What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
=How to get there.=–Train from Waterloo via Southampton. L. and S.W. Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Netley (about a mile from the abbey). =Distance from London.=–82-1/4 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 2-3/4 to 4-1/2 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 13s. 6d. 8s. 6d. 6s. 9-1/2d. Return 23s. 10d. 15s. 0d. 12s. 3d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"Royal Hotel,” “Radley’s Hotel," “Dolphin,” “South-Western,” etc., Southampton (3 miles from Netley).
Netley is a small village on Southampton Water, about 3 miles south-east of the town of Southampton. It is famous for the ruins of Netley Abbey, which are not far from the shore, in a wooded and picturesque nook. The abbey is supposed to have been founded by Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester in Henry III.’s reign, and the monks belonged to the Cistercian order. It was neither a rich nor famous establishment, and the monks possessed but one book, Cicero’s Treaty on Rhetoric. Since the Dissolution the abbey has belonged to many different families. Only the walls are now standing, but enough remains to show how beautiful it once was. The buildings formed a square of which the south wall of the church formed the side opposite the entrance. Various buildings in connection with the monastery formed the rest of the quadrangle, which was known as Fountain Court. The kitchen is still roofed in, although it has lost its stone groining. Other buildings are, conjecturally, the buttery and the refectory. Near the kitchen is a curious underground passage leading to the castle (erected by Henry VIII.), which stands nearer the shore than the abbey. It is thought to be a drain.
The church is of cruciform shape, in Early English style. Though the west end is now in a very ruinous condition, the great east window is fairly well preserved. It has two lights, and is very beautifully proportioned. Outside the court is the garden, with lawns and trees, too often desecrated by picnic parties, and the ponds that supplied the monks with fish are now choked up. It is said that a carpenter who bought the materials of the church from Sir Bartlet Lucy was warned in a dream by a monk not to destroy the building. He paid no heed, and was killed by the west window falling on him.
The Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Soldiers, erected after the Crimean War, can be seen at Netley.
[Illustration: Photochrom Co., Ltd. NETLEY ABBEY, LOOKING EAST.]