Local History Society

 Properties - Hall Farm Footpath

'Cockleberry Mansion'
- or is it
'Cockleberry Cottages'?

The Concrete Track as it was in 1944

Lot 4 in 1926 Arborfield Hall Sale Document

Map for 1926 Hall Sale Document showing Barratts Lane

Here are two submissions to the Enquiry into Rights of Way in 1953, one against and one in favour:



I live at 65 Woodcote Road Caversham and am a buyer of livestock. In October 1926 I purchased at an
auction sale jointly with my father and my sister the farm known as Arborfield Hall Farm and we actually entered into possession of this farm in January 1927. The land we acquired in this purchase included the fields through which a road or track passed, which I now understand is being alleged to be a footpath with public rights of way thereover. This track runs from the farmhouse to the junction with an old country lane called Barratts Lane. My father died In 1929 but my sister and I continued to own the farm until we sold it, including the fields mentioned above, to the University of Reading in 1947.

During the 20 years we owned this farm no use was made of the disputed track by members of the general public. It was used purely in connection with the farm for the purpose of obtaining access to the fields in that area. We never used it as an access way to Barratts Lane and it was never used by the public for that purpose either.

When we took possession there was a notice board at the far end which stated "Private No Thoroughfare" or words to that effect. This was close to a gate leading into the fields which was usually kept shut. At the far end and giving access to Barratts Lane was an iron gate with barbed wire along the top. There was no stile nor any place for a stile at that end. About half way along the track there was another iron gate which was always kept shut.

During the period we owned the farm there were occasions when persons not employed at our farm started to walk down the track. This was usually from the farmhouse end and I cannot remember anybody making use of it from the other end. I have personally told some such persons that the path was private and that they must go back and not use it. It was only occasionally that I had to do this since it was very seldom that any unauthorised person came that way, but sometimes on Sunday afternoons people going for walks did try and make use of it. I think during the War the notice board on the farm end did fall down. We never replaced it because we were under the impression that the people in the locality knew full well that they were not supposed to use the path.

With regard to the iron gate at the Barratts Lane end, there had been two old cottages used in conjunction with the farm, which had been demolished before we purchased the farm, and it seems to me likely that the gate was once used as an access way to these cottages.

I am quite satisfied that the track is a farm road only and the public have no rights over it at all.

- Herbert Holdstock.

In Favour

26th October 1953

DROVE WAY - From ARBORFIELD HALL FARM to CARTERS HILL Claimed by Arborfield & Newland Parish Council as a Public Footpath. A statement of facts known to the Clerk of the Parish Council, A.J. Bentley

In addition to the statements read by older inhabitants than myself, I hereby declare that at about the age of 7, i.e. in 1907, I spent a great deal of time at Arborfield Hall Farm. The Bailiff for Mrs. Hargreaves was Ernest Bowyer (now deceased) and his son Frank was a life long friend. He too died in 1941. In those early days together we used to watch pedestrians using Drove Way and we tried to guess where they had come from and which direction they would take on reaching Footpath 1A. Frequently they went towards the river. Less frequently to visit the Old Church.

There were only 3 or 4 dwellings at Carters Hill and another called Cockleberry Mansions at the end of what we knew as HUNDRED ACRES. With only those few dwellings it can be well understood we know the occupants familiarly, hence our interest in the strangers. Cockleberry Mansion was last repaired by me about 1920 but it was subsequently purchased we understood by some Americans who rebuilt it elsewhere. The present house known as Cockleberry is not authentically named.

People also frequently went northwards by this footpath for fishing and, at a plot of ground we knew as The Gorse the best blackberries grew in abundance anywhere around. No one was ever stopped from using this path. There was a private path, however, by the side of the river which we were forbidden to use.

When Ernest Bowyer relinquished his appointment as Bailiff to take Mungells Farm at Hurst, the farm was taken by a Mr. Hedges, a London butcher. His bailiff was Mr. Constable. Being a single man he lived with my parents and did not occupy the Farm House. I cannot recall how many years Hedges held the farm but I believe he left after Swine Fever had occurred. No one was ever stopped from using the path in question nor did the question ever arise.

Mr. Kersley was the next farmer and at that time I was in the Boy Scouts and we were always using Drove Way, even to taking our Trek Cart over it when we camped at Carters Hill. I joined the army in 1915 as a boy and was away until 1919. As the result of inquiries I learn that Mr. Kersley was a kindly man and was more likely to co-operate with the villagers than otherwise.

John Hargreaves next took the farm and James Druett was his bailiff. I did most of the repairs at Arborfield Hall Farm and my services were ever in demand. I met John Hargreaves many times. If it were not permissible to use Drove Way he would have been the first to say so, but he never did. There was another path leading off Drove Way to NE and joining up with Carters Hill Lane in the corner of Church Copse There was a well and a hand pump by a small cluster of trees half-way along this path. It was a mistake that this was not claimed under the Survey. I have used both paths often, for a Sunday afternoon walk in my courting days, as have very many others.

After John Hargreaves sold the farm to Mr. Holdstock, Mr. Claridge was the bailiff for a few years, I continued to do many repair jobs at the farm and to his agricultural implements at the farm. Except on one occasion when some Boy Scouts trespassed on his land have I never heard him check anyone, and even on that occasion he told them to keep to the ROAD, for Drove Way was metalled for some distance. Drove Way was less frequently used by this time, however, for the age of cycles and cars had become popular.

I recall in my youth a postman named Haines or Haynes used to walk from Arborfield Hall to Carters Hill via Drove Way when there were no letters to deliver in Church Lane which possessed only 3 houses. Arthur Garrett was Clerk to the Parish Council before me and he knew more of the Rights of Way in Arborfield than anyone. The next oldest Church to Arborfield old Church is, I believe at Hurst i.e. in the vicinity of Carters Hill. No reasonably minded person would believe that people from Carters Hill walked 3 miles to Hurst Church when Arborfield Old Church was within 1 mile by using Drove Way. Nor can anyone believe that in those days permission to use Drove Way to get to Church would have been refused.

Arthur Bentley

Clerk to Arborfield & Newland 28th October,1953. Parish Council.

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