Spencers Wood – Farms, Pubs & Stores – 1881 Census

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Spencers Wood – Farms, Pubs and Stores – An Analysis of the 1881 Census

The 1881 census does not really differentiate between the villages – be it Grazeley, Three Mile Cross, Shinfield Village or Spencers Wood.  Our group have spent some time as this data becomes freely available this information, and we have highlighted what we know to have been Spencers Wood.

According to the census, there were 184 individuals living in the area. The majority of those individuals held positions in service to two of the largest houses in Spencers Wood – Stanbury House and Highlands. Both had a butler, 2 housemaids and a kitchen maid. Highlands had their own cook, whereas Stanbury had its own footman! Over 20% of the population of Spencers Wood was “in-service” in one way or another.

In total our village had 56 children and 30 wives. This was the fourth highest number in the census. 19% of the children were classified as “scholars” and an additional 11% were under school age (below five years old). Since there was no compulsory state education until the 1880 Education Act, when school boards were first formed, only four of the wives were in employment and the rest remained at home to look after their children.

The 29 farmers and individuals associated with agriculture (e.g. cowmen) are nearing 16% of the total population. The total farmland (excluding market gardens) was 654 acres or 366 football pitches, with Charles Portsmouth holding 290 acres, with 10 men and 4 boys.  Much of that farmland has slowly been built on as Spencers Wood population has grown, and the demand for housing and schools has increased.

Star Inn
Star Inn (opp. Spencers Wood Post Office)

The census lists the Cricketers Inn, (now the Hop Inn), the Star Inn and The Red Lion (opposite the Post Office).Often the pubs were combined with other activities – e.g. Farriers Arms was a blacksmiths originally; Yew Tree Inn was a farm of 20 acres.   Over the years, many of these pubs have changed considerably, either being converted to houses or not generating enough business to stay open. Both the Star Inn and the Red Lion have been converted to residential properties. Some, like Yew Tree Inn, owned by a farmer George Arnott of 20 acres, was nicknamed “The Stump” and is now a nursery.

Mr & Mrs Beesley - of Beesley's Stores
Mr & Mrs Beesley – of Beesley’s Stores

Slowly the village was growing and the small businesses were growing up. There were six in total- One dressmaker, a laundress, a Wheelwright, a Woodman, a Wood Dealer and a General Shopkeeper. Beesley’s Stores stood next door but two to The Farriers Arms in the house now named Tintern and was set up in 1881 by Henry Beesley who came from Littlewick Green, Maidenhead. Beesley’s could well have been the first store in Spencers Wood (pictures and memories of Beesley’s Stores kindly donated by Lorna Merry). Do you know any different?

We are collating information regarding farms, pubs, small trades on our web site – www.swlhg.co.uk. Please email us if you have more information.

SWLHG & Oakbank School – A collaboration!

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Spencers Wood Local History Group has joined forces with Oakbank School to produce two audio projects for their web site.

The first is School Logoan interview with the school’s Head, Maggie Segrove. The focus being on her as a person and Head, rather than her role in the school – why she wanted to join Oakbank and how she found the school compared to other schools she’d worked in.

The second project is very much aligned to the Radio 4 “Listening Project” and, if good enough, could be sent to !

As the first individuals to ever join the school six, now year 9 students, will take each other through a set of questions to gather feedback and thoughts about their first impressions of Oakbank.

The History Group will team up with the Head of Year 9, and the young people record a three minute media clip; the best of which will be uploaded to the group’s web site.

The overall objective is to extend the profile of Oakbank in the local community – thus recording history in the making!

If you would like to know more, please contact us or Mr Sutton at Oakbank School directly.

A Short History of Anita’s and Roses Bungalow

Anita's Hair & Beauty
Anita’s Hair & Beauty

William Clements, aged 28, was recorded as being a baker at Anita’s, in 1891 employing his brother Arthur John Clements.  William died in 1902 and Arthur, born in 1873, took over as William left a widow (Emily Cordery) and five children. Arthur also brought his wife, his daughter called Susan, his mother and a sister Rose, from Henley, where Arthur was a journeyman baker.

Arthur and family moved into Glanfield, a house (Upwey) alongside Spring Gardens in Basingstoke Road.  From here Arthur also ran a horse drawn bus service between Reading and Swallowfield.

Arthur purchased land originally belonging to Hunter of Beech Hill, near to Back Lane and built two semi-detached houses called Amersham and Bicester after places where he was brought up.  One house became the Police House the other Arthur lived in.  At the back, he had a grocery shop and built a bakehouse.   Eventually he moved to The Limes, (Warings today) where he opened a grocer’s shop.  He built a bakehouse at the rear installing the first ovens there.  Arthur had seven daughters and the business was called Clements et Filles.  He eventually had a son.

