackmaking", all reliant upon the abundant waters of the Test.

By 1794 a canal connected Romsey to Redbridge — at the mouth of the River Test — and Andover. Industry continued to grow. Romsey was a reasonably large town for the early 19th century: its population was 4,274 in the first census of 1801, compared with just 8,000 for Southampton.

But expansion slowed, despite the railway arriving in 1847. In 1851 Romsey's population was 5,654 and was almost the same half a century later (5,597 in the 1901 census).

Lord Palmerston, the 19th century British Prime Minister, was born and lived at Broadlands, a large country estate on the outskirts of the town. His statue stands in the Market Place outside the Town Hall.

Romsey was famous for making collapsible boats during the 19th and early 20th centuries, invented by the Rev. Edward Lyon Berthon in 1851. The Berthon Boatyard in Romsey made the boats from 1870 until 1917. They were used as lifeboats on ocean-going liners, including the Titanic.

Broadlands later became the home of Lord Mountbatten of Burma, known locally as "Lord Louis". He was buried in Romsey Abbey after being killed in an IRA bomb explosion in Ireland on 27 August 1979. In 1947, Mountbatten was given his earldom and the lesser title "Baron Romsey, of Romsey in the County of Southampton".

After Lord Mountbatten of Burma died, his titles passed to his elder daughter, Lady Brabourne, who thus became Lady Mountbatten of Burma. Her eldest son was styled by the courtesy title "Lord Romsey" until he inherited the title of Lord Brabourne in 2005 [BBC News (2005). [ Death on the Nile producer dies] Retrieved 2007-11-01] .

The Prince and Princess of Wales spent the first night of their honeymoon at Broadlands

During 2007 Romsey celebrated the 400th Anniversary of the granting of its Charter by King James I with a [ programme of events] from March through September, including a visit on 8 June from the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh [ BBC News (2007). [ Queen marks charter anniversary] Retrieved 2007-11-01] . Subsequently. the cost of the visit has created some local political controversy [ BBC News (2007). [ Town left with royal toilet bill] Retrieved 2007-11-03] .


Romsey today appears to be in sound economic health. Whilst there is significant commuting out of the town for work, particularly to Southampton and Winchester and also, to some extent, London -- it could not be described as a dormitory town.

Whilst heavy industry in the town has long since declined, three industrial and trading estates focus mainly on service industries and small scale manufacturing. Three major scientific and high tech employers—Roke Manor Research, Southampton Science Park and IBM—have large establishments in the nearby countryside.

The recently-renovated town centre contains a Waitrose supermarket, a small department store, and over 100 other retail outlets of various kinds, including both high street chains and local independent shops.

Mills and milling

Watermills have played an important part in Romsey's history as an industrial town. The Domesday Book of 1086 provides the earliest record of watermills in Romsey, which identifies three (possibly four) mills.

Sadler's Mill is probably the best known of Romsey's surviving mills and is apparently the only mill to be developed on the main course of the River Test. The existence of Sadler's Mill is first recorded in the 16th century, when it was owned by the manor of Great and Little Spursholt. Functioning as a corn and grist mill, it has passed through a succession of owners including Lord Palmerston who rebuilt it in 1747 and sold it in 1777 to one Benjamin Dawkins. Following another succession of owners it returned to the Broadlands estate in 1889. Milling ceased in 1932, when the mill building became redundant. The Broadlands estate sold the building in 2003, at which point it was close to collapse having been derelict for many years. The new owners, Anthony and Sarah de Sigley, restored the building in 2005, rebuilding much of the original structure. During the restoration evidence of an earlier structure was found; carbon 14 dating established the age of this to be "circa" 1650.

Notable buildings

Romsey Abbey

Romsey Abbey is a Norman abbey, originally built as a Benedictine foundation, housing a community of Benedictine nuns. The abbey is open daily to visitors as well as being the Anglican Parish church of Romsey.

King John's House

[ King John's House] & Tudor Cottage was allegedly a hunting lodge used by King John of England whilst hunting in the New Forest. However, the existing building dates from much later. It does contain a number of extremely unusual and exciting historical features, including medieval wall decorations and graffiti, as well as a floor made of animal bones.

elected places of interest

*Broadlands - Stately home
* [ Hillier Gardens] - Gardens and arboretum
*Mottisfont Abbey - National Trust property with nationally renowned rose collection
*Paultons Park - Children's theme park
* [ Romsey Rapids] - Leisure pool and gymn


The Mayor's Picnic takes place in early-mid summer and is held in Romsey's Memorial Park. There is music performed by local schools, a variety of stalls, and the popular Duck Race, in which numbered plastic ducks 'race' each other along the river Test, to be scrupulously retrieved before awarding a prize to whoever chose the winning duck.

The Beggars Fair is held in the streets and pubs of Romsey on the 2nd Saturday in July. It is a free festival featuring all types of music, together with dance and other street entertainment.

[ Romsey Carnival] takes place during a week in July with the highlight being the procession through the streets of Romsey on the final Saturday evening. In the last few years the number of floats and number of people turning out for the event has fallen markedly, raising fears in the local press about its future.

The [ Romsey Show] is a large agricultural show which takes place every September at Broadlands. In addition, Broadlands has twice hosted the CLA Game Fair, the largest agricultural show in the world, most recently in July 2006.

The [ Winter Carnival] takes places each year when Romsey's Christmas lights are switched on.

Shortly afterwards, on a Friday evening in December, to the delight of local children, Santa Claus appears on the rooftops, to be rescued by the local fire brigade, who bring a vintage fire-engine to the event. This marks the beginning of Romsey's Christmas late night shopping.

