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Thames Valley Area Guide: Swallowfield

The Thames Valley area is rich with many thousands of small communities that are often unknown to many of us, even on our own back doorstep. With this in mind, we’ve decided to take a closer look at some of the gems in our area with our focus this week being on Swallowfield in Berkshire.

Swallowfield: A Snapshot

Swallowfield is a small parish to the south of Reading and is a part of the Wokingham unitary authority. Although the parish boundaries include other villages such as Riseley and Farley Hill, Swallowfield itself is a village of under 700 people.

It is regarded as a rural community and although it enjoys a convenient position close to Reading and Wokingham, there are few public transport services running directly to Swallowfield.

Residents can use the village shop, Swallowfield Post Office and Parish Stores, for daily convenience as well as accessing a centrally located pub, The Crown.

There are a couple of locations of interest in the parish including the nature reserve, Swallowfield Meadow. Just 1.8 acres large, the meadows were a former coal yard but reverted to the parish in the 1990s after a new development of houses was begun. It has a small population of water vole as well as native flora. Along the river is a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI), so designated due to the presence of some rare aquatic plants.

blackwater river swallowfield area guide

Benefiting from beautiful countryside, Swallowfield sits on the River Blackwater. Image via Geograph.

In addition, the village is the site for Swallowfield Park, a 17th century former stately home that was split into private residences in 2003.

Though a quiet and picturesque Berkshire village with no real commuter traffic, Swallowfield throws open its doors once a year for their annual summer show. A huge event and held in the grounds of Swallowfield Park, the event attracts thousands of people over the August bank holiday and boasts a huge range of activities, exhibitors and stalls including crafts, food and drink as well as horticultural.

Swallowfield: The Detail

So, where exactly is Swallowfield, what are the residents like and what kind of facilities can you find here?

Location

Swallowfield is well situated for easy access to both the A33 and the M4 (Junction 11) however it doesn’t have its own railway station and has very few scheduled buses.

The closest British Rail station can be found at Mortimer which is 4.5 miles to the west and is situated on the GWR Reading to Basingstoke line. To the north-east lies the Winnersh station which is served by the SWR Reading-Waterloo line.

Swallowfield offers easy commuter access (by car) to Reading, Basingstoke, Bracknell and Wokingham as well as their surrounding villages and towns.

Although a Berkshire village, Swallowfield is just one mile north of the boundary with Hampshire.

Demographics and Stats of Swallowfield

A small community of just 656 people, Swallowfield itself is deemed a village surrounded by inhabited countryside. The typical resident is categorised by the UK Census (2011) as being Prospering Suburbs: Prospering Older Families and Countryside: Village Life.

swallowfield village area guide

Swallowfield is a quintessentially peaceful Berkshire village. Image via Geograph.

The average age of residents is a median 45.5 years old with the majority of those in employment having professional occupations or are managers, directors or senior officials (45.75%).

The village proper incorporates just 237 households and is centred around a dozen or so postcodes.

Extending to include the other small villages such as Riseley and Farley Hill, Swallowfield still only incorporates around 2000 residents.

The crime rate in the village is moderate compared to residential areas of surrounding towns like Wokingham and low when compared to Reading and Basingstoke.

Superfast broadband is available in Swallowfield with the current maximum download speeds being around 66 Mb/s.

Education

Swallowfield has no schools within the village itself but is served by the surrounding communities.

Primary provision is located at:

  • Lambs Lane Primary School, Back Lane, Spencers Wood, Reading, Berkshire, RG7 1JB
  • Shinfield St Mary’s CofE Junior School, Chestnut Crescent, Shinfield, Reading, Berkshire, RG2 9EJ
  • Shinfield Infant and Nursery School, School Green, Shinfield, Reading, Berkshire, RG2 9EH
  • Farley Hill Primary School, Church Road, Farley Hill, Reading, Berkshire, RG7 1UB
  • Grazeley Parochial Church of England Aided Primary School, Mereoak Lane, Grazeley, Reading, Berkshire, RG7 1JY

With the exception of Lambs Lane which needs improvement, Ofsted has awarded each of the school’s as being ‘Good’.

Secondary provision is a littler further afield with the main schools being either in Wokingham or Reading. The new Bohunt School at Arborfield is the closest in terms of distance. Other options for secondary schools include:

  • Oakbank, Hyde End Lane, Ryeish Green, Reading, Berkshire, RG7 1ER
  • Maiden Erlegh School, Silverdale Road, Earley, Reading, Berkshire, RG6 7HS
  • The Bulmershe School, Woodlands Avenue, Woodley, Reading, Berkshire, RG5 3EU
  • The Emmbrook School, Emmbrook Road, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG41 1JP
  • St Crispin’s School, London Road, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 1SS
  • Waingels, Waingels Road, Woodley, Reading, Berkshire, RG5 4RF
  • The Piggott School, Twyford Road, Wargrave, Reading, Berkshire, RG10 8DS

All of these schools have been rated by Ofsted as ‘Good’.

There are two same-sex education schools in Wokingham, The Forest School for boys which, according to the latest Ofsted inspection, needs improvement and The Holt School which is rates by Ofsted as ‘Outstanding’.

Our best picks for…

…a traditional pub welcome.

The George & Dragon on Church Road is a relaxed country pub that has a great reputation for its food, drink and ambience. A Grade 2 Listed property, the building dates back to 17th century and was a coach house until the turn of the 20th century. Since then it has been a popular drinking holes for locals as well as passing visitors and continues to receive exceptional praise across tourism sites like Trip Advisor. With open fires, wooden beams and cosy seating the pub is dog-friendly and is ideally situated to be the start or end of a great country walk around the area.

george and dragon best pub swallowfield

The George & Dragon is a homely and traditional English pub. Image via Geograph.

…a riverside walk.

Swallowfield sits on the Blackwater River which is a tributary of the River Loddon and there are a couple of lovely walks to take advantage of this great location. In fact, the George and Dragon’s website has the details of a lovely circular 4-mile walk which takes in the riverside setting.

If you are interested in fishing, then the Swallowfield Fishing Club manages this section of the river. It has a good reputation for its management and is recognised as a high quality fishery for specimen sized coarse fish including barbel but also brown trout.

…some vintage delights.

Situated in Sheepbridge Court Farms, the treasure trove that is Alex Vintage Furniture hides some real gems of upcycled and retro home décor. From creatively reimagined utility items to some bold statement pieces, the showroom is manned by a friendly team of artistic staff who are on hand to take commissions or give some advice on their workmanship. A real gem of a shop.

