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Wellow is a village in Hampshire, England that falls within the Test Valley district and contains Canada, Embley, The Frenches, Shootash and Wellow Wood. The nearest town is Romsey and the nearest city Southampton. The village has a population of just over 3,000
Confusingly, some people refer to the two villages of East Wellow and West Wellow individually, while others refer to them collectively as Wellow. There is no official administrative or political division which separates the two parts and they share the same parish council, which also covers the small settlement of Canada. Canada is just inside the New Forest boundary and can only be reached by public road from the roundabout on the A36 at West Wellow.
King Alfred who died in 899 left “the toune of Welewe” in his will to his eldest daughter Ethelgifu. “Welue” is mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086 where it is recorded that Agemund had five hides of about 600 acres there. Only the name “Wellow” appears on Saxton’s 1575 map of Hampshire, spelled “Wellew” in various maps from the seventeenth century. East and West Wellow appear separately by the time of John Harrison’s 1788 map, separated by the River Blackwater. Their exact positions on these early maps are hard to reconcile with the modern road and settlement pattern but until 1895 when the county boundary was realigned, West Wellow was in Wiltshire and East Wellow in Hampshire.
Most of the current housing dates from the Twentieth Century, with a few earlier buildings notably some thatched cottages. There is continuing small-scale infill development. All the principal services are found in the larger West Wellow and include a Post Office, some small shops, a filling station, village hall, recreation ground and Wellow School.
The school was originally funded by money from Florence Nightingale’s family, and bears a plaque recording that information. There is a public house, the Red Rover, on the A36 and another, the Rockingham, in Canada. The smaller East Wellow, approximately 1 km to the north is mainly residential. Throughout the 1990s there was discussion of various options for the construction of a Wellow bypass route to relieve the village of the increasing volume of traffic on the A36 but none of these was built.
The northern boundary of the modern village is effectively the River Blackwater and the surrounding area is agricultural. The former Wellow Mill on the Blackwater was served by a complicated series of sluices to deal with changes in water level but was converted to a private residence in 1945 and no machinery remains. Along the river are a series of lakes which form the site of Woodington and Whinwhistle fisheries. West Wellow is also home to Carlo’s, a popular ice cream parlour and tea shop.
The parish church of St. Margaret of Antioch is a flint-faced stone structure consecrated in 1215 and the interior contains some wall paintings from this period. In 1251 Henry III of England granted a charter to Wellow to hold an annual fair on the eve of St Margaret’s Day. A chancel was added in the Thirteenth Century and a south aisle in the Fifteenth Century, but the church is famous as the burial site of Florence Nightingale, whose family home was the nearby Embley Park, now a private school. St Margaret’s is a destination for many visitors interested in Nightingale and the history of nursing. The church is some distance from the majority of the modern housing and there is no archaeological evidence that there was ever a substantial settlement close to the church.