The most important aspect of the South Garth Development project over the past few months has been the ongoing consultation with the community of Romsey. With the help of a consultant experienced in similar work, Romsey Abbey Parochial Church Council (PCC) has interviewed a cross-section of local organisations and individuals identified as having an interest in the project. These conversations are ongoing and crucial in shaping the proposed development to ensure it meets community needs, while protecting one of the most important historical sites in Hampshire.
The Vicar Tim Sledge believes “Our aim is to first preserve the spiritual heritage of the Abbey, while ensuring its place in history for future generations. The proposed development will enable the Abbey to be of better service to our community, while providing a high standard of educational and visitor experience”
The findings showed immense love of the Abbey. This positive sentiment was echoed by regular visitors to the Abbey, the congregation and the people of Romsey, who valued the outreach of the Abbey and its support of charity, community and education projects. Overall there was considerable support for the development.
In the feasibility study, a figure of around £4 million was suggested as a suitable sum with which to protect the important historical treasures of the Abbey, provide better visitor and education facilities, practice areas for Romsey’s choral talent and for some re-development of the Church Rooms. 80% of people interviewed believed £4 million was an achievable sum. Several local organisations and individuals have identified themselves as potentially interested in supporting a fundraising campaign.
A key requirement of the proposed development is the protection of the Saxon Rood in the South Garth. Experts have recommended that long term the Rood needs to be preserved within a protective casing, however there is a risk of short term environmental damage to the Rood, the casing used will both need to protect the Rood and slowly acclimatise the stonework to changes in temperature and light.
The Chapel in the North Apsidal, currently used by the Choirs has been identified by the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) as a Chapel of spiritual interest. The proposed intention is that the Choirs are to move into a purpose built song room enabling the Chapel to become a place of peace for those wishing to sit in reflective silence and prayer.
The archaeologist report shows the site of the original nunnery dates back to the 8th century and possibly earlier and has highlighted many areas of historical importance including the remains of a pre Romanesque Church.
The PCC is expected to meet on the 12th of April to review the reports in detail before deciding on the next steps. If a decision is made to proceed, the project will require volunteers who may be interested in being part of the fundraising campaign or communications team. Anyone with skills in these areas please contact Rob Gower via the Parish Office: firstname.lastname@example.org.
More about the South Garth Project