IN 1909 the value of Romsey Abbey was assessed at £188, 425. This was 30% of the total value of property in the Borough of Romsey. Only three other properties were worth more than £10,000, namely the Horsefair Brewery of Strong and Co, (£11,945); the Convent (£10,820) and the Congregational Church as the United Reformed Church was then known (£10,225). The next most valuable properties were Romsey Town Hall at £6410 and the White Horse at £5515. By comparison 1336 properties were each worth less than £1000.

In 1910 Parliament had instructed the Inland Revenue to value all property in Britain, based on its 1909 value. It was part of a tax raising idea that was unsuccessful and withdrawn in 1920, leaving behind a splendid record of the worth of property across the country. Each property was numbered and these numbers are shown on coloured maps which maps have mostly survived as has their accompanying schedules.

The survey identified 1351 properties, and these were owned by 351 owners. The Anglican church, with the abbey and some other property had the most valuable estate. Next came Strong & Co whose holdings amounted to some 10% of the value of the whole town. This included three breweries, one at Horsefair, one in Bell Street and one in The Hundred, thirteen named pubs and an unnamed beer house. Its industrial estate included offices, store houses, malthouse, stables, carthouse and other buildings. In addition the company owned thirteen houses with gardens, and 6 houses with shops attached, as well as some unbuilt land.

Wilfrid Ashley, Lady Edwina Mountbatten’s father, owned Broadlands which lay, as it does now, in Romsey Extra, so was not included in the survey. Nonetheless he owned about a tenth of Romsey by value. This property was mostly houses, but included the market tolls and the Tadburn Lake.

At the lower end of the market, many business men owned terraces of houses which they rented out. Most houses were rented rather than owned by their occupiers, examples being the terraces in Banning Street, Cherville Street or Botley Road. By contrast, Mrs Purchase, the widow of William Overbury Purchase owned and lived in Abbotsford House, (now 10 Market Place) which was later a bank, and the land behind that now forms much of the South Garth of the abbey.