Wokingham


Wokingham

infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= Wokingham
latitude= 51.41
longitude= -0.84
population= 30,403 (2001 Census)
civil_parish= Wokingham
unitary_england= Wokingham
region= South East England
lieutenancy_england= Berkshire
constituency_westminster= Wokingham
post_town= WOKINGHAM
postcode_district = RG40, RG41
postcode_area= RG
dial_code= 0118
os_grid_reference= SU804685
london_distance= 33 mi (53 km) ENE
area_total_sq_mi=0.9
website= [http://www.wokingham-tc.gov.uk/ Wokingham Town Council]

Wokingham is a market town and civil parish in Berkshire in South East England approximately 33 miles (53 km) west of London. It is convert|6.8|mi|km|1|lk=on east-southeast of Reading and convert|3.4|mi|km|1 west of Bracknell. It spans an area of convert|557|acre|sqmi|1 and, according to the 2001 census, has a population of 30,403. It is the seat of the Wokingham local government district.

Before 1844, the northern part of the parish of Wokingham was part of a detached portion, or exclave, of the county of Wiltshire, some convert|30|mi|km|1 to the west. The Counties (Detached Parts) Act of that year resulted in its transfer to the county of Berkshire.cite book | title = Cassini Historical Map - Reading & Windsor - 1816-1830 | publisher = Cassini Publishing Ltd | year = 2006 | isbn = 1847360513] "Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844", 7 & 8 Vict. c. 61, London]

Wokingham was a borough before the 1974 reorganisation of local government, when it merged with Wokingham Rural District to form the new Wokingham District. What had been Wokingham Borough became Wokingham Town, but retained its Mayor. The District Council applied for borough status, which was granted and came into force on 9 March 2007. As of this date, the District (which stretches from the Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire borders in the north to the Hampshire border in the southwest) has also been able to elect a Mayor. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/berkshire/6303633.stm "Wokingham granted borough status"] BBC news online, 26 January 2007]

The formerly important industry of brick-making has given way to software development, light engineering and service industries.

In 2007, Halifax Estate Agents ranked Wokingham as the number one place to live in the United Kingdom. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7045651.stm "Wokingham the 'best' city to live"] BBC news online, 17 October 2007]

History

Wokingham means 'Wocca's people's home'. Wocca was apparently a Saxon chieftain who also owned lands at Wokefield in Berkshire and Woking in Surrey. In Victorian times, it was known as Oakingham and the acorn with oak leaves is the town's symbol.

The courts of Windsor Forest were held at Wokingham and the town had the right to hold a market from 1219. It has remained a small market town all its life. Queen Elizabeth granted a town charter in 1583. From the 14th to the 16th centuries, Wokingham was well-known for its bell foundry which supplied many churches across the south of England.

Wokingham was once famous for its bull-baiting. In 1661 George Staverton left a bequest in his will giving two bulls to be tethered in the Market Place and baited by dogs on St Thomas' Day (21 December) each year. The bulls were paraded around the town a day or two before the event and then locked in the yard of the original "Rose Inn" which was situated on the site of the present-day Superdrug store. People travelled from miles around to see the dangerous spectacle. A number of dogs would be maimed or killed during the event and the bulls were eventually destroyed. The meat and leather were distributed amongst the poor people of the town. Some of the spectators also sustained fatal injuries. In 1794 on the morning after the bull-baiting Elizabeth North was found dead and covered with bruises. In 1808 55-year-old Martha May died after being hurt by fighters in the crowd. The cruel 'sport' was prohibited by the Corporation in 1821 but bulls were still provided at Christmas and the meat distributed to the poor. Bull-baiting was banned by Act of Parliament in 1833.

In 1723, the 'Black Act' was passed in Parliament to make it an offence to black one's face to commit criminal acts. It was named after an infamous band of ruffians, known as the 'Wokingham Blacks' who terrorised the local area.

Governance

Northern Wokingham, centred on Ashridge, was, archaically, a detached part of Wiltshire. This area extended well into the town centre (and the area currently where the Dowlesgreen, Norreys and BeanOak estates currently are situated) until transferred to Berkshire in 1844. The ancient parish was divided in 1894 into urban and rural civil parishes, Wokingham Without forming the latter.

Wokingham was one of the boroughs left unreformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and was reformed subsequently in 1883. Wokingham merged with the Wokingham Rural District in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972 to form the non-metropolitan district of Wokingham, which has been a unitary authority area since 1998. It consists of 54 elected councillors and is presided over by one councillor who is elected annually to be the Chairman of the Council. The Borough Council Offices are based at Shute End in the town of Wokingham.