The bungalow at the rear of Anita’s was built by Arthur at an unknown date (after 1918) to house his sister Rose, who never married.

The other shop in Anita’s building was occupied by Albert E Webb, who was a saddler and from 1891, ran the business for 50 years.  When Edwin Webb retired he built a bungalow called Saddlers on Spencers Wood Hill which has been recently demolished and a new house built.

Behind William’s bakery, at the Summer House was Wilson’s 2d library and sweet shop, which could be Roses Bungalow but more likely to be an extension of the bakery.  Herbert Wilson was there from 1935-1960 at least.

Mrs Powell Clements was at the bakery from 1903–1920 and Emily Clements (William’s wife) was there from 1925-1931; Mrs Powell Clements is thought to be the same person as Emily.  Edna Carter worked here in the 1960s and in 1966, Rosemary Hairdressers, was here.  In the 1970s sometime, it was Michael Charles Hairdressers.  For a short while in the 1990’s, it was a Water Bed shop, followed in 1992 by Anita’s.  The above is the result of an enquiry about Roses Bungalow made at the Carnival and we wish to thank Ron Holyday again, for his presentation at the Carnival.

The date information has been taken from Directories and is uncertain.

Anita's Brochure
The reverse of the brochure from Anita’s

Margaret BamptonOctober 2014

Anita's Hair & Beauty Salon Brochure
One of the original brochures from Anita’s
Example of the treatments
Some of the treatments that you could have received at Anitas



Water only from Wells

Loddon Reach Article - Nov 2014 -Grover Well boringWATER ONLY FROM WELLS


There is a well in front of a property in Three Mile Cross. It is not used now, but less than eighty years ago, many homes locally relied on getting all their water from wells. The 1871 Ordnance Survey map shows eleven wells in this area which were probably those for communal use. The geology here is London Clay, hard, sticky and relatively impervious, which is overlain in places by gravel beds through which rain percolates. Valley Gravels occur on wet land near the Loddon and around Hyde End Road roughly from Sussex Lane to School Green, while Plateau Gravels lie on the drier high ground especially around Basingstoke Road. Wells were dug in the clay, but the gravel sites were easier to excavate and flowing water would be found there. (The nursery rhyme is correct in making Jack and Jill go UP the hill to their well.)


Private wells were dug sometimes at the edge of a property near a small stream or ditch, or they were put by the side of a cottage, even inside the kitchen where water was pumped up to a basin or sink. Outhouses for laundry, cooking or making ale often had a well in the floor. An important communal well was on ‘The Common’, opposite Spencers Wood Post Office. It was at a dip in the ground, and the head fittings with the pump and its enclosing shed were still in place in the 1980’s. Local families remember their parents collecting all their water here. Evacuees from London in WW2 recorded their astonishment at such primitive conditions!


Digging a well was a complex and potentially dangerous job. We have a photo showing six men with their horse and cart from Grover’s, ‘Water Supply Contractor’ from Beech Hill, with timber for shoring the sides as they dug, and bricks to construct the well. Bricks were shaped as wedges to form the circular outline, and it is probable that the brick works west of ‘The Common’ made these special bricks.Loddon Reach Article - Nov 2014 -Grover Well boring


The Arborfield Brick and Tile Works provided hundreds of wedge-shaped bricks for many years. The well head would be a timber structure supporting the bucket and its winch. Later hand pumps were introduced to facilitate raising the water, often on routes between towns and near milestones. A farm in Grazeley still has a pump standing on the water supply line from a small reservoir through fields to the farm buildings. Electric pumps are now used where people have extraction rights to draw ground water for their gardens or animals.


Patricia Green

Recent Events

posted in: Events, Spencers Wood Village | 0

Lambs Lane School Fete

We had a display at the fete and gave out the prizes for the successful in the Treasure Hunt. Many children received a prize. What most of them didn’t expect was the downpour of rain we had. But there were no unhappy faces. In fact, everyone just carried on and we saw the arranged dancing while it poured. We did take some of the display down as it got very wet. At home afterwards, it soon dried out and we can use it again. The only disappointment was that fewer people visited because of the rain but we enjoyed ourselves and the children certainly did, running, dancing and getting wet through!

St Michaels & All Angels Church Fete

Conversely the weather forecast was dire for this fete. The week had been hot and humid, and the previous nights had thunder, lightning and heavy downpours. We expected to be in the village hall. It was raining throughout the morning, and the gazebo was the last thing we expected to be putting up; however, the sun emerged at 11 am.

