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Title: Bell's Cathedrals: A Short Account of Romsey Abbey - A Description of the Fabric and Notes on the History of the Convent of Ss. Mary & Ethelfleda
Author: Perkins, Thomas, 1842-1907
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bell's Cathedrals: A Short Account of Romsey Abbey - A Description of the Fabric and Notes on the History of the Convent of Ss. Mary & Ethelfleda" ***

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Transcriber's Notes:

      Words and phrases which were italicized in the original have been
      surrounded by underscores ('_') in this version. Words or phrases
      which were bolded have been surrounded by pound signs ('#').

      Obvious printer's errors have been corrected without note.

      Inconsistencies in hyphenation or the spelling of proper names and
      dialect or obsolete word spellings have been maintained as in the


A Description of the Fabric and
Notes on the History of the
Convent of Ss. Mary & Ethelfleda


Rector of Turnworth, Dorset
Author of "Amiens," "Rouen," "Wimborne and Christchurch," Etc.

With XXXII Illustrations


[Illustration: Abbess's Seal]

London    George Bell and Sons    1907

Chiswick Press: Charles Whittingham and Co.
Tooks Court, Chancery Lane, London.


The architectural and descriptive part of this book is the result of
careful personal examination of the fabric, made when the author has
visited the abbey at various times during the last twenty years. The
illustrations are reproduced from photographs taken by him on the
occasions of these visits.

The historical information has been derived from many sources. Among these
may especially be mentioned "An Essay descriptive of the Abbey Church of
Romsey," by C. Spence, the first edition of which was published in 1851;
the small official guide sold in the church, and "Records of Romsey Abbey,
compiled from manuscript and printed records," by the Rev. Henry G. D.
Liveing, M.A., Vicar of Hyde, Winchester, 1906. This last-named work
contains all that is at present known, or that is likely to be known, of
the history of the abbey from its foundation early in the ninth century up
to the year 1558. To this book the reader who desires fuller information
and minuter details than could be given in the following pages is

The thanks of the writer are due to the late and present Vicars for kind
permission to examine the building, and to take photographs of it from any
point of view he desired.

       _March, 1907._


         II. THE EXTERIOR                         27
        III. THE INTERIOR                         39
         IV. THE ABBESSES OF ROMSEY               67
             VICARS OF ROMSEY                     79
  INDEX                                           81
  DIMENSIONS OF THE ABBEY CHURCH                  82



  ROMSEY ABBEY FROM THE EAST           _Frontispiece_

  ABBESS'S SEAL                          _Title-page_

  APSIDAL CHAPEL, SOUTH TRANSEPT                  14

  THE NAVE, LOOKING WEST                          19


  VIEW FROM THE NORTH-WEST                        23

  THE ABBESS'S DOOR                               26

  THE WEST END AND SOUTH TRANSEPT                 29


  THE SAXON ROOD                                  33

  THE CHOIR, SOUTH SIDE                           35

  THE NAVE, NORTH SIDE                            38


  THE CLERESTORY OF NAVE                          41

  EARLY ENGLISH BAYS OF THE NAVE                  43

  THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE CHOIR                     44


  THE INTERIOR FROM THE WEST                      46

  BASE OF A PIER IN THE NAVE                      47

  ARCADING IN THE TOWER                           48

  IN THE RINGERS' CHAMBER                         49

  THE WEST WALL OF NORTH TRANSEPT                 50

  THE NORTH CHOIR AISLE                           51

  THE AMBULATORY                                  52

  THE SOUTH CHOIR AISLE                           55

  SAXON CARVING, SOUTH AISLE                      56



  THE NORTH AISLE OF THE NAVE                     63

  THE SOUTH TRANSEPT                              66

  PIER IN THE NORTH NAVE ARCADE                   73

  PLAN                                          _End_





The etymology of the name Romsey has been much disputed. There can be no
doubt about the meaning of the termination "ey"--island--which we meet
with under different spellings in many place-names, such as Athelney, Ely,
Lundy, Mersea and others, for Romsey stands upon an island, or rather
group of islands, formed by the division of the river Test into a number
of streams, which again flow together to the south of the town, and at
last, after a course of about seven miles, empty themselves into
Southampton Water. But several derivations have been suggested for the
first syllable of the name. Some writers derive it from Rome, and regard
Romsey as a hybrid word taking the place of "Romana insula," the first
word having been shortened and the second translated into Old English, or
Saxon as some prefer to call it. Now it is true that there were several
important Roman stations in the neighbourhood: Sorbiodunum (Old Sarum),
Brige (Broughton), Venta Belgarum (Winchester), and Clausentum (near
Southampton), and in passing to and fro between these the Roman legions
must frequently have marched either through or near to the site of Romsey.
Roman coins found in the immediate neighbourhood clearly show that the
place was inhabited during the Roman occupation. Another derivation is the
Celtic word "Ruimne" (marshy); this would make the name mean "Marshy
island," and there can be no doubt that this would be an apt description
of the place in olden times; against this may be alleged that again the
word would be hybrid. Yet another derivation which avoids this objection
is the Old English "Rûm" from whence we get "room" and if we adopt this
derivation Romsey, or Rumsey as it is still sometimes written and more
often pronounced, would mean the roomy or "Spacious Island." The reader
can form his own opinion as to which is the most probable of these three
suggestions. The writer is inclined to favour the third. But the visitor
who, arriving at the railway station either by the branch line via
Redbridge or by that which runs from Eastleigh, or from Salisbury, or
Andover, proceeds to the Abbey, would not realize when he arrived at his
destination that he was in an island, for the minor streams are not
spanned by bridges, but have been completely covered in and run through
small tunnels beneath some of the streets.

We have no records of Romsey before the original foundation of the Abbey,
nor indeed for many years afterwards. The first authentic mention of the
abbey is found in the chronicle of Florence of Worcester, who died in
1118, and whose work, at least that part of it which deals with English
history, is a Latin translation of the Old English Chronicle. He writes
"In anno 967. Rex Anglorum pacificus Edgarus in monasterio Rumesige, quod
avus suus Rex Anglorum Eadwardus senior construxerat, sanctimoniales
collocavit, sanctamque Marewynnam super eas Abbatismam constituit."[1]

[1] In the year 967, Eadgar the Peaceable, King of the English, placed
nuns in the monastery which his grandfather, Eadward the Elder, King of
the English, had built, and appointed St. Meriwenna abbess over them.

This Eadward, also surnamed the Unconquered, was the son and successor of
the greatest of the Old English Kings, Ælfred, and reigned from 901 to
925. Sometime during his reign he founded the Romsey nunnery. There is no
documentary evidence to fix the exact date, but it is generally assumed to
have been 907. It is said that about two centuries earlier there had been
a monastery at Nursling nearer the mouth of the Test, and on the tideway
of the river. It was here that the great missionary to the Germans Winfrid
or St. Boniface had been trained, but it was within reach of the ships of
the Danish pirates, and in 716 they had ravaged it and reduced it to such
utter ruin that scarcely one stone remained on another to mark the site.
This monastery was never rebuilt, and Eadward, probably having its fate in
mind, now chose a safer position for the new foundation, for the river at
Romsey was too shallow to allow of the seagoing vessels of the marauding
Danes to reach it. Eadward's eldest daughter Ælflæd and her sister
Æthelhild both adopted the religious life, and lived for a time at the
monastery at Wilton. Here Æthelhild was buried, while Ælflæd was buried at
Romsey. Their half-sister St. Eadburh became abbess of St. Mary's Abbey at
Winchester; and it is highly probable that Ælflæd ruled as abbess over the
sister establishment at Romsey. Probably this was only a small religious
community. Whether it was continued or not when she died no record remains
to tell, but, as we have seen, it was refounded by Eadgar the Peaceable in
967, and on Christmas day of the year 974 St. Meriwenna was put in charge
of the completed Abbey, which was constituted according to the Benedictine
Rule. Some traces of this church still remain, though only discovered in
1900. Under the pavement of the present church, immediately below the
tower, the foundations of an apsidal east ending of a church were found;
now as it is well known that this is a Norman form for the east end, it
must not be supposed that this apse was built in the time of Eadgar, but
it very probably occupied the same position as the choir of his church.
Other foundations were then looked for and found. And as a result of this
investigation, it appears that the nave of Eadgar's church extended as far
to the west as the fourth bay of the present nave, that its crossing lay
immediately to the west of the present transept, and that the apsidal
choir was as wide as the present nave, and extended eastward as far as the
screen now dividing the choir from the transept. Thus the total interior
length of the church was about 90 ft. instead of about 220 ft., the length
of the present building. Although the church was comparatively small,
Eadgar made provision in the domestic buildings for one hundred nuns, a
number rarely exceeded in after days. Peter de Langtoft, a canon of
Bridlington who died early in the fourteenth century, writing of Eadgar

    Mikille he wirschiped God, and served our Lady;
    The Abbey of Romege he feffed richely
    With rentes full gode and kirkes of pris,
    He did ther in of Nunnes a hundreth ladies.

