Sir Robert Ropner (1838 – 1924) emigrated to England from Germany in 1857 and founded the well known fleet of merchant ships that carried the family House Flag for over 100 years. Thorp Perrow Estate was purchased by his son, Sir William in 1927. Born in 1864, he was the third eldest of ten children.
Colonel Sir Leonard Ropner, was 32 years old when the Estate was bought and it was very soon afterwards that the planning and planting of the Arboretum began. It is not clear where this great love for trees came from – it was his son, Sir John’s joke that he should have collected French impressionist pictures but no such luck!
One of the nicest things about Thorp Perrow Arboretum is its slightly ‘amateurish’ atmosphere. It was after all designed and cared for by a man with no previous arboricultural experience – and this still remains the case today!
The Arboretum was Sir Leonards ‘Secret Garden’ and he was extremely proud of it but towards the end of his life it had become neglected. Upon his death in 1977 his son, Sir John was faced with the problem of what to do with these 85 acres. Alan Mitchell, (the famous dendrologist) was asked to come and advise, and when he re-emerged from the jungle he said in no uncertain terms that the collection should be preserved at all costs.
Picking up the challenge; time, toil and teamwork has gone into making Thorp Perrow what you see today. Sir John and his wife, Niki worked tirelessly, constantly improving and developing the Arboretum with a very hands-on approach.
We are so grateful to all our volunteers, members of staff, Curators and family who have contributed so much over the years.
In 2016, following the death of Sir John, his son Sir Henry and wife Natasha along with their children took hold of the reins.
“We are lucky to have a brilliant team working for us and enlarged family who all come and enjoy Thorp Perrow. We look forward to many exciting years ahead.” – Sir Henry Ropner
The Development of the Arboretum
These pictures show the development of The Cherry Avenue and Lime Avenue from 1938 to the present day.
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Photo credits – Thorp Perrow Hall: unknown, all others: Thorp Perrow