Romsey and Mottisfont & Dunbridge
ROMSEY scores high marks for quality of life. It is a classic English market town with a strong agricultural base. A general market is held three times a week in the Cornmarket and the Hampshire Farmers’ Market comes to Romsey every two months, selling local produce. The original market place is overlooked by a statue of Lord Palmerston. The silent simplicity of the Abbey, which is essentially Norman, gives the centre of the town a tremendous architectural and spiritual uplift. It has a lavish leisure centre and small specialist shops, with Southampton near enough for major purchases. It also has its own newspaper and local theatre, The Plaza, an old cinema bought by the Romsey Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society in the 1930’s and restored. Another local treasure is the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, three miles to the north, comprising an outstanding collection of trees and shrubs. Broadlands, once the home of Lord Mountbatten and now occupied by his grandson, Lord Brabourne, is also just outside the town. In the centre of town a restored two-bedroom Victorian terraced house would cost around £230,000. The small farms and older country houses dotted along the Test Valley start at over £650,000 and run into millions.
Michelmersh is a secluded parish nestling below the hilltop church of St Mary’s. The settlement, with its designated conservation areas, historical farm buildings and cottages, dates from 985. It overlooks the country’s best and most expensive trout fishing on the River Test, still has the famous brickworks making hand-made bricks from local clay, and bursts with community spirit which makes it a much sought-after village. You could buy a four-bedroom house for around £650,000, but prices vary enormously depending on position and age.
Mottisfont is another of the area’s wonderful surprises, owned mostly by the National Trust. You will need at least £650,000 to be in the running for one of the handful of houses left in the open market. It is a stopping-off point for ramblers on a trail that runs from Totton, close to Southampton, along the chalk downs to Inkpen Beacon. The National Trust’s Mottisfont Abbey, with its gardens of old-fashioned roses beside the River Test, is open to visitors.