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.


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

More memories of the area

Last month we had an enquiry about the Basingstoke Road which prompted some research in the area and the following two businesses were recorded from our memories file.

Ash Cottage on the Basingstoke Road was occupied by the Belcher family.  Leonard Belcher suffered a severe disability as a child and could only walk with a walking stick.  However on completing his schooling, he was trained to repair boots and shoes and eventually set up his own successful business with a workshop ably assisted by his mother to begin with. Later on his wife looked after the shop.  This remained for many years from the 1920s to the mid 1960s and perhaps the 70s when he retired.

Janet Bunch remembered him with a pipe and his stick.  He sold second hand shoes and Janet coveted a pair of red boots which probably wouldn’t fit her and was dismayed when they were sold to someone else.  In 1957, Ron Holyday, whose grandfather lived almost next door, can remember buying some leather boot laces from Leonard.  They were sliced from a long, strip of leather.  The boot repair business was a shop at the rear of Ash Cottage and part of Leonard’s home.

There was another boot repairer in the village called Arthur Thorne.  Whether he was at the same premises is not clear.

Spencers Wood Stores

The shop next door to Belchers, in the late 1900s, was originally a draper’s shop selling clothes, as well as drapery owned by Mr Charles Ballard.  It was taken over by Mr Sant, by 1910 until the 1920s, selling similar wares.  Sant would also used to sell his goods door-to-door travelling the local area.  Early in the 1920s, it closed and changed to a general shop and café with net curtains half way up across the window behind which the diners would eat in an area separated from the shop by a wooden partition.  Robin Drinkwater can remember his brother, Arthur, holding his wedding reception there.

There were two others who were drapers namely, Edward Hatch in the 1920s and his son and Frank Austin, in the 1930s, shown as an outfitter and draper.  As far as we know, the general store was run by Miss Alice Mulgrew as a grocer and confectioner in the 1940s and then in the 1950s was owned by Brian Davey.  When Mr Thomas owned it, it was a grocers and café.  The next owner was Mr Hibberd and finally Mr Pandher.  It has been called London House Stores.

Margaret Bampton

Happy Christmas

Every year our group has an outing in appreciation of our efforts put in throughout the year. 2013 saw us publish “A History of Three Mile Cross Methodist Chapel”; display at the Swallowfield Show; St Michaels and All Angels Church fete, and the Spencers Wood Village Carnival. It has been a long and busy summer.SWLHG Group

Our outing is normally at Christmas time, however, this time it happened that one of our memory givers, the Reverend Marion Pyke, invited the group up to Westminster Abbey!

Marion grew up in our village. She was born in Spencers Wood. She attended Lambs Lane School, as did her mother, Frona Gale. Frona lived all of her life either in Swallowfield or Spencers Wood. You can hear more of Marion’s story by clicking here.

Marion PykeMarion is now a Vicar at St. Peters Church in Caversham, and has been asked to hold some services at Westminster Abbey when the resident vicars are unavailable. She extended the invitation to visit and on a freezing cold Friday of Easter week, some of the group went. Some had been before, but I never had, so prior to going begun my research of the Abbey with fervour. I would encourage those of you that haven’t attended to go. It really is a fascinating place!

Westminster Abbey has been the coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of seventeen monarchs. It is also a place of pilgrimage. St Edward the Confessor is accredited as the re-founder of Westminster Abbey and his bones are buried at the heart of the Abbey Church. Daily there is a private service held near his grave, and we were lucky enough to attend. The Abbey latterly, was also where Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, was married to Miss Catherine Middleton.

Many famous individuals are buried there, or have their ashes interred in the Abbey as an act of posterity. I was looking forward to seeing Winston Churchill’s tomb; the authors – Charles Dickens and Jane Austen; as well as the tomb of the Unknown Warrior, which is a tribute not only to the men and women who died in WWI but continue to die for peace the world over.Winston Churchill

I was amazed at the size of the Abbey. It is an industry in itself but also has a wonderful serenity and peace. Marion managed to generate such calm when conducting the service at Edward’s tomb, it felt overwhelming. How far a local girl who didn’t even like school had come!

This year our group has once again been asked to decorate a window in St. Michaels and All Angels Church. Please come along and see that from 14th December on.

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a peaceful 2014!

christmas tree

The Village Hall

village hallThis month’s contribution is some of the snippets from an article which will appear in our new village book.  It concerns the village hall which was given to the church in 1911, in memory of Mary Charlotte Hunter’s father from Beech Hill.  In 1948, Mary transferred the title to all the residents of Spencers Wood and it was held in trust initially, by Maurice Magill and Ernest Mills of Highlands.  Mary Hunter wished the hall to be used for recreational, educational, social, moral purposes and physical training through the media of reading and recreational rooms, a library, lectures and classes etc.

