Have you noticed how our village is changing all the time with our new look Post Office and the clearing of the pond?
The pond and common looks so different now it has been opened up.
The common was crossed by local people for hundreds of years even when it was the hunting grounds of the Hunter family from Beech Hill. The family had a hunting lodge at Highlands. Common land was usually owned by the Lord of the Manor who would allow common grazing of cattle in the summer and sheep in the winter. Sometimes, the common would be ‘firthed’ in the Spring to allow the grass some time to recover. In the Middle Ages, the land was reduced by encroachment, unlawful enclosures and squatters. By the 18th century, improved methods allowed inferior lands like commons, to be cultivated and at that time many enclosures were made, authorised by an act of parliament. To compensate the loss of common grazing, the land owners provided allotments.
In the Reading Mercury of May 1960, there appears a report from Shinfield Parish Council, saying that they were writing to Wokingham Rural District Council as it was called then, to tell them that Shinfield did not own the pond as it was in private hands, but that Wokingham should erect a fence around it. Shinfield Parish activities now appear in Loddon Reach, not local papers.
From our collection of memories of the area, we have several anecdotes about the common and the pond. Several recall crossing the common to reach the Yew Tree Inn (now a nursery). They would use Kiln Lane which runs alongside the common where the remains of the local kiln can be found. The woods there were used as pannage , a right allowing pigs to roam to eat acorns etc. Once when the pond was thinly iced over, a local lad fell in with his butcher’s bike owned by Frank Hines when skating with the bike. To retrieve the loaded bike, the lad borrowed a skipping rope and hauled it out. Opposite the pond lived Arthur Clements who ran the first horse bus service to Reading and established the bakery at Warings. He probably used the pond for his horses and so did steam engines to take on water. Opposite Warings on the edge of the common, was Hewitt and Beken, who made carriages, perhaps for Arthur. All changed now except Warings; still a bakery.