Local History Society



What was life like in Arborfield during the First World War? Click on this link to find out how the 'Reading Mercury' reported on events on the 'Home Front'.

How did Arborfield change in World War II? Click here to read local newspaper articles about the Garrison, the village and the wider area.

St. Bartholomew's new church Centenary Celebrations, Sunday 23rd June 1963

Arborfield and Newland Centenary celebrations,  9th - 10th July 1994

Old Boys' web-site

'Arborfield & the September 49ers' web-site

Fatal Accident of 7-year-old Esme Hiscock on 14 February 1950

Pam Slade's memories of a wartime childhood in Brook Cottage, Hughes Green

Elizabeth Reynolds' memories of life in a flat in Arborfield Hall around 1950

Do you have any memories you would like to share with the Local History Society?  Any photographs?

Over the years, people have written about the village.  In 1922,  the Women's Institute combined history with reminiscence in their History document  There's a lot more in their History than it seems, because it was compiled by Beatrice Simonds of Newlands, who had access to many ancient written records. This document appears to have been started at least 40 years earlier, and it was subsequently updated with hand-written notes as late as 1946. She could also call upon the knowledge of the Rev. Peter Ditchfield, Rector of Barkham, who was a prolific author. His book 'Byways in Berkshire and the Cotswolds', though published in 1920, was mostly written during the Great War.

Whitewell Cottage, home of Guy and Nell Bentley for many yearsLocal motor engineer Guy Bentley, who lived at Whitewell Cottage (now replaced by Whitewell Close) described a walk along the village street in 1910, which originally appeared in the magazine  'Your Village' - click here to read the article. 

The Bentley family have been connected with the village for at least 200 years. Photographs of John Bentley's funeral procession shows Arborfield from a gentler age. Click here to see details.

Miss A.M. Edwards grew up in Arborfield in the 1910's at Grange Cottages, on the corner of Greensward Lane and Reading Road. Her reminiscences were published in the 1973 'Your Village' booklet. Click here to read her article. 

A local journalist, Anthony Walton,  lived in Walden Avenue. He was better known as 'Agricola', writing a series of articles on agricultural matters in the 'Reading Mercury'.  Click here for more details of his life and work. He was used the pen-name 'Rustic' to write his weekly 'Country Cameo' articles in the 'Berkshire Mercury' from 1965 to 1975.

Harold Ravenscroft farmed at Bartlett's between 1931 and 1939, and after his death, his family moved to the centre of the village. Click here for details.

Jack TilleyJack Tilley farmed at Bartlett's for over half a century. Click here to find out more.


Serving teas in traditional costume in front of the Village Shop, Centenary Celebrations, 1994

Many people have served on the Parish Council over the years. We have a photograph showing the members at the 1994 Annual Parish Meeting (APM). Click here to see it. One of the regular gripes at the APM was the lack of 'mod cons'; some villagers weren't connected to mains electricity until the mid 1950s.

July 1994 was the Centenary Year for Parish Councils - and Arborfield and Newland celebrated over the weekend of July 9th - 10th.


The crowning of the Village Queen at the opening of the Park, 1974


The Park was opened in 1974 with the crowning of the Village Queen - read the background here. There are also photos of the Fete held at the Park in 1976. Before the Park was established, there was a play-park located behind the old British Legion Hall, run by the Arborfield Playing Fields Association, 1960 - 1971. The play equipment was re-erected at the Park.

Old newspaper articles evoke the celebrations of Christmas 1925.


Stan and Daphne Bennett have lived in Arborfield for many years. Their cottage on Eversley Road was pulled down in the late 1960's after they had moved to Melrose Gardens. Click here to see the cottage as it was.

Geoffrey Carr at the Church Centenary celebrations, 1963

Geoffrey Carr was Rector from 1963 to 1976. He noted his memories in 1976.

The Garth Point-to-Point races drew crowds of thousands in the 1920's and 1930's


The Garth Hunt and Point-to-Point Races involved many villagers until local meetings ceased in the 1960's. Click here for more on the Garth Hunt, and here for its meetings in Wokingham Town centre .

Herbert Lee with one of his lambs


Herbert Lee was a sheep farmer in the middle and late 20th Century. Read about him here.


School-children in costume for Empire Day 1926

Empire Day, 1926, was celebrated at Arborfield, Newland and Barkham School. See how the Reading Mercury recorded the pageant. We have a photo from another Empire Day from the 1930s, and we have identified most of the children in it.


The Reading Mercury also featured a Missionary Day at Arborfield Grange in Summer 1920, and a Women's Institute fete in September 1920. By the Autumn of that year, there was a Rabies scare in Reading, and Arborfield became part of the "dangerous area" where dogs had to be muzzled.

In 1922 there was a Fete at Arborfield Court in aid of school funds.

In 1931, Arborfield featured more often than usual in the Reading Mercury, but for the wrong reasons. Several stories concerned fatal accidents, both road and air, as well as the normal fare of garden fetes plus the opening of the Village Hall. Click on the links for the air crash at Cross Lanes Farm, the motor-cycle crash near the River Loddon, and the car crash near the Remount DepotCross Lanes Farm appeared in the news again in 1931 when the farmer was charged with selling sub-standard milk - though he successfully defended his case - click here for the article.

Local newspapers in 1930 and 1931 carried stories about the Newland, Arborfield and Barkham Cottage Garden Society. The 1930 'Cottage Garden Show' was held at the Remount Depot, while the 1931 'Three Villages Show' moved to the grounds of Newlands, and featured a Gymkhana.

The Local History Recording Scheme was a project to record village history throughout Berkshire, and particularly the changes from the 1930's until after the Second World War. Click here to see the entries for Arborfield. The local newspapers published their wartime stories when space permitted, and many have been transcribed - you can read them here. Prior to the Local History Recording Scheme, in the 1800s there was a 'Berkshire Local History Club' which collected notes on Arborfield in 1889-90, as seen here.

Local newspapers published articles on local history, such as this one on Victorian Arborfield. - while in 1934 the 'Reading Mercury' attempted to look forward 50 years to imagine the Reading of 1984. In 1938, the 'Times and Weekly News' ran a series on ghosts, attempting to de-bunk the myths including a few from Arborfield. Elizabeth Reynolds has also contributed some local legends that she picked-up during her time at Arborfield Hall around 1950.

When Thomas Hargreaves set up home with Mrs. Warriner at The Mount, Bishopstoke, in 1870, the local newspapers were largely silent, possibly on instructions from Sarah Hargreaves, who was left to bring up their eight children at Arborfield Hall. However, there is a wealth of detail on Thomas's life at The Mount,  his schooner the Ianira, a second mistress Florence Arthur, and an artist acquaintance who gave a good description of Thomas in his last year or so of life. There were a few stories following Thomas' death, too.

There are a few web-sites on the Garrison, including  'Arborfield & the September 49ers' (reviewed here), and the 'Arborfield Old Boys'.

For a newspaper report of the 1953 Coronation celebrations, click here. Arborfield celebrated the Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees; see the Diamond Jubilee Walk here.

Remembrance Sunday has always been a big occasion in Arborfield, from 1920 onwards. In 2004 the Memorial was moved to accommodate the new roundabout, and in 2009 there was a particularly large attendance.

In 2012, the weather turned haywire - see how the village went from hosepipe ban to floods in Spring 2012


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