The LTVAS Story
The Origins of the Society
The Lower Test Valley Archaeological Study Group (LTVAS Group) was established in 1973 by a small group of local amatuer historians, archaelogists and others interested in local history to study the archaeology of Romsey and its surrounding area within Hampshire. The LTVAS Group subsequently became a charity in 1977.
Despite its name, its main activity was in the field of local history. As now, the LTVAS Group was run by a committee. The committee had originally consisted of 3 sections, namely 'History', 'Friends of Botley Road Cemetery', and 'Archaeology' but this structure has since morphed into a single entity now known as the Romsey Local History Society. There were also two associated but autonomous village societies - Wellow History Society and Nursling & Rownhams History Group - who together with the Romsey Local History Society still form part of the LTVAS Group to this day.
We are a research body, so we do not campaign on local issues, but if asked we provide information for others to use. We feel that our co-operation with councillors and their officials benefits the community and over the years have built up these relationships and have fostered.....
Hampshire County Council
Our chief links are with the Hampshire Record Office (HRO), which we use for research, but have also been instrumental in arranging for a number of deposits, including helping with the removal and sorting of a major collection of records from a local solicitor. We work with Romsey library, for example by supplying them with our digital expanded burial records, answering their queries, and of course borrowing books. The County Archaeologist asked us to survey barns in the area, and the work led to a book on the history of agriculture in Romsey.
Test Valley Borough Council
There are a number of local and family history societies within Test Valley. We meet together once a year to exchange information and discuss matters of common interest. Recently we supported the Community Archives Development Officer of HRO when she spoke at a meeting of local parish councils about records and their management.
We make our knowledge of old buildings and our extensive photographic collection available to the Borough planners, sometimes at their behest, and sometimes where we think they ‘need guidance’. At our suggestion, the Planning Department bought from TNA microfiche copies of all the tithe award maps for the Borough. We regularly discuss the cemetery management with the Parks department
Romsey Town Council
Romsey is divided into two parishes, Romsey Infra and, forming a ring around it, Romsey Extra. Romsey Infra is the larger and richer council. It has a Town Council and a town hall. Some years ago we were offered the use of the town hall basement as a headquarters for a modest rent and it transformed our Group. We keep all our records in the basement and use it for workshops and committee meetings. We also borrow their display boards from time to time and hire meeting rooms.
As Archivists to the Town Council we advise them on the management of their documents and artefacts, or tell them where to get professional advice. We provided them with digital images of mayors back to the 1840s which formed the basis of an excellent display prepared by one of their staff. We have advised on and augmented their picture collection. Recently one of our members identified the heraldic shields that were hung in the Court Room and now each is clearly labelled
When the town celebrated its borough charter jubilee, we wrote a booklet about the significance of the charter, and a separate shorter one for school children, and the council paid for their printing.
We have been instrumental in suggesting names for new roads in the town based on local connections. The result is that Romsey is very short of aesthetonyms such as ‘Heritage Mews’ which we saw off in short order, replacing it with the medieval ‘Chavy Water’.
Romsey Extra Parish Council
This is Romsey’s smaller parish council. It does not have its own premises but does produce a very good quarterly newsletter which is delivered to every house in the parish. One of our members contributes historical notes about places in the parish to the newsletter and from time to time is asked to speak at the Annual Parish Meeting.