The Bearwood Estate was put up for sale in two auctions in 1911, in March (for the outlying portions) and July (Mansion and adjoining lands).
In addition, the leased land in Barkham, Finchampsted and Arborfield forming the Arborfield Remount Depot was privately sold to the Army.
The rather detailed report that appears below was from the 'Reading Mercury' of 1st April 1911, and shows the breath-taking scale of the estate of nearly 10 square miles, covering much of the land surrounding Wokingham town.
Several maps from the sale document survive, apart from a map covering Wokingham town, at Reading Local Studies Library. Click on each one for a larger image.
THE BEAR WOOD ESTATE.
GREAT SALE OF FREEHOLD PROPERTIES AT WOKINGHAM.
The great sale of the outlying portions of the Bear Wood Estate, which had been in possession of the Walter family for nearly a century, consequent on the lamented death of Mr. Arthur Fraser Walter, was held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last, at the Drill Hall, Wokingham, and attracted large numbers of persons each day.
Messrs. Trollope, the well-known estate agents of Mount-street, Grosvenor-square, were entrusted with this important sale, which is the largest property sale ever held in Wokingham. The solicitors for the estate are Messrs. Cooke, Cooper and Harry, of Wokingham, and Messrs. Soames, Edwards and Jones, of Lennox House, Norfolk-street, Strand, W.
Carefully compiled particulars and plans had been prepared of the various lots, which numbered 124, and comprised freehold properties in the parishes of Wokingham, Arborfield, Barkham, Finchampstead, Newlands [sic], Sandhurst, Winnersh and Yateley, of every description and size consisting of attractive estates, residences, farms, extensive woodlands at Finchampstead, building land and licensed premises, the Drill Hall at Wokingham, the hotel at Wellington College and polo ground, numerous cottages, enclosures of pasture and accommodation land, &c.
Of the 123 lots, some 11 or 12 of the properties had been disposed of by private treaty previous to the auction, thus leaving over 100 lots to be offered by auction during the three days' sale. Of these about 31 were sold at the auction, and negotiations are being carried on for the purchase by private treaty of other lots.
As a rule the biddings were not keen, except for the Wellington Hotel and the other licensed properties, as would-be purchasers of landed property are evidently deterred from buying owing to the present uncertain state of the property market and the feeling of uncertainty that exists as to what further burdens may be placed upon landed property – or how future legislation may still more seriously affect owners of property.
On the first day (Tuesday) out of the 38 lots offered by Auction only 11 were disposed of. On the second day (Wednesday) 40 lots were submitted to auction and 16 were sold, while on Thursday, the last day, of the 35 lots offered only four were sold at the fall of the hammer.
The sale commenced each day at two o'clock, and was conducted by Mr. H. C. Trollope and Mr. James Baker (principals of the firm of Messrs. Trollope).
FIRST DAY – TUESDAY.
On Tuesday, when the proceedings commenced, the large Drill Hall was completely filled by persons interested in the sale. Lots 1 to 42 were entered on the list for the first day's sale but as four of the properties had been dealt with previously by private treaty, only 38 lots were offered; and of these only 11 were sold at the fall of the hammer, the reserve price for the other lots not having been reached.
Mr. H. C. Trollope in his opening remarks said the various properties which would be offered were generally in very good order, the Walter family with almost princely liberality, having for many years past kept the estate in a state of excellent repair. After having referred to several prospective Parliamentary Measures which he thought would eventually benefit the land, Mr. Trollope said that broadly speaking, the outlook was a good one for tenants, and better times he hoped were now approaching.
The properties dealt with on the first day were mostly situated in Wokingham, Barkham, Winnersh and Newlands [sic]. The eleven lots disposed of realised a total of £4,575, and were as follows:-
Lot 14. - An enclosure of freehold accommodation grass land about 5½ acres in extent, on the outskirts of Wokingham, having a frontage to the Finchampstead-road, and let at a rental of £16. Tithe, £2 0s. 4d.; land tax and timber on the lot valued at £30, was sold to Mr. T. Dowsett, “Duke's Head”, Wokingham, for £300, the value of the timber (£30) being in addition.