Eadgar's church, however, was not destined to last long. Early in the year
1003, according to one of the few legends connected with the abbey, the
form of St. Ælflæd appeared during mass to the Abbess Elwina, and warned
her that the Danes were at hand, and would plunder and destroy the abbey;
whereupon she, not disobedient to the heavenly vision, gathered her nuns
together, and, collecting all the treasures that could be carried away,
sought safety at Winchester, and there they abode until the danger was
past; on their return they found the abbey in ruins. The inroad of the
Danes in this year, led by Swegen, was undertaken as a retribution on the
English for the cowardly and barbarous massacre on St. Brice's Day,
November 13th of the previous year, in which Swegen's sister, in spite of
the fact that she had embraced Christianity, had been condemned to death
by Æthelred.[2]

There is no record of the rebuilding of the abbey after this destruction,
but it could not have been long delayed, since we hear that in 1012
Æthelred's wife Ælfgyfu (who afterwards married Knut, and is known under
the name Emma) gave lands to the abbey, and shortly after Knut came to the
throne, we learn from a still existing list that, including two who are
marked as abbesses, there were fifty-four nuns at Romsey.[3]

[2] According to some accounts, the raid in which the abbey was destroyed
took place in 994, but the later date is more probable since it is said
that Swegen's son, Knut, who was born in 994, took part in it.

[3] This list shows us what were the names most in favour at the time.
Eight nuns bore the name of Ælfgyfu, six of Ælflæd, four of Eadgyth
(Edith), four of Eadgyfu, three of Wulflæd; besides these there were two,
each bearing the names of Æthelgyfu, Ælfgyth, Ælfhild, Byrhflæd,
Wulfthryth, Wulfrun. It is worthy of note that none of these, and only one
of the remaining seventeen nuns, namely, Godgyfu, had a scriptural or
Christian name. The old names common among their heathen ancestors still
survived, no less than ten being compounded of the word Ælf, the modern
Elf, or mountain spirit.

The church restored after the raid mentioned above probably remained
untouched until after the Conquest, when possibly the apsidal east end was
built. It would seem that about 1120 the present church was begun, as
usual from the east. As this church is so much larger than the earlier
one, it is quite possible that its outer walls were built without in
any way disturbing the eleventh century church within them, so that the
services could be conducted without interruption. The general character of
the work is late Norman. At this time a double eastern chapel measuring
about 21 ft. from east to west and 25 ft. from north to south, as we know
from excavations made by the late vicar, the Rev. Edward Lyon Berthon, was
built to the east of the choir. This was entered by two arches, which
may still be seen leading out of the ambulatory. Traces of the position of
two altars were found; the floor was lower than that of the rest of the

[Illustration: THE NAVE, LOOKING WEST]

The three western bays were added in the thirteenth century, and at the
end of the same, or the beginning of the fourteenth, two windows with
plate tracery were inserted in the east wall, and two chapels measuring
forty feet from east to west took the place of the double Norman chapels
mentioned above.

It will be seen, then, that the church shows specimens of Norman, Early
English, and Decorated work, all of the best periods of the style, and
therefore it is a splendid example for the student of architecture. We
may be thankful that, with the exception of a few windows on the north
side there is no Perpendicular work. When we remember that the wealth
which flowed into the coffers of many cathedral and abbey churches during
the Middle Ages chiefly in the form of offerings from pilgrims at
wonder-working shrines, was often used in almost entirely rebuilding, or,
at any rate remodelling, the churches in the fifteenth century, we may be
surprised to find so little work of this period at Romsey. Possibly it is
due to the fact that it did not possess any such shrine, and so did not
attract pilgrims.

It is not improbable that Henry of Blois, the builder of the Church at St.
Cross, near Winchester, may have had something to do with designing the
Norman part of the church at Romsey. We know that Mary, the daughter of
his brother, King Stephen, was abbess from about 1155 until she broke her
vows, left the Abbey, and married Matthew of Alsace, son of the Count of
Flanders, about 1161. Henry was Bishop of Winchester from 1129 until 1171.
What more likely, then, than that Mary should consult her uncle, known to
be a great builder, about the erection of the large church at Romsey?

In the time of Juliana, who probably succeeded Mary, and was certainly
abbess for about thirty years before her death in 1199, the transitional
work in the clerestory of the nave was carried out.


In the next century the church was extended westward by the erection of
three bays and the west front with its three tall lancets and the small
cinquefoil window above the central one, all inclosed within a pointed
comprising arch. This work was done during the time when Henry III was
king; there are records of several gifts to the abbey of timber by him
from the royal forest. This was no doubt used in constructing the roof
of the westward extension of the nave and aisles. The next work was the
insertion of the two large east windows and the building of the pair of
Decorated chapels, one of which was dedicated to Our Lady, and the other
to St. Æthelflæd, or Ethelfleda, as her name was then spelt. They were
probably divided by an arcade, and stood until the dissolution of the
Abbey, when they were pulled down, being of no further use in the church
of the abbey which was purchased by the people of Romsey and converted
into a parish church.


It has been said that little Perpendicular work is to be seen in Romsey
Abbey, but some did exist at one time. At Romsey, as at Sherborne, there
were disputes between the abbey and the town, though fortunately at Romsey
an amicable arrangement was arrived at. The north aisle of the abbey
church had been for many years set apart for the use of the people of
Romsey as a parish church, and was known by the name of St. Laurence; in
the year 1333 the abbess endowed a vicarage. As the town increased in size
the north aisle became too strait for the parishioners, and at times of
great festivals they used to encroach on the nuns' church. This led to
disputes, and the matter was referred to William of Wykeham, the
celebrated Bishop of Winchester, remodeller of his cathedral church, and
founder of Winchester School, and New College, Oxford. He persuaded the
nuns to give up the north arm of the crossing to make a choir for a new
parish church to be built adjoining the abbey church, in such a way that
the north aisle should be cut off by a wall and included in the new
church. The north aisle of the abbey church thus became the south aisle of
the parish church, the new building its nave, and the north end of the
transept of the abbey church the parish chancel, the Norman apsidal
chantry attached to the transept made a fitting eastern termination to the
chancel. A chantry of the Confraternity of St. George, built on the north
side of the new church, took the place of a north aisle. This was
separated from the nave by a carved oak screen, part of which has been
utilized in the construction of the screen between the nave and choir of
the existing church. The building of this new parish church unfortunately
involved the destruction of the north porch of the abbey church. When,
after the dissolution of the nunnery, the people bought the abbey church
of the King, the nave and north aisle of the new parish church were no
longer needed, and were therefore demolished, the windows were inserted in
the arches that had been cut in the wall of the north aisle of the abbey
church, when these openings were again walled up. Two of these have,
however, been removed, and modern Norman windows constructed on the old
mouldings have taken their place. A doorway which had been cut in the
north wall of the transept when the new parish church was built was no
longer used after the church was pulled down, and a low side window near
it has been blocked up and converted into a cupboard. The two eastern
chapels were also demolished, and their east windows were inserted in
the masonry used to block up the entrances into the chapels from the
ambulatory. During the time that succeeded the Reformation many changes
were made in the fittings of the church, galleries were erected in the
transept and at the west end of the nave where the organ was placed. The
walls were covered with whitewash, and probably with a view to make it
easier to warm the church, walls were built behind the triforium arcading
all round the church. These walls are shown in some of the illustrations
made a few years ago; they have now been entirely removed. The internal
appearance of the church about the middle of the nineteenth century was
extremely distasteful to those affected by the Gothic revival, and
drastic changes were made. "Restoration" was begun at first under the
direction of Mr. Ferrey, who also restored Christchurch Priory. The inner
roof of the three western bays of the nave aisles which had not been, like
those of the other bays, vaulted in stone, were restored in wood and
plaster about 1850, when the Hon. Gerard Noel was vicar; the nave roof was
rebuilt a little later. Under the direction of Mr. Christian, architect to
the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the chancel roof was restored, and the
roof of the north arm of the transept was taken in hand by Mr. Berthon.
Other work has been done more recently, and the present vicar has the
intention of building a porch with a room over it on the north side, to
take the place of the porch which was destroyed when the nave of the
church of St. Laurence was built in the time of William of Wykeham, as
already described.

The curious wooden erection on the top of the tower, somewhat resembling a
hen coop or gigantic lobster pot, was added in comparatively recent times
to contain the bells; drawings made at the beginning of the nineteenth
century do not show it, but, those made about the middle of the century
do. It is ugly, and adds nothing to the dignity of the church; probably
the tower was originally crowned by a pyramidal roof which gave it the
appearance of height so much required.

The east ends of the two choir aisles have in quite recent years been
provided with altars and fitted up as chapels for week-day services. The
two apsidal chapels attached to the transept are used as vestries, the one
on the south for clergy and that on the north for the choir.

[Illustration: THE ABBESS'S DOOR]



The site of Romsey abbey church is not a commanding one. There are some
cathedral churches, such as Ely, built on marsh-formed islands which rise
considerably above the surrounding flats, and so form conspicuous objects
in the landscape seen from far or near; but this is not the case with the
abbey church with which we have to deal. The level of its floor does not
rise much above the level of the river valley in which it stands, the
building is not large or lofty, the parapets of its central tower, about
92 ft. above the ground, rise little above the ridges of the roofs of
nave and choir and the north arm of the transept. But it has one great
advantage: there is no part of the exterior of the building that cannot be
fully examined. Perhaps we might be glad if the space from which it may be
seen were here and there a little wider, yet nowhere do we find a garden
wall or a building barring our passage as we make the circuit of the
exterior of the church. On the north side lies the churchyard stretching a
considerable distance to the north, from which an admirable general view
is obtained; and again, there is open ground to the west, so that the
unique and splendid western façade can be well seen. The space to the
south side of the building is more limited; it is entered through an iron
gateway running in a line with the west front; should this gate be locked,
the space to the east of it may be entered by passing from the inside of
the church through either the nuns' or the abbess's doorway; when access
to this little strip of churchyard has once been gained, it is easy to
pass right along the south side of the nave round the south end of the
crossing and then to the eastern wall of the ambulatory.

