In the year 1785 many common lands in Hampshire were enclosed. One of the earliest of the modern enclosures was that of the common land near Kitfield, Ropley, made about the beginning of the 18th century. The long parallel fields on the east of this parish denote the situation of these lands, while the old tenements, lanes and gardens on the west of it show where the ancient village existed.
"Privitive landmarks of some kind are denoted by such names as Four Marks, where the parishes of Chawton, Ropley, Farringdon and Medstead meet.
"The limits of the Forest-land in Hampshire at the settlement of the Saxons can be traced by the numerous names dean and den which they gave to various localities. Bramdean and Ropley Dean are names which relate to the ancient forests of mid Hampshire."
From The History of Hampshire
I cannot but feel that any Records of Ropley would be incomplete without a reference of some sort being made to Mr. Mulcock who lived at Ropley Lodge, and was a truly remarkable man.
From being but little if at all removed from a mere agricultural labourer, he rose to become a man of substance and position, leaving at his death no less a sum than £130,000.
He used at one time to wear straw in his boots and he daily followed the plough. Of a thrifty and saving nature, and living in a very frugal manner, he soon became possessed of a small farm, and during the Crimean war, in some way which I am unable either to understand or explain, he made money rapidly and became a really rich man.
His life at the Lodge was to a large extent an isolated one. He was the reverse of sociable in his ways, and seemed desirous of standing aloof in a semi-defiant spirit from his neighbours near or distant. Of any of his own kindred I believe he never so much as caught a glimpse at any time.
Many stories, some very amusing ones, used to be told about him in the village and neighbourhood. Most of these I have forgotten - even were it in perfect good taste to repeat them here. He was a Justice of the Peace, and many of these anecdotes had reference to his sayings and doings whilst sitting on the Bench at Alresford.
His education was but scanty, and it was often some misunderstanding on his part as to something either spoken or written that caused him to take great and sometimes lasting offence, when no slight whatever was intended.
He used to ride an old grey pony about his farms at Ropley, and very occasionally might he be seen driving in his large old-world carriage, with its pair of heavy horses ; his coachman wearing a gold band around his hat. There seems no tradition of his ever having been seen on foot; though doubtless he must have walked occasionally !
He was always referred to by the village people as "Squire Mulcock," and I think many of them were a little in awe of him, especially in his magisterial capacity, for he evidently was a bit severe.
Beneath all his peculiarities he had something like a soft spot in his heart, for he would almost always respond to an appeal on behalf of the sick and poor, giving grapes or other little delicacies in cases of illness amongst the village people. He had a lasting quarrel with the Vicar, and refused during his lifetime ever to attend Divine Service in Ropley again. I can remember the large high-back pew, known always as "Mr. Mulcock's," before the church was restored, but I do not think he ever occupied it more than once or twice, as his own decease followed soon after that of the good Vicar himself.
He had some very good stables and a coachhouse built exactly opposite the church, intended for his own carriage and horses when he should attend church, and these have recently come into my own possession.
In his will he left a sum of money to be expended yearly on portions of beef for all the poor in the village. This distribution takes place on the 24th of December. It is the cause of much discussion and painstaking on the part of the Vicar and Churchwardens, and I am afraid, some dissatisfaction often arises in connection with it. It is known as "The Mulcock Charity."
For some years the Mulcock Charity has been distributed in the form of tickets for grocery. Another bequest given by Mrs. Onslow, formerly of Ropley Grove, is distributed yearly to the poor of the parish, together with the Mulcock Charity.
After his death Mr. Mulcock's money was found to be left to various clergymen and others in the neighbourhood. He was buried at Beauworth, in which parish he possessed some property. The comment of the papers at the time of his death was " We ne'er shall look upon his like again."
Of Mr. Mulcock's birthplace, and of when and why he came to live in Ropley I know nothing whatever.