What are our Local Assets?

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In reviewing our new book, it occurred to us that for such a small village which is expanding rapidly we are blessed with some lovely buildings and other assets.

We have the old United Reformed Church building now turned into housing as is the Three Mile Cross Chapel.  The memorial board commemorating the two world wars that stood in the grounds of the URC can now be found in the entrance of St Michael and All Angels church.

 

Another lovely building contributing to the village community which is thriving.   Next to this well-used church is the village hall which is held in trust for the residents of the ecclesiastical parish of Spencers Wood.

 

We are so fortunate in having the hall which was given to the residents by Anna Hunter, in 1948, after her mother had given the use of the hall in 1911, in memory of Anna’s father, Henry Lannoy Hunter.   If you live within the church parish of Spencers Wood the hall is in trust to you. It cannot be disposed of without all the residents agreeing to it. The residents certainly make full use of it.

The other building of note in our parish of Spencers Wood is the Library.

This lovely building was first built by Frederick Allfrey to be used as a school.  On Allfrey’s death the school closed in 1915 and it passed to Allen who bought Allfrey’s estate.  Charles Allen then sold the school and school house to Berkshire County Council (BCC) and on the dissolution of the BCC the building passed to Wokingham District Council as it was then called.  Since that time the library has occupied the building and as such has been an asset to the village.  We should treasure it.

Another donation to the village by Capt Cobham was not a building but allotments and recreation ground in Clares Green Road as part of the enclosure of Shinfield in 1856. Although in Spencers Wood, they were given to Shinfield Parish.  The Rec’ is the only open space in Spencers Wood and is used by many including the history group.  By the time this article appears the Carnival will have been held there in September. Always a great occasion.

The three assets of the Village Hall , the Library and the recreation ground are all held civically by residents, Wokingham Council, and Shinfield Parish and are well used and loved. For more information see our new book.

Margaret Bampton

Local Events – Come & see us!

History Group on the Road!

For those of you that have bought, and for those of you who want to buy our book we will be at the following events throughout the summer!

Saturday 24 June – Lambs Lane School Fete, Back Lane, Spencers Wood

Saturday 15 July  – St Michaels & All Angels Church Fete, Basingstoke Road, Spencers Wood

Sunday 27th & Monday 28th August – Swallowfield Show, Swallowfield Park

16 Sept – Spencers Wood Carnival, Spencers Wood Recreation Ground

We would love to hear what you thought of it. If you spotted any errors (there are always inconsistencies when you write based on memories), and if you would like to add to our pool of information!
We will have stands showing our research into all of our books, and a box of items for children to investigate how “old” England was run!

More from Our Village of Spencers Wood

This is the cover of the new book we’ll be launching in December, telling the story of our village in words and pictures.

The launch is on Wednesday 7 December, 18.00-20.00, at St Michael’s Church, Basingstoke Rd, Spencers Wood. Wine and nibbles will be served from 18.00. Then Prof. Richard Hoyle will speak about the history of the area, and Rev. Marion Pyke will talk about her memories of growing up in the village. Copies of the book will be available at a discount, so do come along and get yours hot off the press!
We’ll also be having mini-launches on Thursday 8 Dec., 10.00-12.30 at Spencers Wood Library, and on Friday 9 Dec., 11.00-13.00 at the Village Hall, where you’ll be able to get the discount too, and the book will be available on those days from St Michael’s during Caf’Active opening hours.

 

The illustrations on the cover represent some of the chapters in the book:

Top, clockwise from left: the Village Hall; the Wellingtonia Drive leading to StanburyHighlands house (taken in the 1970s); St Michael’s Church with the Millennium Yew in the middle distance; the crew of Judd’s Sawmills during the Second World War – notice the ‘V’ for Victory, but you’ll have to buy the book to see what else is carved on the end of that tree trunk!

Below, left to right: a pair of houses with the characteristic cream brickwork; the Clares Green SANG; and an Edwardian lady and little girl. These three represent aspects of Spencers ood’s Environment and Development

front-cover-small-web

More from our Village of Spencers Wood

 

 

Anniversary!

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This year the group is celebrating its’ twentieth year of existence and the production of five books.  Twenty years ago we didn’t envisage that that we would still be going or achieve this.  In 2001, we were down to 4 stalwart members from about 7 or 8 that Jeremy Saunders encouraged in his home back in 1996 and we four produced the first Spencers Wood book. Considering our naivety, we were very proud of it and it sold out very quickly and we resolved to write another one or two about the local school and church, for their centenaries. Both organisations were established in 1908 and because we thought that St Michael’s would probably have their own ideas for their celebrations we approached Lambs Lane School first with the idea of a book, for theirs.  They were most encouraging and we were able to access many old papers and books, to write up their 100 years’ history. St Michael’s story has had to wait until this year and is included in our latest book about the village.

