There is evidence that the 'Mole' was an inn before 1765, when Edward Savage took the tenancy from Henry Coles. It had been tied to the Simonds brewery since at least 1802 when William Blackall Simonds bought the inn and its land from Sander Willson of Swallowfield and his wife Elizabeth (née Allwright, from Arborfield).
Thomas Pride's Map of 1790 shows that there were many more cottages near to the 'Mole' at that time. On the portion of the map shown below, Carter's Hill is at the top, and Arborfield Cross is at the bottom. Church Lane is off to the left, two-thirds down. However, the present-day Mole Road didn't seem to exist (it was probably created when Bearwood Mansion was built in the 1800s). Instead, the track across 'Barewood Common' passed to the north of what's now known as 'Cordery Cottage' and continued to the south-west along a lane that has long since disappeared. It emerged at Church Lane by Reading Room Cottage (which didn't exist in 1790). There were several more cottages at Hughes Green than exist today. At the bottom right of this map is Langley Pond Farm. Click on the image to see more of the map.
In Victorian times and until the 1940s, the 'Mole' largely served the domestic staff of the Simonds family (the banking branch, not the brewers) who lived nearby at 'Newlands', plus the staff of the Walter family at Bearwood. See the Bearwood Estate map for its location. It was often the start-point for the Garth Hunt, as typified in a report in the 'Reading Mercury' of 20th February 1897:
HUNTING NOTES: MR. GARTH’S. 10th – The Mole, Sindlesham. Larger field out. Found a leash in Carters-hill, the property of that great sportsman, Mr. Jas. Simonds. Hounds settled down to one and drove him at a cracking pace to Arborfield Hall and on to Moor Copse, where he swung left-handed to Brick-hill over the hill to Wivells, passing on to Bramshill-common, where hounds threw up and could do no more with this good fox after a good 40 minutes. Found again in Foxhills, running at a rare pace over the open to Longmore-bog, turning left over the Wokingham road and on to the Ridges, where a lot of tussling hunting hounds had to be stopped, as horses were dead beat.
Here is a postcard view of the building when it was a public house.
Here's a close-up of the writing on the wall of the lean-to extension; the 'Mole' was in the business of providing teas as well as beer (see the 'Swan' Tea-Garden here).
Unlike the 'Swan' and 'Bramshill Hunt' in Arborfield which changed hands every few years, the 'Mole' remained in the hands of very few families for nearly a century:
In 1945, former members of the Home Guard formed the Newland (H.G.) Rifle Club at the 'Mole'.
Reg Cordery, who lived next door to the 'Mole' at 'The Glen' (now 'Cordery Cottage') has kindly provided an aerial photo of the two properties from around the 1940's, plus photos of the Darts Team.
In the aerial view shown above, the 'Mole' is on the left, and the thatched cottage 'The Glen' is on the right. Below are the properties in more detail, showing that both the 'Mole' and the 'Glen' grew quite a lot of their own produce:
Here are the members of the Darts team:
Pictured from left to right, back row first, are:
Stan Higgs, Gerry, Ted Cordery, Jack Smith, Bill Cogbill, Henry Johnson;
John Cordery, George Champ, George Holloway, Jim Goodyer, (unknown), Jack Johnson;
? Johnson (son of Jack), Alec Coker, John White (only a photo), ? Cooling (dad of John), John Cooling.
In this rather battered photo of four men standing in front of the 'Mole', we can see (from left to right):
Click on the image to see the whole photo.
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