Ropley Manor (Ropley Cottage)

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HCC Site ID. 1388 Parish: Ropley
Designations: House LB II Area:  c3.8 ha
Access: No Public Access Ownership: Private

Location and Site

The village of Ropley lies on the western slopes of a ridge running approximately south to north and forming a watershed separating the basins of the Wey and the Meon rivers from those of the Arle and Itchen. Composed of good farm- and pastureland with a deep chalk layer covered with a skin of good brown soil, the area is also suitable for horticulture, and the village has been noted for its fine flowers. As a result, beekeeping once flourished here, with the honey being used for the production of mead. It is said that William the Conqueror obtained his honey from Ropley (Ropley 2000 – online). The coming of the Hampshire Hunt in 1745 and the railway in 1861 made Ropley a desirable place of residence.
Ropley Manor is set back from the road in extensive grounds almost opposite Ropley House. It occupies a rectangular plot between Petersfield Road to the south, Vicarage Lane to the north, and Maddocks Hill to the east An elegant building in a wooded setting, it is surrounded by open paddocks, close to the heart of the village.

Historical Development

Ropley Manor started life as Ropley Cottage in the early 1800s, with rear extensions added in the mid and late nineteenth century (EH online 2013). By the 1820s the Rodney family were living there (19cBLN online 2013) and the 1836 Tithe map and 1840 apportionment shows and lists Ropley Cottage, offices, pleasure grounds and gardens covering just over 3 acres (1.21 ha.), owned by The Hon. Rodney and Rev. Henry, and occupied by William Henry Heysham (HRO 21M65/F7/198/1 + 2). On the 1873 OS 1st ed. 25″ map, Ropley Cottage occupies a rectangular plot bounded by Vicarage Lane to the north, Petersfield Road to the south, and Hammonds Lane to the east, and edged with conifers to the north and south. The main entrance is in Petersfield Road, from where a drive leads to a turning circle in front of the house, attached to the back of which is a conservatory. There are a number of substantial outbuildings to the north of the house, and a large kitchen garden and orchard, possibly partly walled, to the north-west. A path leads from Vicarage Lane to the front of the house, and specimen trees dot the grounds. By 1897 three, possibly more, glasshouses can be seen around the sides of the walled garden (OS 2nd ed. 25″). A 1903 For Sale notice describes the property as a “commodious creeper-clad old-fashioned Residence” with a conservatory, stabling for twelve horses, farmery, cottage, and well laid-out pleasure grounds of about 23 acres (Times online), and by 1908 it was the property of Major Charles Patrick Holroyd who renamed the house Ropley Manor and carried out a programme of restoration and modernisation (Mason 1989,90). The OS map of 1910-11 shows the recently-renamed Ropley Manor; the entrance to the drive has now been moved to the corner between Petersfield Road and Hammonds Lane and there are additional tree plantings to the right of the drive, and along the southern boundary.
When the house was again put up for sale in 1920, it was described as “the exceedingly choice freehold residential property distinguished as “Ropley Manor”…approached by a carriage drive…the Gardens and Grounds are very beautiful, possessing some fine old timber and expansive lawns. Stabling, Garage, Farmery, and four Cottages. Also a Bijou Cottage Residence in the Grounds. The Property covers an area of about 34 acres.” (Times online 1920).
It was bought by Mr. Munro Spencer whose wife was co-founder of Ropley’s Women’s Institute in 1922 (Mason 1989, 90). An entry in P. Campion’s A Recent History of Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset describes Ropley Manor as “A compact little estate…consisting of 25 acres…It is a well-planned and equipped residence…surrounded by very delightful gardens and grounds in which there are two cottages. The elevation is 400 feet. Modernised before the War, this small Manor House is now a very charming residence, sheltered with timber of mature growth.” (Campion 1922-23).
By 1927 Ropley Manor was again offered for sale, with its “old-world gardens, lawns for tennis and croquet, flower garden, fruit and kitchen garden, and pastureland with fine old trees” (HRO 159M88/1332). It was bought by Sir James Allan Horne, an active benefactor to the village who died in the blackout in London in 1944 (Mason 1989, 90), and following his death the estate was put up for sale in 1946, to be sold off in seven lots, with a special note that fire had occurred at the house some years previously and there was a temporary covering on the roof. Photos show a substantial climber-clad house surrounded by lawn with mature trees and shrubs further away from the house, and there is a small square pond surrounded by paving and low walls somewhere to the back of the house. (HRO 117M91/SP158).
In the sales particulars of 1984, garden features noted included a verandah and terrace to the rear of the house, a sweeping gravel drive leading to a turning circle beside the front door. a fish pond with waterfall, a rose garden flanked on all sides by a formal hedge, a part-walled kitchen garden, and orchard (HRO 54M84/1). The Times of the same year noted that the grounds covered about 16.5 acres (6.68 ha.) and the property, asking price around £500.000, included a stable block, swimming pool and hard tennis court (Times online 1984).

