Ropley History Network and archive

The Ropley History Network and Archive was set up in 2019 at the request of a number of interested Ropley residents, as a sub group of the Ropley Society.

It’s aim is to create a group for people who have an interest in the history of the village and the local area.

The purpose of the group will be to research and archive information and or material covering the history of Ropley and the local area and to make this accessible via a shared digital platform.

It is anticipated that involvement and contributions will be on an informal and voluntary basis with individuals from the group meeting occasionally to share and discuss areas of interests and projects of their own and perhaps link up with other individuals that may have a shared interest in a subject of study.

Initial thinking is that, as part of the work of the group an online archive and catalogue will be created, (though this will be funding dependent) in order to digitise and store at least some of the existing informal village archive.

Update  October 2020 Newsletter 

Lottery Heritage Grant and Covid19 – Plans for 2021 – Facebook – Historic Maps – The Network – Research Links –  Resources  Recommended – Heritage Walks

Lottery Heritage Grant application on hold.

We were hoping to put in our application for a grant, to produce a website and online archive, firstly in last May and then due to Covid19 this was put back to this October.  We are now notified that LHF applications are again put back to 2021 – with no hint at which part of the year.  All very frustrating.  All the steering group can do is to make sure that it is fully prepared and costed so as soon as there is a green light we can make a move.

Plans for 2021 

  • Meetings in the spring Clearly none of us can predict where we will be with Covid 19 and the pandemic by the spring but we, at RHN&A are planning optimistically that by say February / March next year infection rates may be sufficiently under control for restrictions to have been lifted to allow social events to take place again, albeit these may still require social distancing and masks to be worn. If this is the case, then we plan to hold an open meeting for all members in the Parish Hall to bring people back together again and reinvigorate interest in the project to digitise the village archive and other projects.
  • Starting to catalogue and digitise the existing village archive. As we are going to have to wait a time to be able to submit a HLF grant applications we are going to continue with our plan to spend the local grants  of £1500 that we have been given and to start work on the cataloguing, digitising and conserving of the existing archive amassed and  currently stored by Tim Day. This will involve setting up some small working groups to work on this hopefully in the new Parish Hall room. We will be looking to sign up people interested in working on this in our spring open meeting. 


This Is proving to be an excellent way for the group to sign up new members and keep in touch despite the restrictions that are preventing us all meeting up.  We are now 135 members on the page and there is much enjoyable discussion and trips down memory lane over posting of old photos and other snippets from Ropley’s history.

There are also posts from other history groups and pages that we feel have a connection to our page providing a wider sharing of local history information that we hope everyone will enjoy.  We also  like to post information about interesting websites,  upcoming events and TV programmes that might be of interest to you all.

Please do post anything that you feel might be relevant whether it be informative or a request for help of information.  But if you are not sure, message Caroline privately so she can discuss it with you.  Perhaps you would like to join the page on face book – have a look at the page.

Historic Maps

How many of us are not fascinated by old maps ?

We’ve done some more work in past months to try and find more and older maps of the village

  • 1870 – 1890 Ordinance survey maps of the village, we have copies of these and can make these available to members . They are also available online.
  • 1840 Tithe Maps.

We also have copies of these and can make them available to members. The term ‘tithe’ is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory tax to government.  A tithe map is usually applied to a map of an English or Welsh parish or township, prepared following the Tithe Commutation Act 1836. This act allowed tithes to be paid in cash rather than goods. The map and its accompanying schedule gave the names of all owners and occupiers of land in the parish.

Recently one of our members, Tom Carpenter, with support from Hampshire Records office, has taken on the arduous job of transcribing the Tithe map information onto a usable schedule because if you have ever seen the original maps and awards they will know how difficult these are to follow! So thank you, Tom!

  • Enclosure maps

As part of our quest to find copies of older maps of the village and the area we have investigated whether there are copies any Enclosure maps available for Ropley.

Enclosures  – in Hampshire took place between 1700 and 1900 and fell into 4 types;

  • Piecemeal
  • By the lord
  • By formal agreement and
  • By Act of Parliament   

For Enclosure maps to exist on record it would seem that the last 2 types of more formal enclosures need to have occurred. Unfortunately there was no formal enclosure process for Ropley, what enclosure took place seems to have been piecemeal or by the lord and would only have been recorded in old Estate maps

Of course Ropley did not actually exist as a separate parish till the early 1880’s so up till    then the land around Ropley would have been part of the parish of Bishops Sutton.