As we follow the winding lanes and streets that lead from the station to
the church, we get our first view of it from the road that skirts its
northern wall. On the left hand there is a wall running from the
north-east corner of the choir, which conceals indeed a few details of
the lower part of the east end, but does not hide the two beautiful
geometrical windows in the east wall of the choir, inserted within the
semicircular headed mouldings of the original Norman windows. We may also
see the square-faced termination of the north choir aisle projecting
eastward of the wall that forms the east end of the choir. The next
noteworthy object is an apsidal chapel or chantry running out from the
east wall of the transept, its walls pierced by wide round headed windows.
This is also a good point from which to study the clerestory as seen in
choir and crossing. The same general arrangement prevails throughout the
building, though here and there certain modifications will be noticed.
Each clerestory bay on the north side has a window consisting of three
arches, the central and wider one is glazed, the two others are blocked
with stone. Three tiers (two in each) of round headed windows light the
ends of the transepts.

On the north side the windows of the nave aisle are very irregular; this
is due to the fact, mentioned in Chapter I, that considerable alterations
were made in this part of the church at the beginning of the fourteenth
century in order to provide a parish church for the inhabitants of the
town. The north wall of the aisle was largely cut away in order to throw
this aisle open to the new building erected parallel to the Abbey church,
which was to be used as the nave of the parish church. Joining this on the
north side was a chantry of the confraternity of St. George which formed
a kind of north aisle for the parish church. Windows would of course be
required to light this new building and would of necessity be designed in
accordance with the style--the Perpendicular--then prevailing. When, after
the dissolution of the nunnery, the Abbey church became the church of the
parish, the recently erected Perpendicular church would be no longer of
any use, and the keeping of it in repair a continual source of expense;
hence it was pulled down, the openings in what had been the original
north wall of the nave aisle of the Abbey church were walled up, and the
mouldings and glass of the Perpendicular windows on the north side of the
parish church were inserted in these new walls. Hence we get windows of
different heights and levels between the great north door and the
transept: recent alterations have still further increased the
irregularity. The parish church did not, apparently, extend so far to the
west as the Abbey church, hence the two windows to the west of the north
door were not interfered with when the parish church was built. It has
been already pointed out that the three western bays of the nave are of
later date and later in style than the rest of the nave; they were built
in the thirteenth century, and consequently all the windows found in this
part of the church have pointed heads.


The #West Front#. A unique feature of this church is its west front. It is
one of singular beauty, but its beauty does not depend on any enrichment
of decoration, for a simpler front it would be impossible to find: there
is not a single carved stone about it. Its beauty is due to the exquisite
proportions of the various parts. The nave and aisles are of the same
length. At the corners of the aisles are rectangular buttresses and
two similar ones stand at the ends of the main walls of the nave.
String-courses, starting from the aisle buttresses, run below the aisle
windows and round the buttresses of the nave, but are not continued across
the nave beneath the lancet windows. The buttresses do not quite rise to
the full height of the side walls of the nave, and not a pinnacle is to be
met with anywhere. The sill of the west window is about fifteen feet from
the ground, and from it three tall lancets about four feet wide rise to a
height of nearly thirty feet. They are placed under a comprising pointed
arch, just beneath the point of which, and over the central lancet, is a
cinquefoil opening. The wall finishes in a gable and the whole west wall
is a true termination of the nave which lies behind. We notice that the
glass is set well towards the outside of the openings, and also that no
western doorway exists or ever existed here. The probable reason of this
is that it was a nuns' church, and that the nuns found their way into the
church from the domestic buildings through the doors on the south side.
There is still a doorway (there was formerly a porch) on the north side,
by which, on special occasions, outsiders were admitted to the north
aisle, but as the parishioners had no right of entry into the nave it was
unnecessary to make any provision for them in the form of a west doorway.
From this position at the west of the building we notice that the roof of
the south end of the transept differs from that at the north end. We can
see no tiles above the parapet. Originally, no doubt, all the roofs had a
high pitch, their central ridge rising almost to the parapet of the tower,
but here, as in many another church, when the timbers of the roof decayed,
it was found more economical to decrease the slope of the roof, and in
some cases simply to lay horizontal beams across the tops of the wall,
which of course did not give rise to the outward thrust of sloping
timbers. This appears to have happened at Romsey; but, since the time when
the restoration was begun, all the roofs save that of the south end of the
transept have been raised to their original pitch. This roof, no doubt,
will in due course be altered in a similar way.

A fine and noteworthy feature in this church is the corbel table which
runs nearly all round it. Here and here only do we find any carving on the
exterior walls, but these corbels are carved into many fantastic devices:
among them we find the very common forms of evil spirits and lost souls
driven away from the sacred building. A legend is connected with a corbel
stone near the west end of the north aisle. It is fashioned into the
likeness of a grindstone and it is handed down by tradition that once upon
a time towards the end of the twelfth century or the beginning of the
thirteenth a nobleman ran away with a blacksmith's wife, but afterwards
repented of his sin and had imposed on him as penance the completion of
the west end of the Abbey church. The grindstone, emblem of the
blacksmith's calling, was, it is said, placed on the newly erected western
bay to commemorate the incident.


The #South Side# of the Church differs from the north in some respects:
there is not the same rich arcading along the clerestory level of the
nave, only the real windows appear, not the blind arcading. The windows
of the south aisle have not been altered and re-altered as have been those
of the north aisle. Their sills are set sufficiently high to allow the
cloister arcades to be placed below them, but the cloister alleys have all
disappeared. There is a fine late thirteenth-century door in the second
bay from the western end of the south aisle, and another very beautiful
one known as the Abbess's door at the extreme east end of the wall of the
south nave aisle, in Norman style (see p. 26). The mouldings round the
head are richly ornamented, and two twisted columns stand on each side of
the door. Unfortunately a slanting groove has been cut through the upper
mouldings of it. It is said that at one time a stonemason's shed stood
here, probably the mason employed after the purchase of the church by the
town, to keep the building in repair. We may regret the mutilation of the
doorway, yet at the same time not condemn the existence of this shed as an
unmixed evil, for it covered and protected a most interesting relic on the
west wall of the transept from destruction by wind and sun and rain--the
celebrated #Romsey Rood#, which, as far as England is concerned, is
absolutely unique. The illustration reproduced from a negative taken about
twenty years ago will give a better idea of the character and position of
the rood than verbal description. Since the photograph was taken, a
projecting pent house has been very wisely erected over the crucifix to
protect it from the weather, but at the same time the addition does not
exhibit it to advantage; hence the photograph which shows its previous
condition has become valuable. Various opinions as to the date of this
crucifix have been held. The first hasty opinion likely to be formed is
that it is not older than the wall in which it appears, and therefore must
be of Norman date, but careful examination of the stone work will show
that it is older than the wall, and has been inserted in its present
position, probably at the time when the existing Norman transept was
built. Mr. Edward S. Prior, in his "History of Gothic Art in England,"
says that it is the best work of its date, in high relief of any size to
be found in England, and adds that it is by some considered to be of Saxon
date. This seems very probable. It is Byzantine in character. The limbs
are clothed in a short tunic; the figure does not hang drooping from the
nails, the arms are stretched out horizontally, the head is erect, and the
eyes open. It represents not a dead Christ, but Christ reigning on the
Tree; above the head the Father's hand is shown surrounded at the wrist by
clouds. This may be taken to represent the pointing out of the beloved
Son, in whom the Father is well pleased, or we may suppose that the hand
has been extended downwards in answer to the words "Father, into Thy hands
I commend my spirit." Some clue to the date is given by a drawing in a
manuscript in the British Museum--the homilies of Archbishop Ælfric (about
994)--in which a crucifix almost identical with this may be seen. By the
side of the figure is a rectangular recess, with small holes at the top
to carry off smoke: probably it was customary to keep a lamp or taper
constantly burning within this recess. The crucifix, considering its age
and position, is in a wonderful state of preservation. How it escaped
mutilation in the seventeenth century is hard to explain, for a crucifix
would be particularly obnoxious to the Puritan mind, and, standing as this
one does almost on the level of the ground, it would seem to have been
especially exposed to risk of destruction. Fortunately, however, it has
escaped with only the loss of part of the right forearm and shoulder.

[Illustration: THE SAXON ROOD]

Passing round the south face of the transept, we come to the #apsidal
chapel# attached to its eastern wall. (See illustration, p. 14.) The
round-headed windows and the original parapet are worthy of notice. Quite
recently a new high-pitched roof has been placed over this chantry. The
illustration shows it before this change was made. Beyond this we come to
the south aisle of the choir, with its three bays, each containing a
round-headed window. The arrangement here is rather peculiar. The east
wall of the choir, containing the two fourteenth-century windows side by
side, rises just to the east of the second bay; the outer eastern wall of
lower height at the extremity of the third bay is the east wall of the
ambulatory or retro-choir. This was originally pierced by two arches,
leading into the two parallel chapels, dedicated respectively to St. Mary
and St. Ethelfleda, which were built in the fourteenth century, taking the
place of two chapels, in Norman style, only about half their length
measured from west to east. These two chapels were pulled down after the
parish bought the church, to save the expense of keeping them in repair.
The two arches leading into them were built up, but the geometrical east
windows of the chapels were inserted in them, and now give light to the
retro-choir. The ends of the choir aisles are apsidal within, but flat
without. This arrangement leads to great thickness at the corners of the

At one time there was a detached campanile for the bells of Romsey. This
was pulled down in 1625 and the bells placed in the wooden cage erected
for them on the roof of the central tower. At this time there were six
bells only, but in 1791 they were, according to one account, taken down
and sold, and a fresh peal of eight bells cast for the church. According
to another account the six bells were melted down, fresh metal added, and
from this the larger peal of eight bells was cast. It is said to be in
perfect condition now, the tenor bell weighing 26 cwt.

