Sussex Lane is marked on old maps. The 1740 map shows some plots of land that were unchanged for centuries. The plot where “Hardy Cottage” was built in 1889 was marked on the map of 1740 with a “bothy” and the plot outline was exactly the same when it was purchased by Harry Cook in the 1960s. The Lane is part of the route from Swallowfield to St. Mary’s Church in Shinfield, which goes partly across fields as a footpath, and partly on tarmac roads.
When St. Michael’s Church was built and the new ecclesiastical parish was carved out of the original St. Mary’s parish in 1911, the centre of Sussex Lane formed the boundary between the two, with houses on either side in different parishes. The Lane still forms the boundary between the separate parts of the civil and ecclesiastical parishes. The fields at the southern end of the Lane were worked for gravel extraction from gravel pits owned Mr and Mrs Robbins of Glenwood, and local children used to swim in the lakes. The pits were filled in with rubbish during the 1960s by Wokingham Council. At that time the Lane was called “Gravel Pit Lane” or “Pits Lane” and the later residents had to petition to change the name to Sussex Lane.
Only three dwellings along the Lane date from before the second half of the twentieth century. The oldest property is Meadow Cottage, formerly “Glenwood” and originally two Elizabethan cottages. It now retains parts of the sixteenth and eighteenth century Georgian building. Wooden stables with a loft over were pulled down in the mid-1960s to make room for the Meadow Cottage Nursery School which took children between the ages of three and five years. Sussex Lodge has deeds dating from the mid-1850s. Hardy Cottage, previously called Lane End Cottage, was built in 1889 and was lived in by the gardener to one of the local estates. The soil there is a deep rich loam built up over the years and there is still a working well in the garden. At the entrance to Sussex Lane there was a market garden where no.205 Hyde End Road now stands. The production of fruit and vegetables for markets in the Thames Valley was a major land use in Spencers Wood during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Beyond Hardy Cottage, the land where Laburnum was built in 1958 had been a small-holding. The Lane and Hyde End Road were re-aligned in the 1960s and further properties were added in Sussex Lane during the 1960s – 1980s. Jordan Close and new houses fronting Hyde End Road were added in the 1990s.
Mrs Kay Kennedy, Sussex Cottage 2004
Mr Harry Cook, Hardy Cottage 2004
Patricia Green, February 2011