Download PDF brochure

Founded as a Benedictine Convent a 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 aims to bring to the fore the place and legacy of women both in the history of the church and Christianity, but also in the arts.

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

We look forward to seeing you over the weekend!

Revd Canon Tim Sledge, Vicar of Romsey

How to book

Entrance to services and to the lecture is free, and there is no need to book.

For the concert, tickets are available from Romsey Tourist Information Centre, 01794 512987, or on the door.

How to get to Romsey Abbey and where to park

Wednesday 21 October

All day


Pupils from Romsey Abbey Primary School spend the day (and night!) entering into the life of the Abbey and all its connections to their learning. This will include learning and performing as part of…



Sung by the Girls Choir & School pupils

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

Thursday 22 October



Sung by the Gentlemen of the Abbey Choir

Another opportunity to share in this Benedictine Office. The service will include reflections from Abbess Hildegard of Bingen.

Friday 23 October



June Boyce-Tilman
June Boyce-Tilman

A Celebration of the life of St Ethelflaeda, composed by Revd Dr June Boyce-Tillman Featuring children from Romsey Abbey Primary School, Winchester Community Choir and Rosewood Special School, with soloists from Winchester University and musicians from Southern Sinfonia, Weaving Wisdom’s Way was specially commissioned for the Festival in 2009.

Through a series of nine short movements, the audience is taken through the story of the convent, the lives of the nuns and the local Hampshire countryside. The music draws on folk tunes from the locality, plainsong from the Abbey and familiar hymn tunes all woven together in this remarkable new work.

Tickets £7.50, all unreserved; free for under 16s

Saturday 24 October



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 life and legacy of HELEN WADDELL

Come and discover about a relatively unknown scholar of medieval history and religion, Irish and Protestant, and yet with an extraordinary vision of ‘the great Church’ and of European civilisation.

Angela Tilby
Angela Tilby

Angela Tilby is a Residentiary Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford and Continuing Ministerial Development Adviser for the Diocese of Oxford. After graduating from Cambridge she worked for the BBC for 22 years as a producer of religious programmes in radio and television. She was ordained in 1997 and became Tutor, and then Vice-Principal, of Westcott House in Cambridge where she taught Early Church History and Spirituality. She was Vicar of St Bene’t’s Church in Cambridge until 2011. She is well known as a contributor to the BBC’s Thought for the Day and is a regular columnist for the Church Times.

Admission free—retiring collection for the Abbey

Sunday 25 October


Preacher: Canon Angela Tilby

Judith BinghamThis service will feature the Missa Brevis: the Road to Emmaus by Judith Bingham (right) and a special psalm setting for the day.

6.30pm CHORAL EVENSONG & PROCESSION and DEDICATION OF THE RE-ORDERED ST. ANNE’S CHAPEL by Rt Revd Dr Jonathan Frost, Bishop of Southampton


Preacher: Revd Liz Pickett

Music to be sung by our combined choirs including You are the lily—with words by Hildegard of Bingen, and It was on that train—with words by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

The service will include the “Legends of Ethelflaeda” culminating in a procession and prayers in the chapel dedicated to her, and the organ voluntary St Bride Assisted by Angels by Judith Bingham. (St Bride was a contemporary of Ethelflaeda).

Wine and juice will be served after the service.