Our Team
Our Team

To raise funds for the first book we held exhibitions and film shows in the village hall and the library. One exhibition, in 2005, was badly attended because that was the year that Prince Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles having changed it from Friday to Saturday, the Grand National was run as well and as the rugby was on at the Madejski Stadium, it was very quiet. On this occasion we were joined with Beech Hill residents who were writing their own history book having been inspired by our first book. They included Mary Wheway, who was promoting her own book about Beech Hill Baptist Chapel.  The success of the Lambs Lane book resulted in Ryeish Green School, as Oakbank was called then, asking us to write a similar book for their centenary in 2010.  Again, we had much help from the school but we were hard pushed to get this out in time for the celebrations which were wonderful.  A red letter day edged in black, as the school closed shortly afterwards. We have a record though.

The first book was written by various people and the chapters or articles were dedicated to them. This style is echoed in our latest book. Barbara Debney was the first editor. The two school centenary books both ably produced by Mary Wheway, herself an ex-teacher, were written by different people who each took a different decade or two to write about. These two books are therefore similar but not the same.  The Three Mile Cross Chapel book was written by Patricia Green and edited by Mary Wheway having been commissioned by the chapel in memory of one member. We have more copies of this book, available.  Mary now has three of our books to her credit.  Our latest book is edited by Catherine Glover which means a different layout will appear but it is in the style of our first book with chapters written by different people and credited so.

We have been fortunate in that our members, ten in total, are still enthusiastic about local history and we have many talents within the group with so many skills being brought to the table. As the numbers changed so the dynamics have and we have developed in computing, internet, with thanks to Jeannie Brice for our website, editing, presenting, interviewing, selling, ideas and history, and thanks to Lesley Rolph –  regular contributors to St. Michaels Christmas Windows.

We have collected artefacts on the way such as items from Spencers Wood Chapel which the Parish framed for us, a tablet from the Chapel about the Institute, a plaque from Three Mile Cross Chapel, two
John Madejski, Patricia, Margaret & Jeannie - web banners from Spencers Wood WI, a shirt and cap from Spencers Wood cricket club, banners from Ryeish Green school, many deeds copied, with some originals, historic view plates, some catalogues, school magazines and reports, many photographs, posters and leaflets.  The list goes on and on and we welcome anything we can keep to enhance our history.  We have many ideas as to where we are going.

We like appearing at St Michael’s fete and the Carnival and one year we appeared at eight venues; that was exhausting! We are pleased with our efforts and are looking forward to the next twenty years.

Margaret Bampton.

New Book coming Soon!!

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Coming Soon

More from Our Village of Spencers Wood

Have you ever looked up as you walked into the Spencers Wood Library? There are some initials above the door. Have you ever wondered what they meant?

Did you know that Spencers Wood had its own Co-op Store?

Book Cover - More from Our Village of Spencers Wood
Book Cover – More from Our Village of Spencers Wood

Where was Spencers Wood Common, the one that Mary Mitford spoke of so often?

All the answers to these questions and many more facts about your village can be found in the new book, which we expect to publish this month. It is called ‘More from Our Village of Spencers Wood’.

The book has been researched and written by the Spencers Wood Local History Group and has taken several years to come to fruition. The group has researched many original documents and spent many hours in Reading Library and the Berkshire Record Office.

There are chapters on many aspects of Village Life.

The Square was the centre of the village at the beginning of the 20th century and details about all the houses are set out in the chapter on The Square. Then there were two large houses in the village. Highlands, now Vistra Offices was the home of the Magill Family.  Stanbury Park was burnt down in 1960. Both houses have an interesting history and these are detailed in the book. There was a Prisoner of War Camp at Stanbury during and after World War II.

The licence for the original Chapel on the site of the United Reformed Church was dated 1817. There is a copy of it in the book. St Michael and All Angels Church was built nearly a hundred years later. The village hall came a little later still and many of the activities taking place there have been documented. The local schools have a mention including the latest school, Oakbank Secondary Free School.

This is a must buy book and will be available soon at a very reasonable price. It is very well illustrated.

We will be having several book launches in the village in the Autumn. Come along and meet us.

You can also order a copy via our email address (spwood.localhistory@googlemail.com) or via the contacts page on this web site.