Lot 20. - Freehold accommodation grass lands, 28¼ acres in extent, with a frontage of about 700 feet to the Oxford-road, Wokingham, of the estimated rental value of £46 per annum. Tithe £6 17s. 4d.; land tax; and timber on the lot valued at £250. Sold for £1,300 to Mr. J. F. Sargeant, clerk to the Wokingham Board of Guardians, under sanction by the Local Government Board for the purpose of erecting two Cottage Homes for the accommodation of the children now in the Workhouse. Only a part of the land will be utilised for the Children's Homes, and the remainder will be let off or be used for giving employment to men in the Workhouse.
Lot 21. - An enclosure of freehold land in Wokingham parish, at the junction of the Reading and Oxford roads, having frontages of about 400 and 710 ft., respectively; about 4 acres in extent, now let at £12 per annum. Tithe, 16s. 5d., and timber valued at £53, was sold for £330 to Mr. Fielder, Finchampstead-road, Wokingham.
Lot 27. - About 10 acres of market garden ground on the Barkham-road, and close to Wokingham station, including a range of timber and galvanised buildings, now let to Mr. P. Sale, at £22 per annum. Tithe £3 4s. 6d.; and timber valued at £39. Sold for £500 to Mr. H. G. Rainbow, of London-road, Reading.
Lot 32. - A freehold cottage and garden situated in the parish of Wokingham Without, under a mile from the town, and known as “White Cottage”, Embrook, occupying about 2/3 acre, and with an estimated rental value of £7 16s. per annum, was sold for £150 to Mr. Alfred Clark, of The Avenue, Kew Gardens.
Lot 34. - About 5½ acres of grass land, under a mile from the town of Wokingham, and having a frontage to the Reading-road of about 700 feet, an average depth of about 350 feet, let at £10 per annum, tithe £2 5s., and timber valued at £19 10s. Sold to Mr. W. M. Colebrook, of Broad-street, Reading, for £250.
Lot 35. - The adjoining lot of freehold land, about 3½ acres, with a frontage of almost 600 feet to the Reading-road, and let at £3 10s., tithe £2 4s. 6d., and timber valued at £90, was also sold to Mr. W. M. Colebrook, of Reading, for £250.
Lot 37. - Winnersh Grove, situated on the Reading-road, about two miles from Reading, was not sold, the biddings not having reached the reserve price. This property was withdrawn at £2,200.
Lot 38. - The enclosure of freehold grass land opposite to Winnersh Grove, and having a frontage of about 640 feet to the Reading-road, and about 2¾ acres in extent, let at £4 10s. per annum, tithe 12s., with timber valued at £20, sold for £200 to Mr. W. C. Godsal, Haines Hill, Twyford, with the addition of the value of the timber.
Lot 39. - A freehold small holding, of about nine acres, situated in the parish of Winnersh, close to the village of Sindlesham, about 2½ miles from Wokingham, with a brick and tiled cottage erected thereon and outbuildings, now let to Mr. J. E. Allnatt at a rental of £20 per annum, tithe £2 4s. 3d., and timber valued at £39, was sold for £525 to Mr. Ferrebee, of Twyford, Berks. Mr. Allnatt gave notice in the hall that he should make a claim under the Market Gardeners Act for compensation, there being 1,500 fruit trees on the ground.
Lot 40. - A small holding adjoining the above, of about 13 acres, comprising a pair of brick and thatched cottages of five and four rooms respectively, with two enclosures of grass land, let at an estimated rental of £25 per annum, tithe £2 17s., and timber valued at £127, to Mr. Ferrebee, of Twyford, for £325.
Lot 41. - An enclosure of freehold arable land, situated in the parish of Newland, on the Arborfield Cross-road, about five miles from Reading, extending to about six acres, let at £12 per annum, tithe £1 10s. 9d., and timber valued at £32, sold for £225 to Mr. E. H. Godsal, of Winnersh Lodge.
