CELEBRATIONS for Romsey Abbey’s 900th anniversary are now underway after hundreds turned up for the launch event and Epiphany Service.

Led by Reverend Thomas Wharton, the event included traditional hymns and a reenactment of the Three Wise Men giving gifts.

Dozens of attendees also left gifts in the abbey, which will now be donated to charity.

Revered Wharton said: "Here we are celebrating a big birthday of life in this beautiful building.

"We say the abbey belongs to the people of Romsey as it wouldn't be here if people didn't raise enough money to buy it from Henry VIII in 1539.

"We are looking forward to a year full of events."

This anniversary is marking the present Norman church which is believed to have been started in c1120. The Abbey itself has a much longer history, going back to c907

Events will continue throughout the year, with this month's theme being Your Romsey, Your Abbey, Your History.

February will see displays and practical demonstrations about some of the crafts which went into building the church.

It will also include banner celebrations through the Nave which will be on display until November, a timeline on display of the building, a wood-block model of the building and a slide show of the abbey.

In March, 35 cut-out named abbesses will appear, painted by local schools.

A new stained glass window celebrating Florence Nightingale's 200th anniversary will be unveiled in May.

June's community picnic will be held in the north churchyard, and in August the abbey will be highlighting the work of local voluntary groups.

In October, organisers are hoping to put on a Son et Lumiere, a light show projected onto the abbey.