Memories of Allotment Holders

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At the end of October, Shinfield Parish Council and The University of Reading officially opened the new allotments in Deardon Way.  The Group was invited to attend which we did and it prompted this article.  Five years earlier the Public Open Space in Deardon Way opposite the allotments was opened as a green space for local use and an orchard established at one end.  It was reported that there were to be no children’s playground there, just a green open space.


The parish has many other allotments and in 2004/5 it was reported that they had seven separate allotment areas and presumably Deardon Way is the eighth. We have within our memories file some memories of other allotments from people like David McMurray whose uncle Donald Baggs kept an allotment in Grovelands Road until he died in 1990 and that David has a copy of the original rental agreement dated 1926 of 20 poles leased.  It was originally leased to David’s grandfather who was a gardening fanatic. These allotments are really in Clares Green Road which David’s mother said that older people in the village used to call Farrier’s Lane. Another orchard used to run from ‘Farrier’s Lane’ to Hyde End Road owned by the Salmon family where Apple Tree estate is.


Beryl Jelliman said that her father had two large pieces of allotment in Clares Green Road during World War II and the children had to help him on Saturday mornings.  She thought that they were more of a hindrance than a help.


Mr Archer who lived in Grovelands Road said that the address of Recreation Road used to be Spencers Wood Common and the proof of this was in the deeds of the white house at the end of Recreation Road leading into the allotments, had such an address.  This house used to be 3 cottages.


Hunter of Beech Hill House owned the allotments of Recreation Road and were disbursed in the Spencers Wood Common Enclosure Act in the mid -1800s.  Hunter also owned the private allotments in Beech Hill Road that Diana Close was built on.  The allotments continued beyond the close into the field and there was a well there.   The occupants of Oak Tree Cottage which was two cottages then would not use the well as they preferred the one on the common which the cottage bordered.  The allotments would have been used by the workers of the brick kiln in the woods and they would have used the footpath alongside the allotments to get to Beech Hill Road.


If anyone has any more information or anecdotes about the allotments, we would be pleased to hear from them.


Margaret Bampton.

Photographs in Loddon Reach – February 2020

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There are two items of interest to the Group in February’s Loddon Reach.  The first one is the two sporting photos which Martin Clements would like identified of Three Mile Cross Football Club and Spencers Wood Cricket Club.  The cricket club one appeared in our first history book published in 2001 and we did not know the names of the players either.   We have since found out that the umpire was Albert Edward Benham and he was probably a local man.  We had another picture in the book of when Denis Compton opened the new pavilion at the Recreation Ground.  Underneath this picture there is another team picture but of the Youth Team and we were able to identify most of this team.  Some of these names can be applied to the Denis Compton picture namely, Tony Dyer, Geoff Purslow and Brian Rebeck(?).  Lastly, our book showed a cartoon by ‘Areff’ when the pavilion was opened.  The pavilion will be removed and rebuilt early this summer and it has lasted for 21 years. Shinfield Parish Council issued a report in 1991when the ‘new’ pavilion was officially opened in October 1991.


They reported that it took two years in the planning and a good squeeze of the Council’s money box for it to be born.  (The new building will be funded with the CIL money from the new housing.)  It was to be known as the Spencers Wood Pavilion.  It provided a flexible range of rooms and facilities such as the largest room is dedicated to youth activities with storage and tuck shop with an all-weather play area with basket ball facilities.  It has a meeting room with a boardroom table to accommodate 18 people and two interlinked rooms for use together or separately.  There is a large kitchen including a baby changing facility which is shared by users.  Toilets and two showers and storage were also provided.  There was car parking for 17 vehicles.    The large youth room was supporting a youth drop-in on Monday and Tuesday evenings and hosting a Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme on Thursdays.  The board room was being used for council meetings several evenings a month.  A play group was occupying the twin room and could be used as changing rooms for sports events or for birthday parties etc.


The other item in Loddon Reach is the 75th Anniversary of World War II being held in May and the Group is hoping to participate in this event.  WWII appeared as an article in our current book and we have more anecdotes about the war to reveal.


Margaret Bamptonp

Spencers Wood Football Teams

Back in the July issue of Loddon Reach, the monthly article about Spencers Wood Football Team whose supporters had raised £1800 for the club prompted me to look up their website.  I was amazed to see so many teams featured there unlike in 1919 and 1922 when Spencers Wood had only one team.