Housing in Swallowfield

Properties do tend to come to market quite rarely in Swallowfield with only 16 transactions being recorded in the last year. Most of these were terraced properties which fetched an average of £320,286; compared to neighbouring Wokingham where the average terraced house is £316,358, prices are 1.24% higher for this type of accommodation.

house prices swallowfield

House prices in Swallowfield are higher than in surrounding areas as there are fewer houses and even less new homes. Image via Geograph.

The average price for a semi-detached home is not dissimilar to that of a terraced property at £352,200 which is much lower than in Wokingham (12.41%). However, a detached home will cost on average £721,400 or 13.87% more than in Wokingham.

The overall average house price in the area equates to £435,313 which is 2.53% higher than in Wokingham and a similar margin above the surrounding districts of Three Mile Cross, Spencer’s Wood and Shinfield.

If you are considering a house purchase in and around the Swallowfield area and would like to know more about your options then contact Property Assistant. We like to make sure that buyers know as much about an area as possible before making a decision on their new home.

Featured image via Geograph.

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Thames Valley Area Guide: Binfield

With a population of around 9000 people, the village of Binfield is a small Berkshire parish occupying land between Warfield, Shurlock Row, Bracknell and Wokingham. A part of the Bracknell Forest District Council, it is classed as an urban town but enjoys a rural feel with plenty of its own facilities yet enjoying easy access to some great transport links.

In the latest in our series of Thames Valley Area Guides, we take a closer look at the parish of Binfield including some historic information, facts and figures as well as offering our suggestions on the best the village has to offer.

Binfield: A Snapshot

The history of the village of Binfield dates back to the 14th century when the area formed part of the royal hunting grounds of the Old Windsor Forest. The parish’s oldest pub is though to have been the headquarters for the Royal gamekeepers and marked the centre of the hunting grounds. Certainly the building was used for lodging royal guests as well as harbouring parliamentarian soldiers during the civil war.

stag and hounds binfield pub

The Stag and Hounds is an important historic building. Image via Geograph.

As the surrounding woodland was cleared after the Enclosure Act of 1813, the village grew around local farms with agricultural workers and landowners settling in the area. Private dwellings and small communities grew around the existing landmarks of Binfield Manor (built in 1754), All Saints Church (7th and mid-19th century) and Binfield House (built in 1776).

As well as agriculture, the area was once known for its brickmaking with the Brick & Tile Works once occupying the site of the John Nike Leisure Centre. It was from this venue that bricks were used to build the Royal Albert Hall.

For a small parish, Binfield has plenty of great facilities including a community social club (Binfield Club) local post office, bakery, village shop and pharmacy. You can also find a local Co-Op, Chinese takeaway, barbers and hair salon, florist, fish & chip shop, coffee shop, boutique charity shop and nail and beauty parlour.

Binfield: The Detail

Location

Situated to the north east of Wokingham and the north west of Bracknell, the boundaries of Binfield village have slowly become blurred over the years. Once enjoying rural isolation, the area actually extends far beyond the central village which most people associate with this small parish. Stretching north to the M4 at Shurlock Row and south, beyond the A329 to Peacock’s Farm and the new Jennett’s Park development, Binfield effectively joins the two towns of Bracknell and Wokingham, east to west.

Enjoying the same great transports links as its neighbours, the village is well located for access to the M4, M3 and M25 as well as the A30. It is a popular commuter town for Bracknell, Reading and London as well as Windsor, Staines and Slough.

Both Bracknell and Wokingham have great rail links, both being situated on the Reading-Waterloo line with the latter also offering direct access to Gatwick and Guildford.

newbold college binfield

Newbold College, Binfield. Image via Wikimedia.

Demographics of Binfield

Binfield actually shares a ward with Warfield and the census data and statistics are shared across both parishes.

  • 22% of the population are aged under 17, 63% are aged between 18 and 64 with the remaining 15% being of retirement age.
  • The ethnic diversity of Binfield is predominantly white (88%)
  • The unemployment and long-term unemployment rates are below the mean average for the district.
  • 10.2% of the residents have no qualifications.
  • 58% of the population are in very good health, 31.8% in good health, 7.8% in fair health, 1.9% in bad health and 0.5% in very bad health.

Of the 18 wards which make up Bracknell Forest, Binfield with Warfield have the 15th most deprived population with 7.2% of children at risk of living in poverty. This is lower than the overall average of 11.7% for the district.

Education

Binfield has no secondary schools of its own but does have a primary school which feeds students into either St Crispin’s in Wokingham or one of the schools in Bracknell like Garth Hill, Brackenhale or Easthampstead Park.

The Binfield Church of England Primary School was last inspected by Oftsed in 2018 whereupon it received a ‘Good’ rating. The report maintained the previous assessment of ‘Good’ from 2013 with the report demonstrating positive developments in leadership and management, safety, behaviour and quality of teaching. The school has a positive spirit and a strong ethos ‘to make learning utterly irresistible for all pupils and staff’.

The village also has a pre-school and an independent day school, the Seventh Day Adventist Newbold School for ages 2-11.

Our best picks for…

…eating out.

Binfield is home to a fine dining Indian & Bangladeshi restaurant, the Daruchini Brasserie. A newly opened establishment, the restaurant is situated on St. Mark’s Road and has been receiving some excellent reviews. Running a takeaway service and a Sunday buffet, the menu covers some well-known and popular dishes as well as some speciality chef’s recommendations and Bangladeshi specials.

eating out binfield daruchini brasserie

Serving a cracking curry and some interesting dishes, Daruchini in Binfield. Image via website.

…getting a pint.

You are spoiled for choice in the small village of Binfield with some excellent traditional English pubs in the immediate vicinity. There are three good pubs in Binfield:

The Jack O’Newbury is a Freehouse and is well-known in the area for its excellent range of real ales. It is a popular pub in the summer with a large beer garden in addition to its indoor skittle alley, great menu and friendly welcome. In winter months, a real open fire is yet another temptation to stop in for a cosy evening.

The Victoria Arms can offer you more of the same with a lovely traditional interior complete with log fire, well kept gardens and a nice selection of ales and food. At present, the pub is part of the Fullers Brewery but the place has a homely feel to it with lots of personal touches. Fleeces are on hand for customers to use if they get chilly sitting outside in the evenings and dog biscuits are given out for ‘well-behaved owners’. There is always a good social scene here and you can find live sports as well as quiz nights and other community events.