A successor parish continued in existence in Wokingham and is governed by Wokingham Town Council. The council is elected every four years and consists of twenty-five councillors representing Emmbrook, Evendons, Norreys and Wescott, the four wards of the town. Every year, they elect one of their number as Mayor. The present town hall was erected in 1860 on the site of the guildhall.

The Wokingham constituency's MP is the Conservative John Redwood and he has represented the town since 1987.

Geography

Wokingham is on the Emm Brook in the Loddon Valley in central Berkshire situated convert|33|mi|km|1 from Central London. It sits between Reading and Bracknell and was originally in a band of agricultural land on the western edge of Windsor Forest. Suburbs include Emmbrook, Matthewsgreen, Dowlesgreen, Woosehill, Limmerhill and Eastheath. Older names include Woodcray and Luckley Green.

The soil is a rich loam with a subsoil of sand and gravel.

Wokingham currently consists of the town centre, with main residential areas radiating in all directions. These include Woosehill to the west, Emmbrook to the northwest, Dowlesgreen, Norreys, Keephatch and Bean Oak to the east and to the south Wescott and Eastheath.

Much of Wokingham has been developed over the past 80 years. Woosehill and Dowlesgreen were built on farmland in the late 1960s and early 70s, along with Bean Oak. Keephatch was built in the early 90s. The Norreys Estate was built in the 1960s; however, Norreys Avenue is the oldest residential road in that area, having been built in the late 1940s as emergency housing following the Second World War. Norreys Avenue has a horseshoe shape and occupies the site of the demolished Norreys Manor. Much of the road contains 1940s-style prefabricated houses, although there are some brick houses along with three blocks of 1950s police houses.

Transport

Train services to Reading, London Waterloo and Gatwick Airport run from Wokingham railway station.

Most local bus services are provided by First Group but the Sunday and Bank Holiday services from Wokingham to Reading are operated by Courtney Coaches.

Institutions

Charities

*The Lucas Hospital, almshouses founded in 1663 for sixteen elderly men from the surrounding parishes.

Churches

* [http://www.wokinghamvineyard.org/ Wokingham Vineyard]
* [http://www2.prestel.co.uk/allsaints/ All Saints' Church] (CofE), transformed from a chapel-of-ease of Sonning in 1190
* [http://www.corpuschristi-wokingham.org/ Corpus Christi Catholic Church]
* [http://www.stpauls-wokingham.org.uk/ St. Paul's Church] (CofE), built by John Walter III in 1864
* [http://www.wokinghambaptist.org.uk Wokingham Baptist Church]
* [http://www.rstmeth.co.uk Wokingham Methodist Church]
* [http://www.abch.org.uk/whitehouse/index.htm Church at the White House School (CofE)]

Manors

*Evendon's Manor
*Ashridge Manor (now in [Hurst, Berkshire
*Beche's Manor (burnt down 1953)
*Buckhurst Manor (now St. Anne's Manor)
*Norreys' Manor

Education

econdary schools

Wokingham is served by four state secondary schools. The Emmbrook School and St Crispin's School are mixed-sex comprehensive schools, both of which have specialist status as Maths and Computing Colleges. [http://www.school-portal.co.uk/Grouphomepage.asp?GroupId=21494 The Holt School] , founded in 1931 in the Dower House of Beche's Manor, is a girls' school and is a specialist Language College. The Forest School is a boys' school and is a specialist Business and Enterprise College. It is in Winnersh but it shares the same catchment area as the Holt and the majority of the pupils are from Wokingham - A small number of Wokingham pupils gain places at Reading School and Kendrick School, the two single-sex grammar schools in Reading.

Private schools

* Luckley-Oakfield School founded at Luckley House in 1918 for girls aged 11-18
* Ludgrove School, moved to Wixenford House in 1937
* Bearwood College, actually at Sindlesham, but often referred to as being in Wokingham
* [http://www.whitehouse.wokingham.sch.uk White House Preparatory School ] , for girls aged 2-11

Primary schools

* Wescott Infant School
* Westende Junior School
* St Pauls C of E Junior school
* Emmbrook Junior School
* [http://www.st-teresas.wokingham.sch.uk St Teresa's Roman Catholic Primary School]
* Whitelocke Infant & Nursery School
* Palmer C of E Junior School

Literature

In the 18th century, the ballad of Fair Molly Mogg was written in Wokingham. Molly was the barmaid daughter of the publican of the old Rose Inn (not on the site of the present one). She was well-known to local Binfield man, Alexander Pope, who, during a storm, found himself stranded at the inn with his friends, Gay, Swift and Arbuthnot. They wrote the ballad extolling her virtues to pass the time.