Current Description

The Mastermap 2012 shows the present-day boundaries of the grounds, which occupy a square between Vicarage Lane to the north, Petersfield Road to the south, Maddocks Hill to the east, and overlooking fields to the west. The view from the road shows the land to be probably farmed, with the remains of parkland visible. The main entrance is still at the southeast corner, through a gate with gateposts and a drive flanked by large evergreen trees and shrubs leading to the front of the white-stuccoed house and lawns. There is a second minor entrance from Vicarage Lane. Mature trees and shrubs screen the garden along the southern and eastern boundaries.
Recent satellite photographs indicate that the land within the walled area is partly laid to grass, with an outdoor swimming pool and a long strip divided into four by paths at right angles, which may be a formal or a kitchen garden. There is a tennis court to the west of the house and a number of outbuildings to the north (Millennium map 2006; Mastermap 2012; bing map online 2013; personal visit 2013).

Summary

An early 19th century listed house with a part-walled kitchen garden, mature trees and remains of parkland.
HGT Research: April 2014

References

Hampshire Record Office (HRO)
HRO 21M65/F7/198/1+2 – Ropley tithe map 1836 and apportionment 1840
HRO 159M88/1332 – July 1927 ‘for sale’ newspaper cuttings
HRO 117M91/SP158 – 1946 sales particulars
Kelly’s Directory 1889, 1895, 1899, 1931, 1939
HRO 54M84/1 – 1984 sales particulars
Mercer & Crocker’s Hampshire Directory 1871 Leicester
Maps including electronic sources
OS maps from Hampshire County Council:
1st ed. 25” 1873
2nd ed. 25” 1897
3rd ed. 25” 1910-11
1:2000 Digital Millennium map 2006
1:2000 Mastermap 2012
http://www.bing.com/maps – accessed January 2013
Books
Mason, Frederick, 1989, Ropley Past and Present London, Scriptmate Editions
Campion, P 1922-23, A Recent History of Hampshire Wiltshire Dorset, Poole, The Wessex Press
Other Sources
Personal correspondence with Susan Holroyd, granddaughter of Major Charles Holroyd – Nov 2013
Information from HGT researcher – Nov 2012
Electronic Sources
AHBR 51825
(EH) – English Heritage – http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1157300 – online 2013
http://www.hants.gov.uk/hampshiretreasures/vol06/page268.html – accessed 2012-13
Holroyd, Michael, 1999, Basil Street Blues and Mosaic London – online version
http://books.google.co.uk/books – accessed 2013
(19c BLN) 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Morning Post 1 March 1824; 3 Feb.1864; Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle 21 Aug.1852; http://find.galegroup.com – accessed various dates 2012 and 2013
(Ropley 2000) Ropley at the Millennium http://www.ropley2000.hampshire.org.uk/ – accessed Sept-Nov 2012
Times online – 18 May 1903; 8 Sept.1920; 1 Sept.1927; 4 Oct.1930; 20 May 1941; 12 Sept.1947; 11 Nov.1966; 1 April 1971; 25 Jan.1980; 16 May 1984; http://find.galegroup.com – accessed various dates 2012 and 2013
(VCH) A history of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3 (1908), pp. 55-58
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=41927&strquery=ropley – accessed 2013


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