Community ID
Modern Location
Corporate Status
S. Mary, Elfrida , Elfleda
Date Founded
967 (although tradition dates foundation to 907)
Date Terminated
Religious Order
Foundation Information

Founder and date for this community both remain uncertain. The foundation of Romsey has been attributed to Edward the Elder (by John of Worcester), to King Edgar (by William of Malmesbury), and to Aethelwold the Saxon in a third legend but none of these can be verified with any certainty (Veiled Women, vol. 2, 150).

Notable Heads

Merwenna was possibly the first abbess

Notable Members/Residents/Guests

Christina, sister of Atheling, took the veil here in 1085. Queen Margaret of Scotland, her sister, entrusted to Christina the care of her tow daughters, Edith (later Matilda, wife of Henry I) and Mary. Early in the twelfth century the abbes here was Avicia, daughter of Robert fitz Haymon, earl of Goucester.

Population Counts

The statutory number of nuns was 40. There were 90 nuns in 1333, but 18 in 1478. There were 25 nuns besides the abbess in 1538.

Secular Political Affiliations

Romsey enjoyed a close relationship with the West Saxon Royal family. Apparently Edmund, son of King Edgar was buried at Romsey (See Veiled Women, vol. 2, 152).

Relative Wealth

At the Conquest Romsey owned land in Hampshire and Wiltshire that ammounted to 104 hides and was valued at 97 pounds. It was the fourth richest nunnery in England and its income exceeded many of the older established male houses. Its largest estates were in Romsey itself (14 hides, Hants.), Edington (30 hides, Wilts.) and Ashton (40 hides, Wilts.)(Foot, 153).


According to the Domesday book, the convent's net income was 136 pounds, 8 shillings and no pence. It did not owe a quota of knights. In 1535 the community's net income was valued over 393 pounds (Medieval Religious Houses in England and Wales, 217).

Art & Artifacts

Two crucifxion sculptures remain from the Anglo-Saxon church, both from the late tenth or early eleventh centuries. One is a small unframed panel that depicts Mary, John and two soldiers grouped around the cross; the other is a larger cross with the crucified Christ below the 'manus Dei' descending from a cloud (Veiled Women, vol. 2, 150).

State Of Medieval Structure

None of the pre-Conquest structure survives above ground, and all that remains of the later medieval structures is the large and impressive twelfth-century church.

Manuscript Sources

London, British Library, MS. Lansdowne 442: a 14th-century cartulary that contains many early Romsey documents including two royal diplomas that claim to date from the reign of Edgar. One of these documents (968) is a land bequest in Edington, Wilts., and the other a confirmation of Romsey's privileges (967-975) including provision for the free election of an abbess (Veiled Women, 152).
Register of William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, for 1386-7,ff.84d-89d (Injunctions to Romsey and Wherwell)

Admin. Notes

Does the foundation information make sense??

WRL Project
Date Started
Date Finished