Spencers Wood Football Team 1922


The team in 1922 consisted of C W Turner, who was vice-captain, F Benham, G Smith, H J Thatcher, S Double, H Cole, W Underwood, R Evans, W East, H S House, C E Double (Captain), and Geoff Day. The Secretary was Jack Povey.  Jack Povey features in our new book in the chapter on the United Reformed Church when it was the Congregational Chapel.


The second photograph features practically the same team except for H S House who is replaced with P Double instead.  This team in 1919, were visiting Brock Barracks in Oxford Road, Reading, home of the Berkshire Regiment, to play against the soldiers there and they are pictured placing a wreath on the memorial for World War I just inside the gate arch.  Some members of the team lost a family member as a J T Double and E Benham died in the Great War and are commemorated on the board that stands outside St Michael’s and All Angels Church.  This board used to be displayed inside and later on, outside the Chapel.  H Cole may well have been a relative of the Reverend Cole from the Chapel also. The 1922 photograph, was given to us by Sam Poulter who married into the Double family and the 1919 photograph was in the local paper in 1969, fifty years later.

The article about the Day and Marcham family has prompted a response from another member of the Day family which we can add to our memories file.

Margaret Bampton

Great Lea Farm House Changes over the Years

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Recently, four things have been brought to my notice and all refer to the same place.  We are grateful to all who have provided the two maps, a photograph and information.  The area concerned is Woodcock Lane which borders Spencers Wood and Three Mile Cross, runs alongside the Swallowfield Bypass and reaches the Devils Highway at Beech Hill to go onto Silchester.  A major route in times past. Firstly, I was given a map by a friend who worked for the Thames Valley buses showing the area in 1936 and before the M4 was built.  It showed two commons namely, Whitley Wood Common and Lea Common which were both cut in half in 1971 by the M4.  The Swallowfield Bypass which was approved in 1963 went from Lea Common to Riseley protecting Three Mile Cross, Spencers Wood and Swallowfield from excessive traffic.  It also divided Shinfield Parish cutting off Grazeley Road where the new development in Three Mile Cross has recently been built.   It was at this point, so Ian Clarke of the Council informed me, that the developers had cleared out the pond and it was remarkable in that it was a circular brick built pond with an overflow making it tear shaped.   It is worth looking at.  There are pictures of it on our website (


This pond is shown on the photograph I was given by Bob Watkins, in January, and although obscured by trees looks like the same pond in front of a farm house called Great Lea House Farm. It is not to be confused with

Great Lea House Farm, 1936 (donated by Bob Watkins)
Great Lea House Farm, 1936 (donated by Bob Watkins)

Great Lea Farm which lies the other side of the Bypass close to the caravan site, in Grazeley.

The picture shows Grazeley Road behind the farm and Woodcock Lane in front.  Bob discovered the picture when clearing out his late uncle’s house and had it copied and enlarged for us.  The property was once owned by the Body family who owned many other properties in the area including Hyde End Farm and Manor Farm on Basingstoke Road in Reading.   One of the family was implicit in the building of Three Mile Cross Chapel at the end of Grazeley Road and a copy of our history book about the Chapel, called A History of Three Mile Cross Methodist Church, can be found in the Swan Public house.   The house was demolished though to build the Bypass which thunders past the pond today.

The final item I was given was another map from the 19th century showing that the house was called Woodcock Lane Farm.  This map is detailed to show the layout of the farm buildings and it confirms the picture is the same farm.   It also shows that Woodcock Lane is the drive to the farm with an avenue of trees lining it and how the lane got its’ name.  Woodcock Lane is also well worth a visit.

Great Lea House Farm Pond -taken by a member of the group, Patricia Green, in 2008
Great Lea House Farm Pond -taken by a member of the group, Patricia Green, in 2008

Margaret Bampton.