  • Maps online – Although we have been unable to track down enclosure maps of Ropley in the search for these have come across a fabulous on line resource for digitised old maps of Hampshire, these go back to 1575.  You will find them here as part of the on line resources from the University of Portsmouth

Also the National Library of Scotland has a searchable database of many old British isle  maps from 1873 – 1945

The Network  

RHN&A is also a network and not just an archive.  So despite the current restrictions we can still study, research, and share.  The Steering group would really like to encourage independent research on any local history topics, running on an informal, self-managed and voluntary basis with individuals perhaps researching  on their own or with in a group  – meeting either  virtually or together in small groups of less than six. The digital archive, when set up, will be ready to host all the projects and areas of study. 

Update on current and emerging projects are progressing hopefully and with the success of Facebook interest we will be able to launch some others in 2021 and hopefully have some new projects to announce soon.

  • Ropley Gravestones: Investigating and documenting the over 1,000 graves both marked and unmarked in the graveyard at St Peters . Gravestones  –  The group now have copies of grave maps and names  from the records office. This will need to be transcribed and made into usable schedule.

Though, interestingly there is recent, massive 5 year project by the Church of England, supported by the Historic England to map, record, photograph and digitise all the graveyards and relevant parish records in the country .  This will be a free on line database (that you will then probably have to pay to view a record).  Two church yards in Yorkshire have already be done as test sites – available to see online.  The link to an article from Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine explains how it will work. .

We will be contacting the church to establish when this might happen in Ropley Churchyard.

  • Stapley Lane and Parkstone Road: Investigation of the William Carter Homestead development and the new developments in Parkstone Road.  Research is moving on and gradually the group are producing a spreadsheet to record the change of ownership of land and buildings in that part of the village.

Apart from recording the interesting philanthropic intentions of William Carter, the bungalows and change of use from farming to residential,  there is also the aim is to establish the history and future identity of Webb lane. As only half the length of the lane is on the Definitive map of footpaths.  The intention is to make sure that the rest of it that joins Parkstone road either becomes an extension of this or a Bridle path . Either to protect it from being lost or development.

  • History of the Medieval Centre of the Village : concentrating initially on Pond Cottage (traced back to 1620’s) the three adjoining cottages at the top of Church Street near the pond (Bell Cottage, Five Bells and 3 Sunnyside). To be followed by investigation of Church Cottages.   
  • Farming heritage – : Investigation of the evolution of farms and farming in the parish and the surrounding area. Investigation of the 1890’s OS maps of the parish has identified that there were 17 different farms in Ropley at that time. Ongoing collection of fascinating information provided by local farmers etc.
  • RevSamuel Maddock: As a number of members will have already seen, Catherine Mitchell who is part of the project researching the history of the village centre, has recently published a summary of her research on Reverend Samuel Maddock and the Ropley vicarage. Samuel Maddock was Vicar of Ropley of over 50 years until his death in 1871 at the age of 88. Catherine is seeing additional contribution to her research from descendants of the Reverend and others and so if you any details to add please get in touch with her.

You will find a link to her research below

Reverend Samuel Maddock & Ropley vicarage in 19th century Version 1 April 2020


Other Potential projects ideas that are suggested due to the interest and information shared on the Facebook page.

One possible project, suggested by the interest and information shared on the Facebook page, is about Colonial bungalows and their importance in the development and character of the settlements in Ropley and the locality.  Simple cheap and easy to construct up till the 1960’s they formed a large number of the houses in the village. Most have now been replaced and we believe there are just 5 left.

The Ropley History Network would like to sponsor a piece of work to capture the history of these dwellings so important to the development of the village before the remaining buildings either disappear or are remodelled.


If you currently live in a Colonial Bungalow – do you have documents or picture relating to its history, you would be willing to share?

Did you live in a Colonial bungalow in years gone by – do you have documents or memories you could share?

                                                                                                                                                    Do you live in a house that used to be a colonial bungalow- if so, do you have deeds or documents covering that part of its history you would be willing to share ?

Are you interested in joining a small group  like-minded people to investigate, document and record the information that we have available about these buildings so important to the development of Ropley ?

 Other ideas for projects –

  • Petersfield Road and it’s development in the 1900’s
  • Local shops including Harding’s stores etc
  • The Dene – including Darvill Road/ Station Road
  • Religious Buildings in the Ropley  and the local area.

In our last newsletters we mentioned an example of shared information about an early post on Facebook. We had put up an early photo of an unknown building and we had much discussion about it being the Methodist Chapel in Gilbert street, now Eleanor House. Also two previous inhabitants of Eleanor House became involved in the discussion and shared some memories and some history of the building. Also another photo was posted showing a foundation stone of Ropley Primitive Methodist chapel being laid. 

Further to this, and somewhat confused about dates on buildings and photos it was realised that the Methodist chapel in Gilbert Street was built in 1869 (as per the plaque on the wall of Eleanor House) and was in use for 40 years until a another one was built in Vicarage lane. The great local history  ‘Ropley Past and Present’ book ( p61-2)  reveals the history of the Methodist church in Ropley and tells that after the Second World War due to financial reasons, a dwindling congregation, and a general movement towards co-operation between the two, the small Methodist congregation was absorbed into the that of the Church of England Parish Church.  This second chapel was then also converted into a house.

