£3500 was awarded to Ropley History Network Archives to support the publication of a book ‘The Four Marks Enclosures’, which is more graphically described in its working title as :
‘Ropley’s Legacy: The story of how from 1709 to 1850 the parishes of Chawton, Farringdon, Medstead, Newton Valence and Ropley lost their common fields, how the local poor were further impoverished, and how a new village called Four Marks was formed’.
The importance of the 1709 Ropley enclosure as the first private parliamentary act of its kind in England is explored. Ropley’s lead was quickly copied by the gentry in Medstead (twice), Chawton and Farringdon. Much of the rest of the country gradually followed Ropley’s example in word and style. Enclosure by Parliamentary Act became the norm. Overall, over 5,000 enclosure bills were enacted covering more than a fifth of the total area of England including, in 1850, Newton Valence. It is intended to publish the book by December.
The work is still in progress but the author, Chris Heal, is looking to include colour enclosure maps from the archives and new maps filling in some missing enclosure detail. There will also be some transcriptions of archival material. It’s also become a story about poachers and smugglers and much more when it looks at the leading role of Jonathan Trelawney, the Bishop of Winchester, and his chief steward, Charles Heron, in the enclosure of Ropley Commons and of the deer park in Farnham. The development of that park became a literal battleground over deer poaching in Hampshire and the strong links with the smuggling fraternity based in Ropley.
There will be more images on this website in due course as the project progresses but HAT can preview the likely book cover.
Update 25 October 2021
The book has now been published and can be found at the link below: