From Academic Kids

Template:GBmap Romsey is a small market town 4 miles (6 km) to the north-west of Southampton and 11 miles (18 km) south-west of Winchester in Hampshire, England. Occupying an area of approximately 4.93 square kilometres it is home to a population of just over 13,000. It is also situated on the banks of the River Test, a river famous for trout fishing. Romsey is one of the principal towns in the Test Valley Borough.

Romsey's MP is Sandra Gidley of the Liberal Democrats, who contested the seat in a by-election in 2000 after the death of the Conservative Michael Colvin, who died with his wife in a house fire. Sandra Gidley retained the seat the following year in the 2001 General Election and again in the 2005 General Election.

Romsey is twinned with Paimpol in Brittany, France and Battenberg, Germany.



Missing image
Arms of Romsey Town Council

Middle Ages to The Civil War

The name Romsey is believed to have originated from the original "Rum's Eg", meaning "Rum's area surrounded by marsh".

What was to become Romsey Abbey was founded in 907 AD. Nuns, led by Elflaeda daughter of King Edward The Elder, son of King 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 acts of sanctity included the chanting of psalms whilst standing naked in the freezing water of the River Test!

The village swelled alongside the religious community it provided with local produce only to suffer at the hands of Viking raiders in 993 AD. The village was sacked and the original church burnt down but both recovered and the abbey was rebuilt in stone in circa 1000 AD. The abbey and the religious community flourished as a seat of learning - especially for the children of the nobility - such that a market was soon established outside the abbey gates.

In Norman times a substantial, new stone abbey was built (between circa 1120 and 1140 AD) on the site of the original Saxon church and this dominates the town to this day. By 1240 AD 100 nuns were living in the nunnery.

King Henry I granted the town its first charter providing the townspeople with certain rights and permitting a market to be held every Sunday and a fair for four days in May each year. Later in the 13th century King Henry III allowed the town to hold an additional fair in October.

The town appears to owe its continued growth during the middle ages to a lucrative woollen industry. Wool was brought to the town where is was woven and then fulled - that is pounded with wooden hammers whilst being washed. On being dyed it was taken to nearby Southampton from where it was exported.

Romsey continued to grow and prosper until plague, in the shape of the Black Death, struck the town in 1348-9. It is thought that as much as half of the population of the town - which numbered about 1,000 - died as a result and the number of nuns fell as low as 19. This so affected the area that the overall prosperity of the abbey never recovered and it was finally suppressed by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539.

Were it not for the fact that the abbey had become "dual use" and contained within it a church dedicated to St Lawrence used solely by the townspeople, there can be little doubt that the abbey buildings would have been demolished like so many other religious communities at the time. The town purchased the abbey from the Crown for 100 in 1544 and, somewhat ironically, then demolished that section set aside as the church of St Lawrence that had ensured its survival in the first place.

By the mid-16th century Romsey's population was about 1,500 with its woollen and tanning industries fuelling its growth. In 1607 the town was granted a charter making it a borough.

During the English Civil War the town was occupied by the Royalist forces during late 1643 and following a skirmish between them and Parliamentary or Roundhead troops the former fled. The town was plundered by the victorious soldiers who retained it for barely a year before the Royalists returned and plundered it themselves towards the end of 1644. They remained in control of the borough until January 1645.

The 18th and 19th Centuries

The town's woollen industry survived through until the middle of the 18th century by which time it was unable to compete with the fast growing and substantial industry of the north of England. However new enterprises soon filled the gap with brewing, papermaking and sackmaking - all reliant upon the abundant waters of the Test, expanding quickly.

By 1794 Romsey was connected to Redbridge - at the mouth of the River Test - and Andover, by canal and its industry continued to grow such that the first census of 1801 recorded its population at 4,274 - at a time when the population of Southampton was only 8,000.

It was by any measure a reasonably large town by the standards of the time but its expansion did not continue through the 19th century - even though the railway arrived in 1847. In 1851 its population was 5,654 and this dwindled to 5,597 by the time of the 1901 census.

During this period the town was home to Lord Palmerston, the 19th century British Prime Minister who was born and lived at Broadlands, a large country estate on the outskirts of the town. A statue of Palmerston still stands in the Market Place outside the Town Hall.

Broadlands later became the home of Lord Mountbatten of Burma, known locally as Lord Louis who, having been murdered in a terrorist bomb explosion in Ireland on 27 August 1979, was buried in Romsey Abbey, the local parish church. He was given his Earldom in 1947, and was at the same time given the lesser title "Baron Romsey, of Romsey in the County of Southampton".

After Lord Mountbatten of Burma death, his titles passed to his elder daughter, Lady Brabourne, who thus became Lady Mountbatten of Burma. Her eldest son is now styled by the courtesy title "Lord Romsey".

It was at the Broadlands estate where The Prince and Princess of Wales spent the first night of their honeymoon after their marriage.


King John's House, a hunting lodge used by King John of England whilst hunting in the New Forest.

The body of King William II "Rufus" was carried through Bell Street in Romsey on its way to Winchester, after he has 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

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