Visiting Romsey

I pass Romsey every morning on my way to work, and while it is not the sort of place that seems like having anything interesting in it, it does have a war memorial, abbey and cemetery, and all three of those fall into my field of interest. I headed out there on Saturday 16 Nov, my goal was the cemetery; and, weather permitting, the war memorial. Everything else was a bonus. The train that serves this line runs from Romsey, through Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh, and then Southampton, Romsey and Salisbury, with all stations inbetween. That is the one I use in in the mornings. In the evenings I catch a First Great Western train that transits between Portsmouth and Cardiff, passing through Southampton, Romsey, and Salisbury. 

First Great Western service to Cardiff

First Great Western service to Cardiff

The weather was nice and clear, and I would regret taking my NATO Parka with, although that was not the case later in the morning. The Cemetery is 1.4 miles away from the station, and it was a quick walk to get there. On the way I spotted the abbey in the distance and hoped to have a look at it later on. 

I also was able to pop into the Romsey Signal Box Project and I will do a separate post about that later on. I first spotted it from the train when I first started to work in Salisbury, and my curiosity has been piqued since then. 

Botley Road Cemetery was the burial place for Romsey from 1856 till 1983, and there are 18 War Graves in the cemetery of which I could only find 17. There are also two chapels and a caretakers lodge in the cemetery, and they are all in a very good condition.

Church of England Chapel

Church of England Chapel

Overall the cemetery is in a very good condition, although the legibility of some of the headstones is poor. Neither is it a very big cemetery, running at 6 acres. The older graves clustered around the two chapels. 

Non Conformist Chapel

Non Conformist Chapel

It has been well maintained, although parts of it are allowed a degree of “wildness” to encourage small “critters” to make it their home too. I was really impressed, although it is not one of those cemeteries that leaves an indelible mark on you. 

By the time I had found the graves the weather had started to cloud, and I decided to head off to the war memorial which wasn’t too far away. My route took me back under the railway lines towards the abbey. 

The town centre was crowded, too many cars, too narrow pavements, and too many people walking side by side along them. Not to mention too many large children in prams and old timers dicing each other on mobility scooters. Oh, and unconscious individuals on cellphones. At one point I think I crossed the same street 5 times to avoid the crowds on the pavements. 

The abbey was heard and seen above the clamour. The bells tolling constantly, and I hoped that there wasn’t some sort of service on the go. 

Eventually I reached Romsey Abbey, and a mighty space it is. 

It is a squat building, and not an attractive place at all. Originating in the 10th century it seemed to glower at its surroundings. The abbey was actually a nunnery, and it too suffered under Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. On this particular day there was a wedding taking place, which explained the tolling of the bells. The area where I took the pic above may have been the churchyard, as there are quite a few headstones laid out as paving. Leaving the wedding to its service, I headed across to War Memorial Park where the memorial was situated. 

It too had seen a Remembrance Day service, and was festooned with Poppy Wreaths. A bit further away was a plinthed Japanese 150mm field gun, which had been presented to the town by Lord Louis Mountbatten in recognition of the townspeople’s service during the Second World War. 

And then it was time to go. Interestingly enough the River Test runs around this park, so I decided to follow it for awhile and see where I would come out. Southampton Harbour is situated at the mouth of the Test, and along with the Itchen it becomes Southampton Water and from there the Solent.

This particular bridge was the site of a skirmish in 1643 during the civil War. It is doubtful that the river really cared too much about that though. It still had a fair distance to meander before arriving at the harbour. At Totton there is a another bridge that I wanted to have a look at which is the point where the Test starts to widen and become the harbour.  The station wasn’t too far away and for once I would be in time for my train. A blue plaque interested me, and it tied into this area and the world wars. 

It is hard to imagine the troop trains leaving from here, en route to Southampton, and from there to the continent, but then that was a different era, and things have changed considerably. But I could not help think that just maybe the signal box I had seen this morning had witnessed these events so many years before.

And while I waited, the Southwest trains DMU that I usually caught in the mornings paused on the opposite platform, and tomorrow I would be on it once again, travelling this route for the next week before my relocation to Salisbury. 

DRW © 2013-2022. Images replaced 14/04/2015

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