The growing timber on all the lots had been valued previous to the auction and had to be paid for in addition to the amount of the purchase money at the sale.
Lot 8 comprised the Drill Hall, Wokingham, together with four brick cottages adjacent (the total estimated rental being £164). This property was put up to auction, but the biddings did not rise beyond £2,100, at which figure it was withdrawn.
Other lots offered and not sold at the auction included Shute End Lodge, Wokingham, Barford House, Wokingham, offices in Broad-street, Wokingham, and shops and houses in Denmark-street, Wokingham; also Embrook House, with 23 acres of arable and grass land.
SECOND DAY – WEDNESDAY
On Wednesday, upwards of 40 lots of properties in the parishes of Wokingham Without, Barkham, Finchampstead, Wellington College, Sandhurst and Yateley were offered, and of this number, 16 lots were disposed of by auction, the amount realised being £17,760.
The chief interest centred in the biddings for the Wellington Hotel, near Wellington College Station, and two other licensed premises in Finchampstead and Wokingham Without. Of the 24 lots unsold, several were bought in on behalf of the vendors and the remainder were withdrawn owing to the reserve price not being reached.
The properties sold at the fall of the hammer on Wednesday were:-
Lot 43, comprising a freehold agricultural holding known as “Langley Pond Farm” in the parishes of Newland and Barkham, about half-a-mile from the village of Arborfield, about 97½ acres in extent, and including a brick and tiled farm house, let at a rental of £95 per annum, tithe £28, and land tax. Sold to Mr. Jonas Isaac, Riseley Farm, Swallowfield, for £1,500, the timber, valued at £439, having to be paid for in addition to the purchase money.
Lot 44 comprised a freehold agricultural holding known as “Hand Post Farm”, in the parish of Barkham, about half a mile from Arborfield Cross, with about 90 acres of pasture and arable land, and with the farm house let at £75 per annum. Included in this lot was also a 13-acre arable field, let at £15 per annum. The timber on this lot was valued at £354; tithe £20 11s. This was purchased by Mr, Samuel Jeanes, of Swansea, for £1,570, in addition to the value of the timber.
Lot 45, the freehold dwelling-house and shop known as Barkham Post Office, in the centre of the village, with garden of about a quarter acre, let at a rental of £25 per annum, was purchased by Mr. W. Walker, Heathland, College Row, Camberley, for £500.
Lot 48 comprised the fully-licensed freehold country inn known as “The Old Leather Bottle”, about a mile from the town of Wokingham on the Barkham-road, with small garden, paddock and outbuildings about 1½ acres, and let at £32 per annum, and timber valued at £14, was purchased by Messrs. H. and G. Simonds, Ltd., brewers, Reading, for £1,110.
Lot 49, a freehold cottage with outbuildings and garden, situated in Evendon's-Lane, about a mile from Wokingham, let at £13 per annum, was sold to Mr. J. H. Ogburn, of Holyoak-road, Newington Butts, for £300.
Lot 50, about 13 acres of freehold woodland, also in the parish of Wokingham Without, under a mile from Wellington College Station, with frontage of about 1,170 feet to the Wellington road and about 750 feet to the Nine Mile Ride, was sold at the fall of the hammer to Mr. Poppy, of Hagville, Wokingham, at the extraordinarily low price of £170, which means only about £15 per acre for the land. But the growing timber on the lot was valued at £253, and had to be paid for in addition to the purchase money. Even then the price at which the 13 acres were sold averaged only about £33 per acre including the timber.
Lot 60. - The adjacent 23 acres of freehold woodland, described as suitable for building development, in the parishes of Wokingham Without and Finchampstead, having a frontage of about 2,300 feet to the Wellington road, and an average depth of about 420 feet, was sold to the Wokingham Investment Company for £300, a remarkably low price considering that this land is within half a mile of Wellington College Station, the average being about only £15 per acre. But the timber on this lot had been valued at £279, and this amount had to be paid in addition to the purchase money, thus bringing up the average price to about £30 per acre.