The character of Tom the chimney sweep in Charles Kingsley's classic childhood story "The Water Babies" was based on the life and times of a Wokingham boy called James Seaward, who was a boy sweep in Victorian times. In his later years Seaward swept the chimneys at Charles Kingsley's home at the Rectory in Eversley, Hampshire. Seaward was elected Alderman of Wokingham from 1909 until his death in 1921. He had 12 children and many of his descendants still live locally. The Water Babies are the subject of Wokingham's first public sculpture, installed in 1999, which graces the upper level entrance to Wokingham Library.

Film

The 1971 film [http://imdb.com/title/tt0067727/ "Blind Terror"] , starring Mia Farrow and directed by Brian Clemens, was filmed largely in Wokingham. The train station can clearly be seen, as can the town centre and the interior of the Old Rose Pub. Although this is considered to be one of the scariest films of all time it still pales as insignificant when compared to a night out in The Gig House - Wokingham's most prominent Lloyd's Bar.

Notable people

*Anna Bebington, bronze medallist at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 in the women's double sculls [ [http://www.getwokingham.co.uk/news/s/2034085_its_bronze_glory_for_town_athlete Bronze glory for town Athlete. Get Wokingham website, 20th August 2008] ]
*Luke Bedford, composer
*Thomas Bradley, Chaplain to King Charles I
*Sir Richard Browne, 1st Baronet of London
*Tom Burrows, cricketer
*The Cooper Temple Clause, post-hardcore punk band
*Jennifer Rae Daykin, a Wokingham schoolgirl, played the part of Lily Brown in the film "Nanny McPhee"
*Claude Duval, highwayman who owned a house in the town
*Dick Francis, writer
*Thomas Godwin, Bishop of Bath and Wells who was born and died in Wokingham
*Nicholas Hoult, actor
*Stephen Hughes, footballer was born in Wokingham
*Graham Knight, off road rally champion
*Steven Lewington, professional wrestler known as "The British Babe" and contracted to WWE
*Frederick Lucas, founder of "The Tablet"
*Henry Lucas, founder of the Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics at Cambridge University
*Sir Henry Marten, Judge of the Admiralty Court
*John Dawson Read, singer-songwriter
* [http://www.allsaintswokinghambells.org.uk/ASRingers/Robinson/ Francis Edward Robinson,] Bellringer, clergyman and founder of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers
*Anne Snelgrove, MP
*William Talman, architect and landscape designerNathan Tyson, footballer for Nottingham Forest FC, went to Forest School
*John Walter III, local benefactor and proprietor of "The Times" newspaper
*Will Young, singer

port and leisure

*There are public parks at Barkham Road Recreation Ground, Langborough Recreation Ground, Cantley Park, Chestnut Park, Elizabeth Road Recreation Ground, Elms Field, Riverside Walk and Waverley Park.
*The Council provide a number of leisure facilities such as the Carnival Pool, St. Crispin's Sports Centre and the Pinewood Leisure Centre. Pinewood is the base for over 20 clubs and associations. There is a King George V Playing Field behind St. Crispin's in memory of King George V.
*The local football team is Wokingham and Emmbrook F.C.
*Wokingham Library is in Denmark Street.
* [http://www.wokinghamcricket.co.uk/ Wokingham Cricket Club] (founded 1825) play at their ground on Wellington Road.

Speedway racing was staged at California in Reading. Before then the track, known then as Longmoor was used as a training track. After the war the track featured in the Southern Area League in the 1950s. The team were known as The Poppies.The site of the stadium is now part of a nature reserve but a few remnants of the track remain.

Twin towns

Wokingham is twinned with:

* — the city of Erftstadt in Germany
* — Viry-Châtillon in France

Further reading

* Goatley, K. "Wokingham: The Town of my Life". Reading: Conservatree Print and Design, 2004. ISBN 0-9534735-9-7.
* The Wokingham Society. "Wokingham: A Chronology", 1978.
* Wyatt, B. "Wokingham in Old Photographs". Stroud, Gloucestershire: Budding Books, 1999. ISBN 1-84015-128-5.

References

External links

* [http://www.wokingham-tc.gov.uk/ Wokingham Town Council]
* [http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/ Wokingham Borough Council]
* [http://www.wokingham-berkshire.org.uk/ Welcome to Wokingham]
* [http://www.wokinghamsociety.org.uk/index.html The Wokingham Society]
* [http://www.getwokingham.co.uk/ The Wokingham Times]
* [http://www.berkshirehistory.com/villages/wokingham.html Royal Berkshire History: Wokingham]
* [http://www.wokingham-theatre.co.uk/ Wokingham Theatre]
* [http://www.wokinghamscouts.org.uk/ Wokingham Scouts]
* [http://www.allsaintswokinghambells.org.uk/ Wokingham All Saints Bellringers]


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