Odds and ends and interesting
tit-bits about Netley Abbey and it's environs. This is the place
for the inside info on what really goes on - just check out the
anecdotes (more of these will be added in due course). There are
three sections to this page:
Howard's Way (a dodgy
mid-80s yachting soap opera) was filmed in the neighbouring village
of Hamble-le-rice (Paul, Rich and The Wee Man all went to Hamble
Comprehensive School). The pub The Jolly Sailor is just down the
river in Bursledon.
The name "Netley"
derives from "Latelie", as featured in the Domesday
Book. And although the abbey dates back to the Thirteenth Century,
"Netley Abbey" wasn't used as a place name until 1861
(these facts and figures come from an excellent site devoted to
Netley Abbey that you can reach here)
The ITV Police drama "Inspector
Wexford Mysteries" once filmed part of an episode
in the middle of Netley. The rest was filmed in the Hampshire
market town of Romsey.
Hampshire Police have
based their Training HQ in the old Asylum building of the Royal
Victoria Hospital (the only other building besides the Chapel
to survive the fire)
The Royal Victoria Country Park
is home to the annual Hampshire Show each summer. Despite it's
grand title, this pales into insignificance compared to the gargantuan
New Forest Show in Brockenhurst a few weeks later.
Netley lays claim to at least two
ghosts. One "lives" in the Abbey - a ghostly
treasure-guarding monk; the other is the obligatory Grey Lady,
who haunts the RVCP Chapel. Some even claim that this is the ghost
of Florence Nightingale, who criticised the hospital back in the
Despite being one of the giants of Hampshire League football
in the 1980s, Netley Central Sports
FC were (and still are) prevented from entering the FA
Cup, FA Vase or FA Trophy as they do not play on an enclosed ground
and therefore cannot charge admission fees. That's why you've
never seen them at Wembley. The club are currently languishing
in the lower reaches of Division Two (the bottom league).
Iwan Thomas - The Welsh 400m
runner actually lives in Netley Abbey, and is probably the most
famous current resident (and certainly the one most referred to
on the local news), apart from Rich and The Wee Man. Visit his official
website - you can leave a message on the guestbook saying we
The Men They Couldn't Hang
- Well, two members at least. The seminal 80's punk-country-folk-crusty-rock
band did sing a lot of songs about Southampton (and the song "Island
in the Rain" mentions "Netley Bay"), and apparently
I even unwittingly served two of them whilst working as a barman
in the Station. Yes, they were that famous even then!
Mungo Jerry - Just the one
member this time, the keyboard player from the hit "In The
Summertime" was a regular white wine spritzer demon at the
Station, and even did some appearances with his keyboard, sadly
belting out Take That cover versions.
Petula Clark (?) - Possibly
- I think I delivered papers to her! Around the time of the re-release
of "Downtown", my paper round took me to the really posh
houses behind the Abbey (an exclusive area know as Fountains Park),
and a woman who was the absolute double of Petula was one of the
daily recipients of The Echo. You never know...
Dr Watson - Sherlock Holmes'
mate did his medical training at the Royal Victoria Hospital - one
of the Sherlock Holmes books starts off with his sidekick in action
in the hospital. Can't remember which one though.
Dorcas Henry - BBC South
Today's oddly monikered weather girl (courtesy of Chris)
Barbara Cartland - The famous
novelist attended Finishing School in Netley (thanks to Jason)
These are mainly stories from Paul's, Rich's and the Wee Man's
younger days, growing up in the village. They are purely subjective
accounts and for entertainment purposes only - some of these stories
may offend, but you don't have to read them! Also, some of these
stories are being recalled from some time ago, so apologies if they
seem a little vague in places.
Once upon a time, before Ingleside was built in the late 1970s,
Netley Abbey and Butlocks Heath were two distinct villages within
the Parish of Hound (served by the ancient Hound Church on Hound
Lane). Many of the signs of this are still in existence: both were
distinguished by separate Recreation grounds, different village
halls (Netley's Jubilee Hall was demolished, but a brand new Abbey
Hall went up in the early 1990s) and separate Post Offices.