Lot 62 comprised the well-known Wellington Hotel with the adjacent land, close to Wellington College Station. The hotel is freehold and fully licensed, and has excellent accommodation, with a large annexe and extensive stabling and outbuildings, and cottages with gardens, about 2½ acres in extent, let at £137 per annum to Mr. James; also 11 acres of adjacent woodland, let at £2 15s. per annum, the whole occupying about 17 acres, with timber valued at £221. With this lot the freehold polo ground, tennis courts and croquet lawns immediately opposite the Wellington Hotel, covering an area of about 22 acres, and let to the tenant of the hotel at £40 per annum, were also included, the timber being valued at £15. After some spirited bidding the two lots (offered together) were sold to Mr. J. C. James, the tenant of the Wellington Hotel, for £8,300.
Lot 65. - The freehold wood known as “Ambarrow Hill”, situated in the parish of Sandhurst, having a frontage of about 630 feet to the Sandhurst-road, suitable for the erection of a residence, and comprising an area of about 11 acres, with the timber valued at £332, was sold to Mr. Poppy for £275.
Lot 66. - An enclosure of freehold woodland, also in the parish of Sandhurst, having a frontage of about 875 feet to the Sandhurst-road, and of about 930 feet to the road leading to Finchampstead, comprising an area of some 10 acres, was also sold to Mr. Poppy for £420. The timber on this site was valued at £147, to be paid for in addition to the purchase money.
Lot 71. - Four freehold cottages and gardens, and 24 acres, in the parish of Easthampstead, and let altogether at a rental of £30 18s. per annum, and timber valued at £136, was sold to Mr. John Over, of Camberley, for £495.
Lot 74. - An enclosure of freehold arable land situated close to the village of Finchampstead, about 6 acres in extent, with a long road frontage, and let at £6 10s. per annum. Tithe, £3 0s. 2d., and timber valued at £53. Sold to Mr. Goddard, architect, the Post Office, Finchampstead for £170.
Lot 75, comprising an enclosure of freehold grass land in the Longwater-lane, Finchampstead, about 7 acres in extent, let at a rental of £7 5s. per annum, with timber valued at £10, sold to Mr. John Over for £180.
Lot 77. - Three freehold cottages in Finchampstead, let at a total of £20 16s. per annum, sold to Mr. J. A. Annett, Embrook, Wokingham, for £300.
Lot 84, comprising the fully licensed freehold inn, in the village of Finchampstead and known as “The Greyhound”, with garden land about one acre in extent, and let at £45 per annum, was sold to Messrs. Wethered, brewers, of Marlow, for £2,129. The timber on this lot was valued at £13 10s.
THIRD DAY. - THURSDAY.
There was again a good attendance at the Drill Hall on Thursday, when the third and concluding sale of this week's auction was conducted by Mr. Trollope and Mr. Baker. The result, however, was a very poor one, only four lots out of the 35 offered at auction being bought outright – and those at prices which must be considered distinctly satisfactory to purchasers. The following were the only lots knocked down in the room:-
Lot 91. - The useful freehold agricultural holding, known as “Church Farm”, about a mile from Sandhurst village, extending in all to about 46¾ acres, with a double-fronted farmhouse, the usual outbuildings, a small garden, and a brick and tiled cottage of 4 rooms and out-buildings, included being a useful parcel of woodland of over 2 acres (let to Mrs. H. Filbee on a yearly Michaelmas tenancy at a rental of £51 15s.), with timber valued at £235 16s. Bought by Mr. D. Spencer, The Elders, Yateley, Hants, at £900.
Lot 105. - A superior cottage residence in Finchampstead, about half-a-mile from the village, and two miles from Wellington College Station, known as “The Cottage”, and with an excellent garden, let at £21 per annum. Bought by Mr. Arthur Webster, of Caversham, for £375.