Located between Binfield and Warfield, The Stag & Hounds is the oldest pub in Binfield with parts of the historic building dating back to the 14th century. Once used as a hunting lodge for Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, the pub is reportedly the site of the centre of the old Windsor Forest. They have a modern dining menu and excellent choice of beer. It gets very busy in the summer so if you visit on a hot sunny day, be prepared to wait a while.

…a bit of the countryside on your doorstep.

Pope’s Meadow in Binfield is a small area of parkland which offers a little respite for locals. Sized at around 13 acres, this local wildlife site has a toddlers playground, orienteering course and kickabout area. There is a small pond with picnic benches and it is a popular place for cyclists, dog walkers and ramblers (the meadow is part of the wider Bracknell Forest Ramblers Route). Holding a Green Flag award, Pope’s Meadow is named after one time resident of the adjoining manor the 18th century poet, Alexander Pope.

…Some Alpine Fun.

Binfield is home to one of Bracknell’s most popular leisure venues, the John Nike Leisuresport Complex. The home venue for the Bracknell Bees Ice Hockey Team, the facility incorporates a Permasnow ski-slope, ice-skating rink, hotel, spa and nightclub.

Not only can you enjoy skiing, snow-boarding and skating but snow-tubing as well. The Alpine Lodge Bar and Restaurant is a great place to recover from an exhilarating experience whilst you watch others on the slopes.

john nike ski centre binfield

The dry ski slopes at the John Nike centre have been a dominant feature since it was built in 1985. Image via Geograph.

Housing in Binfield

According to data recorded by the Land Registry, the average house price in Binfield is currently £462,959 which is broken down as follows:

  • Terraced houses – £425,064
  • Semi-detached houses – £488,049
  • Detached houses – £645,541

The average price of a residential property in Binfield is similar to Warfield (£462,959) and Wokingham (£473,331) but more expensive than Bracknell (£350,905).

Year on year, house prices in Binfield have risen by 4% and 17% versus 2015.

Building stock in Binfield ranges from period properties to modern homes, however there is predominantly a large supply of family-sized houses as opposed to starter homes.

Almost 50% of the total 3625 dwellings in Binfield with Warfield are detached.

If you are considering a move to the Binfield area and would like to know more about local amenities, house prices or anything else that might affect a relocation then we’d love to help. Property Assistant Wokingham is a local estate agent offering a range of personal but professional services designed to make your next house move an easy one. Contact us today on 0118 912 2370 to discuss your plans.

Featured image via Geograph.

Wokingham: The Happiest Place to Live?

Want to know where the happiest place to live in England is?

According to recent results from the Thriving Places Index, Wokingham scores second as the happiest place to live in the country. The assessment is based on three key areas; equality, local conditions and sustainability. Within these categories, 48 individual indicators (including education, work and health) are all evaluated to determine just how well councils are performing to create the ideal conditions required for communities to thrive.

Powered by the Happy City charity, the Thriving Places Index is a social compass measuring equitable and sustainable well-being with the results for 2017 now in.

happiest place to live wokingham

How well does Wokingham score on the Thriving Places Index?

Wokingham: The Happiest Place to Live?

Wokingham scored highly in several areas, but the report also identified some specific factors which require improvement.

In summary, Wokingham compares to its neighbours as follows:

Element Wokingham Bracknell Forest Reading West Berks
Equality 5.45 5.80 4.86 4.19
Local Conditions 6.79 6.11 5.04 6.20
Sustainability 4.29 5.12 4.91 4.76
Total Score 16.53 17.03 14.81 15.15

The best areas for equality in England were seen in Shropshire and Devon with Oxfordshire and Dorset scoring highly for sustainability. Overall, local conditions were ranked most highly in Wokingham.

So, what about the detail? What put Wokingham ahead of the pack for living conditions and what needs to be improved for 2018?

Local Conditions

There are 17 indicators used on the Thriving Places Index to assess local conditions and Wokingham scored highly in all but four of these and ranked as the top authority in the country:

  • Local environment (average)
  • Transport (below average)
  • Adult education (average)
  • Culture (well below average)

Areas like housing, safety, mental health, employment and community cohesion were all assessed as being excellent.

Place & Environment

Wokingham came 5th in the country for this sub-category with the Wirral topping the charts. Bracknell Forest came in at the number two spot followed by Central Bedfordshire and Thurrock.

Despite scoring highly for safety and housing, the index was skewed by poor results for transport and the local environment. Wokingham was ranked as 19th from bottom for its poor transport assessment.

thriving places index wokingham transport

Only 17% of Wokingham is deemed rural but transport is a big issue on the index. Image via Google Earth.

Work and Local Economy

Wokingham topped the charts in this sub-category with low unemployment figures, a high proportion of good jobs available and low levels of deprivation.

There is strong correlation between Work and the Local Economy with Mental & Physical Health and Wokingham scores well on both

Mental & Physical Health

Wokingham ranked second highest for this sub-category behind Richmond Upon Thames. The category takes into account a large number of factors, including:

  • Mortality
  • Life expectancy
  • Obesity levels
  • Overall health status
  • Underage pregnancies
  • Prevalence of depression, anxiety and suicide
  • Physical activity

All aspects of these categories were ranked well in Wokingham.

People and Community

Wokingham scored one of the highest scores in the country for community participation at 9.81 out of 10. This is based on volunteering and voting and, combined with the cohesion scores, suggests a healthy community spirit in Wokingham which ranks it as the 4th highest rating in the country. Only Herefordshire, North Yorkshire and Cornwall ranked higher in the People and Community section.

However, Wokingham’s culture score is very low at 3.06, ranked as 13th from bottom. Wokingham could only really improve its standing in this assessment by climbing the RSA Heritage Index.

Education and Learning

Ranking 15th for Education and Learning which takes into account both adult and children’s education, Wokingham achieved an average score for this indicator.

The split between the two sectors was quite stark with Children’s Education ranking very highly with a score of 7.66 but with a very average rating of 5.42 for adult education. An increase in the number of adults who participate in training and education could improve this rating for 2018.

wokingham adult education

Few adults in Wokingham are enrolled for training and education courses. Image via Bracknell & Wokingham College.

Equality

Split into three categories, the Thriving Places Index assessed the following to judge the happiest place to live in each of England’s local authorities, namely:

  • Health Equality
  • Income Equality
  • Wellbeing Equality

Wokingham scored 7.87 for wellbeing, 5.96 for health and just 2.52 for income.

