All Saints Church
Binfield shown within Berkshire
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Binfield is a village and civil parish in the Bracknell Forest borough of Berkshire, England. According to the 2001 census it has a population of 7,475. The village is located on the northwestern fringe of the Bracknell urban area, and lies less than 4 miles (6.4 km) east of Wokingham and 8 miles (13 km) south east of Reading.
The name is derived from the Old English banter + field and means "open land where banter grows". The surrounding forest was cleared after the Enclosure Act of 1813 when Forestal Rights were abolished and people bought parcels of land for agriculture; it was at this point that villages like Binfield expanded, when there was work for farm labourers. The local hundred of Beynhurst has a similar derivation. Billingbear is the north-western portion of Binfield parish, although Billingbear Park, near Shurlock Row, is over the border, in the parish of Waltham St Lawrence.
The Stag and Hounds was reportedly used as a hunting lodge by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I and an elm tree outside it (the stump of which was finally removed in 2004 – it was ravaged by Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970s) was said to mark the centre of Windsor Forest. John Constable spent his honeymoon at the Rectory in 1816 and sketched 'All Saints Church' twice. It is also said to have been a refuge for a number of Parliamentary soldiers during the Civil War. The lodge became a coaching inn in 1727. The 18th-century travel writer, William Cobbett, once stayed there and wrote that it was "a very nice country inn". He called nearby Bracknell a "bleak and desolate" place.
All Saints Church (7th century) is mostly mid-19th century, but has some ancient fittings. Of particular note is the 17th century hourglass and elaborate iron stand. It features the arms of the Farriers' Company of London. The famous poet, Alexander Pope, lived at Pope's Manor in Popeswood and sang in the church choir as a boy in the early 1700s.
The famous mathematician James Doran also originates from Binfield.
In the 16th century, Reading was the tenth richest town in the country and the Abbots of Reading Abbey established a country seat at Elm Grove. Although the house has since been rebuilt, the street name Monk’s Alley (which runs westwards from Binfield House) survives from that association. White Gate, opposite, is a significant hall house dates from the 15th century.
The Luck of Binfield always hung in Binfield Place, a mostly Jacobean Manor (partly of Henry VII's reign) with a mysteriously missing wing. It was a 17th-century bas-relief of a lady's head, said to pour misfortune upon any owner who removes it. The grounds of the manor are used every summer for a large party for locals, called "Party at the Place".
Binfield House, similar in appearance to Horace Warpole's Strawberry Hill House near Twickenham (Grade II listed) was built in 1776 and for nearly 150 years was rented out to a number of tenants including the well known historian Catharina Macaulay Graham whose work was greatly admired by the 1st American President George Washington, and in 1788 she travelled to America to visit him. In the mid-19th century the house was used for at least 35 years as a small school. In 1928 it was purchased by Lady Knox who with her husband Major General Knox rebuilt and greatly extended the house under the guidance of the architect Nugent Cachemaille-Day. Binfield House was sold in 1974 to the then Bracknell District Council. Early maps show the much larger Binfield Park as Binfield House, so the name of Binfield House may have been different in the late 18th and into the middle part of the 19th century, although the map of 1883 certainly confirms the use of the name by then. Previously, the house may have been called 'Wyhtwicks' after its builder. Its grounds contain a small Ha-Ha, a half buried pillbox and a former walled kitchen garden.
Two miles north of Binfield is Allanbay Park, a grade II listed country house set in parkland. It was the home of John Lycett Wills (1910–1999) and his wife Jean Elphinstone. Wills served as High Sheriff of Berkshire in 1958. Jean was a niece of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and lady-in-waiting to her cousin, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. In 1955, Group Captain Peter Townsend stayed at Allanbay to avoid the press furore surrounding his relationship with the Princess.
From the late 19th century to the 1960s, brick-making was an important industry in the area, with the Binfield Brick and Tile works at Amen Corner being an important employer – this is now the site of the Coppid Beech Hotel and the John Nike Leisuresport Complex. The presence of large houses in the area, most of them without estates to support them, meant that many tradesmen could make a living in the village and Binfield continued to flourish until the development of Bracknell New Town. Binfield bricks were partly used to create the world famous Royal Albert Hall.
Much of modern Binfield stretches towards the south and east of the original village. Suburbs include:
Binfield is home to Newbold College, a Seventh-day Adventist college and church. There are two Church of England churches, named All Saints' on Terrace Road North and St Mark's on St Mark's Road. There is also Binfield Free Church. In addition to the college, Newbold has its own Seventh-day Adventist primary school. Binfield also has a Church of England Primary School with about 420 pupils, and a day nursery. There is also a Pre-school at Memorial Hall.