Lot 120. - The valuable agricultural holding known as “The Manor Farm”, Finchampstead situate close to the village and church, and extending to over 424 acres, with a choicely situated residence, - included being Moor Green Farm, four cottages, and a small piece of woodland, the estimated rent being £178 17s., with tithe £69 4s., and timber valued at £1,031 12s. 4d. The farms are let to Mr. Walter Holland on a yearly Michaelmas tenancy at a rent of £142 18s. 6d. until Michaelmas 1911, and thence £169 12s. per annum; knocked down to Mr. W. Driver of Cirencester for £3,250.
Lot 128. - Three cottages and gardens in the parish of Finchampstead, bought for £360 by Col. A. Jones, C.E., V.C., of Ridge Cottage, Finchampstead.
It was stated by the Auctioneers that “Ridge Cottage”, on the Western slope of the famous Finchampstead Ridges, the fully licensed freehold country Inn, known as “The Queen's Oak”, Finchampstead, a cottage on the Finchampstead-road, and the gentleman's cottage residence, known as “Pie Hill”, occupying nearly 4 acres, including woodland, and occupied by Mr. H. J. Yates, had been sold privately.
The following were the more important lots which were offered at Thursday's auction and not sold, the bids failing to reach the reserve, or (in some cases) no figure being offered. Of course, they are all open to private negotiation:-
In the three days' sale 109 lots were actually submitted to public competition, of which 31 acres were bought in the Hall, the total realised under the hammer being £27,220. With private sales the outlying portions of the Bear Wood Estate have, up to now, realised nearly £50,000.
The sale document listed a huge number of properties, the majority remaining unsold, as follows:
FIRST DAY'S SALE.
SECOND DAY'S SALE
THIRD DAY'S SALE
Note that Lot 128 (Three cottages and gardens in the parish of Finchampstead) were bought by Colonel A. Jones, C.E., V.C., of Ridge Cottage, Finchampstead.
Many years afterwards, in 1936, the 'Reading Mercury' carried an article on 18th January on the purchase of Finchampstead Ridges by the National Trust. A couple of months later, the following letter appeared in the 'Mercury':
Letter: FINCHAMPSTEAD RIDGES.
Colonel Jones desired to secure the whole of the ridges, but he met
with so little support that, having collected the sum of £3,000, he
desisted from further work. I cannot obtain a list of subscribers, but I
have obtained from the family a full confirmation of the above facts.
Colonel Jones' position enabled him to get support in the county, where
he was well known. I hope you will kindly print this so that the real
facts may be known.
Elizabeth Emma Cope (née Thoyts) was a well-known local historian, married to J. Hautenville Cope of Bramshill. They settled in Finchampstead where they were stronly involved in the management of the National Trust property there.
The land purchased by the Board of Guardians for the 'Cottage Homes' was completed by the end of 1912, as the following news item from the 'Reading Mercury' dated 14th December illustrates:
THE NEW COTTAGE HOMES AT WOKINGHAM.
The formal opening for use of the Cottage
Houses recently erected in the Oxford-road, Wokingham, by the Board of
Guardians to accommodate children until then in the Workhouse, was on
Tuesday afternoon, and the brief ceremony was a pleasant and interesting
one. The Home, which is called “Murray House”, in
compliment to the Chairman of the Guardians (Mr.
Edward Murray Sturges) and cost £1,500, was designed by
Mr. A. C. Hughes, of The Ingle, Wokingham, and erected by
the executors of the late Mr. J. B. Seward, of Wokingham.
It is designed for eight boys and a like number of girls, and every
accommodation, sanitary and otherwise, is provided for the children, as
well as suitable quarters for the supervising “Mother”.
There was another sale of properties in the 'Outlying Portions' of the Bearwood Estate, in September 1912. From the 1912 sale catalogue, Reading Local Studies Library has maps of Wokingham Town and 'The Throat' to the south of the town, showing land parcelled into housing plots along Wellington Road and the Finchampstead and Sandhurst Roads.
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