2017 Events

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As we come to the end of 2017, we have looked back on a year of the book launch and local events, and think well, what a fantastic year we’ve had!

We’ve launched a new book – an updated version of Our Village of Spencers Wood, and been involved in a number of events/shows.

The book (3 years in the making) has chapters on the history of the Village, with the Development and the Environment of the area, Highlands and Stanbury, the Congregational (before conversion) and the Church of St Michaels and All Angels; the Library, Village Hall and the Post Office; the Schools – a new chapter on Oakbank & a precise of Lambs Lane & Ryeish Green (as we have previously published books); a walk around The Square; and finishes up with the Village during the World War II.

The book is available through Amazon, in Henry Street, Caf D’Active, in Shinfield Parish Council offices, The Swan & the Farriers, Beech Hill Shop, Riseley Tea Rooms – in fact you couldn’t at one point get away from it!

It was a delight to write, and has been really well received.

Book still available!

It can still be found either at the Spencers Wood Post Office, Spencers Wood Library or Budgen’s, or if you know anyone in the group!!

We have promoted it at many village events whilst playing, where we can a key part in village life.

We have taken part in St Michaels Church Fete in July, Swallowfield Show (in August), Spencers Wood Carnival (in September); Craft Show (in the Village Hall in October) and we continuing to participate in the Christmas Window in St Michaels & All Angels Church.

Christmas Window – St Michael & All Angels Church


We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who contributed to the book with your wonderful memories, continue to use our website (www.swlhg.co.uk) and our email (spwood.history@googlemail.com.


We’ve received some wonderful current aerial views of the village during its changing landscape, fascinating information from Prisoners of Wars, and Evacuees… please keep them coming! This one below is from Graham Stewart, recently sent. He’s has a small aeroplane & has sent lots of recent images while the development work is going on.

2017 – Centre of Village – current development (taken by Graham Stewart)


As the village is changing so much around us, it without you the village memories could not be retained! It has been a delight to meet you all at these events – please continue to engage with us.

We would all like to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Traditional Village Christmas

Spencers Wood through the Years

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Spencers Wood has a clear sense of its own identity. It has however been a community for not much more than two hundred years. It was formerly an area of common land, woods and farms with small groups of poor cottages. In the early nineteenth century the farmland was managed under the mediaeval open field system. People looked for basic providers in Three Mile Cross, Grazeley and at School Green; and attended church at St Mary’s, Shinfield.

The ‘low’ road, Woodcock Lane (see a previous blog), was as important as the track across the Common until about 1830 when the latter was given a better surface. Open ditches were set to drain minor roads and farming improved as fields were enclosed from 1863. Local provision of goods and services increased, from bakers and harness makers, to brick making and digging more wells to improve water supplies. People came from other parts of the country to live here where the air was fresher than down in the Thames Valley. The religious non-conformist movement spread and village craftsmen took the initiative in building the Institute and Congregational Church beside Basingstoke Road.

Spencers Wood Post Office
Spencers Wood Post Office

The post office was established, there was at least one small ‘dame’ school, and more shops and small businesses were set up, often in front rooms of houses. Several ale houses (including the later Red Lion

and the Farriers Arms) served locals and people passing through.

Highlands, on the high ground looking west, had developed from an eighteenth century hunting lodge, and in 1860 Stanbury was built nearby. These properties employed many people and their owners took an interest in Spencers Wood. In 1889 Mr Allfrey of Stanbury donated a village school (now the library). More shops were opening such as Beesley’s (now Tintern). In 1890 Charles Double started shoeing horses and producing tools at the corner of The Square.

Opposite the Post Office
Red Lion Public House (now houses)

Market gardens were established by the Prior and Dearlove families and many orchards were grown. Bicycles became popular and several premises dealt with their repair and sale. The introduction of public omnibus services was welcomed, and a depot was built providing services to Reading, Wokingham, and the army town of Aldershot.

Lambs Lane School opened in 1908, and in the same year St Michael and All Angels Church was completed. The Village Hall was donated to Spencers Wood in 1911. In the twentieth century there was a vibrant social life with organised groups including sports clubs. Small shops delivered their goods, as did coal merchants and farmers taking round fresh milk. During the Second World War (1939-45) many men left to join the forces, and children were evacuated here from London, living with local families and attending Lambs Lane School. The public well on the Common was in great demand, as the war had halted the provision of mains services. It was not until the 1950’s that piped water and gas, and mains electricity were fully available.

New development until the 1970’s was generally small scale. However large building companies realised that here was land suitable for their requirements, and the pace of house building quickened. Market gardening enterprises ceased, and orchards were grubbed out. Some shops closed down, others changed hands, and small office blocks were built. The Farriers Arms took over cottages next door, and the Red Lion was converted to housing. The parish became a Special Development Location, and plans were drawn up which involve more than a thousand extra dwellings in Spencers Wood.

The village is becoming a very different place in which to live.

