The Inns and Outs of Romsey's History

Mike Curtis takes a look at historical Hampshire.

On a cold, dark evening when most people would be found in the warmth of their homes, a group of people sit around tables in Romsey, Hampshire studying and discussing the local tithe award.

The people are members of the Lower Test Valley Archaeological Study Group and their studies are turning out to play an important part in tracing the modern history and development of the town. Known locally as LTVAS, the Group has grown and expanded since its beginnings in 1973 to take in people living in the nearby villages of Nursling and Wellow, where there are also active history groups. LTVAS has used its archaeological and historical activities and discoveries in tandem to enlarge their understanding of Romsey.

Romsey's main feature is the early medieval abbey which, when matched with Broadlands House, draws a frequent trail of visitors to the town. In historical terms the location of the town was very important to its development and growth. However, as local history group members probe more and more into the past, questions are being asked about the choice of the site. With modern development sinking deeper into the Romsey soil, traces of occupation have been found from the Anglo-Saxon, Roman and Prehistoric periods, raising new doubts on the date of some of the features of the town plan previously attributed to the operation and direction of the Abbey.

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