The Square, including village sign
Rowledge shown within Surrey
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Rowledge is a village in England on the Surrey–Hampshire border, centred south of the A31 and Farnham. Neighbouring villages include Wrecclesham, Spreakley and Frensham. To the south west of the village is the Alice Holt Forest; to the west is Birdworld.
Rowledge is centred in a southwest corner of Surrey, 3 miles (4.8 km) south west of the town of Farnham.
The relatively late (19th-century-created) ecclesiastical parish of Rowledge remains, unusually, one which straddles the Hampshire border: St James' Church, a few homes and Rowledge Primary School are in Hampshire. This two-county arrangement, which in respect of the same land applied to the largest contributor, Frensham, is unusual. It was formed in 1869 from parts of Farnham, Frensham and a very small percentage of Binsted parishes and includes the hamlets of Holt Pound and Bucks Horn Oak in Hampshire.
Rowledge had a Civil Parish, covering the area within Surrey, now forms part of the Waverley ward of Wrecclesham and Rowledge. The area of Frensham after marginal falls, fell from 8,807 acres (3,564 ha) within the 10 years before 1901 to 7,656 and fell during the 20 years before 1951 to 5,204 acres (2,106 ha), with its westerly hamlets gaining new local administration accordingly.
The village is bounded to the north by the Bourne Valley (an "Area of Strategic Visual Importance" or ASVI) and Wrecclesham and Boundstone/Upper Bourne; to the west by the Alice Holt Forest; to the east by open countryside and to the south by further open countryside (an "Area of Great Landscape Value" or AGLV).
The area was from the Norman Conquest agricultural manorial, common land and land not suited for cultivation termed waste: it included large farms and scattered cottages. In the West End part to the south and in the Hampshire mostly forested part 19th century replacements of some of these exist. In the 1841 Census, there were only about 50 dwellings and 250 inhabitants within the boundaries of what is now known as Rowledge. Evidence on the ground is thin: no listed building is in the parish on the National Heritage list. Fir Grove House, later rebuilt as Frensham Heights by Charles Charrington, the brewer, and now a private school is in the southern part of the parish. A rather haphazard pattern of trackways and footpaths traversed the area which still exist today and formed the basis for the present-day road network.
The coming of the railways to Farnham in 1848 and the development of Aldershot as the home of the British Army in 1854, resulted in an influx of wealthy businessmen and Army officers, and saw the construction of many large houses in the late Victorian era. Tradesmen and service providers established themselves. The area was important for hop growing, supporting the brewing industry in Farnham.
The Parish Church of St James' was built in 1869 and the School in 1872. The Methodist Church was established in 1875 and a new building erected in 1886. By 1871, a recognisable centre to the Village was established, with a post office, shops, public house and transport links to Farnham. A Rowledge cricket team did particularly well at the original Oval at Holt Pound so as to reach the village final at Lord's Cricket Ground and so the village sign depicts cricketers.
Further development, particularly in the early 1900s, followed the established road network and gradually filled in the open fields, creating the present-day village.
In 1914 the Village Hall was built and the Recreation Ground became the centre for local cricket. Tennis and Bowls Clubs were established in the 1920s and 1930s. Another surge in development took place in the 1960s and 1970s, including Rowledge's first and only, housing estate in 1972.
Surrey County Council estimated that the population of this part of the ward comprises 1,578 people living in 599 households (based on the United Kingdom Census 2001), 66.7% of properties were detached, 88.5% of homes were owner-occupied and 1.5% were socially rented, 29.0% of households had dependent children and 59.3% of households had two or more cars/vans.
The etymology is uncertain. According to "The Way We Were - a Social History of the Village of Rowledge" by Flora Westlake, the village was once called "Rowditch", renowned for fights between local youths across the ditch that formed the Surrey/Hampshire border. She states that in Victorian times, the name changed to "Roughditch" and had the reputation of a generally lawless place. The nearby Vicar of Wrecclesham, in an effort to bring more "supervision" to the area convinced the Bishop of Winchester, whose diocese covered the whole of the area, to establish an ecclesiastical parish. She writes that the Government agreed to help and donated two acres of land from the Alice Holt Forest for a church, churchyard and vicarage and that from this point on, the settlement of Rowledge, as it became known, began to take on its own identity and one of a village.
More recently however it has emerged that the village was probably formed by the connection of two smaller communities, Rowditch and Rowlridge. These names can be seen on historical maps. The only historical record of "Roughditch" appears to be in a speech by the first Vicar, and this was probably due to his desire to be seen to bring some control to the area.
Amenities and Recreation
Rowledge's community includes its own shopping area with a butcher independently reviewed as excellent, post office and convenience store, newsagent, hairdresser and garage, and two public houses: The Hare & Hounds and The Cherry Tree.
Local societies, sports and social activities include the school's activities, Village Hall, St. James' Church, Methodist Church Hall, Rowledge Club and the Recreation Ground.
The village holds Rowledge Village Fayre held annually on Spring Bank Holiday Monday at the Recreation Ground. Rowledge Village Fayre has a large number of attractions and raises a significant sum of money for charities.
Many residents are commuters and a significant number of residents are retired (some 23%). The local school is popular.
Community events and awards
The Village Hall is very well utilised on weekdays with a morning playgroup every day, beavers, cubs and scouts, ballet, drama, art, playball and toddler groups for children. Adults are catered for with Pilates, yoga, salsa dancing, badminton, art and amateur dramatics. Typically, approximately 700 people pass through in a week. At weekends the Hall is regularly hired for children's parties and adult celebrations regular gatherings at the "Coffee Spot". Meetings with neighbourhood police, Councillors and the MP take place here.
Rowledge won the Community category in the Fullers Surrey Village of the Year Competition in 2010 and narrowly missed (by 1 point) the award.
- Surrey County Council Census data compiled from analysis of the Office for National Statistics data
- Grid Reference Finder distance tools
- Samuel Lewis (publisher) (1848). "Frensham". A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
- Rowledge, Hampshire Vision of Britain.org.uk University of Portsmouth and others. Retrieved 2013-10-28
- Frensham CP/Ch/AP Vision of Britain.org.uk University of Portsmouth and others. Retrieved 2013-10-28
- OS Map with Listed Buildings and Parks marked
- "Village of the Year Competition 2010" Surrey Community Action magazine
Media related to Rowledge at Wikimedia Commons