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Founded as a Benedictine Convent some 1000 years ago, Romsey Abbey is dedicated to St. Ethelflaeda, who was one of the early abbesses of the convent.

Placed in the convent in the 990s, Ethelflaeda’s legends, which have been passed down through the centuries, point to her devotion and good works including reciting the psalms at night whilst standing in the River Test.

Romsey Abbey is built on the foundation of holy women, who through words, music and actions, sought to express the glory of God and serve their local community.

This festival brings to the fore the place and legacy of women in the history of the church, Christianity and the arts.

We hope everything which inspired Ethelflaeda all those years ago will continue to inspire us today!


The programme

Wednesday 22 October, 8pm

Compline by Candlelight

Sung by the Girls’ Choir

The Festival starts with a quiet, simple and reflective service, echoing the pattern of prayer of the nuns here in the Abbey. The service will include a short anthem, Dark, by June Boyce-Tillman.


Thursday 23 October, 7.30pm

A Letter from Paul

Jane Bower
Jane Bower

A one woman show by Jane Bower exploring the Letter to the Romans as Phoebe

“….an intensely dramatic interpretation. The whole evening was a delight…For me – and surely for all the audience – Phoebe had come out of the shadows, and light had shone too on Paul and on the profound meaning and importance of his letter.”

Jane Bower is a professional actress, teacher and writer, and a member and elder of Emmanuel United Reformed Church, Cambridge. She has devised and performed one-woman shows about remarkable women for over thirty years. In 2006 she was commissioned by the actress Maureen Lipman to write a play which they performed together in 2010.

Tickets on the door £5. Unreserved seating.


Friday 24 October


“Come and Sing”

A workshop for children from all Romsey Schools to come together to learn new songs and music and to share together.

Admission free; retiring collection.


Saturday 25 October

QUIET MORNING  “Living the Rule of St Benedict”

An opportunity to reflect on the Rule which shaped Ethelflaeda and all the nuns in the Abbey community, as an aid to our own spiritual development. The morning will end with a short Eucharist at 12.30pm

The 6th Ethelflaeda Lecture – Postponed until Saturday 22nd November 2014, 7.30pm

Unfortunately, the lecture by Kate Adie has been postponed until Saturday 22nd November 2014, 7.30pm.  We apologise for any inconvenience and disappointment this causes and hope you can join us in November.

Katie Adie OBE DL with Tim following her lecture
Katie Adie OBE DL with Tim following her lecture

Sunday 26 October

10 am

Festival Eucharist

Preacher: Revd Sally Dakin

The service will feature music by the Victorian composer Ethel Smyth, music from the young Francesca Perry, and the second performance of a setting of Psalm 121 by Robert Fielding, with solo female voice echoing Ethelflaeda.

Sally Dakin is the wife of the Bishop of Winchester and comes with a vast experience in the field of spirituality and prayer. She was Spirituality Advisor in Oxford Diocese before moving to this diocese.



Ladies in the life of the Abbey

An illustrated tour of the Abbey given by Brian Lamb. Brian will take a lighthearted look at the influence and significance of some of the women through the ages.

Admission free; retiring collection.




Preacher: Revd Professor June Boyce-Tillman MBE

Music to be sung by our combined choirs the great Bruckner motet: Os Justi ( The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom) The service will also include the “Legends of Ethelflaeda”.

June is no stranger to Romsey and has an international reputation in music education and as a composer. She has recently published In tune with heaven or not: Women in Christian liturgical music”

Wine and juice will be served after the service