Nursling and Rownhams Twinning Association

Royal Mail Twin Town Award winners 1992 and 1994

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About Nursling and Rownhams

Nursling and Rownhams

History

Today

The Future

Where to stay

Nursling and Rownhams

Nursling and Rownhams are twin parishes situated on the east bank of the River Test estuary in Hampshire. The southern boundary is the city of Southampton, one of England's largest ports and a Unitarian authority. Nursling and Rownhams are part of Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire County Council. The name Nursling is probably derived from the Anglo Saxon Hnutscillingae (a shelter by the trees). This still reflects the well wooded community with the magnificent oak tree lined roads of Bakers Drove and Horns Drove, the established woods at Toothill (Nightingale Wood), Home Covert, St Boniface Park, the plantations of Lordswood and the many fine specimens found in private gardens.

History

Post war development masks Nursling's very ancient past. As now its position has always ensured some human activity. There is archaeological evidence that people have crossed the river Test and beached their boats here for several millennia. Very little evidence remains visible today but the archaeological finds show that there has been metal working, a centre of trade and farming dating back 2-8000 BC.

Nursling's situation was recognised by the Romans and it was probably the commercial port to Southampton, the other at Bitterne being military. This evidence was unearthed during the construction of the ill-fated Southampton/Andover canal and its successor the Railway. The construction of the redundant station unfortunately destroyed some earlier earth works. Nursling as a port declined with the departure of the Romans and the construction of the Redbridge across the Test in the 10th Century.

In the Saxon period we have our first documentary evidence of Nursling. The biography of St Boniface (the patron saint of Germany) refers to his 14 years within the monastery, which was renowned for its Library and centre of learning. He left here for Rome and then Germany to be martyred in Dokkum in the Netherlands on June 5th 754.

In 1527 John Mills a prominent citizen of Southampton leased a Nursling manor from the Abbess and in 1545 he purchased the remaining manor from Henry V111 on the dissolution of the monastery. The Barker Mill family continues to be connected to the area through their land holdings.

At Rownhams, there is some evidence at Toothill of a hill fort that was probably reinforced for the Armada beacon and in the Napoleonic Wars for an Admiralty Telegraph station. It continues with this communication function with its replica beacon and the twin radio towers, which dominate the area. The parishes combined in 1932, Rownhams only forming in 1887 but Nursling has been a community for several millennia.

Today

The parishes have two churches, St Johns at Rownhams (circa 1850) and St Boniface at Nursling (circa 14th Century) with two primary schools. There are three pubs consisting of the Four Horse Shoes opposite the shell of an old forge in Nursling Street. The Balmoral Inn and the adjacent Horns Inn on the old Southampton / Romsey turnpike road, now the A3057. There is also a village hall, working man's club, community centre (Rownham's redundant Victorian school) and an 18-hole golf course. Each community still has a post office and a hair dressing salon but Nursling also boasts a "Fish and Chip Shop".

There are two predominant features to the community, the large pylons and the motorway. The pylons converge on the two Nursling sub stations from the power stations on the Solent and the distribution grid to the south-eastern and to the south-western counties. The motorway (M27/M271) runs East to West and dissects the two communities. To the North of Rownhams the motorway joins the M3/A34 which serves the London and Midlands traffic. To accommodate the pressure of Southampton's port expansion several large industrial estates have been developed in the last three decades.

Most of the housing is post war, which replaced the Victorian mansions and grounds in Rownhams although some Edwardian/Victorian strip development of detached, semi-detached and terraced villas still remain. Very few of the thatched artisan's cottages have survived, many being lost in the last few decades. Grove House a fine Tudor mansion with its turreted portico, framed by the avenue of lime trees makes a fine vista from the M27. It still has its walled garden as has Greenhills a Victorian house at Toothill. The other substantial property also visible from the motorway is Nursling House (17-18th Century) opposite St Boniface. The community has had tremendous growth over the last four decades and now consists of some 2100 plus households.

The Future

There is within this community a continuation of habitation, trade and communications, which span some 4000 years. For the future it continually looks suspiciously at its big neighbour Southampton, which expanded in the 1960's to build the suburb of Lordshill. This did improve the shopping with a large supermarket, health centre and library. The new Oakland's community secondary school with indoor swimming pools and function rooms are now within walking distance, as is an adjacent indoor Tennis complex. But for the future, perhaps the Station will be reopened but probably not the canal. One thing is certain its geographic position dictates change, only the rate of which can be influenced.

Where to stay

To complement the motorway, a retail park, an industrial park and several hotels have been built. A 140-bed hotel on the M271, 32 beds at the Balmoral Inn and 48 beds on the south side of the M27 at the Rownhams service station, with 48 planned for the north side.

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13th December 2000