[Illustration: THE CHOIR, SOUTH SIDE]

The stone of which the Abbey Church is built, was quarried at Binstead, in
the Isle of Wight. These quarries are now entirely worked out, so that no
stone can be obtained thence for repairs.

It is not to be expected that the restoration has met with universal
approval, but it may be truly said that the alterations have been far less
drastic than in many churches, and that the interior of the Abbey Church,
as we see it to-day, has much the appearance which it had after it had
become the parish church of Romsey about the middle of the sixteenth

[Illustration: THE NAVE, NORTH SIDE]



Immediately after entering the Abbey Church by the north door, it will be
well, in order to get a general idea of its size and beauty, to take one's
stand close to the west wall under the large lancet window. There is
nothing to break the view from the west to the east walls of choir and
ambulatory, a total distance of about 250 feet; for the wooden screen
which separates the choir from the crossing is too light and open to break
the vista. It will be noticed that with the exception of the western bays
of the nave, and the three-light geometrical windows in the eastern wall
of the choir, and the two windows of the ambulatory, everything is Norman
or transitional in character. The aisles have stone quadripartite vaulting
except in the added bays to the west, where the vaulting is merely
plaster. The high roof, like many in Norman churches, is a wooden one, for
Norman builders rarely dared to throw a stone vault over the nave or
choir, for as yet the principle that allows such a piece of engineering
to be carried out with safety, namely, the balancing of thrust and
counter-thrust, by means of vaulting ribs and external flying buttresses,
had not been fully realized in England. In some few cases it is true that
late Norman vaults may be found, but more often where stone vaults exist
in Norman churches they were added in after times. In Romsey Abbey one of
the most noteworthy features is that very little alteration was made in
the church when once it was built. True there was a westward extension in
the thirteenth century, and some insertion of windows in the fourteenth
century, but nothing of the original church seems to have been swept away,
as was so often the case, to make room for extensions and alterations.

The #Nave# has seven bays, to the east of which is the transept, and beyond
it the choir, which has three bays. Further to the east, as we shall find
in due course, may be seen the low vaulted retro-choir or ambulatory of
one bay.


It is well known that Norman choirs were generally short, and that when we
find a considerable length of building eastward of the crossing, this
eastward extension was made in the thirteenth or fourteenth century; the
new building being often begun to the east of the Norman choir, and the
choir left untouched until the eastern part was finished, when very
frequently the old Norman choir and presbytery were demolished, and the
new work joined on to the transept by masonry in the later style.

The inconvenience of a short architectural choir was very often avoided by
bringing the ritual choir westward into the nave, an arrangement which
exists up to the present day at the Abbey Church at Westminster. This
seems to have been done at Romsey, the choir extending across the transept
as far as the third pillar of the nave, counting from the east. But
although the eastern bays of the nave and all of those of the choir are
Norman, yet they are by no means of an ordinary type. There is much about
this church that is unique, and certain arrangements are found only here
and at St. Friedeswide's, now Christ Church, Oxford, Dunstable Priory,
and Jedburgh Abbey. There is no strict uniformity: one bay frequently
differs from another in its details.



It may be well at the outset to point out that of the three horizontal
divisions of the nave the main arcading occupies approximately
three-sevenths of the total height of the wall, while the triforium and
clerestory each occupy about two-sevenths.



The three western bays are early English in date and style, but they
differ considerably from the typical early English of Salisbury; we
do not find the detached shafts of Purbeck marble, nor the central
cylindrical shaft; the bases, too, are rectangular, nor are there any
enriched mouldings with dog-tooth ornament. In the triforium in some cases
there are three, in other cases two subordinate arches, each with cusped
heads, and the wall space above these smaller arches and the comprising
one is pierced by a quatrefoil opening. The clerestory throughout the
nave, whether in the Early English bays to the west or the Norman bays to
the east, is of the same character, having three pointed arches in each
bay with a window on the outside of the middle one. A passage protected by
two iron rails runs right round the church at this level, and it is well
worth ascending to this passage, as from it a good idea of the height of
the church may be obtained. The clerestory of the transept and also that
of the choir bear a general likeness to that of the nave, but are of
earlier date, the arcading having semicircular and not pointed arches. The
illustrations will show how shafts run on the face of the arcading right
up from floor to roof. In the Norman part of the building the triforium is
very peculiar; generally speaking, there are two subordinate round-headed
arches, under the general round-headed comprising arch, but the tympanum
or space above the former is left open, and from the point where the two
smaller arches meet a shaft runs up to the centre of the main outer arch.
I do not know of any similar arrangement in any other church, and, as it
is a very peculiar one, hard to explain clearly in words, the reader
should carefully study the illustrations in which the triforium appears.
On the east side of the north arm of the transept a more elaborate
arrangement of one of the arches may be seen. Here there are three,
instead of two, subsidiary arches, which are interlaced, but here, also,
the shaft above them appears, though necessarily much reduced in height.
These shafts do not add to the beauty of the triforium, and they hardly
seem necessary to give support to the outer arch (see illustrations, pp.
44, 45).


[Illustration: BASE OF A PIER IN THE NAVE]

The arch at the east end of the triforium on the south side, which
opens out to the transept, is worthy of special notice. Under the outer
round-headed arch is a solid tympanum, beneath which are two very narrow
round-headed arches, separated by a huge cylindrical shaft which has as
its base a large plain rectangular block of stone.

The two eastern bays of the nave on both sides are peculiar. Between them
runs up a solid cylindrical pier, which has its capital at the level of
the spring of the main arches of the triforium. The arches of the main
arcade spring from corbels on the sides of these great pillars, so that it
seems as if the triforium gallery were hanging beneath the arches which
spring below the clerestory. A somewhat similar arrangement may be seen at
the cathedral church of Christ Church at Oxford; some authorities have
from this similarity asserted that the buildings must have been
contemporaneous, but this does not seem to have been the case. Mr. Prior
considers the Romsey work forty years earlier than that at Oxford, dating
it about 1120 against the Oxford work, to which he assigns the date of
about 1160. It may be noticed that the Romsey builder did not continue
this arrangement throughout the nave and choir, whereas this was done at


Generally speaking, the Norman piers at Romsey are compound ones, formed
of many minor shafts. The plain cylindrical form seen at Gloucester and
Waltham is not met with at Romsey except in the pillar described above.
The Norman aisles have stone vaults, except in the three western bays,
and it is noteworthy that the arches leading into the transept are of
horseshoe type. These are very elaborately moulded, the outer sides being
ornamented with chevron decoration. The capitals in the choir aisles are
elaborately and grotesquely carved, though it is not easy to interpret the
subjects of this carving; on one capital in the north aisle is represented
a fight between two kings, stayed by two winged figures; in the south
aisle a crowned figure stands, holding a pyramid, possibly intended as a
symbol of the church, while near by a seated figure and an angel between
them hold a V-shaped scroll on which may be read the words, "Robert me
fecit." Another somewhat similar chevron bears the words, "Robert tute
consule x. d. s.", but who Robert was it is impossible to say. Henry I had
a son Robert, Earl of Gloucester, who is spoken of as "Consul"; he it was
who fought for his half-sister Maud against Stephen. He would have been
alive at the time the church was built, but whether he had any part in the
erection of it we cannot say, though he seems to have been interested in
building, for the castles at Bristol and Cardiff and the tower of
Tewkesbury Abbey Church are attributed to him.


The tower of Romsey was at one time a lantern, open to the roof, but when
the bells were placed in the wooden cage on the roof, a ringing floor was
inserted below. The arcading running round the interior of the tower is
very beautiful. The ringers' chamber is a spacious room, a good idea of
the plain architectural character of which is given in the accompanying
illustration. In the west wall of the north end of the transept a
perpendicular window has been cut through a group of Norman windows,
showing how little regard mediaeval builders had for the preservation of
earlier work. Opposite to this is one of the two apsidal chantries, which
in its time has served various purposes. Originally it was a chapel or
chantry where mass was said for the repose of the soul of some private
benefactor of the Abbey; then it became the eastern apse of the parish
church of St. Lawrence; still later it was used as a school, and now
serves the purpose of a choir vestry. There are within it two piscinae and
two aumbries at different levels, indicating, no doubt, an alteration of
level in the altar itself during the period that this chantry was in use.
An elaborate monument now stands under the eastern wall.


In Mr. Spence's "Essay on the Abbey Church of Romsey" (1851), this tomb is
described as standing in the south ambulatory. It commemorates one Robert
Brackley, who died Aug. 14, 1628.

      A man that gave to the poor
    Some means out of his little store
    Let none therefore this fame deny him,
    But rather take example by him
    In spight of death in after dayes,
    To purchase to himself like prayse.

The tomb, which is of imitation porphyry, takes the form of a sarcophagus,
beneath an arch the soffit of which is adorned with red and white roses.
Corinthian pillars of black marble support the structure.


In the #North Choir Aisle#, on opposite sides, may be seen two interesting
mediaeval relics. On the north side is part of a fourteenth-century
reredos, probably that which stood behind the high altar. It was found at
the back of the present altar, concealed behind the regulation panels on
which the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments were painted. It had
evidently been itself partially repainted in a rougher style than the
original. The painting represents the Resurrection. The portrait of an
abbess is to be seen in the left-hand corner; above is a row of ten
figures--saints, bishops, and holy women. On the opposite wall, carefully
preserved behind a sheet of glass, is a piece of fifteenth-century
needlework; originally it was a cope, and was in more recent times used as
an altar cloth, its shape having of course been altered to adapt it to its
new use.