As rain and lightning was expected later that afternoon, no one had set up under the trees, and many stalls were in the church. We had prime position, second stall inside the gates on the left, (we’re normally under the trees).  It was really busy early on (people hoping to miss the rain) but as the afternoon progressed more people arrived as the rain was obviously going to stay away.

We had put up the gazebo complete with our new banner! We all bought things from the surrounding stalls, and even had a winner on the silent auction!

A number of new enquiries were received and a couple of pieces of information.

We will be at the Spencers Wood Carnival on 20th September on the Recreation Ground – please come and find us. We are now more visible with our super banner*! 🙂St Michaels & All Angels Church Fete

(*Thanks to Blade Printing Services on the Lambs Farm Business Pk for producing this!)





Spencers Wood Carnival Event  – 20th September 2014

Carnival 2014

Woodcock Lane

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Woodcock Lane looking N from Grazeley RdWoodcock Lane is an ancient track in Three Mile Cross, passing south between the villages of Three Mile Cross and Grazeley. It lies in the Foudry Brook valley and skirts the hills rising to Spencers Wood. The Lane is shown on old maps and is named on Roque’s map of 1761, and Thomas Pride’s map of 1790. It is possibly named after after an old manorial family living in the area. Local land formed a detached part of Wiltshire until the county boundary revisions of 1884.  In mediaeval times, lands were passed by kings to favoured religious groups and temporal knights, and just as land around the former Battle Hospital in Reading belonged to Battle Abbey, it is recorded that Robert Woodcock of the Hartley Battle estate paid dues to the Abbot of Battle in the fifteenth century.

The Lane at one time lead to a modest manor house, Woodcock House. Three Mile Cross was a busy village community even before Mary Russell Mitford wrote in the 1820’s and 1830’s her series of famous articles later published in the book ‘Our Village’.

She describes the lane with its trees and wildflowers. In wet weather the track becomes muddy, and people preferred to travel up the hill to the south where the ground was drier. The author tells of seeing John MacAdam surveying both routes, to decide which to pave as the main road between Reading, Winchester and the south coast ports. It was decided to tarmac the high road, and Woodcock Lane became a quiet green lane. Mary Russell Mitford chose to walk along the lane when she moved from Three Mile Cross to live in Swallowfield, sending her luggage by cart on the high road.

Woodcock LanePhotographs and drawings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries show the Lane as a wide grassy track bordered by tall oak trees, with a double line of the trees on the east. Only a few old trees remain, and new younger growth surrounds the path. Land adjacent to the ‘low road’ was chosen for the A33 by-pass, leaving Woodcock Lane intact but subject to the noise of  traffic. However, the Lane is a bye-way and footpath, and can be followed south into Hampshire. Within Shinfield parish, it is part of Parish Walk no.5, going along Woodcock Lane, up through wooded hillsides to Spencers Wood and back across fields to Three Mile Cross.Woodcock Lane looking south

Walks leaflets are available from post offices, the library and the parish office as well as on the parish web site- The one for Woodcock Lane can be found here.

Patricia Green







Summer Outings

posted in: Events, Ryeish Green School | 0

Summer Outings

Early on in the 1900s, children didn’t have many outings, but tended to go to local places that were easily accessed.  The Library School children went to Grazeley in 1906 as the school treat. The Band of Hope had an outing in 1903 to Oxford when the whole school closed.

According to Rita Goodall who was a teacher from 1985 to 2000 and wrote a piece in our Lambs Lane History, one summer’s day, in 1978, the juniors were invited as part of ‘rent-a-crowd’ to welcome Prince Charles to Wellington Country Park. He visited to open the Dairy Museum.  After lining the route, the children were free to wander the Park.  One group were speechless when Prince Charles came over to speak to them when he saw them in the woods.    Between 1920 and 1939, there were many school outings and the children once went to Bognor, in 1930, by motors which were probably charabancs.  In the 1950s, coaches belonging to Smith’s took the children to places like Hayling Island, Southsea, or Brighton and sometimes to London.  In 1958, one class went to Portsmouth Dockyard to look over The Victory.  Some lucky children were taken to the Palace Theatre in Oxford to watch a ballet.

Ryeish Green School also had outings to London and they were taken to and from Reading Station by wagons and carts where there were two compartments reserved for them by the Great Western Railway.  Their exhausting trip took in Charing Cross, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Hall and Bridge, Science Museum, Embankment, Colonial Institute, Albert Museum and back to Paddington.