Binfield has four Public Houses: The Roebuck (Greene King), The Victoria Arms (Fullers), the Jack O'Newbury (Freehouse) and the Stag and Hounds (Marston's). In addition to these there are a number of former public houses in the village, which include an ancient ale houses along Wicks Green (The Kicking Donkey) and a since demolished public house along Red Rose (The White Horse). There is also a doctors' surgery, a dental surgery, a Lloyd's chemist, three hairdressing salons, an art shop: V & A Traynor, a Spar supermarket (including a post office), a coffee shop and two estate agents: Gerry Burke and Keith Gibbs. There are a number of take-aways, including a fish and chip shop (The Big Thumb), Amir restaurant (Indian food) and The Binfield Kitchen(Chinese food). A new addition to Binfield is Daruchini, a Bangladeshi/Indian restaurant, which replaced the Royal Standard Pub. For the motorist, there is a tyre and exhaust centre and a car repair workshop.
Sport and leisure
Binfield has a cricket club,Binfield CC founded in 1865. They became champions of the Morrants Chiltern League for the very first time in 2009. The village has a very well supported football team, founded by the brick makers of the village in 1892, Binfield F.C. is a Step 5, FA Community Standard club, with 32 teams from Under 7s to Veterans, including girls' teams. The first team played in the FA Cup for the first time in season 2009–10, after being promoted to the Hellenic League Premier Division from Division 1 East, which they won in 2008–09. The first team won The AM Print & Copy Floodlit cup in April 2012. Binfield resident Rob Bacon is the Chairman of the club.
The village has four main parks: one at Wicks Green, one at Silver Jubilee Fields, one at Popes Meadow and the fourth at Foxley Fields, next to Binfield Primary School. The park at Wicks Green has a Trim Trail around the perimeter and a Cableway. The play area has recently been refurbished, with a large swing, climbing blocks, and multi-purpose frame – all designed for older children. Silver Jubilee Fields is next to Wicks Green, separated by a pond. At the northern side of these fields is an area of specimen trees, including Black Walnut, Pin Oak, White Berried Elderberry and Persian Ironwood. There is also a small play area for younger children, which includes swings and a climbing frame. Popes Meadow, a Green Flag park, has large grassed areas, a large pond and a small play-park for younger children. Foxley Fields has three all-weather tennis courts which are managed by the Binfield Tennis Association and a play area with a climbing frame, spinner and swings. For the older children and teenagers there is an all-weather pitch, with basketball hoops, integral cricket stumps and markings for several games. Recently, a brand new play area has been installed at Foxley Fields, with a trampoline, a tunnel, a climbing rock, various swings and a bridge and stepping stones.
Binfield is also the home to The Bowmen Of Warfield archery club who have their own field on Hill Farm lane. Bowmen of Warfield are the top target archery club in Berkshire having over 150 members.
Shortly after William and Mary became joint monarchs in 1689, Catholics were expelled from the City of London. The Popes moved up river to Hammersmith, but in 1700 they relocated to Binfield. There, the principal manor house, Binfield Place, was held by the Catholic Dancastle family. The village was also only seven miles across the heath from Hall Grove, Bagshot, in Surrey. This was the home of Magdalen Rackett, Mr Pope's daughter by his first wife.
It was through Magdalen's husband Charles Rackett that Pope had been able, in 1698, to purchase Whitehill House, a small manor house in fourteen acres of land in Binfield. The house has been known successively as Binfield Lodge, The Firs and Arthurstone. Now much altered, and renamed Pope's Manor, it was for some years the southern headquarters of the construction company Bryant Homes (later Taylor Wimpey), who refurbished the then much neglected property.
But if Queen Anne was capable of acts of clemency towards individual Catholics, she showed no compromise to Catholics in general. In 1706 she made it a treasonable offence to convert anyone to Catholicism. She ordered the enforcement of the laws against Catholics and had a census made of the Number of Papists in every Parish, with their Qualities, Estates and Places of Abode. The Catholic population of the Thames Valley area remained fairly static at about 1 per cent. In Berkshire, for example, there were 293 known or suspected Catholics. In the city of Oxford there were fourteen.
In the spring of 1714 Pope returned to his parents' home in Binfield from one of his frequent periods in London. With him came the poet Thomas Parnell, a charming Irish Anglican clergyman who was greatly liked by the Catholic household. Two months later Parnell revisited Binfield and from there he and Pope travelled to Letcombe Bassett (3 miles SW of Wantage).
In the spring of 1715 Alexander Pope paid his last visit to the family home in Binfield, Windsor Forest. Whitehill House, his parents' home, had been sold and a few weeks later they moved to Twickenham. Where Popes House still stands to this day.
- Mills, A.D: A Dictionary of English Place-Names, page 69. Oxford University Press, 1991.
- "Allanbay Park". British Listed Buildings.
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