Produced by the Office of National Statistics, the Annual Survey for Hours and Earnings showed a marked discrepancy in hours worked vs weekly earnings showing a significant inequality in the incomes of households across the borough.

Sustainability

Wokingham scored worst in the sustainability category which judges CO2 emissions, household recycling and energy consumption per capita. The latter two factors were judged to be below average and CO2 emissions average.

wokingham recycling

Despite new schemes to increase household recycling the borough still has low rates nationally.

The borough scored lower than neighbouring authorities of Bracknell Forest, Reading and West Berkshire for all three aspects.

The low recycling rates in Wokingham have long been a point of consternation for many council tax payers and the borough as introduced new measures in 2018 which should see these figures improved.

What’s the point of the Thriving Places Index

On the release of the 2017 figures, the founding director of the Happy City charity, said:

We are ten years on from an economic crisis that highlighted fatal flaws at the heart of our economy, yet we haven’t seen the systemic changes needed to tackle them.

Rising inequality and climate chaos are clear alarm bells that tell us the current system is no longer fit for purpose, so we decided to take matters into our own hands and come up with a model that measures what matters.

The Index is a practical tool, that can be used right now, to help leaders who want to ensure the sum of their efforts – in every sector – is a better quality of life for people now and in the future.

wokingham happiest place to live

Chief Executive of Happy City, Liz Zeidler, on how the index is designed to help tackle inequality. Image via YouTube.

The index highlights those areas that are key to supporting healthy and happy communities that enjoy equality in all aspects of life and local conditions. Since the reports were first produced in 2015, the index has identified both an urban/rural and a North/South divide.

It is hoped that the reports will help inform local authorities as to those areas where funding is best employed to deliver social, cultural and environmental equality.

Property Assistant, based in Wokingham, is a local estate agency providing first-class services for anyone currently living in, or looking to move to, the area. If you’d like to know more about whether Wokingham is the happiest place to live or are looking at moving to any town or city in the Thames Valley then contact us today for more information on our relocation services.

Featured image via Google Earth.

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Education Focus: Wokingham Secondary Schools

Wokingham secondary schools have some of the best reputations in the UK with three performing well above average and ranked in the top 12% of schools nationally.

Allocation of placements for secondary schools for the 2018/2019 academic year are due to be sent out nationally on 1st March 2018 with many parents (and students) anxiously awaiting confirmation of their preferred school choice.

In this guide, we take a look at the secondary schools of the Wokingham Borough and see how they fared in the 2018 School League Tables. If your child doesn’t get the placement they wanted then you might be interested in considering the alternatives to decide whether you would prefer to remain on the waiting list.

This information may also be useful to anyone moving to the area who has children of a secondary school age.

wokingham schools league tables

National league tables are based on examination results as well as progress from KS2 to KS4. Image via Flickr.

Wokingham Secondary Schools: Latest Performance Information

The Bohunt School

Sheerlands Road, Wokingham, RG2 9GB

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Academy Sponsor Led Mainstream

No of Pupils at KS4: n/a

Last Ofsted: None published

2018 League Table Results

No data available as the school opened in September 2016 to a rolling admission programme. Year 7 and 8 only.

The Bulmershe School

Woodlands Avenue, Reading, RG5 3EU

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Maintained School

No of Pupils at KS4: 148

Last Ofsted: Good (November 2017)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in the middle 40% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: 0.2 (above average)

Attainment 8 Score: 46.9

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 43%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 27%

Entering EBacc: 76%

The Emmbrook School

Emmbrook Road, Wokingham, RG41 1JP

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Maintained School

No of Pupils at KS4: 168

Last Ofsted: Good (March 2017)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in the middle 40% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: 0.06 (above average)

Attainment 8 Score: 45.9

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 40%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 21%

Entering EBacc: 49%

The Forest School

Robin Hood Lane, Wokingham, RG41 5NE

Gender: Boys

Type of School: Academy (Converter Mainstream)

No of Pupils at KS4: 174

Last Ofsted: Requires Improvement (February 2016)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in lower 30% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: -0.32 (below average)

Attainment 8 Score: 47.4

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 54%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 20%

Entering EBacc: 26%

High Close School

Wiltshire Road, Wokingham, RG40 1TT

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Non-maintained Special School

No of Pupils at KS4: 10

Last Ofsted: Inadequate (July 2017)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in bottom 12% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: -2.03 (well below average)

Attainment 8 Score: 5.9

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 0%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 0%

Entering EBacc: 0%

The Holt School

Holt Lane, Wokingham, RG41 1EE

Gender: Girls

Type of School: Academy (Converter Mainstream)

No of Pupils at KS4: 194

Last Ofsted: Outstanding (June 2008)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in top 12% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: 0.64 (well above average)

Attainment 8 Score: 60.6

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 70%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 57%

Entering EBacc: 67%

Maiden Erlegh School

Silverdale Road, Reading, RG6 7HS

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Academy (Converter Mainstream)

No of Pupils at KS4: 277

Last Ofsted: Good (March 2015)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in top 12% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: 0.64 (well above average)

Attainment 8 Score: 55.5

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 62%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 37%

Entering EBacc: 63%

Oakbank School

Hyde End Lane, Reading, RG7 1ER

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Freeschool Mainstream Academy

No of Pupils at KS4: 62

Last Ofsted: Good (June 2016)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in lower 30% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: -0.37 (below average)

Attainment 8 Score: 38.4

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 32%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 13%

Entering EBacc: 39%

The Piggot Church of England School

Twyford Road, Reading, RG10 8DS

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Academy (Converter Mainstream)

No of Pupils at KS4: 192

Last Ofsted: Good (January 2014)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in top 12% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: 0.94 (well above average)

Attainment 8 Score: 58.9

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 69%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 40%

Entering EBacc: 60%

St Crispins School

London Road, Wokingham, RG40 1SS

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Academy (Converter Mainstream)

No of Pupils at KS4: 180

Last Ofsted: Good (March 2017)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in top 30% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: 0.48 (above average)

Attainment 8 Score: 55.5

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 61%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 31%

Entering EBacc: 44%

Waingels College

Waingels Road, Reading, RG5 4RF

Gender: Mixed

Type of School: Academy (Converter Mainstream)

No of Pupils at KS4: 222

Last Ofsted: Good (April 2013)

2018 League Table Results

Performed in top 30% of schools nationally

Progress 8 Score: 0.34 (above average)

Attainment 8 Score: 50.3

GCSE Grade 5 + (English & Maths): 50%

EBacc Grade 5/C+: 39%

Entering EBacc: 69%

wokingham independent schools

Formerly Bearwood College, Reddham House is a popular private school in Wokingham. Image via Geograph.