The east end of the north choir aisle, internally apsidal though not
externally, is now fitted up with an altar as a chapel for week-day or
early morning services. Passing to the south we enter the ambulatory. It
is vaulted in stone, and the plain horseshoe arches at the end without any
ribs (see illustration), are worthy of notice. In this space several
interesting relics of the old abbey, and some conjectural models of
the church in its former condition, may be seen. Here, too, is a
fifteenth-century walnut wood chest: and here are two stone cressets,
possibly used by the builders, which when done with were built by them
into the walls, where they remained until discovered during the
nineteenth-century restoration of the church.


Among the relics is a very curious one which was found in 1839. A grave
was being dug in the south aisle near the abbess's door, and about five
feet below the floor the workmen came upon a singular leaden coffin. It
was 18 in. wide at the head and tapered gradually to 13 in. at the foot;
it was only 5 ft. long and 15 in. deep. The lead was very thick, and the
seams were folded over and welded, no solder being used. The lead was much
decayed. The curious thing about it is that when it was opened not a bone
was found within it; the lead coffin had contained an oaken shell which
crumbled into dust on exposure to the air, but within the coffin lying on
a block of oak, so shaped as to receive the head of the corpse, was a
tress of auburn hair forming a plait about eighteen inches long. It was
in perfect condition and looked as if the skull had only recently been
removed from it. Why the hair and the block on which it lay should alone
have been preserved is sufficiently mysterious; but there are other
problems difficult of solution connected with this relic; it was found
beneath a mass of concrete and rubbish; moreover the coffin lay partly
beneath one of the piers of the main arcading of the nave, and was not
placed in the usual direction, east and west, but the head was turned
towards the north-west. This leads one to suppose that this coffin was
originally buried in one of the earlier churches, and may have been
somewhat disturbed from its original position at the time when the Norman
church was built. Anyhow, it is strange that we should be able to look on
that tress of golden hair probably belonging to some young damsel of high
degree, one akin, it may be, to the royal house of Wessex, who was being
educated at this Saxon nunnery so many centuries ago.

This relic was at one time left exposed, but as it was thought that the
hair was shrinking and losing its colour, it was covered with glass and
kept in a locked wooden case.

Here, too, may be seen several coins, including a "long cross" silver
penny, not earlier than the second half of the thirteenth century, which
was dug up in the churchyard; a ball probably discharged from a
Parliamentary culverin which was found embedded in the north face of the
tower; a clumsy pair of forceps which were used for extracting the teeth
of nuns suffering from toothache; a mason's punch found under the floor of
the destroyed Lady Chapel, and a Roman spearhead found at Greatbridge, a
short distance to the north of the town.

But among many precious relics, one recently recovered for the church is
of the greatest interest, namely, the Romsey Psalter.

This is a small octavo manuscript containing thirty pages of vellum
measuring 6.9 by 4.7 inches, each page containing as a rule twenty-two
lines. The approximate date is probably about the middle of the fifteenth
century. This is arrived at partly from the character of the writing, and
partly from the fact that the Kalendar in it contains no mention of the
Feast of the Visitation of the Virgin on 2nd July, a feast which was
ordered to be used by the convocation of the province of Canterbury in
1480. Hence it would seem that this Psalter with its Kalendar must have
been written before this date. The capital letters are painted either red
or blue, and besides these there are eight illuminated initial letters,
seven of which occupy a space equivalent to eight manuscript lines, and
the other a space equal to nine lines. Connected with these illuminated
letters are floral borders on the left-hand side of the page, and in most
cases at the top or bottom also. The first and last pages of the book are
soiled, probably from the book for some long period of its existence
having been left lying about without covers. The present binding is of
much more recent date.

There are reasons for supposing that the book was the private property of
some abbess or nun, or, at any rate, of some one connected with the
nunnery, and not a public service book.

It is also thought that the book was written by a Franciscan friar for the
use of some one in a Benedictine house. For in the invocation of saints in
the Litany which the book contains, the names of the monastic saints are
arranged in the following order: Benedict, Francis, Anthony, Dominic
(Bernard being omitted), instead of the usual order: Anthony, Benedict,
Bernard, Dominic, Francis.

The fact that the death days added to the Kalendar in the sixteenth
century are chiefly those of the abbesses of St. Mary's nunnery,
Winchester, seems to indicate that the book somehow before that date had
passed from Romsey to the nunnery at Winchester. Of its further history
nothing is known save that at one time it belonged to a certain T. H.
Lloyd, whose name is written in it, until at last it was advertised for
sale by Quaritch in his catalogue of old books in 1900. The Dean of
Winchester happened to see this list, and called the attention of the
Vicar of Romsey to the fact that a book of such interest might, provided
the money to purchase it could be found, once more pass back into the
possession of the church, where it had been used in its early days. There
was little difficulty in collecting the money, and the book may now be
seen preserved in a glass case in the ambulatory at Romsey.


It is worth notice that in this book the Psalms are so divided that the
first 109 would be recited at Mattins in the course of a week, the others
being used at Vespers during the same time.

There are certain hymns appointed for use on Sundays, canticles from the
Old and New Testament, the Te Deum, Benedicite, and Quicunque Vult. Also
a Litany, and sundry additional prayers.


The east end of the #South Choir Aisle# corresponding to that of the north
choir aisle is now fitted up with an altar for week-day services. But this
chapel has in it one of the oldest if not the very oldest piece of carved
work connected with the abbey. Taking the place of a reredos, is a carving
of the Crucifixion of unmistakable pre-Conquest character, its probable
date is about 1030. The figures are Byzantine in character, and besides
the Virgin and St. John who are so often represented in carvings and
paintings of the Crucifixion, there are two of the Roman soldiers, one
holding the spear with which afterwards the side of Jesus was pierced, and
the other offering the sponge of vinegar on the hyssop rod.

What the original position of this carving was we do not know, it is
described in 1742 as being on the south wall near the communion table;
then it appears to have been built face inwards, into the wall, and was
placed in its present position by the late vicar, the Rev. E. L. Berthon.


The apsidal chantry attached to the east wall of the southern arm of the
crossing is now used as the clergy vestry, and contains in a frame the
deed of sale of the abbey church to the parishioners of Romsey after the
dissolution of the nunnery. It is dated 20th February, 1544.

#The Screen.# The screen that divides the choir from the crossing looks at
first sight distinctly modern, yet it contains some ancient carving dating
from 1372. It has occupied various positions in the church. At one time it
was used to separate from the Abbey Church the chancel of the parish
church, formed as already described from the north arm of the crossing. It
was afterwards placed across the nave, near the west end, under the organ
which blocked up the great triple lancet window. In a guide book in the
abbey, published in 1828, we read that "there is a curious oaken screen of
neat Gothic workmanship, which now separates the west end from the part
which is fitted up for worship. It formerly stood in the northern
transept, and separated it from the body of the church, but when the
alteration in the pewing was made, it was removed to the place it now
occupies, immediately under the organ: it was then painted. The top of the
screen is crowned with running foliage, underneath which, in twenty-three
Gothic trefoils, are as many carved faces. They are evidently portraits
very tolerably executed, and on this account curious and interesting. One
of them is crowned, and all of them have their heads covered with flowing
hair, or wigs, or caps; the last on the right hand is a head thrusting out
its tongue, perhaps a sportive essay of the carver." When the restoration
was begun about the middle of the nineteenth century, this screen was
removed, treated as useless lumber, and stowed away in the triforium,
which at that time, as already described, was separated from the church by
a wall. Here in 1880 the vicar, the Rev. E. L. Berthon, found, to use his
own words, "the ancient oak-carvings of heads in trefoils with a curious
cresting above." He resolved to utilize it in the construction of the
chancel screen. The lower part is modern, designed to match the old work.
The seats in the choir were designed by Mr. Berthon, and the heads
intended to represent various kings, saints, and abbesses, were carved in
the town. The pulpit was erected in 1891, the figures being carved by
Harry Hems of Exeter, who has done so much wood and stone carving in
restored reredoses and screens in various churches.

The #Organ# stands under the westernmost arch of the choir on the north


The mediaeval #Monuments# remaining at Romsey are not numerous, being for
the most part the graves and coffins of former abbesses, many of them
incapable of identification. The Old English chronicle states that Eadward
the Elder, his son Ælfred, his daughter Eadburh, St. Æthelflæd, Eadmund,
brother of King Æthelred, were all buried here, but their graves are
unknown, and not a stone remains to commemorate them. There is one very
beautiful effigy of Purbeck marble now placed under an ogee canopy at the
south-east corner of the transept, but whom it represents we cannot say.
The slab is about 7 ft. long. A small piece at the left-hand upper corner
is broken off: were this replaced the stone would be 2 ft. 3 in. wide at
the head, tapering downwards to about 1 ft. 3 in. at the foot. The
recumbent figure is itself about 6 ft. in length. The lady is dressed in a
tight-sleeved loose robe, which falls in folds to the feet, but is girt
about the waist with band and buckle; the right hand holds a fold of the
robe; the left hand, lying on the bosom, is in the position seen in so
many of the figures on the west front of the Cathedral Church at Wells,
grasping the cord that holds up the mantle to the shoulders; the head
rests on a cushion; beneath the head-dress the wimple may be seen passing
beneath the chin. The pointed shoes rest on an animal, possibly intended
for a dog. This effigy bears a strong resemblance to that of Eleanor, wife
of Edward I, at Westminster, and is certainly late thirteenth century
work. There is no staff or other symbol to show that the lady was an
abbess. By some it has been supposed that it was erected to the memory of
Isabella de Kilpec by her daughter, Alicia Walrand, who was abbess from
1268 to 1298. At any rate, the date fits in well with the character of the
monument. Its original position in the church is unknown. It was found
somewhere towards the west end of the nave, by some workmen who were
engaged in digging a grave, and as it chanced to fit the ogee canopy in
the transept, it was laid under it, but it must not be supposed that it
originally had any connection with it. Near by is a seventeenth century
monument of John St. Barbe, and Grissel his wife, whose family owned the
estate of Broadlands, near Romsey, which was afterwards bought by the
great-grandfather of the well-known statesman, Lord Palmerston. Several
coffin lids of various dates have been found, among them, that of the
Abbess, Joan Icthe, who died in 1349, of the terrible scourge that visited
England in the fourteenth century, known as the Black Death. Almost all
the persons buried in the abbey were women, but one curious exception may
be noted. In 1845 a coffin was discovered in the nave, under an enormous
slab of stone, measuring 11 ft. 5 in. by 3 ft. 9 in. Mr. Ferrey, the
architect, under whose supervision the restoration of the abbey was then
being carried out, thus describes the discovery:

"Great care was exercised in raising the stone. Upon its being moved,
there was discovered immediately under it a stone coffin, 5 ft. 10 in.
long, by 2 ft. wide in the broadest part, and 1 ft. deep; containing the
skeleton of a priest in good preservation, the figure measuring only 5 ft.
4 in. in length; the head elevated and resting in a shallow cavity worked
out of the stone, so as to form a cushion. He had been buried in the
vestments peculiar to his office, viz., the alb and tunic. Across the left
arm was the maniple, and in his hand the chalice covered with the paten.
Considering these remains to be about five hundred years old, it is
remarkable that they should be in such preservation. The chalice and paten
are of pewter,[4] the latter much corroded: a great portion of the linen
alb remains; the maniple is of brown velvet fringed at the extremity, and
lined with silk; portions of the stockings remain, and also all the parts
of the boots, though from the decay of the sewing, they have fallen in
pieces. About 2 ft. from the end of the coffin is a square hole through
the bottom, with channels worked in the stone leading to it. This was
probably a provision to carry off the fluids, which would be caused by the
decomposition of the body. On the sides of the coffin could be traced the
marks of the corpse when it was first deposited, from which it would
appear that the deceased had been stout as well as short of stature. It is
to be regretted that the inscription being stripped from the verge of the
slab, we have no means of knowing whose remains these are. The Purbeck
marble slab has never been disturbed, being found strongly secured by
mortar to the top of the stone coffin. It is curious that the covering
should be so gigantic, and the coffin under it so small: judging by the
size of the slab and the beauty of the large floriated cross, it might
have been supposed to cover some dignified ecclesiastic. This is clearly
not the case.... In the absence of any known date, judging from the
impress on the marble, and the shape of the stone coffin, I should assign
both to the early part of the fourteenth century."

[4] It was common to bury not the real silver vessels used by the dead
priest, but imitations in baser metal.

There are sundry mural tablets of modern date, and near the west end an
altar tomb, with the recumbent effigy by Westmacott of Sir William Petty,
the founder of the Lansdowne family, who was born at Romsey in 1623, and
was buried within the abbey, and on the north side a tomb on which a child
lies on its side as if asleep, with its limbs carelessly stretched out.


There is no painted glass of mediaeval date to be seen in the church; such
as we find is modern. The three lancets at the west are the work of
Messrs. Clayton and Bell, and were inserted as a memorial to Lord
Palmerston, who died in 1865. The glass in the windows in the east wall of
the ambulatory commemorating C. B. Footner, who died in 1889, was painted
by the same firm. The two east windows, painted by Messrs. Powell, were
inserted as a memorial to Lord Mount-Temple, who died in 1888. To the same
firm are due the windows in the transept, which commemorate the Hon. Ralph
Dutton, Lady Mount-Temple, Mr. Tylee, Professor Ramsey, and the Rev. E. L.
Berthon, and the one in the north chancel aisle erected to the memory of
the wife of the Right Hon. Evelyn Ashley. The window at the east end of
the north aisle is by Kempe, and commemorates Mr. G. B. Footner.

The #Font# is in the north aisle of the nave, dates from about the middle
of the last century, and stands on the same spot as the ancient font of the
church of St. Laurence. The conventual church, of course, would not need a
font. But in post-Reformation times one stood on a raised platform at the
west end of the church.

[Illustration: THE SOUTH TRANSEPT]



A complete list of the abbesses who ruled the religious house at Romsey is
not in existence; there are several gaps of many years in the succession.
The exact dates of the election of some of those whose names have been
handed down to us are not known. The following list is as complete as
possible. The names printed in ordinary type are taken from a board
suspended in the retro-choir, those printed in italics are added from a
list given in the "Records of Romsey Abbey," by the Rev. H. G. D. Liveing,
1906, which embodies the result of the most recent research. Whenever the
date is uncertain _c._ for "circa" is prefixed; the date of death when
known is added, marked with _o._ for "obiit." The spelling of many of the
names is uncertain; in the list below the spelling follows that given by
the authorities quoted above:

 _c._  907  Ælflæda, _o._ _c._ 959.
     *     *     *     *
       966  S. Merwenna.
 _c._  999  Elwina.
 _c._ 1003  Æthelflæda.
 _c._ 1016 _Wulfynn._
 _c._ 1025 _Ælfgyfu._
     *     *     *     *
 _c._ 1130  Hadewis.
 _c._ 1150  Matilda, _o._ 1155.
      1155  Mary, married 1161, _o._ 1182.
 _c._ 1171  Juliana, _o._ 1199.[5]
      1199  Matilda Walrane.
      1219  Matilda (Paria), _o._ 1230.
      1230 _Matilda de Barbfle_, _o._ 1237.
      1237 _Isabella de Nevill._
      1238 _Cecilia._
      1247 _Constancia._
      1261  Amicia _de Sulhere_.
      1268  Alicia Walerand, _o._ 1298.
      1298 _Philippa de Stokes._
      1307  Clementia de Guildeford, _o._ 1314.
      1314  Alicia de Wyntereshulle, _o._ 1315.
      1315  Sybil Carbonel, _o._ 1333.
      1333  Ioane Jacke (or _Icthe_).
      1349  Iohanna Gervas (or _Gerneys_).
      1352  Isabella de Camoys.
      1396  Lucy Everard.
      1405  Felicia Aas.
      1417  Matilda Lovell.
      1462  Ioan Bryggys.
      1472  Elizabeth Broke, _o._ 1502.
      1502  Joyce Rowse, resigned 1515.
      1515  Ann Westbroke, _o._ 1523.
      1523  Elizabeth Ryprose, dispossessed 1539.

[5] Christina is mentioned as abbess in 1190, in the list suspended in the
church, but it is uncertain if she was an abbess.

About the majority of the abbesses little or nothing is known; some,
indeed, were women of exemplary piety, others were remarkable for their
administrative abilities, and did good work in their own way; but of many
all that can be said is that

                                            In due time, one by one,
    Some with lives that came to nothing, some with deeds as well undone,
    Death stepped tacitly and took them where they never see the sun.[6]

[6] "A Toccata of Galuppi's," R. Browning.

In this chapter will be narrated any incidents connected with the lives of
the abbesses and the nuns over whom they ruled that seem to the writer
likely to be of interest to the general reader. It is noteworthy that the
story of the nunnery is, for the most part, pre-eminently credible; with a
few exceptions we hear nothing about visions or miracles; here and there
we have touches of romance, which show that the life of discipline within
"narrowing nunnery walls" is not always able to quell human passion,
especially when pressure had been brought to bear by friends and relations
upon women scarcely more than children, to induce them to take the veil.
And as time went on grave scandals arose, which even the energetic action
of reforming bishops was not altogether successful in stopping, so that
although the greed of Henry VIII and his courtiers was, no doubt, the
prime factor leading to the suppression of the religious houses, yet the
unholy lives of the inmates gave them some valid reasons, or at rate
excuses, for their action in closing nunneries and monasteries.

