UK Genealogy Archives logo

Romsey, Hampshire

Historical Description

Romsey, a municipal borough and a parish in Hants. The town stands near the river Test, amid pleasant environs, 8 miles NW of Southampton, and has a station on the L. & S.W.R., 80 miles from London, and a post, money order, and telegraph office. It was known to the Saxons as Rumesea, and to the Normans as Romesyg; is thought by some antiquaries to occupy the site of a Roman town; grew to importance under the shadow of an abbey founded at it by Edward the Elder; suffered injury from an incursion of the Danes in 992; figured for some time as a seat of considerable manufacture; was chartered by James I.; and is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors, who act as the urban district council. Eomsey is a seat of county courts, and has two banks, two chief inns, a bridge, a town-hall, a church, dissenting chapels, a literary and scientific institution, newsrooms, young men's mutual improvement and reading associations, almshouses, and some considerable charities. The abbey was originally a religious house for ladies, was rebuilt and made a Benedictine nunnery by Bishop Ethelwold in the time of Edgar, underwent restoration after being desolated by the Danes, enjoyed great favour from royal patrons, had as abbesses a daughter of Edward the Elder and the youngest daughter of King Stephen, and as inmates a cousin of the Confessor and Queen Maud, possessed a revenue of £538 at the dissolution, and was then given to J. Bellow and R. Bigot. The refectory still remains, but is now a dwelling-house. The church also stands, and is now the parish church. It exhibits very fine Norman work, with portions of Transition Norman, Early Decorated English, and Perpendicular. Its dimensions are-nave and aisles, 74 feet wide and 74 high; transept, 125 feet wide; choir, 52 feet long; tower, 100 feet high; the total length of the church being 275 feet outside and 255 inside. The Lady chapel at the E end has been destroyed. There is a remarkable life-size crucifix on the W wall of the S transept, probably of earlier date than the church. The latter was partly restored during the incumbency of the Hou. Rev. Gerard Noel, and again in 1865, and contains a broken tombstone of the abbess Joanna Gervas who died in 1349, a canopied effigies of a lady said to be the Princess Mary, and a statue of Sir W. Petty by Westmacott. Some very extensive restoration was carried out in 1889 by private subscription, and also by aid of a grant from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The Abbey Congregational Church was founded in 1662 by an ejected rector of Houghton, near Romsey; in 1888 a new church of considerable architectural merit was opened for worship. It is in the Perpendicular Gothic style, and in connection with the church are a manse, a large hall, and commodious class-rooms. There are Baptist, Wesleyan, and Primitive Methodist chapels. The Corn Exchange was erected in 1864, and is used for public meetings. A drink-ing-fountain stands opposite the Corn Exchange, presented to the town in 1886 by Lord Mount Temple. The town-hall was built in 1866 at a cost of about £4500, is in the Italian style, and contains a council chamber, county court offices, two reading-rooms, and a library. A bronze statue of Lord Palmerston was erected in the market-place in 1868. A weekly market is held on Thursday, and fairs on Easter-Monday, 26 Aug., and 8 Nov. Several woollen and other manufactures which formerly were important are now extinct, but there are still paper mills, corn mills, malt-houses, breweries, and tanneries. Sir H. Petty and Jacob, the author of a law dictionary, were natives. Area of the municipal borough, 533 acres; population, 4276.

The parish is divided into Romsey Infra and Romsey Extra, the latter containing the places called Ashfield, Toot-hill, Whitenap, Cupernham, Lee, Mainstone, Ranvills, Spurshot, Stanbridge, Woodbury, and Wools. Acreage of the civil parish of Romsey Extra, 9979; population, 3664; of Romsey Infra, 355; population, 2005; of the ecclesiastical parish of Romsey, with Ethelfleda and Lee, 5483. The parish of Romsey Extra, being that part of the parish outside the borough, which is known as Romsey Infra, is governed by a parish council consisting of seven members. The manor, with Broadlands House, belonged to the late Lord Palmerston, and is now in the possession of the Ashley family. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Winchester; gross value, £300 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of Winchester.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyHampshire 
Ecclesiastical parishRomsey St. Mary 
HundredKings Sombourn 
Poor Law unionRomsey 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Romsey from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Hampshire (County Southampton) is available to browse.


Online maps of Romsey are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Hampshire newspapers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitations of Hampshire, 1530, 1575, & 1622-34 is available to view on the Heraldry page.

DistrictTest Valley
RegionSouth East
Postal districtSO51
Post TownRomsey