Situated about six miles north of Southampton, many people associate Romsey with Lord and Lady Mountbatten and the Broadlands Estate, but there is much else besides in this close-knit rural community.
The Town Hall has an air of belonging about it with an imposing wrought iron lamp bracket. Past the Town Hall towards the Abbey United Reformed Church, you may pause a moment to admire the arch, a relic of a more leisurely period. If you take the road to your left, Abbey Water will lead you to a small garden on the left which is not larger than 15 feet square, but where one can sit a while and admire the houses along Abbey Water.
After your rest, take a good look at the first house; it was obviously on the corner of two thoroughfares as its angled front suggests. Follow the angle upward and read the sign which is still visible on the side of the house, proclaiming:
THOS. ELY and SONS
Tinsmiths and Glaziers
Proceed along Abbey Water with its picturesque houses on your left; opposite, beyond the railing, is a pond with shrubs and vines rampant on the bank. This quiet backwater leads to Narrow Lane which wanders away to the left. Turn right and proceed through another arch for five yards before turning left once again. Continue along this road; if you wish to visit the Abbey turn right, otherwise continue straight along the road to the bridge which spans the River Test.
In front of you is Rivermead House. Note the chair cut from the stump of a tree that had stood on the pavement in front of the house. The seat is quite comfortable and allows a few moments of contemplation before entering the Memorial Gardens, a tranquil spot with a view of carefully tended colourfully planted areas.
Retrace your steps to the Abbey and continue along the paved walk, admiring the magnificent doors as you pass, and go on towards the marketplace. Turn left and proceed along the north side until you reach The White Horse, an old coaching inn that retains much of its original structure when viewed from the marketplace.
When next you visit Romsey and can spare time to wander down the out-of-the-way side roads and lanes, you may be pleasantly surprised and delighted.
The village information above is taken from The Hampshire Village Book, written by members of the Hampshire Federation of Women’s Institutes and published by Countryside Books.
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