THE history of the Hampshire village of Plaitford and its people is revealed in a new book about the rural parish.

Geoff Cuell is behind the 221-page paperback book – entitled The 1st Earl’s Granny Was a Plaitford Lass! – that chronicles events that have unfolded in the village and neighbouring Melchet Park since the 11th century.

Winchester-born Geoff has lived at Landford for nearly four decades and his wife Sheila was born at Bridgefoot Cottages in Plaitford.

His book has historical details about more than 30 houses in the village – some dating back to the early 1700s.

It also touches on a survey of the manor of Plaitford carried out in 1729 that records more than a dozen dwellings that stood in the location of existing properties.

There are also features on the village’s 13th century parish church, St Peter’s, and the Shoe Inn which straddles the Hampshire-Wiltshire border.

Geoff also takes a look back on the former village school which his wife, then Sheila Storr, attended.

The book also has details about the old Sarum to Eling Turnpike road which ran through the parish, which was in Wiltshire until 1895, when it was transferred into Hampshire.

Plaitford also had a racecourse in the 19th century and the story behind it is retold in the book.

But one of the most fascinating stories in the book is a piece on the notorious highway robber John Biddlecombe, who lived in the village.

He was later tried and found guilty of his crimes and was hanged at Gallows Hill in Winchester in 1818.

Geoff, who is 63, spent 44 years working in the building supply industry before taking early retirement in 2009.

Not one for doing nothing, Geoff and his wife helped set up Plaitford History Society in 2007. Two exhibitions followed, one in 2008 and the other in 2010.

The society collected a mass of information about the village’s past and decided to carry out more research and put it into print.

Geoff said: “A decision was made to carry on with the research and produce a book that would also include Melchet Park.

“Sheila took on the research into the village school and another member of the history society, Catherine Shutler (nee Hocking) who has lived in Plaitford all her life, researched the history of Plaitford Common and both have contributed a chapter each to the book.

“It was an eye-opener doing the book. Plaitford is a relatively small village but it certainly has very interesting history. It’s taken about three years to do the book.”

The book’s title refers to the Earls of Ilchester who held Plaitford Manor from 1679 until 1911.

The 1st Earl’s Granny Was a Plaitford Lass! will be launched at Plaitford Village Hall tomorrow between 2pm and 5pm.

It costs £9.99 and people will be able to buy (cash only) the book at the launch.

However, it will go on general sale from Monday and will be available at Romsey Tourist Information Centre, Sherfield English Post Office, West Wellow Post Office and from Geoff himself on 01794 322859.