The first committee consisted of seven members who could co-opt others from the Parish Council.  There were two members from the church, two from Spencers Wood Sports and Social Club, one from the British Legion, one from the Congregational Church and one from the Mothers Union.  The basis changed in the 1960s when new charity rules came in and again in the 1990s.  There are now thirteen possible representatives taken from the church, the parish council and various clubs.

The British Legion used to hold a carnival with a Queen every year as well as concert parties.  These would go to other venues on Ted Clement’s lorry.  The Congregational church would also hold concert parties in the hall.  Reg Norriss can remember visiting the dentist walking up crocodile style from Lambs Lane School.  The dentist would operate a foot driven mechanical drill for fillings as there was no electricity.  Marion Pyke attended ballet classes there and magic lantern shows which were repeated annually.  The magic lantern, powered by gas, caught fire once, adding excitement to the children.  After World War I, the Women’s Social Club was formed and many whist drives took place followed by dances, accompanied by a piano.   The dances were the most popular events held, particularly after the Second World War.

In latter years the hall has focussed on children’s events and the raising of funds for charities.  In the 1970s, events such as shows and plays raised money for the hall’s extension.   Because the hall is run by volunteers for community use, it is always in need of funds for repairs and our support.

The Group would like to thank Ron Holyday for his superb presentation of Philpotts bakery and his memories that he gave to us at the Carnival.  This will feature later on.

Margaret Bampton.

Swallowfield Show 2014

Although the Royal Family is not a local history topic, we displayed a poster leftover from last year’s jubilee, on the group’s boards, at the Swallowfield Show. It was on the back, as we thought we wouldn’t be showing this but it proved to be an opening conversation for many people as it was something that they recognised.

They might not have had an interest in Spencers Wood but they looked at our boards. Another poster from last year that attracted people’s attention was the development one which shows many of the estates that have been built since the 1970s. Talking to people is something that the group doesn’t do very often and the Show gave us the opportunity to do just that. We were able to collect a few memories from the families that wandered into the tent and we had enquiries about the Judd’s business of wood haulage and would be interested to hear from anyone with any information about it.

David Bowyer has promised to provide us with some photographs of Loddon Court Farm and one of Vera Bowyer with her milk cart. Some of the Double family arrived and we were able to show them our piece in the first village book. Now that the Chapel book of Three Mile Cross has been published we will concentrate on another village book. We sold several books of Ryeish Green School and still have copies of Lamb’s Lane School Centenary.

We are still trying to identify some of the class pictures of Lambs Lane School and one lady at the Show was most helpful. We were at the Show for the Sunday only and apparently we should have gone on the Monday because the traffic was held up on Hyde End Road and Basingstoke Road with people trying to get to the show. The highlight of the day was John Madejski visiting our stall and having our picture taken with him (below).

We will be attending the Carnival in Spencers Wood.

Margaret Bampton.



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?












Pig Farmers in Spencers Wood

Billy Wilson
Billy Wilson

Of late, I have been compiling a file of all the memories that people have given us over the years which have appeared in all our books.  We have over forty of these referring to Spencers Wood generally, plus all those that appeared in our Lambs Lane School and Ryeish Green Schools books.  We now have the memories of those people involved with Three Mile Cross Chapel, and we have some of the United Reformed Chapel which will appear in our new book about the village.

This means that we have a large archive of historical data that can be used in the new book.  Looking through this, I found further references to Body’s Farm which I mentioned in the last Loddon Reach and the farm changed hands in 1937, due to ill health of one of the Luckwell family, according to one memory.  It became a pig farm which was closed down due to swine fever.

Another memoir said that the person concerned could remember a pig-sticker called Mr Kirby who would visit Sheerman’s, the butchers in Basingstoke Road, on a Friday morning and it was horrible to hear the pigs screaming.  Billy Wilson, who died in the 1990s, told us that pigs used to roam on what was called White’s Green, going down towards Beech Hill.  Perhaps they came from Body’s Farm.

It is more likely that the pigs came from the home of the Foremans.   Foreman was a free range pig farmer who reared pigs in mobile sties fitted with wheels on a field alongside the Loddon River.  The Foremans lived in a house in Lambs Lane opposite the road to Kingsbridge. Jack Gray gave us this information and he also told the story of the family of Bennetts, of which there were thirteen.

They were involved in many of the farms locally including the Halfacres, who kept pigs and dairy cows.  Jack also mentions other farmers namely Brookers, Bowyers, Rays, Dances, Dunlops and Cooksons.

At the back of The Farrier’s Arms, there was a pig sty with a large brick and tiled store next to it with a fireplace.  Was this store used to smoke the pigs or was it where a smithy once was?

All of the above ‘piggy’ memories came from our file and should anyone wish to add theirs for posterity, we would be pleased to receive them.

Margaret Bampton.

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