Hall Farm History
It is known that there was a medieval settlement by the River Loddon at Hall Farm and that this was predated by the Neolithic (circa 4000 — 2,300 BC) ground and polished flint axe found on the bank of the River Loddon at SU 738 672.
People have lived near to or on the land known as “Hall Farm" for many years. This medieval settlement by the River Loddon included a manor house and a wooden church dating from Saxon times. These were part of the beginnings of the village of Arborfield and both were rebuilt, the church in the 13a century of flint and chalk, the manor house much later in 1605 and again in 1842.
The village developed and thrived — a mill using power and water from the river was built and this produced high quality paper. By 1829 two mills, one for corn and the other for paper, stood next to each other. Arborfield Hall was the centre of the village.
Agriculture was developed and the Hall Place Farmhouse was built in 1840. Sir John Conroy moved to Arborfield and took up farming. He is said to have drained the land and developed a model farm — he was also famous for his pig rearing — generally farming successfully at Arborfield and creating a “Model Farm”
The 1790 Thomas Pride Map shows both Arborfield Cross and the old village of Arborfield by the River Loddon.
We see a thriving village, with a Lord of the Manor at Arborfield Hall, the origins of our village of Arborfield.
We are so fortunate that some of old Arborfield still survives.
As a founder member of Arborfield Local History Society I must agree with English Heritage that the setting of a listed building is very important. I would like to believe that WBC recognize the value of the Borough’s historical environment and will seek to protect it and any listed buildings etc. and their settings in an attempt to care for and protect them.
The centre of the original Arborfield village was mostly situated in the South West of the HaIl Farm land.
Here was the original church of St. Bartholomew (now just the remains). These remains are Grade O listed (described as “at risk"). They are to be found in the churchyard at SU 7495 6802 English heritage Legacy: 41409.
Simonds Family Tomb — to be found 4 metres north of the Old Church Ruins. Grade O listed - English heritage Legacy: 41410
Hall Place Farmhouse c. 1840 — to be found SU 7499 6810 — English heritage
The Old Mill — not listed but very much a feature of the old Arborfield Village — to be found SU 7488 6817
One small (yet historically important) stone milestone engraved with the initials "J.C." - to be found at SU 7497 6810
I must admit to being somewhat disappointed that I was unable to find a reference relating to Arborfield’s history at Hall Farm in any of the paperwork that I have seen in relation to this new "housing development" or proposed "Garden Village" as you prefer to call it. This worries me.
I have so enjoyed walking around Hall Farm over the years (it has such beautiful open spaces) and visiting the "Old Churchyard". It is all just dripping in atmosphere. May I suggest that you visit the "Old Churchyard" at sunset and maybe spend some moments looking at some of the gravestones. Imagine the families who visited here in the past. You might even be interested enough to read about its history? I really want to feel that you appreciate its importance to Arborfield’s residents.
I do hope that care will be taken relating to the Present Church (built in 1863) and that both the building and the churchyard will be considered most carefully before any decisions are made.
I accept that you must, it seems, choose sites for new houses, well at least until the present Government or the policies change. I just hope that you will take good advice. It is difficult to accept the local need when there are so many houses still for sale at "Arborfield Green".
For more information, please visit the Arborfield Local History website.
With special thanks to local historian Di Thorne for allowing this part of her submission to Wokingham Borough Council to be reproduced here.