The first sign of the amalgamation of the villages was the combining
of the separate primary schools, ostensibly to accommodate the influx
of children from the newly-built Ingleside. Netley Abbey Primary
school was saved and converted into the village library (corner
of New Road and Victoria Road, facing the bank), however Butlocks
primary was demolished and more houses built in its place (School
Close, of Woolston Road, next to the Cottage Inn).
Over time, the distinction between the two became blurred, and
over the past few years the road signs also began to change, causing
confusion between Hound, Butlocks Heath and Netley Abbey, until
recently the residents of Butlocks Heath were informed that the
village no longer exists and they all now officially lived in Netley
Abbey. Despite this, a Butlocks Heath sign can still be seen on
the road from Weston (past the tip).
Incidentally, Old Netley, which is sometimes attributed to Netley
Abbey, in truth belongs more to the separate and larger village
of Bursledon (home to Junction 8 of the M27).
The Royal Victoria Hospital burnt down in suspicious circumstances
in 1966, leaving the Chapel as the only remaining piece of the original
Many years, and several cans of cheap cider and lager, later,
a few of us were messing about down the Vicky Park (aged around
16). It was definitely a Saturday evening, as one of the boys had
a Sports Echo. After telling each other ghost stories, in particular
about the Grey Lady that haunts the Chapel, we went for a nose around.
As you look at the front of the chapel there is a small flight of
stairs to the right hand side, leading down to a door with a metal
grille above it. Winding each other up that this was the door to
the crypt, and where the grave of the ghost lay, we all crammed
down the stairway to look in. As dusk was closing in, and the view
through the grille was of pitch black, we decided in our wisdom
to make the Sports Echo newspaper into a lighted spill and use it
as a torch. On holding it up to the grille we were shocked to hear
a loud whooshing, and even more terrified when the lighted newspaper
practically exploded. Beating a hasty retreat, after stamping out
the burning paper, we fled up the hill behind the Chapel, convincing
ourselves that there must have been some kind of gas leak down there.
The night's entertainment didn't end there, as boosted by the
adrenaline rush, Mark had bounded up on to the roof of the train
shack (the Vicky has wee model trains that run around), suggesting
that the rest of us join him on the roof to enjoy the view. No sooner
than he had stood up straight than a woman in the adjoining caravan
site shrieked "Arghhh, there's a man on the roof", and
then a bloke shouted "right, let the dogs out". Mark dropped
like a stone to lie flat on the roof while the rest of us sprinted
back down the hill and climbed up on a low wall next to the Chapel,
laughing and buzzing with adrenalin. Mark joined us around half-an-hour
later, visibly shaking but still cracked up at the look on the screaming
All good, clean fun. As you will know from elsewhere in the guide,
NATA does not condone underage drinking, as it sets a bad example.
Now you know.
New Year's Day in Netley always managed to be a wee bit chaotic.
As Billy Connolly once said, "New Year is to the Scots as Christmas
is to the English, but without God to knacker up the proceedings"
- and this was the philosophy my family adhered to - Christmas for
the family, Hogmany for my father. With my Mum working Hogmany in
The Roll Call, and my father more than paying her wages from the
other side of the bar, the potential for catastrophe was always
One memorable New Year involved me walking down the pub around
12.30am, "to help my Mum get Dad back home". We made it
back around 6am, with me having been introduced to the twin pleasures
of Tia Maria and stubby bottles of lager, my Mum cut her finger
on the door key, and the next morning our white front door looked
like a scene from the Passover. Later on New Year's Day my father
and I had gone to a Saints game, my dad baffling the bus driver
by asking for a return, "Where to?" asked the driver,
"Back here, of course" came the reply, with my father
claiming to have regained consciousness at half-time, having no
recollection of getting there, or what he was doing with a cup of
Bovril in his hands.