Mary Wheway

 

 

Christmas in Spencers Wood

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With Christmas almost upon us again, the theme this time is simply Christmas.  There was a workhouse at Grazeley, which we hope to research.  Prior to 1834, Christmas day was the traditional treat for most workhouse inmates when they would receive roast beef, plum pudding, good cheese and a pint of porter (dark beer) each. But after that date, the Poor Law Union ruled that inmates were not to have any wine, beer or spirituous or fermented liquors unless ordered by the Medical Officer.

Some Unions disregarded this and celebrated Christmas in the usual way.  Despite the lack of Christmas fare the inmates were always given a day off on Christmas day, as well as Good Friday and Sunday.  Once Queen Victoria married Albert then Christmas took off in a big way with Christmas trees, cards and decorations of holly etc.  Eventually the Poor Law Commissioners relented and gave all Unions Christmas fare.  The culinary highlight was the plum pudding and the recipe for 300 people contained the ingredients of 36lbs of currants, 42lbs of sultanas, 9lbs of dates, 9lbs of mixed peel, 26lbs of flour, 16lbs of breadcrumbs, 24lbs of margarine,26lbs of Demerara sugar, 102lbs of golden syrup, 102lbs of marmalade, 144 eggs, 2lbs of mixed spice, and 13lbs of carrots.  These recipes were often published in local newpapers.  To go with the pudding, the inmates would have roast meats such as beef, veal or mutton with ale or porter.  Some places the inmates were given extras of tobacco, snuff, oranges and sweets.  After tea, which consisted of bread and butter with cake there often followed a magic lantern show.  Sometimes they would finish up with a singsong and some dancing.

In the period when Christmas fare was banned the usual diet would consist of gruel made from oatmeal, a small amount of suet, treacle, and salt or allspice.  Breakfast was usually bread and sometimes cheese as was supper also, with broth or gruel.  Lunch or dinner as it was called then, would consist of vegetables and potatoes with meat appearing only once or twice a week.  Supper was similar to breakfast and mostly bread.

There was a recipe called scrap bread pudding which has survived the years made from bread, suet or dripping, currants, sugar, ground ginger, milk and eggs.  It sounds quite nutritious but the quantities of other ingredients, compared to the bread, belies this fact.  Eggs were only used in recipes or given to invalids.  Perhaps your Christmas fare will be better than above.

Happy Christmas from all of us in the Group.

Merry Christmas

Swallowfield Bypass

Did you go to Spencers Wood Carnival this year?

Did you see the Local History Stand?

SWLHG Stand at Spencers Wood Carnival
SWLHG Stand at Spencers Wood Carnival

Our group takes a stand at many local events and we love to see you and talk to you. We enjoy meeting you. Many well-established residents come and look at our displays and sometimes point out a slight mistake. New residents come and gaze in wonder at all the green fields that their houses now stand on.

One gentleman, who lived in Spencers Wood as a little boy, regularly comes to visit us and nearly always brings us some of his memories. He writes them very neatly in long hand. This year he was enquiring about some cottages that were opposite Lambs Lane School and sadly we had to say they had been demolished many years ago.

One of our display boards was about the development of the Swallowfield bypass and it was of great interest to many who passed by. One of our members had found a booklet about it and we transferred the information onto the board so that we could share it.

The bypass was constructed in 1978. It had been on the ‘cards’ for a long time because the old A33 was inadequate for the volume of traffic that traversed it every day. It had 3.6 km of continuous double white lines, 19 substandard bends and numerous junctions. Then when the M4 and Junction 11 were opened, the traffic increased even more and there was a public outcry for some relief. In fact, one frustrated farmer put up a notice board requesting motorists ‘to do their driving on the road’.

In the next few months, we hope to publish a new edition of our Spencers Wood Village Book. We should have some copies with us at the next Spencers Wood Carnival.

Mary Wheway

 

 

Spencers Wood Carnival! – Saturday 19th September 2015

 

Outside St Michaels & All Angels Church

 

We are delighted to announce we will be having a stand at

SPENCERS WOOD VILLAGE CARNIVAL

ON

SATURDAY 19TH SEPTEMBER 2015 –

ALL AFTERNOON ON THE RECREATION GROUND IN CLARES GREEN ROAD 

COME ALONG & SEE OUR HISTORICAL DISPLAYS & BUY OUR HISTORY BOOKS

PUT  YOUR NAME DOWN FOR THE NEW VILLAGE BOOK – SOON TO BE PUBLISHED!!

SEE HOW THE VILLAGE IS CONTINUALLY CHANGING!

AND SHARE YOUR MEMORIES !

HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!!

 

 

Recent Events

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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

Summer Outings

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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.

 

 

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