Patricia Green

Spencers Wood – Farms, Pubs & Stores – 1881 Census

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Spencers Wood – Farms, Pubs and Stores – An Analysis of the 1881 Census

The 1881 census does not really differentiate between the villages – be it Grazeley, Three Mile Cross, Shinfield Village or Spencers Wood.  Our group have spent some time as this data becomes freely available this information, and we have highlighted what we know to have been Spencers Wood.

According to the census, there were 184 individuals living in the area. The majority of those individuals held positions in service to two of the largest houses in Spencers Wood – Stanbury House and Highlands. Both had a butler, 2 housemaids and a kitchen maid. Highlands had their own cook, whereas Stanbury had its own footman! Over 20% of the population of Spencers Wood was “in-service” in one way or another.

In total our village had 56 children and 30 wives. This was the fourth highest number in the census. 19% of the children were classified as “scholars” and an additional 11% were under school age (below five years old). Since there was no compulsory state education until the 1880 Education Act, when school boards were first formed, only four of the wives were in employment and the rest remained at home to look after their children.

The 29 farmers and individuals associated with agriculture (e.g. cowmen) are nearing 16% of the total population. The total farmland (excluding market gardens) was 654 acres or 366 football pitches, with Charles Portsmouth holding 290 acres, with 10 men and 4 boys.  Much of that farmland has slowly been built on as Spencers Wood population has grown, and the demand for housing and schools has increased.

Star Inn
Star Inn (opp. Spencers Wood Post Office)

The census lists the Cricketers Inn, (now the Hop Inn), the Star Inn and The Red Lion (opposite the Post Office).Often the pubs were combined with other activities – e.g. Farriers Arms was a blacksmiths originally; Yew Tree Inn was a farm of 20 acres.   Over the years, many of these pubs have changed considerably, either being converted to houses or not generating enough business to stay open. Both the Star Inn and the Red Lion have been converted to residential properties. Some, like Yew Tree Inn, owned by a farmer George Arnott of 20 acres, was nicknamed “The Stump” and is now a nursery.

Mr & Mrs Beesley - of Beesley's Stores
Mr & Mrs Beesley – of Beesley’s Stores

Slowly the village was growing and the small businesses were growing up. There were six in total- One dressmaker, a laundress, a Wheelwright, a Woodman, a Wood Dealer and a General Shopkeeper. Beesley’s Stores stood next door but two to The Farriers Arms in the house now named Tintern and was set up in 1881 by Henry Beesley who came from Littlewick Green, Maidenhead. Beesley’s could well have been the first store in Spencers Wood (pictures and memories of Beesley’s Stores kindly donated by Lorna Merry). Do you know any different?

We are collating information regarding farms, pubs, small trades on our web site – www.swlhg.co.uk. Please email us if you have more information.

Recent Events

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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

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?












Jubilee Bash – A “Diamond” Day was had by all!

On Monday 4th June 2012, Spencers Wood Local History Group collaborated with Shinfield History Group to put on a display at the Jubilee Bash on Spencers Wood Recreation Ground.

The display’s purpose was to show how the area we live in has changed over the period of the Queen’s Reign.

The information displayed was on each decade starting at the 1950’s right through to the present day. Each decade took a newsworthy event or topic –  whether it was the opening of a motorway (the M4 in 1971);  a celebration e.g. the 300th birthday of a school,  Shinfield Infant and Nursery School; or the 100th birthday of Lambs Lane School in Spencers Wood; or the opening of a new facility, the Health Centre in Shinfield; or the closing of another, Ryeish Green School in 2010.  The only criteria used was that each event had to be specific and important to the people of the Parish.


Additional informaton focused on maps of Shinfield and Spencers Wood and the changes in the development of the areas. There has been much building, with many new roads and houses being seen in both areas. Shinfield’s map included two aerial views and sited areas like Wychelm, Fairmead, Oatlands Roads being developed from the 1960’s; School Green area being built up and Chobham House being built; the M4 during the early 1970’s, and the NIRD closing in 1985 amongst others things. Spencers Wood’s focused on specific roads, for example Apple Tree Lane (1963); Askew Drive (1971) and the Swallowfield Bypass in 1981. Certainly we are also seeing a lot of development in this decade.

There was a summary of what activities the history groups undertake. The final piece of information was of the royal family tree from the Queeen’s father, George VI and mother Queen Elizabeth and all their descendants.

Jackie Blow & Jeannie Brice
Spencers Wood Display

There was lots of piece of memorabilia from the lifetime of the Queen – magazines , silver spoons and mugs. We also now have a “Junior Historians Box” which has all sorts of treasures in it! We will be showing the display and taking this box with us to the Lambs Lane Summer Fete on 30th June, so if you are interested in seeing it, please come along!

The Bash itself included bands – the Reading Scottish Pipe Band and others; Dog Shows; Classic Cars; Dancing Competitions; Food Stalls etc.

All in all a brilliant day!