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In Domesday Book times Ropley was part of the “Hundred of Bishops Sutton” (or “Ashley”), owned by the Bishop of Winchester from 1136 and re- mained part of the jurisdiction of Bishop’s Sutton until it became a separate parish in 1882. Through- out these centuries it must have been largely self supporting, with transport mostly by foot, by horse or horse drawn carriage for those who could afford it. In 1822 William Cobbett in his “Rural Rides” re- fers to the good wheat in the area, and the fine swedes on Ropley Dean. The village was noted for its fine flowers, which with the soil suitable for horti- culture produced a flourishing bee keeping industry. Honey was used for the production of mead in Saxon and medieval times and William the Con- queror is said to have obtained his honey from Rop- ley. There used to be several ponds at the Dean, Chase Farm in Gilbert Street, Andrews Lane, and the top of Church Street, which is the only one remain- ing in the village centre. There also used to be one outside the Forge, the railings can still be seen. An- other evidence of earlier times is the line of dells, some large and others just depressions in the ground, which stretch from West Tisted to Medstead, dug for marling (lime fertilising) the land. In the course of time chalk quarries were cut for marling and chalk quarrying for agriculture be- came a widespread industry, Ropley’s local quarry was still working in the late 90’s in Soames Lane. Throughout all these centuries the Church was the

The Forge in approximately 1906 — the horse- drawn era was drawing to a close

centre of village life. The first Church at St Peter’s was built in the 11th century, the only remaining features are the door to the present south transept, and part of the south and west walls. It was extended in the 13th century with the expansion of local trade and farming, and the bell tower added at the end of the 14th century, with further improvements in the 15th. Seating was extended again in the 18th and 19th centuries, but at the end of the 19th century it was in poor condition and it was thoroughly rebuilt in the Victorian manner, losing much of its original charm.

A Mission Church was established in Monkwood in 1936, still used for worship, and a Methodist chapel in Vicarage Lane in 1909, now a private house. Eleanor House was also a Methodist chapel, and a further one stood next door to Hunwood House in Charlwood.

The Forge in the new millennium

Ropley at the Millennium — 7

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