The following year the landlord of The Roll Call had moved further
into deepest, darkest Hampshire, taking on a pub called Sam's Hotel
in the Meon Valley. A coach was laid for the old regulars to take
the 30-minute journey, and being 17 it was decided that I was invited
along with my parents. Taking along a then-female acquaintance (not
at the time a girlfriend) called Sally, we had a pretty good evening,
in a olde country pub style. However, when the bus dropped us back
at 2am we both still had some reserves of energy, and leaving my
parents to go to bed, we grabbed the 3-litre bottle of cider and
a bottle of very cheap and nasty white wine (fizzy vinegar), and
off to The Wee Man's we went. Knocking the door at around 2.30am,
the Wee Man and his step-brother Chris were dozing in front of the
telly, babysitting the younger siblings. It didn't take us long
to tear into the cider, and when the Wee Man's folks came back we
simply took the party back to mine.
On hearing the racket downstairs at 4am, my Mum came down to crack
open the Twiglets and crisps (like I said, we took New Year seriously).
By now, Sally and Chris were flagging, and the cider finished. Not
a problem, as the Wee Man and I moved on to the wine, downing it
by the half-pint. My downfall came after I had popped out to the
garden for some air. A storm a week previously had blown down our
back fence, leaving us open to the Ingleside main road, and as I
was kneeling over a low patio wall, a lad draped in a duvet wandered
past and bade me a "happy new year". My father was in
the loo at the time, and promptly returned to bed to send my mother
down to end the party. By the time she made it downstairs (around
5.30am) I was lying unconscious under the dining room table. As
the Wee Man and Chris made their way to the front door, the Wee
Man downed the last remaining half-pint of wine, later reasoning
that if I had seen it, it would have killed me.
The fun didn't end here, however, as my mother had to put me to
bed. As Sally was the guest, she had my room and I was to sleep
on cushions on the living room floor. The chain of events that follow
are based largely on deduction and on the evidence left in my wake:
Some time in the middle of the night (or morning, depending
on your interpretation), I've felt too hot, and after struggling
with the double glazed windows (knocking over a lampshade), I've
gone for the easy option and thrown open the front and porch doors.
This being January 1st, I've quickly got cold and stormed up
the stairs, collapsing into the bed that Sally is occupying, announcing
"I'm cold" and falling asleep. Sally, terrified that
she's going against my parents wishes that we don't sleep in the
same room, climbs out of bed and sits on the floor.
My father wakes up mid-morning, walks downstairs, witnesses
a scene of devastation - lampshades knocked asunder, bedclothes
tussled, curtains half open - sees the empty bed and the wide-open
front door, and runs back up the stairs to wake my Mum with "Paul's
He then walks back down the stairs, sees the pile of clothes
I had thrown in the corner before going to bed, and runs back
up the stairs again "He's run away, and he's naked!"
A frantic but fruitless search of the local footpaths and ditches
around Ingleside takes place, before deciding on the last possible
option - disturb Sally and ask if she knows anything.
As the door is pushed open just a crack, revealing my bloated
sleeping mass, my mother sighs with relief "Thank God, he's
here", then "Oh no, Sally's missing!". Sally then
pipes up from behind the door.
End result - a very expensive taxi fare to send Sally back to Chandlers
Ford on New Year's Day, and years of ridicule from my family. At
least the Wee Man and Chris say that they had a great night. I've
never been able to eat Twiglets since.
Since the closure of the "cottages" (toilets) in Beach
Lane and Archery Grove, the Conker Field has become the mecca for
gay sex. You will often see camp men mincing around in tight little
shorts!! Following the usual preliminaries the actual business is
done in the bushes on the castle side of the field.
I WISH I'D KNOWN THIS SOONER.............
As you probably know there is an underground tunnel carrying the
stream through the Abbey, the monks were said to use it as an escape
route. With a length of rope you can get down into the tunnel and
armed with a torch and wellies make your way down the conduit it
goes under the road and into the castle where it fills the pond.
However the conduit becomes too small just before the pond, at this
point there is a large steel plate like a manhole cover on the ground
in the woods.
One evening at dusk I was in the woods trying to find the steel
plate that marks the end of the tunnel, I needed a leak and availed
myself of a nearby tree, suddenly I was startled by a man appearing
from the bushes, in fact I was so startled (knob in hand) that my
opening words were "Are you looking for the end of the tunnel?"
I then realised that my comment may have been dangerously misconstrued
as his very camp looking mate emerged too!! I disappeared quickly
clenching my cheeks!