Local History Recording
1930s - 1960s
The Local History Recording Scheme of the
mid-20th Century wasn't the first organised attempt to record
Berkshire's history at a local level. By then, the Victoria County History of
Berkshire had been published, the last volume being put together by the
Rev. P. H. Ditchfield (Rector
of Barkham until his death in 1930) and J.
Hautenville Cope of Finchampstead, whose wife's maiden name was Emma
Prior to that, there was a 'Berkshire Local History Club',
which had a small membership spread around the county and extending to London,
mostly of clergy or their spouses, or of country house owners or their families.
The Berkshire Local History Club seemed to be based around a distribution list.
An exercise book was
forwarded to each member in turn, who added any relevant notes on the subjects
currently under discussion. As far as Arborfield is concerned, Volume 9, current during 1889-1890,
covered the 'Basildon, Arborfield, Yattendon, etc.' The inside front page
of this volume listed
the subscribers in neat hand-writing, with these instructions:
"This book only to be kept 3 nights then sent to the next below your own.
Entries to be made in ink and signed by name."
1. Miss Sharpe, Ufton Court.
2. Rev. H. Clinton, Padworth.
3. Mrs. Higford, Aldermaston Court.
4. Luke Lowsley Esq., The Manor, Hampstead Norris.
5. W. Money Esq., Herborough House, Newbury.
6. W. Mount, Esq., Wasing.
7. Dr. Howard, Dartmouth Row, Blackheath.
8. H. Arrowsmith Esq., Littlewick Lodge, Maidenhead.
9. Lady Russell, Swallowfield Park.
10. Rev. P. H. Ditchfield, Barkham Rectory.
(written underneath: ) Canon Slatter, Whitchurch.
11. Mr. A. Harrison, Theale.
12. Dr. Cox, Theale.
13. Mrs. Butler, The Lambden.
(written underneath: ) Miss Bushnell.
14. Miss J. Hopkins, West End, Pangbourne.
15. Mrs. Wilder & Miss Beadon, Purley Hall.
16. Rev. J. Eddy, Bramley Vicarage, nr. Basingstoke.
17. Mrs. Tonge, Silchester Rectory.
18. Rev. A. White, Mortimer West End.
19. Sir Paul Hunter, Mortimer Hill (name and address later crossed out).
20. Miss Thoyts, Sulhamstead.
'Arborfield' starts on Page 51 of the lined exercise book. 'P. H.
Ditchfield' and 'Emma Thoyts' contributed most to the 'Arborfield' pages, and
Emma's sketches, in colour, were pasted into the left-hand pages which faced
pages 57 and 59. There were many empty pages for Arborfield, probably because at
this time, there were no Club members living in Arborfield. However, for other
villages such as Sulhamstead, there were printed booklets on various subjects.
Emma Thoyts had published a list of Sulhamstead burials covering the years 1602
to the mid 1750s, and at the end of this booklet is printed:
"I have a full transcription of the Registers of both parishes of Sulhamstead
until the present century with my own notes added, but owing to the many
objections raised by the Rector, Revd. A. Shepherd, I have decided only to print
the above. Though I believe that similar publications increase instead of
diminishing the search fees, and are of no practical use, except to the
Page 51 starts with two unsigned notes:
In old deeds called Arbor.
In Miss Mitford's books disguised as Arberleigh.
However, the next note was signed 'P. H. Ditchfield'; as the Rector of Barkham,
he had a link with Arborfield through the shared Church School, and had a long
association with the ruins of the old church in Arborfield. He wrote:
In some documents the name appears in the form Eberfield probably from the
Saxon 'Ofor' and boar, as in 'Eversley', hence it would mean 'the clearing when
the wild boars abounded'.
In the Hundred of Sonning.
Included in Windsor Forest in Rocques' Survey 1756.
Sketch of "Arborfield Manor House", tinted with water-colour:
The captions state: "Emma E. Thoyts, Dec. 1889; Taken from a pencil drawing
by J. Breedon, early 19th Century".
The Bullocks of Arborfield – see Berkshire Pedigrees in British Museum.
Lysous says “the Manor House near the church built by The Standens”. -
This house was (so Mr. Hargreaves says) pulled down in 1814. It stood near
the Chapel. Some old brasses. (unsigned).
The Standens held the Manor 1639. In 1730 it passed into the hands of the
Aldworths, then to the Reeves. John Reeves died in 1832 and the heiress Elmira
Reeves was married to Mr. Dawson who pulled down the old hall and built the
present one. Sir George Russell is the present Lord of the Manor, and the estate
was purchased by Mr. Hargreaves. - P. H. Ditchfield.
Here's an image of the page itself, showing four different handwriting in
Sketch of Arborfield Manor, tinted with water-colour:
Robert Bullock of Arborfield, Sheriff of Berks & Oxon 1384 & 1391.
Belonging to Sir John Conroy. A very quaint old house, there are many curious
pictures & portraits in it. - Emma Thoyts.
The Old Chapel at Arborfield.
A. J. Durant – Mrs. Hargreaves has some old pewter sacramental vessels at
Arborfield, but the plate in use is quite modern.
[Note added alongside:] One
flagon & two Patens. Only the flagon is old. - P.H.D.
The church was built in 1256 about the same year as that of Swallowfield,
dedicated to S. Bartholomew. Built of chalk & flint, the tower at the W. End
being carried on 4 wooden posts and containing 5 bells, which were moved to the
new church, built in 1863. The old chancel was 9 ft. by 24 ft., nave 58 ft by 28
ft. The two aisles of old Church are still standing having been retained by Sir
Edward Conroy, & a porch built as an entrance to the aisle in 1863. One of the
aisles contains tablets to the memory of the Conroy family, & the other being in
possession of the Hargreaves family contains the Standen Tombs. Some addition
was made to the church in 1631, as a beam with that date recorded on it was
found in 1863.
[continued on left-hand page 90:] The door is ancient, having heavy iron
'winged' hinges. There are the remains of a piscina, credence table & sedilia.
The roof of the old Church was taken off in 1863, as it was considered unsafe.
Some mural paintings were discovered beneath the plaster. In the Hargreaves
Chapel there is a fine tomb of William Standen, Lord of the Manor of Arborfield,
who died 1639. Another to Edward Standen, the last heir, who died a bachelor in
1730, the hero of Gay's poem 'Molly Mogg'. - P. H. Ditchfield.
Arborfield field names. [none listed]
With acknowledgements to
Reading Local Studies Library
Back to Memories Page