Independent Schools

Wokingham has a good selection of independent schools that provide excellent private educations. Details for the performances of each school can be found on their websites

  • Crosfields School, Shinfield, Reading, RG2 9BL (mixed gender, age 3 to 13)
  • Dolphin School, Waltham Rd, Reading, RG10 0FR (mixed gender, age 3 to 13)
  • Holme Grange School, Heathlands Road, Wokingham, RG40 3AL (mixed gender, age 2 to 16)
  • Luckley House School, Luckley Road, Wokingham, RG40 3EU (mixed gender, age 11 to 18)
  • Ludgrove School, Ludgrove, Wokingham, RG40 3AB (boys, age 8 to 13)
  • Reddam House, Bearwood Road, Wokingham, RG41 5BG (mixed, age 0 to 19)

2019-2020 Academic School Year

If you have a child who is currently in Year 5 of primary school (going in to Year 6 in September 2017) then you will be asked to submit an application for your preferred choice of schools in September this year. Open days and open evenings are usually held in September and October with a deadline of 31st October for your applications.

Based in Wokingham, Property Assistant is a local estate agent with all the information you need on the Thames Valley Area. We’ve covered many of the areas towns and villages in our local area guides. Stay up to date with our newsletter or contact us on 0118 912 2370 with any questions on moving to the area.

Featured image via Geograph.

Thames Valley Area Guide: Earley

Do you want to know more about Earley?

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.

sindlesham mill earley

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.

Facilities

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.

asda lower earley facilities

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.

Location

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.

earley transport links

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.

Education

There are several schools in the Earley area with Lower Earley benefitting from purpose built schools set in the estate.

The principle primary schools are:

School Address OFSTED Rating
Earley St Peters C of E Church Road, Earley, Reading RG6 1EY Good
Hawkedon Hawkedon Way, Lower Earley, Reading RG6 3AP Good
Aldryngton Silverdale Rd, Earley, Reading RG6 7HR Outstanding
Radstock Radstock Lane, Reading RG6 5UZ Good
Whiteknights Fair Lawn Green, Earley, Reading RG2 8EP Good
Loddon Silverdale Road, Earley, Reading RG6 7LR Good

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:

…a pint

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.

the george earley

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:

House Type Earley Lower Earley
Terraced £315,505 £312,349
Semi Detached £419,809 £350,690
Detached £525,375 £500,763
lower earley area guide

Houses on the Lower Earley development are all post-1970s in design. Image via Wikimedia.

Property Assistant provide clients with all the information they need to make a decision on the right property for them, wherever that may be. We believe that getting the right information is essential in buying a home which is why we offer free advice to anyone searching for a home in the area. Having lived and worked here for longer than we’d like to admit, we feel we are the best placed estate agents in the Thames Valley to give you the knowledge to empower your decisions for your next home.

To find out more about our services, contact us today on 0118 912 2370.

Featured image via Wikimedia.

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Celebrity Spotting in the Thames Valley

Celebrity spotting in Berkshire?

The Thames Valley might not have the glitter and glamour of Hollywood but the area does have many links to the stars.

In this guide, we take a whirlwind tour of the celebrity links to the area in our ‘map’ of the stars.

Actors

Though originally born in Belfast, BAFTA and Academy Award winning actor, Kenneth Branagh was raised in Tilehurst in Reading and still lives in Berkshire. A former pupil of the Meadway School, Branagh is one of many celebrities who call (or have called) this area home.

kenneth branagh

Kenneth Branagh. Image via Flickr.

Marking the Year of Culture in Reading, A list celebrity, Kate Winslett was honoured with a Pride of Reading Award in 2016. She and her siblings were all born and raised in the town. She studied at the Redroof’s Theatre School and has always been proud of her Berkshire heritage,

Also born in Reading is TV actress, Lucy Benjamin, best known for her role as Lisa Fowler in the BBC soap opera, Eastenders. She trained at Redroof’s Theatre School in Maidenhead but now lives in London with her husband and two children.

Starring opposite Hugh Grant in the 2002 film About a Boy, Nicholas Hoult was a Wokingham lad going to school at the Coombes Primary School in Arborfield and then the Ranelagh. He has gone on to star in some Hollywood films including the recent X Men series and Mad Max: Fury Road.

nicholas hoult wokingham boy

Nicholas Hoult. Image via Flickr.

Star of the hit CBBC series, Tracy Beaker, Dani Harmer was born and raised in Bracknell.

George Clooney owns a house at Sonning Eye. The 17th century mansion was redeveloped at a cost of £20 million and includes a 12 seat private cinema, AstroTurf covered tennis courts and 60’ swimming pool. The private Thameside hideaway is where Clooney and his wife, Amal, raise their twin; it is one of five international homes.

Writers

Born in Newbury, creator of the popular children’s classic Michael Bond was a Berkshire boy. He was educated at Presentation College in Reading and survived a catastrophic air raid in the town which killed 41 of his colleagues.

Author of the Water Babies, Rev. Charles Kingsley is buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s in Eversley. As rector from 1844-1875, he was influential in the area as a reformist and writer. The inspiration for the young chimney sweep ‘Tom’ in the book was taken from a boy living in Wokingham, James Seward.

TV Celebrities

Comedian, writer and actor, Ricky Gervais was born in Reading and has famously parodied his upbringing in the area with his film, Cemetery Junction. Born in the Battle Hospital which was closed in 2005, Gervais once worked at the University of Reading as a gardener.

Journalist and TV satirist, Charlie Brooker was also born in Reading though he was raised in Oxford.

The TV celebrity, Chris Tarrant was born in Reading and remains a big fan of the Royals where he can sometimes be seen supporting the team. He still lives in the area and is a regular ‘spot’.

One of Berkshire’s long-standing residents, Uri Geller, called Sonning his home until 2015 when he returned home to Israel. The £15 million mansion was a hot property for curious locals with a meditation pyramid, panic room and L shaped swimming pool.

Before their divorce, comedians Lenny Henry and Dawn French lived in Spencer’s Wood. French has famously relocated to Cornwall and Henry is settled in London.

