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 (www.swlhg.co.uk).
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 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.