A story is told of King Eadgar which, indirectly, has some bearing on the
Abbey of Romsey. About the year 960 he heard of the surpassing beauty of
one Ælfthryth,[7] daughter of Ordgar of Devon, and possibly never having
heard of the mischief that befell Arthur when he sent Launcelot to ask at
her father's hands his fair daughter Guinevere, or to Mark when he sent
Tristram on a similar errand to Iseault's father, he sent his trusted and
hitherto trustworthy friend Æthelwold to Ordgar. But Æthelwold as soon as
he saw Ælfthryth fell hopelessly in love with her, and so hid the king's
message, and wooed and won the fair damsel for himself; and on his return
told the king that the accounts of her beauty were altogether false, that
she was vulgar and commonplace. So the king, believing his friend, turned
his thoughts to other ladies; but before long some rumours of the way in
which he had been deceived came to the king's ear, and he, dissembling his
purpose and not telling him of what he had heard, simply told Æthelwold
that on a certain day he intended to visit the lady himself. Æthelwold, in
alarm, hurried to his wife and begged her to conceal her beauty and clothe
herself in unbecoming attire, so that she might not win the king's
admiration; but she did just the reverse, and enhanced her natural beauty
by donning handsome raiment and jewellery. Her plan succeeded, the king
fell in love with her and, according to one account, slew Æthelwold with
his own hand while they were hunting, and when no man was by; or,
according to another version, he sent him to hold a dangerous command in
the north and slew him by the sword of the Northumbrians. It is, however,
doubtful if Eadgar compassed his death at all, but two years after it he
married his widow, whose beauty was her chief recommendation, for though
it has nothing to do with Romsey, it may be mentioned in passing that it
was she by whose order Eadgar's eldest son by his first wife, Eadward the
Martyr, was murdered at Corfegate, where the well-known castle afterwards
rose and where its ruins remain until this day. Now Æthelwold had
previously had to wife one Brichgyfu, a kins-woman of Eadgar, and had had
by her many sons and daughters, the last born of them was named Æthelflæd;
according to other accounts, Æthelflæd was born after her father's death,
and therefore must have been Ælfthryth's child. Be this as it may, she was
in any case akin to the king or queen, and was by them entrusted to the
care of St. Merwynn of Romsey. A true mother in God the abbess proved, and
a dutiful and loving daughter was Æthelflæd. In due time she took the
veil, and the sanctity of her life was shown in various ways, and was
attested by miracles. She made no display of her austerities, pretended to
eat and drink with the other nuns but hid the food in order to give it to
the poor, and used to leave her dormitory at night, even in winter time,
to plunge naked into one of the streams and there remain until she had
chanted the Psalms of the day. Once in her younger days, when the abbess
was cutting some switches from the river banks wherewith to chastise the
girls under her charge, the stone walls of the nunnery became clear as
transparent glass to the eyes of Æthelflæd, and she saw what the abbess
was doing, and when she came in she besought her with many tears not to
beat her or her companions. The abbess, much astonished, asked her how she
knew that she was going to beat them; to which Æthelflæd replied that she
had seen her cutting the switches, and that they were even now hidden
under her cloak. Another miracle is recorded which, for the saint's
reputation, one would hope was a pure invention of the chronicler, since
if it were true it might lay her open to the charge of performing an easy
trick with phosphorus in order to gain credit for miraculous power. It is
said that one night when it was her turn to read the lesson the lamp which
she held in her hand went out, but that her fingers became luminous and
shed sufficient light upon the book to enable her to read the lesson to
the end. Other miracles are related of her, and though she was not elected
abbess on the death of St. Merwynn she obtained that honour three years
afterwards on the death of Abbess Ælwynn.

[7] The Elgiva of school histories.

The next sainted woman who calls for mention is Christine, daughter of
Eadmund Ironside, and sister of Eadgar the Ætheling, and of St. Margaret,
Queen of Scotland, who became a nun at Romsey, and is supposed by some to
have been Abbess, though this is very doubtful. The Scotch king Malcolm
Canmore and Margaret his queen, sent their two daughters Eadgyth and Mary
to be educated by their aunt Christine. Aunt Christine acted on the
principle of the proverb, "Spare the rod, spoil the child," and Eadgyth
spoke in after days of the whippings she had received because she refused
to wear a nun's veil. Professor Freeman tells us how on one occasion the
Red King came to Romsey to woo Eadgyth, for it must be remembered that she
was now the eldest female representative of the old Wessex kings, and a
marriage with her would do much to weld together Normans and English. But,
although he was admitted to the nunnery, Christine persuaded Eadgyth to
put on a nun's garb as a disguise--she was at the time about twelve years
old--and told her to go into the choir; to allow time for the change of
raiment she invited the king to come and see the flowers in the cloister
garden. As he went thither, he caught sight of Eadgyth in her veil, and
imagined that he was too late, for even he, bad as he was, would not care
to press his suit, especially as it was prompted by policy, not by love,
and a marriage with a nun would be counted illegal and so would fail to
have the result he desired.

This took place in 1093. Later in the same year it is said that another
king, her father Malcolm of Scotland, came to see her and was vexed to see
her wearing a veil and tore it from her head, saying he did not wish her
to be a nun but a wife.

Another suitor in due course came to woo her, a more eligible one than
Rufus, namely his brother Henry I. In this case the union was dictated not
only by policy but by love. But there were certain difficulties. There was
no doubt that Eadgyth had worn a veil, but whether simply as a disguise or
a professed nun was open to argument; so a solemn assembly was called by
Anselm to hear evidence on the subject. The decision it came to was that
she was not a nun, and, to use Mr. Freeman's words, Anselm "gave her his
blessing and she went forth as we may say Lady-Elect of the English."

On her marriage she laid aside her English name Eadgyth, and assumed that
of Matilda or Maud. Robert of Gloucester calls her "Molde the gode
quene." And Peter de Langtoft says of her

    Malde hight that mayden, many of her spak,
    Fair scho was, thei saiden, and gode withouten lak.
    *       *       *       *       *       *       *
    Henry wedded dame Molde, that king was and sire,
    Saynt Anselme men tolde corouned him and hire.
    The corounyng of Henry and of Malde that may,
    At London was solemply on St. Martyn's day.

Henry and Matilda were benefactors to many abbeys, and naturally the queen
was not forgetful of Romsey when the days of her girlhood had been passed.
She was the mother of the prince who perished in the White Ship, and of
Matilda who married the Count of Anjou, and carried on warfare against
Stephen on behalf of her son Henry. Matilda of Romsey died in 1118 and was
buried at Winchester.

The next abbess worthy of notice was Mary, daughter of King Stephen, of
whom a true and romantic story is told, and who, by breaking her vows and
marrying caused a great scandal at the time. She was the youngest daughter
of the king, and a granddaughter on her mother's side of Mary, whom
Christine had brought up with her sister Eadgyth. She was educated at
Bourges, then was transferred with other French nuns to the abbey at
Stratford le Bowe, but as the original English nuns and the imported
French ones did not agree, the latter went to a Benedictine house near
Rochester, which had been founded by Stephen, and later on, about 1155,
Mary became Abbess of Romsey. Her brother William, Count of Boulogne, died
about 1159, and his estates passed to his sister. Matthew of Alsace cast
covetous eyes on her broad lands and encouraged, it is said, by Henry II,
who thought thereby to gain a powerful friend on the continent and, at the
same time, annoy Thomas Becket, sought the abbess's hand in marriage. He
persuaded her to leave Romsey and become his wife: it is thought that
Henry II may have brought some pressure to bear upon her to induce her to
take this step. Anyhow, she was married in 1161. Her new people gladly
received her, and her kindness of heart won and held their affection. For
ten years Matthew and Mary lived happily together, or would have been
happy if it had not been for the ban of the church. Then either on account
of conscientious scruples about their past conduct, or on account of
the disabilities imposed on them by the church, they separated, and Mary
once more took on her the religious life, but not at Romsey. No doubt she
thought it better to go to a convent entirely new to her, that at
Montreuil, where she would not be constantly reminded of her former
misconduct. Here she died in 1182, aged forty-five. It is noteworthy that
her two daughters were legitimatized, their names were Ida and Maud. Ida,
the elder, married first Gerard of Gueldres, and then Reginald of
Damartin, and the younger, Maud, married the Duke of Brabant, so that it
would seem that the pope did not take a very serious view of the Abbess
Mary's broken vows.


The thirteenth century abbesses followed one another in quick succession,
no good thing for the discipline of the abbey. When Matilda died in 1219,
the old gallows on which the abbess had had the right of hanging offenders
condemned by her court, fell into disuse, but the right was restored by
the King to Amicia. Towards the end of the century, episcopal visitations
began, and the Bishop of Winchester looked into various disorders that had
grown up among the abbesses and sisters. The various methods of procedure
and the things forbidden give us some idea of the abuses that prevailed.
The abbess was required in the injunction issued about 1283 not to
exercise an autocratic power but only a constitutional one, being guided
by the advice of her chapter. It was forbidden to any men except the
confessor, and the doctor in case of illness of a nun, to enter the
convent; all conversation with outsiders was to take place in the presence
of witnesses and in an appointed place. The nuns were forbidden to visit
the laity in Romsey, and other like ordinances were enjoined.

Philippa de Stokes and Clementia de Guildeford were infirm, and
Clementia's successor, Alicia de Wynterseshull, was poisoned soon after
her election, but no evidence could be produced to convict the murderer.

Many episcopal visitations took place during the fourteenth, fifteenth,
and sixteenth centuries. The injunctions issued at many of them are in
existence: these deal only with what is blameworthy, not with that which
calls for no reproof. Some of the things objected to seem to us very
trivial. On one occasion the nuns were forbidden to keep pet animals, as
the abbess was charged with giving her dogs and monkeys the food intended
for the sisters. Sometimes the abbess was forbidden to take into the
convent more than a certain number of nuns. In 1333 there were ninety-one,
but after a time the numbers decreased, and at the dissolution there were
only twenty-six. The injunctions of 1311 were very strict, some of them
deal with the locking of doors, forbid the presence of children, whether
boy or girl, in the dormitory or in the choir.

Romsey, like many other religious houses, suffered severely at the time of
the Black Death. The number and names of the ninety-one nuns voting in
1333 at the election of Johanna Icthe has come down to us. The pestilence
reached Weymouth from the east in August, 1348, and of it died the abbess
Johanna, two vicars, one prebendary, and no doubt many of the sisters, as
in 1478 the number of nuns had dropped from ninety-one to eighteen, and
after this there were never more than twenty-six nuns at Romsey. The
reduction in the nuns not only decreased the importance of the abbey but
led to a terrible relaxation of discipline.

