A short history of Stroud village

Stroud Parish is young and dates only from 1995. This separation from Petersfield recognised the individual identity of the village, emphasised by the open spaces and the by-pass which separate the village from the town into which it was previously incorporated. It is a community of nearly 200 households, of which about 25 lie just outside the parish boundary. Notwithstanding these recent developments Stroud as a name is much older and there is evidence that people have lived here for at least 2000 years.

We know that land at Stroud was occupied in Roman times because to the immediate south west of Finchmead Lane was a substantial villa (excavated in 1906). The villa had a courtyard enclosing about 1½ acres surrounded by various outbuildings and dwelling areas, including mosaics and a typical Roman ‘hypocaust’ central heating system.

We know little specific to Stroud in the Dark Ages following the Roman Empire, but we do learn from “Some Aspects of Langrish Life through the Ages” (Evelyn Hickox, 1986) that in Norman times Rothercombe was a separate Manor and that the common land, or waste, of Langrish was located between farmland of the Manors of Langrish and Mapledurham known as Stroud. Commons were usually inferior land, wooded and wet as the name Stroud (a marsh) implies. The Lord (of the Manor) surrendered part of this waste in 1571 to John Robynet for making bricks and tiles.

From the middle 1800’s the landscape as we know it had begun to take shape, but the only dwellings in 1840 (according to a map of that date) were the Red House, Myrtle Farm, The Seven Stars public house, Rothercombe Farm and its cottages, Stroud Bridge Farm, the Pest House, Ash Barn and Freshwater House. In 1859 Stroud Common was enclosed. From 1894 until 1932 Rothercombe was in the parish of Langrish (as was the whole of present day Stroud west of the Seven Stars). A last remnant of Stroud Common became Stroud Village Green, next to where the Village Hall stood, in about 1970.

At the turn of the 20th century and up to the 1939-45 war we find Stroud was an industrial community with a large extensive working claypit and a brick and tile works. The clay was mixed in a pugmill with sand from the sand pits off Ridge Common Lane and clinker brought by horse and cart from Portsmouth. All this was located south of the A272, although earlier brick and tile making appears to have been on the north side of the road, opposite the present garage site.

By 1930, Stroud had expanded and new housing had appeared along Winchester Road and North Stroud Lane. Then, during the 1950’s, the claypit area was filled with urban refuse and covered over, and since 1975 the present owners have been planting trees over the area. The largest single residential development in the village (Willowdale) took place in the 1980’s, when 15 houses were constructed, built partly on the northern extremity of the old clay workings.

During the Second World War Stroud was ‘host’ to a number of Italian prisoners of war who were accommodated in and around the Village Hall.

The Stroud Church of England Mission Church was built in 1897 and was enabled by the Nicholson Family. Outside the current Parish boundary, it resides in the ecclesiastical parish of Steep and Stroud, holds two Holy Communion services each month and is noted for the annual Harvest Festival and Carol Services in which the children of the village are much involved.

The Village hall, erected at the end of the First World War, clad in corrugated iron, reached the end of its useful life and was demolished in 2010. While a high quality site to the south of the school in Ramsdean Road has been made available, two attempts to secure funding from the Lottery Commission have failed. Until adequate funding can be secured, a new Village Hall remains an aspiration, though the need for it is manifest.