I SEE that the Government is thinking of introducing legislation to make it harder for local authorities to change street names. Looking at Romsey over the last 800 years there is barely a street in the centre of town with the same name now as it had in 1222.

Lortemore Street and Lullane have become Latimer Street and Love Lane respectively. The land beyond Broadwater is now called The Hundred, and Bannoc Street has become Banning Street.

Millbridge Street and Churchgate Street are names that have disappeared, as have Spittal Street and Winchester Street, the latter two swallowed up by the eastern end of The Hundred and the western end of Winchester Road.

Hampshire Chronicle: Part of The Hundred, once part of Winchester Street 1904

The Market Place has often been called ‘Market Square’ although never officially. In any case it is triangular in shape rather than square. Even before the central block encroached and separated the modern Market Place from the Corn Market, the open space had three sides not four.

Newton Lane (Niweton Lane in medieval times) was sometimes known as Hog Lane in later centuries and Corn Market is a gentrified alternative to Pig Market. Because of the presence of the Bell Inn at the southern end of the road, Mill Street was often referred to as Bell Street, probably long before the lawyers stopped using Mill Street and switched to Bell Street in legal documents.

The Church Street name seems constant, although its offshoot Abbey Approach was recently rebadged as Church Place. Church Street, north of Portersbridge Street, and the Horsefair both came under the Cherville Street name until the 18th century.

Palmerston Street was only developed in the 16th century when it became the start of the way to Southampton so was known as Southampton Road. When that route was diverted to a new, more easterly road, and the old road only led into Broadlands Park, the road was re-named Park Street, which was later changed to Palmerston Street. This is the only instance of a local change of name on political grounds which our government seems anxious to monitor.

Portersbridge Street seems to have kept its name unchanged, although I think the western end of that route was diverted at some stage – probably in late medieval times. Names like Abbey Water and The Abbey could only have come into existence after the Dissolution of the Abbey in 1539 and the opening up of that space to the town.

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