Book Launch

posted in: Memories, Spencers Wood Village | 0
Prof. Richard Hoyle giving short talk on history of Spencers Wood

7 December saw the launch of our new book, More from Our Village of Spencers Wood, in St Michael’s Church. Wine and nibbles were served, including cheese provided by Village Maid Dairies. Mary Wheway got the proceedings off to a flying start by introducing the group and then Prof. Richard Hoyle gave a short talk on the village and the writing of its story, emphasising that though no king or queen has ever slept in Spencers Wood, it still has an interesting history. The book traces the making of the Spencers Wood we know: it tells the history of the ordinary people who have lived here and shaped the village. Richard reminded the audience that the writing of history is never done and requested anyone who has any documents, photos etc that relate to the history of the village to get in touch with us (

Jeannie from Spencers Wood Group giving Marion the first copy of the new book

Jeannie Brice then presented our guest, Rev. Marion Pyke, with the first copy of the book and Marion said a few words about growing up in the village, and how strong her ties have been with it. As readers of the book will know, the blacksmith’s smithy features largely in Marion’s memories of her childhood, and after the presentation, Marion fell into conversation with the blacksmith’s son, Mr Doug Double, and they discovered to their mutual delight that they had both been born in the same house, Westview.

Doug Double & Marion Pyke introducing themselves!


The evening provided a splendid occasion for launching the book, with events held on the following two days in the Library and the Village Hall and a stall at St Michael’s Fayre on the Saturday. Further events are being planned and the book is on sale in the Post Office, or can be obtained from members of the group, price £13.

All Members of Spencers Wood Local History Group, Contributors (Sarah Codling & Richard Hoyle), and Marion Pyke.


Selling the book in Spencers Wood Village Library


The group was also busy in December decorating one of the church windows on the theme of Christmas Boxes. The display included an old wooden box to represent the tradition of presenting servants or tradesmen with ‘Christmas boxes’ containing money or presents on ‘Boxing Day’; a tin box bearing the name Huntley, Boorne and Stevens, which would have contained biscuits made by the Reading company Huntley and Palmer’s; a decorated shoe box, a modern-day idea, containing small and useful items which are donated to various charities to help people in need; and our fourth and final box contained a copy of our new book!

If you still want to get hold of a copy of the “More of the Village” book, they can be found at Spencers Wood Post Office, Three Mile Cross Budgens (within the petrol station) and Henry St. Garden Centre.

Christmas Window 2016 – “Boxes”
Patricia, Margaret & Lesley in front of the window



























Written by Cathy Glover & Lesley Rolph

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


More from our Village of Spencers Wood



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



Jam, Jellies and Pickles

Lorna Merry was a founder member of Spencers Wood WomenBanner of WI - Spencers Wood‘s Institute who gave the group these memories to go in our first village book. Initially there were only twenty members but the numbers increased to around sixty or so.

They had lots of speakers from all walks of life and many different topics such as the police, lace making, cake decorating, painting on china, lawyers, dolls of all ages and countries, the Royal National Institute for the Blind, antiques, flower arranging etc.   They had some very happy times. A choir was formed which many of them joined under the leadership of Mrs Wellstead. Practices were held at the United Reform Church in the village.


In later years, Mr Jones, who was the organist at St Michael’s church, became the conductor. Other members were Olive Franklin, Nancy Benham, Peggy Gillings, W Runyard, Lorna and many more. They also had a concert party which was great fun. On one occasion they gave a performance as ‘The Black and White Minstrels’ (a popular TV programme , which would be non politically correct today).   Supper parties were held and they had many coach trips on which everyone was eager to go. The men folk often came on the trips and they enjoyed them too. On another occasion of the 21st birthday party, the branch held a dinner and social evening. A cartoonist called AREFF printed the cartoon of the committee in the local paper. These are the names in the cartoon; Joan Parkes, Edith Burningham, Peggy Gillings, Miranda Mayne, Eileen Summersgill, Barbara Panting, Mag Dore, Phil Drake, Edna Carter, Eileen Simmons, Janet Rickson, Marjorie Lyon and Lorna Merry.Spencers Wood WI for blog

It was unfortunate that it had to close down in the mid 1980’s because the members were getting older and did not like walking to and from meetings on the dark nights. Lorna and her friend Vera Bowyer were the only surviving original members when they closed. Marjorie Lyon could remember the happy meetings that were held by the WI which were usually educational or instructive. Sometimes members would bring along their personal collections to show and talk about them.

When the group disbanded, each member held a memento from the group and Marjorie had a cup and saucer with WI on them. The idea was that if they group ever reformed the equipment would be in safe keeping until that day. The group has been given the banner of the WI.

Margaret Bampton.