The term ‘Romsey Extra’ suggests something added on which in a way is historically correct, though the term ‘extra’ from Latin means outside or beyond rather than added on.
The story really begins with a nunnery established by King Alfred’s granddaughter Elfleda in 907 AD on land granted for the purpose which nestled between the River Test and the Hundred Bridge (roughly where Boots the Chemist is today). In 967 AD further land to the east of the Abbey complex was granted by King Edgar creating Romsey Extra (beyond the bridge) and Romsey Infra (within the bridge).
The Abbey became a popular place for nobility to send women to be educated but it also had civil responsibilities under the manorial system. Recorded in the Domesday Book as the Manor of Romsey, the Abbess (usually from the royal family) as ‘Lord of the Manor’ was responsible for matters ranging from the collection of taxes to punishing thieves for which purpose a gallows was erected. The Abbey complex continued to grow over time as did the prosperous settlement around it based mainly on processing wool and tanning leather.
When the monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII, the Abbey grounds and the land round it owned by the Abbey were surrendered and subsequently granted separately as two separate lots; the Manor of Romsey Infra, essentially the Abbey grounds as they were then, and the Manor of Romsey Extra, the adjoining land also previously owned by the Abbey. England was also divided into church parishes, the boundaries of which often reflected those of the manors and offered an alternative way to provide and administer local services.
New duties were imposed on the parishes which included the registration of births, marriages and deaths, maintaining highways within the parish and looking after the poor. Men within the parish were expected to turn out when called to do so for repairing roads and the like, on occasions the whole parish would be expected to turn out to assist in the apprehension of criminals. In time Parliament also legislated for parishes to elect certain officers in respect to their new responsibilities.
Whilst this evolving model for local governance may have been appropriate in the case of rural parishes, it could not be expected to effectively manage a town like Romsey growing in importance based on its wool and tanning industries and in 1607 Romsey Infra was granted borough status and was officially able to appoint a town council with a mayor and clerk.
Over time counties like Hampshire became increasingly responsible for administration and services that were beyond the means of individual parishes and a county tax was raised for this. Locally, Romsey Extra had become one of nine administrative areas or tythings; the others being Cupernham, Lee, Mainstone, Ranvills, Spurshott, Stanbridge, Woodbury and Woolls.
The role of church parishes in local civil administration continued until elected civil parish councils were established in 1894. The previous tythings were grouped together as one civil parish known as Romsey Extra, an area which completely surrounded Romsey Town (Infra). During the twentieth century some parts of the parish were transferred to North Baddesley and Nursling and Rownhams, thus altering the Saxon boundaries that had lasted nearly a thousand years.
The original manorial lordship title for Romsey Extra, though now largely meaningless, is still in existence and was purchased by the Broadlands Estate in 1991 along with that of Romsey Infra.