This month’s article is loosely connected with Spencers Wood in that it recalls the Body family who influenced Shinfield from when they first moved here in the 1600’s. Recently, in March, Sir Richard Body, the MP, who lived in Stanford Dingley, Berkshire, died and his obituary revealed his ancestral connections here. His ancestors moved to Shinfield in the 1600’s and the name of either Richard or Bernard has continued ever since. There are 30 members of the family buried in a vault in St Mary’s Church, Shinfield. Two ancestors have left legacies in the form of charities. One of them named The Richard Body Charity, a charity for the poor of the parish and the other The Bernard Richard Body Charitable Trust used to maintain the church. The Body family owned Hyde End farm, the Mill House and Great Lea House Farm amongst other properties. The latter was part of an article written earlier by the group. This house was sold to Berkshire County Council in the 1920’s by the grandfather of the above Richard Body. Richard’s great great grandfather had built it in 1822 and this Richard in the 1970’s, tried to save it from being demolished to make way for the Swallowfield bypass by buying it from the Council and having it rebuilt in Grazeley, two miles away. Body’s farm is still on the Basingstoke Road, in Spencers Wood.
Some background to the late Sir Richard Body is that he was MP for Boston and Skegness lately and entered politics in 1955 as the Conservative member for Billericay. He was educated locally at Reading School and when he was 50 took his O level in English to test the standard of education of that day. He gained a C pass and concluded that standards hadn’t deteriorated at all! He said that in 1955, MP’s would traditionally wear striped pants and black coats as per Clement Attlee. He grew up in Shinfield and his father was a cavalryman in the Life Guards who fought in both WWi and WWII when in his fifties. His mother drove ambulances during the war. When war broke out the house was sold and all the animals shot. Sir Richard was a pig farmer who cared about the welfare of animals, including mink. He was also a huntsman and kept a pack of hounds. He was a barrister in family law for his income essentially and he gave up parliament to concentrate on the law but returned. Sir Richard was initially a Conservative but became a UKIP member as he was a staunch Eurosceptic when he died. There is so much more that could be said of him and some of the above comes from his oral history in the British Library which came from directly from him. An interesting individual.