Yesterday I decided to go back to one of my old haunts – Netley Village, where I lived roughly between 1995 and 2001. The village was an amazing place to live, once you got used to everyone knowing your business but I love the tranquillity of village life and the community spirit. I have been very blessed with the homes I’ve ended up living in, more through chance than planning and Netley was no exception. My Ex & I left Southampton City under a cloud of debt and were lucky enough to find a landlord that would even entertain us but we did and quickly fell into village life. Netley has mixed feelings for me, it was a particularly turbulent time in my marriage, but moving swiftly pass that, the setting where we found ourselves was ideal.
When we first arrived in the village, we were living in a little-terraced cottage, which had views of the Southampton Water, if you craned your neck enough through the bay window.
We spent a couple of years here but eventually, the landlord decided to sell up and by chance, I contacted English Heritage about a cottage that was boarded up locally, only to find that they were looking for custodians. The cottage itself was delightful, small but full of character…..
But what makes this cottage even more special was the front garden – as I said before, English Heritage were seeking custodians, to look after Netley Abbey; we were vetted and ended up successfully looking after the most beautiful ruins and all that it entailed.
Across the road from the Abbey is a large green area which has views to the Solent, so we were really spoilt when it came to stunning views.
If that were not enough, our nearest neighbour was St Edwards Church, which came to life once a week on a Sunday for morning congregation and we would be woken by the church bells peeling.
Living within the peaceful setting of the Abbey was an incredible experience, a little more lively during the summer months and I was even lucky enough to be sat in the centre of the Abbey’s grounds on 11th August 1999 for the Total Solar Eclipse.
A short walk from the Abbey is Victoria Country Park (http://www3.hants.gov.uk/rvcp) and Sophie’s Pond. The Royal Victoria Hospital was built in 1856 and served the British military for over a century – the chapel is all that remains of the quarter mile long hospital. Along a path lies the cemetery,which was constructed to accommodate military and civilian casualties from across the Empire from the end of the Crimean War up until the Second World War – I’m rather ashamed to admit that yesterday was the first time I had visited the cemetery, in all the years that I lived so nearby.
Netley is truly beautiful, sadly it’s slowly being eaten up by modernisation as the larger houses are being sold off to make way for flats. I am so privileged to have spent time there when I did – Netley Abbey & the village will always hold a special place in my heart ❤