Sarah Beany was born in Reading and went to the Luckley Oakfield School in Wokingham before launching her property business which has gone on to earn her celebrity fame. She now lives in East Riding of Yorkshire.

Kate Humble was raised in Bray and went to school in Reading at The Abbey School.

Kate humble berkshire

Kate Humble. Image via Wikimedia.

Political Celebrity

Former Prime Minister David Cameron grew up in the small village of Peasemore, north of Newbury. He went to school in Winkfield (near Ascot) and latterly to Eton College. The family home is still in Berkshire.

The Prime Minister, Theresa May also has a home in Sonning though, of course, she spends more of her time at No 10 Downing Street.

Sporting Figures

Sporting celebrity and former champion race jockey, A P McCoy lives in Lambourn with his wife Chanelle.

Northern Ireland international football player, Lawrie Sanchez was a one time resident of Reading being educated at Presentation College

Royals

Catherine (or Kate), Duchess of Cambridge was born in the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading and as future Queen Consort she is perhaps our most famous living claim to fame. She grew up with her sister, Pippa (now married to former racing driver, James Matthews) and her younger brother James, in Chapel Row (near Newbury).

kate middleton duchess of cambridge berkshire

Image via Wikimedia.

Not as current but both still just as royal, King Edward III and Henry VI were both born in Windsor Castle; the former is regarded as the most successful English monarchs of the Middle Ages.

King Henry I not only founded Reading Abbey but is also buried here. In what is becoming a habit of long-dead monarchs, his remains were thought to have been found beneath the tarmac of a car park on the site of what was once Reading Gaol.

Singers

Pop icon, Elton John, has one of his lavish residences in Old Windsor. Though far from being a recluse, it is unlikely that you will spot the singer as he splits his time between other homes in Venice, Nice, Atlanta and London.

Runner up (but arguably more successful than the winner) of the BBC’s Pop Idol in 2001, Will Young was born in Wokingham, raised in Hungerford but went to school at Wellington College in Crowthorne.

The 1990s one hit wonder and pop sensation, Chesney Hawkes was born in Windsor and went to school at Charters School in Sunningdale. His 1991 single ‘The One and Only’ spent five weeks at number one.

The 60s singing celebrity, Marianne Faithfull, grew up in Reading on Millman Road. There is evidence that shows Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger visiting her at her terraced home.

Historic Figures

Founder and joint owner of the famous Huntley and Palmer biscuit dynasty, Joseph Huntley was a resident of Reading in the early 19th century. Originally selling his biscuits to travellers passing through the town, his idea to tin them to keep them fresh led to the creation of the town’s biscuit factory business. One of the first global brands, Huntley & Palmers was the Coca Cola of the 19th century and tins were shipped across the British Empire in their famously elaborate tins. Employing huge swathes of the towns workforce, the factory eventually closed in 1976 but production of the iconic biscuits recommenced in Suffolk in 2006 under license to a New Zealand firm.

Though more of a sight in London, Irish poet, playwright and author Oscar Wilde was once one of Reading’s more famous citizens. Albeit his address was at Reading Gaol, the writer served a prison sentence of two years before exiling himself to France before his death in 1900.

oscar wilde reading prison

Oscar Wilde famously wrote the ‘Ballad of Reading Gaol’ during his time as an inmate. Image via Wikimedia.

It’s unsurprising that so many famous faces call the Thames Valley home; great commuter links combined with swathes of unspoiled countryside there are some amazing towns and villages in this area. If you’d like to find out more about the area then you can find some interesting local and historical information in our Thames Valley Area Guides or you can contact us directly on 0118 912 2370.

Featured image via Wikimedia.

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Arborfield: Thames Valley Area Guide

Arborfield is a civil parish of the Wokingham district and is a small village many people simply drive through on their way to work. Well located for local amenities and boasting some hidden gems of its own, this quiet area benefits from lower housing than neighbouring Barkham, Swallowfield and Winnersh.

In this guide, we take a little look at what Arborfield has to offer.

Arborfield: A Snapshot

The area we refer to as Arborfield is actually made up of two sister villages; Arborfield Cross and Arborfield Village. With no boundaries, the two have merged over the years and, with the exception of postcode purists, are collectively known as Arborfield.

Situated around 4 miles west of Wokingham and 4.5 miles to the south east of Reading, the village is situated on the A327 road which links Reading to Farnborough.

the coombes arborfield

A rural community with great commuting links, Arborfield lies on the edge of the Coombes woodland. Image via Geograph.

A small sleeper (or commuter) village, Arborfield is characterised by its association with the British Army. To the south of Arborfield lies the garrison site which was used by the armed forces between 1904 and 2015 when it was vacated. The site is now under development to provide an estate of around 3500 new homes accompanied by a new secondary school and retail units.

The garrison was originally opened as a remount depot supplying horses for ceremonial and operational purposes and continued its operation until 1937. The purpose of the site was then changed to provide technical schooling for army apprentices and maintained this important training function being the depot of the REME (The Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers). During the Second World War, reservists were trained at the site and the garrison also hosted the Royal Artillery on the run up to the D-Day operation.

The site was also home to the REME Museum from 1958 to 2015.

arborfield garrison

Now closed, the garrison was home to the British Army’s REME. Image via Geograph.

The village benefits from a popular primary school, new secondary school, a village convenience store,  three pubs, two garden centres and two great farm shops. One of the pubs, The Swan is currently closed but there is talk that this 17th century coach house may once again reopen as a community pub. There is also a great recreation ground with play facilities and some lovely woodland walks that join the parish to neighbouring Barkham. Bordered to the west by the River Loddon, the parish extends to join Farley Hill and Swallowfield in the south and Sindlesham in the north. Made up of Arborfield and Newland, the boundaries include the Bear Wood Lake and Golf Course

Arborfield: The Detail

Location

Arborfield benefits from being 10 miles from junction 4a of the M3, 4 miles from junction 11 of the M4 and on a main road to Reading, Farnborough and Wokingham. Basingstoke, Bracknell and Camberley are all within a 30 minute commute and mainline train services to London being accessible from the neighbouring stations of Earley, Winnersh, Wokingham and Reading.

Demographics of Arborfield

At the 2011 census, Arborfield had a population of 3,115 people and was classified by the Office of National Statistics as being:

  • A prospering suburb
  • A village surrounded by inhabited countryside
  • A blue collar community: Older Blue Collar

Education

The Coombes Primary School was last inspected by Ofsted in  May 2016 and was issued with an overall effectiveness rating of ‘Inadequate’. The school has since closed and become an academy with leaders and managers praised in May 2017 for “…taking effective action to bring the school out of special measures”.