It is amazing to think that two Methodist chapels were built within a hundred years and now neither of them function as originally intended.

The churches of Ropley and the locality are still worth further investigation whether it is    photographic, memories of locals, clergy and so on, despite the large amount of information found in Ropley Past and Present.   

  • Creating an Introduction to the history of Ropley for the Archive Planning forward to the creation of our online archive we are going to need an Introduction to the history of the village. There was a great piece of work done back before the millennium for the 2000 Village Appraisal, which was led by the Ropley Society and the Parish Council with many contributions and edits for interested people to create a Ropley timeline and a summary of the key points of its history. It’s called Ropley at the Millennium and you can find it here, hosted on the Ropley Society website-
    It looks to be a good piece of work BUT scarily it’s now 20 year old and therefore things and knowledge are bound to have moved on in that time. We would like to set up a project to make this available to residents and encourage people to suggest edits and updates to it. If you would be interested in getting involved in this or any of the other projects described here please get in touch and let us know at

Research links / Resources 

Facebook has some great local pages to follow –

  • Historic Hampshire in Old Photographs
  • Historic Bramdean
  • Historic Alresford
  • Upper Itchen Benefice: Social History.
  • Petersfield Past
  • Winchester Memories
  • Winchester Ancient and Modern.


  • Hampshire Records Office is an amazing local resource.  Its Website gives great advice and pointers to help you in any form of history research. They have launched our Making History project about capturing people’s experiences and reactions to current times for inclusion in our archive collection. You can read more details about it here .

They are keen to document how lives have changed during these extraordinary months of living through a global pandemic. If you are interested in contributing to this project, please do let them know.

They have made some guidance available on their web site at

  • The National Archiveshave a number of records concerning Ropley and the locality 
  • Genealogy Ancestry/The Genealogist/Find my Past etc. are good resources for history search whether family or local.  Many of these websites offer a 14 day free trial.  So if you want a taster and perhaps need to do only a little bit of research – this is worth a bit of cramming.  But the subscriptions are worth the money and there are money off offers to be found in many history magazines and online. 
  • War Records and Casualtylists are on above the National Archives and the Genealogy sites but also on the Commonwealth War Records and other such sites like Forces War Records. 
  • Maps  – see article above. Tithe maps of the village and surrounding area. If copies of these would assist you in your research please drop us a request at the ropleyhistory@gmail.comaddress and we will arrange for you to receive a copy.

Recommended Talks, Articles and other Viewing 

TV on Catch up programmes about British History and Genealogy 

  • Who do you think you are? (BBC1- starts Monday 13th October)
  • Michael Wood’s Story of Britain.(BBC 4 Catch up) 6 Part. Michael Wood tells the story of one place, the Leicestershire Village of Kibworth, throughout the whole of English history, involving the villagers.
  • Britain’s Biggest Dig, 3 part (BBC Catch up) – about the excavation of thousands of graves and the stories about the people and their lives, on the land that is to be used for the new terminuses for HS2 at Euston and Birmingham 
  • George Clarke’s National Trust (C4 Catch up) 8 part. – George Clark visits National Trust buildings, parks and walks during lockdown.  See behind the scenes when there are no visitors.

 Web seminars or talks

  • YouTube – Many talks and ‘how to’ videos about history and genealogy.


  • Ropley Past and Present, a brief history of a Hampshire Village, compiled and edited by the Ropley Society.  Available in the village shop, other local bookstores and Amazon. £8.99
  • Four Marks Murders , a book by Chris Heal.                                                                                Four Marks resident Chris Heal’s latest book details twenty gory murders from his home village. If you thought Four Marks was one of the quiet backwaters of Hampshire, then you are in for a shock. They recount over sixty violent deaths, many judicial hangings and, in passing, four self-murders, altogether a shocking total. Early drafts of the book have already received strong local critical acclaim.                                                                                      ORDERS: £12.99 .Special online deal includes free home delivery for local postcodes: GU34 1 GU34 3 GU34 4 GU34 5 SO24 0 and SO24 9

Heritage Walks – Latest

Covid19 – Due to social distancing restrictions the invitation to join in a series of walks in and around Ropley has yet again had to be postponed until probably next spring. As guidance continually changes it seems sensible to wait until we are sure  who would be safely able to walk as a group.  So, as soon as possible, we will contact all those who have shown interest with further details of the first of these walks and hopefully we will be able to accommodate as many people as possible.  

 Many thanks for your continued interest and involvement

Ropley History Network and Archive Steering Group 



Enhance & protect Ropley, Monkwood and West Tisted