Binfield 100 years ago was just a quiet village with a parish nurse who lived in the village, was on call day and night and went everywhere on her bicycle. There was a village policeman, a butcher/milkman and a baker who called daily.
Now the busy A329 which provides access to the M4 runs through the southern part of the village. A more leisurely route from Windsor to Reading is the B3034 which runs through the centre of the village, but there will be few who know that they are using the old Turnpike road created in the 18th century so that wheeled traffic could journey more comfortably along the forest tracks. The formation of the Turnpike Trust to build the "Forest Road" is commemorated by an oval stone set up by the road side at Bill Hill. Windsor Forest covered all this area and was well stocked with fallow deer for the King's hunting. The severe game laws pressed heavily on poacher and peasant alike to maintain the royal prerogative.
Binfield derives its
name from the coarse grass in this clearing or "feld" in the
forest. At one time the forest was divided into 16 Walkes. The Binfelde
Walke was mentioned in the 16th century under Sir Henry Neville, the keeper,
who lived at Billingbear.
The centre of Binfield
is only 2 1/2 miles from the rapidly growing town of Bracknell, but the
village remains rural, surrounded by carefully farmed lands, although
there is now a golf course between the two. Woods with anemones, bluebells
and primroses are easy to find. The village runs along a ridge that is
260 ft. above sea level. To the north is the old parish church of All
Saints and to the south Amen Corner. The Corner is said to have taken
its name from the congregation of a Dissenting Chapel, built in 1875,
who used to say to each other as they separated after a service "God
by with you, Amen". There are glimpses of the Chiltern Hills to the
north-west,. Until recently a flourishing brick and tile works at Amen
Corner employed 60 craftsmen making fine, wire-cut bricks. Beehive Lane
is clearly named from the old brick kilns.
No large-scale industry
is to be found in Binfield, as it has become largely residential. Binfield
Park, a fine Georgian mansion built in 1729, became a hospital for handicapped
adults, but is now closed. Newbold College, a growing concern, is a training
college for Seventh Day Adventists. Binfield Lodge, one of James I's hunting
lodges, claims that Elizabeth I slept there and boasts that Cecil Rhodes
was one of the visitors. Elm Grove in Monk's Alley has a raised bowling
green, which may have been the site of ancient earthworks.
White Hill, the erstwhile home of Alexander Pope, is now called Pope's Manor. It has recently been sold and, after extensive alterations and renovations, used as offices. The beautiful grounds and lake have been given to the public for leisure purposes.
Binfield Place is said to be the oldest house in the village with a history that goes back to Henry VII. It has 16th century moulded beams and a chimney marked 1702. Tradition has it that bad luck will befall the owner if a 17th century bas-relief of a lady's head is moved.
Of the many inns,
the most interesting is the Stag and Hounds on the Forest Road. It was
converted into an inn in 1727. William Cobbett described an excellent
breakfast he had there on his way to Reading. This inn is said to mark
the centre of Old Windsor Forest.
The parish church of All Saints has been much restored, but the main part dates from the 15th Century. There is, however, a record of a priest of Binfield as early as 1174. The unusual open wooden porch with different carvings on both sides is 14th century and there is some fine 15th century glass. A unique hour-glass stand of hammered ironwork beside the pulpit dated 11628 is worth attention, as is the half-length brass memorial of Walter de Annefordhe, the oldest in Berkshire, to be found in the chancel under the red carpet.
The mansion behind
the church used to be the Rectory which was enlarged in the last century
- probably to enable the rectory, the Rev Gabell, a retired headmaster
from Winchester College, to take in pupils. A new Rectory has now been
built in the centre of the village.
The churchyard at All Saints has become a wild flower sanctuary. At least 23 different species grow here and all can enjoy the snowdrops and primroses that carpet the ground, the smell of the sweet-scented roses. Birds, too, nest and sing undisturbed. Saint Mark's Church, at the other end of the village is a Chapel of Ease built in 1867. It has been rebuilt after a fire destroyed it in 1958.
of several small estates and a modern shopping precinct with a large parking
area have ensured the continuing life of the village.
History compiled by the Federation of Women's Institues
Church at Christmas
.../and a moment to remember those we have lost