A diverse parish which incorporates historical rural settlements with a vast 20th century housing development, Earley bridges the two towns of Reading and Wokingham.
Incorporating the 1970s development of Lower Earley, the Whiteknights complex of the University of Reading and the Suttons Business Park, Earley covers a large area with plenty of great facilities and a wide-ranging mix of housing.
In this guide, we take a look at the parish of Earley to find out more about its history, housing and facilities.
Earley: A Snapshot
A suburb of Reading, the civil parish of Earley is situated to the north west of Wokingham and has a population of around 31,000 people (not including subordinate conurbations).
Sometimes referred to as ‘Erleigh’, the area incorporates Lower Earley, Whiteknights and Maiden Erleigh.
Often overlooked as just another part of Reading, parts of Earley are actually within the Wokingham Unitary Authority.
Though the majority of its architectural features, including housing, are 19th and 20th century, there are some hidden historic gems, including some English Heritage listed properties including the Sindlesham Mill and the adjoining 19th century bridge.
Situated on the boundary of Winnersh,, Sindlesham and Lower Earley, the Sindlesham Mill is a listed building. Image via Geograph.
Lower Earley is the biggest conurbation within Earley and is often considered a town in its own right. The development started in the late 1970s to accommodate population growth in the area and continued through the 1980s and 1990s with new properties still being added.
At the time of the initial development, Lower Earley was the largest housing estate in Europe. Located on the site of farmland, forest and pastures, Lower Earley still retains some links to its country heritage with Pearmans Copse and Maiden Erleigh Lake forming part of the development.
Sol Joel Park off the Wokingham Road and part of the River Loddon also form part of the Earley Parish providing some additional greenery in this largely urbanised part of Berkshire
Earley: The Detail
Earley has a long history and is recorded in the Domesday book as ‘Herlei’ though a settlement is thought to have existed on the location of the parish since the Palaeolithic age. Like Reading, artefacts discovered across the parish support the commonly held view that a settlement has existed across the area for many thousands of years.
The expansion of housing to form the Lower Earley housing development also produced a micro-town environment with the area having a large supermarket (ASDA) along with a Toby Carvery, retail outlets (M&S, Iceland, Sainsbury’s Local) plus parades of convenience stores around the estate.
The Asda supercentre in Lower Earley is open 24 hours. Image via Google Earth.
The area has a range of independent shops from a specialist party supplies shop on the Wokingham Road to the Three Tuns junction where there is also a music shop, cycle shop and Co-Operative store.
Lower Earley also has a large leisure centre with swimming pool, sports hall and gymnasium.
There is also the Showcase cinema which sits on the border of Winnersh, Woodley and Earley.
The parish of Earley stretches to the River Thames at its northern perimeter where the Kennet joins at the Sutton Business Park and is bounded by the M4 at Shinfield and Sindlesham its southern edge. To the east lies Woodley and to the west, Reading.
It lies directly between junctions 10 and 11 of the M4 with easy access to the A33 and Basingstoke. The M3 junction at Lightwater is just 15 miles away.
Earley has its own railway station which lies on the mainline between Reading and London Waterloo; the former is just one stop and takes a couple of minutes whilst the latter is an hour by South Western Rail.
Both Earley and lower Earley are well connected and have good bus links to Reading and Wokingham. Image via Wikimedia.
Demographics of Earley
The census data for Earley is mixed as the northern edge of the parish falls into Reading’s jurisdiction whilst the majority of wards falls under the Wokingham Unitary Authority.
Most of Earley is classified as being commuter suburbs with the following characteristics in terms of the overall demographic:
Education levels of residents are higher than the national average.
Levels of general health in the population are generally better than the average.
The area has a higher than average number of residents in the UK with low levels of immigration.
The median age of the population is marginally more than the national average.
Home ownership rates are high.
Twice as many households in the area are from the AB social grade than the national average.
Overall, the Earley area is an affluent one reflecting the general trends in the surrounding areas of a community that is largely made up of ABC1 individuals on a higher than average income who enjoy good health and who come from an educated background.
There are several schools in the Earley area with Lower Earley benefitting from purpose built schools set in the estate.
The only secondary school based solely in Earley is the Maiden Erleigh School which is mixed community academy. Located at Silverdale Rd, Earley, Reading RG6 7HS, the academy was last inspected by OFSTED in 2015 and judged to be a ‘Good’ school.
Children from the area who reach secondary education age can be in catchment for other Wokingham schools including The Piggott (Woodley), The Emmbrook, The Holt and The Forest.
Our best picks for…
With so many great retail outlets and restaurants in the surrounding areas of Reading. Bracknell and Wokingham, Earley can often be overlooked but we’ve got some suggestions for some hidden treats:
The George is a Chef & Brewer chain pub which sits astride the River Loddon at the border of Winnersh and Woodley with Earley and Lower Earley.
Despite being situated along the main road, the rear garden enjoys a riverbank setting which is, curiously, hidden from the neighbouring plot of the Showcase Cinema.
An old fashioned welcome awaits you at The George, Earley. Image via Geograph.
The building is on the site of an old toll house and dates back to the 18th century although it has had several extensions since.
It’s a traditional style pub with a modern menu and serves a good pint. A great spot to hit in the summer for a pre-movie drink.
…the great outdoors.
Something of a local gem, the Maiden Erleigh Nature Reserve covers 12 hectares of land and incorporates a picturesque lake at its heart. Used by fisherman during the fishing season, it is a surprising tranquil space which is popular with dog-walkers and families looking to connect with nature.
The site is also home to the Annual Green Fair, held in August.
If you haven’t discovered this lovely rural space, we’d urge you to head down to enjoy the wildlife or, even better, contact the Earley Environmental Group to find out more about volunteering with conservation activities.
…somewhere to eat out.
Kei’s is a smart Chinese restaurant in Lower Earley serving a Peking-style menu. It has a contemporary setting and the staff are exceptionally friendly but, above all, the food is excellent.
Housing in Earley
Housing across Earley is predominantly 19th and 20th century with those properties in Lower Earley largely being built from 1977 onwards.
There is a good mix of Victorian terraced properties, mid-20th century semi-detached and detached properties on estates with both modern and period detached homes also available.
Some areas around Beech Lane have older properties including a handful of listed buildings.
House Prices in Earley
House prices in Earley are more expensive than in Reading but cheaper than Wokingham with an average price of £386,388. House specifically in Lower Earley were a similar price, being £372,670
This can be broken down by house type as follows:
Houses on the Lower Earley development are all post-1970s in design. Image via Wikimedia.
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