As a general rule I prefer not to write about abbey churches on the basis that they have an awesome amount written about them and I feel I have little to add. Romsey, however, has so much to admire and is such a rich example of Norman carving that I can’t help myself!
The town of Romsey grew up around the abbey after it was founded in AD967 by King Edward the Elder, son of the great King Alfred. His daughter, Ethelflaeda, was the first abbess and the abbey is partly dedicated to her. The present church is Norman and begun in about 1120. It took over a century to complete. The crossing of the central Norman tower was built over the apse of the Anglo-Saxon building, but it is considered to be possible that the apse was itself a Norman addition to the Anglo-Saxon church, possibly dating from only 1100. It is believed that the Anglo-Saxon church was itself cruciform and that its crossing would have been at the east end of the Norman nave.
Overwhelmingly this is still a Norman church that makes a considerable visual impact. The nave is quite remarkable. It has three stages, arcade, triforium and clerestory, all original. A triforium - a galleried intermediate level in a nave - is almost unknown outside of cathedral and abbey churches. As you move from east to west you can see how architectural styles changed. The first four bays were completed by the 1150s but the three westernmost bays were not added until about 1240 and are in Early English style. Very noteworthy are the