After World War I, one hundred years ago on 3 September 1919, a banquet was arranged to welcome home all those from Grazeley, Spencers Wood and Three Mile Cross of the United Services that had survived the War. This was held in Spencers Wood village hall, then called St Michael’s hall.
The menu for the banquet seems modest to us today but would have been a luxury after all the shortages then, was salmon with mayonnaise sauce, ham, roast beef, lamb with mint sauce, and steak and kidney pie accompanied with salad and potatoes. This was followed by plum and apple tarts, blancmange, jellies, fruit salad and trifle. There was also cheese and biscuits with fruit, following the deserts. Ales, minerals and cigarettes were also provided. The catering was provided by J Allen of Farley Hill. There were many Allens in the area.
Reverend Lewarne, vicar of St Michael’s church, said the grace and the toast to the King was made by the Chairman of the event, Brigadier General Crowe who also proposed the silent toast to all those who had not survived the War. The Chairman also compered the concert that followed, during which another toast was made to all the United Services. A W Dodd opened and closed the concert with a piano solo and the Brigadier General also sang twice as did Mr Percy Cooper, who was connected with the United Reformed Church (URC). Mr C Holloway also sang once. There was an Holloway family living in Grazeley. During the concert there was a call for volunteers to sing and the concert finished with Auld Lang Syne and God Save the King (George V).
The Committee who organised the banquet consisted of three clergymen, Reverend Lewarne who was the chairman, Reverend Cole, the pastor of the URC and Reverend Jones from Grazeley Church. There were two Lieutenants, J Middleton and Salmon and others namely Messrs Alexander, Aldridge, Bullingham, C Double, Eggleton, Hayes, Steel, Turvey and H W Salmon. The Vice Chairman was E R Horton, the Treasurer, M T Temple, and the Honorary Secretary, Mrs E R Grover. The Grover families lived in Basingstoke Road and Hyde End Road. The Salmons were market gardeners in Clares Green Road and the Apple Tree Estate has a road named after them. The Middletons were grocers on the corner of Hyde End Road but before 1919 had moved to Grovelands Farm. (See our latest book.) The Alexanders came from Grazeley as did the Holloways. One Aldridge married into the Wheeler family. The Bullinghams were connected to the village hall and James Hayes lived in the Square. There was a J R Horton at Highlands around this time and may have been a relative to E R Horton. The C Double was Charles who had the Forge on the corner of The Square.
In Reading Library there is a copy of the Reading Standard’s Pictorial Record of the War in four volumes. In volume four, 1919, on page 983 is a flashlight photo of the returned warriors of Spencers Wood, Grazeley and Three Mile Cross at the banquet, should anyone wish to see it.
Margaret Bampton and Jackie Blow.