Sunday School Outing at Frensham Ponds
Sunday School Outing at Frensham Ponds

In Our Village of Spencers Wood, Elaine Stobo recalls a Sunday School outing to Frensham Ponds in around 1952, for a picnic.  Rev Lewarne was the vicar who accompanied them.  There was panic on congregating to return home the only person missing was Rev Lewarne.  Nobody knew where he was and one coach load of children returned alone with the younger children on board.  Mr Lewarne eventually turned up an hour late.  Marion Pyke said that the water was orange, probably from some iron content and that the children’s legs were stained with it. Marion suspects that the public is not allowed into the water these days. Notice from the photo that the girls tucked their dresses into their knickers as they were apt to do in those days!


Margaret Bampton.  The above was taken from our history books.



2014 Events – Where will we be?

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This Summer Events :-

The Spencers Wood Local History Group will be at the following Events during this summer:-


June 28th – Lambs Lane Summer Fete – St. Michael's & All Angels Church FeteBack Lane – buy the History of  Lambs Lane book!

July  19th – St Michael’s & All Angels Church Fete – Basingstoke Road, Spencers Wood  

Buy a Three Mile Cross Chapel Book at £5 only! or just come and share your memories about living in Spencers Wood for our New Village book!


September 20th  – Spencers Wood Carnival – Recreation Ground, Clares Green Road, Spencers Wood

Come along & view the Junior Historians Box for all you young Enthusiasts!

On sale will be the following books:-

1. A History of Three Mile Cross Methodist Church – “The little Village Chapel in the Meadow”

2. Celebrating the Centenary of Ryeish Green School

3. The History of Lambs Lane School – 1908- 2008

We will also be discussing the current project – The New Village Book which is still under research. We are always to hear memories from anyone who’s lived locally! No matter how trivial they seem to you, we want to record them – especially with the way the village heart is changing. Please come & share your recollections. Let’s hope the sun is shining!

Summer 2013 Events – where will we be?

posted in: Events | 0

This Summer Events The Spencers Wood Local History Group will be at the following Events during this summer:- St. Michael's & All Angels Church Fete July  20th – St Michael’s & All Angels Church Fete – Basingstoke Road, Spencers Wood  August SUNDAY 25TH ONLY   – Swallowfield Show – Come & see our Display alongside the Swallowfield History Group – Buy a Three Mile Cross Chapel Book at £5 only! or just come and share your memories about living in Spencers Wood for our New Village book! September 21st – Spencers Wood Carnival – Recreation Ground, Clares Green Road, Spencers Wood We have a Junior Historians Box for all you young Enthusiasts! On sale will be the following books, as well as greetings card from the local area. 1. A History of Three Mile Cross Methodist Church – “The little Village Chapel in the Meadow” 2. Celebrating the Centenary of Ryeish Green School 3. The History of Lambs Lane School – 1908- 2008 We will also be discussing the current project – The New Village Book which is still under research. We are always to hear memories from anyone who’s lived locally! No matter how trivial they seem to you, we want to record them – especially with the way the village heart is changing. Please come & share your recollections. Let’s hope the sun is shining!

Events & Interesting Pieces of Information?

We regularly have History displays at the Spencers Wood Village Carnival, St. Michaels & All Angels Church Fete, and in fact the first “event” of the year, the Shinfield Parish Council Meeting being just around the corner in April.

St. Michael's & All Angels Church Fete
St. Michael’s & All Angels Church Fete

Our objective for attending these events is not only to support the local community, and raise awareness of our group, and perhaps to sell the odd book or two, but often we talk to people who share their memories with us.

This is such a rich source of information for us that much of the text of our previous books has come from such events.

We recently added in something for the less senior amongst our community too, to let the younger generations know about farriers, old beer bottles and pre-decimal coins! It’s amazing how fast the world changes.

At Spencers Wood Carnival last year, we were given a very precious gift that this individual must had taken hours to develop. We want to share it with you. It’s a very detailed map (not to scale) of his memories of 1968, and the Spencers Wood Bakery – then called Philpotts.  He also gave us some pictures that show how rural the village was still then.  See what you think!


Bakery Map 1968
Bakery Map 1968

Philpotts Bakery Descriptions 1968 for web











Rural Spencers Wood
Warings Bakery (1968) -formerly Philpotts Bakery
Warings Bakery (1968) -formerly Philpotts Bakery


Do you have any photographs, with your precious memories,  that you would like to share with us?

1968 signpost on corner of Beech Hill Rd & White House Lane

Signpost showing the way in 1968





Thank you for helping us to preserve the history of Spencers Wood for future generations! Maybe we’ll see some of you at our future events in the village?












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