The worst scandal arose when Elizabeth Broke was abbess. The evidence
given before Dr. Hede, Commissary of the Prior of Canterbury, is still
extant. There were various charges against her, that she allowed some of
the sisters to wear long hair, did not prevent the nuns going into the
town and drinking at the taverns, treated some with great severity, did
not keep the convent accounts accurately, suffered sundry roofs to get out
of order, and that she was much under the influence of the chaplain,
Master Bryce. Some years before this she had been charged with adultery;
this she seems to have denied with oaths, and finally, when she could
brazen it out no further, she confessed to adultery and perjury and
resigned her office, the only thing she could do; but the most remarkable
part of the story is still to come: the sisters being required to fill the
vacant post by the election of an abbess, almost unanimously re-elected
Elizabeth Broke. Two only, Elizabeth herself and one other, did not vote
for her. The bishop thereupon restored her to her position as abbess, but
to mark his displeasure with her he forbade her to use the abbatial staff
for seven years. The remaining years of her rule were not satisfactory.
The sisters took advantage of the scandal she had caused to act in an
insubordinate way towards her. The next abbess was Joyce Rowse, but she
was utterly unable to reinstate the old discipline--we hear of her
revelling with some of the sisters in the abbess's quarters. Bishop
Fox in his injunctions in 1507 forbade sundry priests to hold any
communication with the abbess or with any of the nuns. William Scott was
forbidden to gossip with the nuns at the kitchen window. Nature it would
seem was much the same in the sixteenth century as it is now, and the
convent servants loved gossip as much as ours do.

The abbess, finding that she could not maintain her authority in the
abbey, resigned, and Anne Westbrooke, formerly mistress of the convent
school, was appointed to succeed her in 1515. She died in 1593, and was
succeeded by the last abbess, Elizabeth Ryprose; she seems to have been
a capable woman, and tried hard to do her duty. But it was too late to
purify the abbey. Various nuns were reprimanded or punished in 1527 by the
vicar-general. Alice Gorsyn confessed to having used bad language and
having spread false and defamatory stories about the sisters; on her
confession she was admitted to penance, but it was ordered that if she
transgressed again in like manner she was to wear a tongue made of red
cloth under her chin for a whole month, and the abbess was ordered to see
the sentence carried out.

Clemence Malyn was deposed from her office of sub-prioress and sextoness
on account of the careless manner in which she had performed the duties
of these offices, and she also, in answer to questions asked by the
vicar-general, acknowledged that she had frequently hidden a key of the
abbey church in a hole so that a certain Richard Johans might find it and
enter the church, and might drink in the sacristy wine with which she
provided him, though she denied having ever drunk with him or otherwise
misconducted herself. Margaret Doumar confessed that she had been guilty
of incontinence with Thomas Hordes, and she was severely punished: she was
to be imprisoned for a year, to hold no conversation with any sister save
her gaoler, she was to eat no food except bread and water every third and
sixth day of the week, and to receive chastisement on those days in the
Chapter House.

The nunnery was suppressed in 1539, and the fact that no pensions were
given to the abbess or sisters seems to point to the fact that the abbess
did not voluntarily surrender. Where this was done the monks or nuns were
generously treated by the King's commissioners, but when they refused to
surrender they were expelled without any provision being made for them.
What became of the majority of these expelled monks and nuns we do not
know, possibly any of those who were in priest's orders found work in
parish churches, but the case of the nuns was harder. We hear nothing of
the after life of any of the Romsey nuns save Jane Wadham, who married one
John Forster, who had been the collector of the abbey rents. She declared
that she had been forced to take the veil against her will, and he said he
had been similarly forced to enter the priesthood.

After the suppression the domestic buildings of the abbey disappeared--but
the church was sold to the people of Romsey by Henry VIII for the small
sum of £100. The deed of sale may still be seen in the clergy vestry at
Romsey. Queen Mary, at the beginning of her reign, restored some of the
church plate.

And so the history of the religious house at Romsey ends. In one respect
it was more fortunate than the neighbouring nunneries at Shaftesbury,
Wilton, and Amesbury. The abbey church remains until this day, and enables
us to form an idea of the arrangements in force in the churches of
Benedictine sisterhoods. Many monastic churches remain, some having become
cathedrals, as Gloucester, some parish churches, as Sherborne, but few of
the churches belonging to nunneries survived the suppression of the
religious houses; one at Cambridge, now used as the chapel of Jesus
College, and the church at Romsey, are, however, among the few exceptions.
We could wish that we knew more about the history of this religious house,
but sufficient is known to show us that it was once a very famous abbey,
and a place of instruction for many royal and noble ladies, in its early
days the discipline of the Benedictine rule seems to have been well
maintained, though in later years faith grew cold and worldliness
prevailed within its walls, as indeed it did in many another monastery
and nunnery, so that when the old order changed giving place to new, the
people of the country, especially in what was once the original kingdom of
the West Saxons, saw them suppressed without any great feelings of regret.
The architectural student and the archaeologist, indeed, regret that so
many of the abbey churches have become little more than picturesque ruins
such as Glastonbury, or mere grass-covered foundations such as Bindon and
Shaftesbury, and when so many have perished we cannot be too thankful that
the splendid abbey church at Romsey still stands in all its pristine
beauty and interest.


_As given in a list suspended in the Retro-choir_

  1282 Solomon de Roffa, Prebendary of St. Laurence Major.
  1292 John de Romese, Prebendary of Edington.
  1304 John de London, Prebendary of Edington.
  1312 Gilbert de Middleton, Prebendary of Edington.
  1322 Henry de Chilmark.
  1325 Richard de Chaddesley, D.C.L.
  1342 Nicholas de Gutleston.
  1344 Nicholas de Ballestone.
  1349 John de Minstede.
  _c._ 1360 Thomas Eggesworth.
  1371 John Ffolliott.
  1380 Roger Purge.
  1400 John Winfrey or Umfray.
  1420 John Bayley, M.A.
  1464 John Green, M.A.
  1482 Edward Coleman, M.A.
  1500 John Hopwood.
  1519 John Newman, LL.B.
  1546 Roger Richardson.
  1586 Samuel Adams.
  1620 Anthony White, M.A.
  1648 John Warren (an intruder).
  1662 Thomas Doughty.
  1666 Jacobus Wood.
  1669 Samuel Walensius.
  1680 Thomas Donne.
  1690 William Mayo.
  1727 John King.
  1746 John Peverell.
  1781 John Woodbron.
  1808 Daniel Williams.
  1833 William Vaux, Canon.
  1841 Gerard Noel, Canon.
  1849 William Carus, Canon.[8]
  1855 Charles Avery Moore.
  1860 Edward Lyon Berthon.
  1892 James Cooke Yarborough.

[8] Well known at Cambridge, where the Carus Greek Testament Prizes
perpetuate his memory.


  Abbesses, historical list of, 67-78.
  Ælfgyfu (Emma), benefactress, 18.
  Ælflæd, 16, 17.
  Aisles, 24, 48;
    north choir, 22, 28;
    south, 56.
  Ambulatory, 52.
  Apse, foundations of, 17.
  Apsidal chapels, 24, 34, 50, 59.

  Bells, 34.
  Berthon, Rev. E. L., 18, 24, 59.
  Brackley tomb, 50.
  Broke, Eliz., Abbess, 76.

  Capitals, carved, 48.
  Chantry of St. George destroyed, 22, 28.
  Choir rebuilt, 40.
  Christ Church, Oxford, 47.
  Church purchased by the people, 22, 78.
  Clerestory, 45.
  Corbel table, 30.

  Danes, destruction by, 18.
  Dimensions, 82.
  Doors, 32.

  Eadgyth (Queen Maud), 71.

  Font, 64.
  Foundation, 16.

  Horse-shoe arches, 52.

  Icthe, Joan, Abbess, 61.

  Kilpec, Isabella de, supposed effigy of, 60.

  Lawrence, St., Parish Church, 22, 28, 50.

  Mary, Abbess, 72.
  Monuments, 60-63.

  Nave, interior, 39.

  Organ, 60.

  Petty, Sir W., tomb of, 63.

  Relics, hair, 52;
    sundry, 53.
  Reredos, fourteenth-century, 51.
  Restoration, 24, 36.
  Robert, Earl of Gloucester, 48.
  Romsey Psalter, 53.
  ---- Rood, 32.
  Ryprose, E., last Abbess, 77.

  St. Barbe John, monument of, 60.
  Saxon carving, 56.
  Screen, choir, 59.
  Suppression of the nunnery, 77.

  Tomb of priest, 62;
    of unknown lady, 60.
  Tower, top, 24;
    interior, 49.
  Triforium, 44, 46.

  Vaults, 39, 48.

  West front, 29.
  Western (Early English) addition, 20, 43.
  Windows, east, 21, 28, 64;
    west, 63.


Total length of church, including buttresses                263 feet.
      "           "     from outer faces of walls           256  "
Total width of nave and choir from outer faces of walls      86  "
Total length of transept: exterior                          140  "
      "           "       interior                          127  "
Length of nave, interior                                    165  "
      "   choir   "                                          54  "
Width of retro-choir, interior, east and west                15  "
      "  nave, interior, between centre of piers             39  "
      "  aisles, interior, from centre of piers to walls     18  "
Height of nave walls to wall plate                           70  "
Height of tower                                              93  "
Length and breadth of tower, interior                        28  "

    Total area                              21,470 square feet.


A Saxon Rood.
B Saxon Reredos.
C Effigy of Lady.
D Sir W. Petty's Monument.
E Choir Screen.
F Organ.
G Font.
H Abbess's Door.
J Nuns' Door.
K North Door.
L Clergy Vestry.
M Choir Vestry.

(The three western
bays are of


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bell's Cathedrals: A Short Account of Romsey Abbey - A Description of the Fabric and Notes on the History of the Convent of Ss. Mary & Ethelfleda" ***

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