The [ Romsey Arts Festival] occurs every 3 years, showcasing talent from local area. The next festival is due in 2008.

Romsey Charter Celebrations 1607-2007 [ Programme of Events] run from 21st March to 30th September 2007.


* Reverend W. Awdry - clergyman, railway enthusiast and author of The Railway Series of books in which the character Thomas the Tank Engine originated
* Charles Butler [ Author's website. [] Retrieved 2008-08-24] - author of children's books
* Martin Butler - composer
* Andy Cook - former Southampton and Portsmouth footballer
* Harry Dennis- Huddersfield Town F.C under 21's
* Charlie Dimmock [ Hello Magazine. [ Profiles - Charlie Dimmock] Retrieved 2008-08-24] - gardening expert and presenter, brought up in Romsey
* William Petty [ Test Valley Borough Council. [ Romsey] Retrieved 2008-08-24] - economist, scientist and philosopher
* Tim Sills - footballer with Torquay United
* Nigel Spackman - former footballer with Chelsea and Liverpool
* Kerrie Taylor - actress
* Gordon Ramsay [ Southern Daily Echo.
* Laura Gaiger - Renowned cheese and wine taster, frequently featured on BBC Radio 4 [ Gordon Ramsay's latest wheeze] Retrieved 2008-08-24
] - chef



* [ Braishfield School]
* [ Cupernham Infant School]
* [ Cupernham Junior School]
* Halterworth School
* [ Romsey Primary School]
* [ Romsey Abbey C of E Primary School]

* The Mountbatten School And Language College
* The Romsey School


* Stroud School
* Hampshire Collegiate Junior School

* Hampshire Collegiate Senior School
* Stanbridge Earls


Romsey is within 10 miles of both the M27 and M3 motorways, providing fast links along the south coast and to London, and to the Midlands and the North via the A34. The A36 runs a few miles west of the town, providing a direct but not particularly quick route to the West of England and South Wales. There are cycle links to Southampton.

Romsey has a railway station with frequent services (operated by First Great Western) running on the route between Portsmouth and Cardiff, via Southampton, Salisbury and Bristol.

In 2004, an hourly South West Trains local service was introduced, running to Chandler's Ford and Eastleigh and then down to Southampton and Totton. The noise from these new services attracted many complaints from local residents, who demanded their withdrawal, and there were also suggestions that some of the journeys regularly carried no passengers. However, its future is assured under the new South West Trains franchise, which saw the service altered from December 2007 to run from Romsey to Southampton via Eastleigh as currently, then back to Romsey via Millbrook and Redbridge and on to Salisbury. The result is more train services for Romsey than at any other time in its history, with particular improvements for passengers travelling to Southampton or Salisbury.

A dedicated shuttle bus links Romsey with fast London trains at Winchester. The ticket bought from the bus driver in Romsey covers the entire journey, which ironically is cheaper in some off-peak cases than an equivalent Winchester to London ticket. The combined journey time from Romsey Bus Station to London Waterloo is just 90 minutes, making the service popular with commuters. This service is being discontinued [ Campaign to save bus defeated] .

Other bus services are provided by Wilts & Dorset within the town and to Eastleigh and Salisbury, Solent Blue Line to Southampton and Stagecoach to Winchester.


The body of King William II "Rufus" was carried through Bell Street in Romsey on its way to Winchester, after he had been killed whilst hunting in the New Forest.

The town's memorial park contains a Japanese World War II artillery gun, one of a pair captured by the British and brought back to Romsey by Lord Mountbatten of Burma. One was donated to the town by Lord Mountbatten, and the other was retained in the grounds of his country estate, Broadlands.

The town contains a swimming pool, the Romsey Rapids. The Wessex League football club Romsey Town FC play next door.

The local amateur dramatics group, [ RAODS] is highly unusual in owning its own fully-equipped 230-seat theatre, The Plaza, in which it stages about seven productions each year. The Plaza, previously a cinema and then a bingo hall, is also hired out for other local productions, concerts, and functions.

In the 1980/90s, Romsey was used as the location of 'Kingsmarkham' in The Ruth Rendell Mysteries. Filmed by Meridian TV, numerous Romsey locations appear throughout the series concerning Inspector Wexford played by George Baker

In the "New Year`s" episode of the BBC comedy Absolutely Fabulous (1995), Patsy Stone and Edina Monsoon are discussing a New Year's Eve Party to which they have been invited and is so posh and exclusive that its whereabouts are unknown to all but the rich and famous. Patsy finally reveals it to be located in "an underground car park in Romsey." There is no underground car park in Romsey.

Local legend has it, that if one walks around Romsey Town Square seven times immediately after the strike of midnight, the Palmerston Statue disappears.

According to a number of eyewitness accounts, between July and September every year, a half man, half wolf like figure can be seen pacing around the areas surrounding the Broadlands Estate. The sightings of this creature date back hundreds of years, and are believed to be sightings of the popular legend 'Wolfie T'. The myth dates back to the 17th Centuary when locals would tell tales of 'Wolfie T' to scare the children on Halloween. The half man, half wolf like beast would be seen appearing from the Broadlands estate and sneaking around the town looking for children to take back to the woods with him. Stories of the beast died out over the next 100 years or so only to be revived in the Victorian era, when due to a couple of sightings the legend regained a popularity it has maintained to this day.


External links

* [ The Romsey Forum] Romsey's local Discussion Forum
* [ The Romsey Advertiser] Romsey's local paper
* [ Romsey Town Council]
* [ Romsey Finder] Romsey Businesses
* [ Romseynet]
* [ King John's House]
* [ Woodley Net] Woodley, Romsey Website

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