Bohunt is a brand new secondary school opening to service the increased capacity for schooling requirements with the planned redevelopment of the old garrison site. Opened in September 2016 to Year 7s, the school will eventually reach a capacity of 1500 pupils. The facility is managed by the internationally acclaimed Bohunt Educational Trust who run the Bohunt School in Liphook (winner of the 2014 TES Overall School of the Year).

bohunt school arborfield

Bohunt is now in its second year and the school already has a great reputation. Image via website.

Arborfield Towns and Villages

Our best picks for…

…eating out.

Not to be confused with The Bull at Barkham, the Bull Inn (at Arborfield Cross) is a traditional English pub offering a great menu by resident restaurant professionals Nadege, Bruno and Pio. A family run business, the trio have experience working in Michelin starred restaurants and offer a great a la carte menu as well as a cracking Sunday roast. They also serve real ales and are very friendly but it’s definitely the food that will get you coming back. Do book in advance to avoid disappointment as they can get pretty busy.

…a bit of retail therapy.

Though Arborfield is pretty small, there are three great places to stop in on and we can’t decide between them so forgive us for being on the fence.

Our first pick is Lockey Farm; a great family run new farm which opened in 2002. The farm shop includes an on-site butcher and a delicatessen with a whole range of locally produced produce. Fourth generation farmers, The Adams family expanded the business in 2012 by opening a coffee shop and crazy golf course as well as a children’s play area. You can even feed and pet the animals on site. It’s a lovely place to spend an hour with the kids and you will always come away with something delicious and/or unusual to eat.

lockey farm arborfield

The farm shop at Lockey is a hit with locals and offers some great treats. Image via website.

Our second and third picks are for Henry Street Garden Centre plus Pudding Lane Nursery. The former stocks a huge range of plants (specialising in roses) and garden equipment and has a lovely café whilst the latter is a specialist nursery. Formerly part of the Newlands farm, Pudding Lane is a little small holding

…a bit of the countryside on your doorstep.

The Coombes is an important woodland area which separates Barkham and Arborfield and is recognised as being a diverse habitat for local wildlife. It offers a lovely range of circular walks taking in views across Bear Wood Lake and is popular with dog walkers, ramblers and families. It is home to several geocaches and has recently become a great hideaway for ‘Wokingham Rocks’; a Facebook group where members decorate and hide stones around the area for children to share and collect.

We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to recommend another local farm shop, Wysipigs. Situated in the heart of the Coombes and accessed up a dirt track off Mole Road, the farm shop sells tea, cakes and pork products as well as ice creams in the summer.

…Something for the Mind, Body and Soul.

Local business Oh So Yoga provide an excellent service offering a variety of classes from their garden studio. As well as Ashtanga, YIN and Yoga Flow, they also run pregnancy yoga sessions. Run by a really friendly and well-qualified instructor, classes are suitable for beginners and well-seasoned fans of yoga.

Housing in Arborfield

Housing in Arborfield is quite diverse and includes some large detached properties with good sized plots as well as 1950s and 1960s homes plus in filling with more recent additions. There is also the new development of homes at the old garrison which incorporates new buildings and refurbished army housing. The main road features a mix of 1970s and 1980s semi-detached and detached houses as well as bungalows. To sum up, whilst the housing stock may be small (but growing) there is huge diversity.

The average price paid for property in Arborfield for the last 12 months was £398,716 which is significantly lower than the same metric for Wokingham which averaged £480,552.

If you are considering a house purchase in and around the Arborfield area and would like to know more about your options then contact Property Assistant. We like to make sure that homeowners know as much about an area as possible before making a decision on a new property. For more Thames Valley Area Guides, see the rest of our blog.

Featured image via Geograph.

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Thames Valley Area Guide: Twyford and Hurst

Nestled in a rural idyll between Reading, Maidenhead, Wokingham and Henley-on-Thames, the villages of Twyford and Hurst enjoy excellent commuter links, access to great facilities and community driven country life.

These two parishes of the Wokingham district share many similarities but are also very different.

In the next of our Thames Valley Area Guides we look at these two locations and share some history, detailed information as well as out top picks for some great things to do around Twyford and Hurst.

Twyford and Hurst: A Snapshot

Twyford is a common name in England and there are nine other villages that share the name. Coming from the Anglo Saxon for double ford, Twyford does indeed sport two fords, both across the River Loddon. Similarly, Hurst is also a common name (from the Old English meaning wooded hill) and there are five others around England.

Twyford covers an area of 263 acres whilst the more rural Hurst covers a space of 2,009 acres but with around half the population. In fact, Hurst is the largest parish in the Wokingham district.

Twyford

Until the advent of the railway station at Twyford in 1838, this rural settlement was a small agricultural village marked only but it’s position on the Bath Road as a commuting post. Wool merchants from the west would travel to London stopping along various points along the way with Twyford being a popular choice for a hospitable welcome along the way. Many coaching houses prospered in the village as a result. The addition of a turnpike in 1718 gave the area some additional income.

twyford railway line

The addition of a railway line in the 1830s helped boost Twyford’s population of commuters. Image via Flickr.

Though farming has historically been the backbone of the community other industries prospered with a silk factory being built in 1800 (latterly becoming a corn mill) and, until 1937, several cottages housed silk weavers. Basket and lace work also former a part of the local economy.

The Wee Waif Inn on the A4, situated on Twyford’s border with Charvil, is named after Edward Polehampton who was taken in by the landlord of the Rose and Crown Inn when but a poor and impoverished child. Polehampton grew to be a wealthy man and left the village a large sum of money to build a school and chapel. His wishes were that the new chaplain would teach the boys of Twyford to read and write. The local school is also named after Polehampton.

Today, Twyford is still a busy commuter town and, though now off the A4 since a bypass was installed in 1929, sees a lot of traffic passing between Wokingham and Henley.

New housing estates have joined the community to Whistley Green, Ruscombe and Charvil and the centre of the village now boasts a number of small independent shops and restaurants as well as several larger chain shops including a Tesco Express and Waitrose.

The community in Twyford is an active one and the village hosts several small events during the year including the popular arts and entertainment festival, Twyfest.

twyford and hurst golden cross pub

A traditional 18th century pub, the Golden Cross plays host to lots of live music. Image via Flickr.

The area surrounding Twyford still holds plenty of rural charm and the River Loddon which passes to  the west of the village is a preserved habitat for lots of wildlife.

It’s an affluent area and the Prime Minister, Theresa May, lives just a few miles west of Twyford in neighbouring Sonning.

Hurst

Known formally as St. Nicholas Hurst, this large parish of Wokingham is largely set to agricultural land but also incorporates 450 acres of the Dinton Pastures country park. Hurst was originally called Whistley but the name was changed in 1080 when the parish church was dedicated to St Nicholas.

Village life once centred around the Castle Public House (formerly the Bunch of Grapes) which originally served as a church house and bakery.

Hurst is still a quiet rural village with a couple of shops, pubs and a school. It is mainly an access route between Wokingham and Twyford but is a very affluent area of Wokingham’s district.

Twyford and Hurst: The Detail

Location

Twyford and Hurst both sit alongside the River Loddon six miles to the east of Reading and 6 miles to the north of Wokingham. Two distinct villages, Hurst is slightly closer to Wokingham and borders the parish of Winnersh.

Both villages have easy access to the A4 and are around 15-20 minutes from the M4 or M40.

Twyford has its own railway station which sits on the Reading to Paddington line and offers direct access to London, Slough, Oxford and Henley-on-Thames.

Demographics of Twyford and Hurst

At the last UK Census in 2011, Twyford was recorded as having a population of 5,791 people in 2,537 households with Hurst having roughly half this number with 2,886 people in 1,107 households. In fact the density of the population in Hurst is just 1.44 people per hectare compared to Twyford which reaches 22.02 people; by comparison, Winnersh has a population density of 15.25 people per acre (you can find out more about the Winnersh area in our Thames Valley Area Guide, here).

dinton pastures hurst

The Dinton Pastures Country Park in Hurst is a popular place for families. Image via Flickr.

The majority of residents in both Twyford and Hurst are economically active though one in ten of Twyford’s population is retired. The average age of the population in both villages is 41 vs a slightly younger 38 in Winnersh.

The dominant employment of people living in Hurst is characterised by senior positions including directors and managers of industry with 22.6% enjoying this rank (vs 14.8% in Twyford and just 4.6% in Winnersh). This is closely followed by employees in professional occupations and administration. Interestingly there are proportionately more residents in both Twyford and Hurst who come from manual and caring professions than in Winnersh.

Overall, health in the area is considered Good to Very Good (Twyford 87%, Hurst 90% vs Winnersh 88%).

Education

There is a village primary school in Hurst, St. Nicholas C. of E (rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted) as well as the Colleton Primary (rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted) on the borders between Hurst and Twyford. Twyford itself has the Polehampton Infant and Primary School (both rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted).

Secondary education is provided by The Piggott or parents have the choice of Wokingham or Reading Schools.

Local childcare is provided by an early learning centre based in Loddon Hall in Twyford, Freckles Nursery.

Our best picks for…

…country pub.

The Green Man in Hurst is a first class country pub that consistently impresses on its warm welcome and good honest pub grub. The pub has held a license for over 400 hundred years and has a great range of real ales. In the summer, the garden is a great place for a pint in the sun and during the colder months you can expect a cosy traditional English roaring log fire.

green man hurst berkshire country pub

The Green Man is a quintessentially British pub and is a great place for a pint. Image via website.

The Duke of Wellington in Twyford offers much the same kind of welcome. With open log fires, this charming 18th century coaching house is dog friendly and is a popular place for families, particularly after a Sunday romp on some of the neighbouring trails. They serve craft beers and offer a good value traditional lunch menu.

…the great outdoors.

The Loddon Nature Reserve in Twyford is our top pick. It’s a wonderful place to walk with children and dogs and takes in some great bird watching along lakes and the River Loddon. Shallow fringes of the water are home to snipe, tufted duck and pochard. The Berks, Bucks& Oxon Wildlife Trust regularly runs family discovery days even in the winter so it’s worth checking their website for details.

Of course, Hurst also offers the ever popular Dinton Pastures Country Park. Offering water sports facilities, the Dragonfly Cafe, a new adventure play park and fishing spots, this 450-acre reserve incorporates many miles of pleasant walks, woodland, lakes and meadows. Great for a Sunday stroll whatever your fitness level; you can even book a ride on a Segway if you don’t fancy breaking a sweat.

…supporting local shops.

For the young at heart, the Berkshire Dollshouse and Model Shop in Twyford is a real treat. Selling custom built dolls house and dinky furniture sets as well as stocking a huge range of model railway accessories, this little shop is the village’s former fire station. We can also recommend the boutique charity shop that supports Mercy in Action. As a couple who love a bargain, this shop has had the Mary Portas treatment and stocks a select range of quality items including some designer labels.

The Hurst Bakery & Provisions store changed ownership in 2006 and has since cut a new market in the local area with their home-made Indian food. Awarded 5 stars by Wokingham District Council for hygiene, the shop serves the local community as a takeaway, café and with its catering business.

…somewhere to eat out.

The Castle Inn, Hurst is an independent 16th century pub that serves an excellent evening menu. Using locally sourced food from farms such as Hurst Manor Farm and Ashridge Manor, head chef Matt prepares classic, seasonal dishes and regular Sunday roasts. The addition of a log burning stove makes this pub a real cosy hideaway for a good meal.

castle inn hurst

The Castle Inn was the village’s church house and bakery. Image via Flickr.

Twyford has several Indian restaurants, each as good as the others but our choice is The Mita’s. A friendly restaurant that serves great Indian food , the dining area is small and welcoming and the atmosphere is always good. They serve a buffet on Sundays and customers can even bring their own drink along to help keep costs down.

Housing in Twyford and Hurst

The housing stock in Twyford is a real mix compared to areas like Hurst and Winnersh with a variety of detached, semi-detached and terraced homes as well as flats.

Type of Property Twyford Hurst Winnersh
Detached 37% 60% 47%
Semi-Detached 30% 23% 21%
Terraced 19% 8% 19%
Flat, Maisonette or Bungalow 14% 7% 10%
Caravan or Temporary Home 0% 1% 3%

House Prices in Twyford & Hurst

Over the last 12 months, property sales in Twyford have seen the most movement across detached homes with an average price of £596,075. Semi-detached properties and terraced properties sold for an average of £442,613 and £370,563 respectively.

The overall average house price in Twyford is currently £476,603 which is not markedly different from this time last year.

By comparison, house prices in Hurst are an average of £743,500 which shows a 9% increase, year-on-year.

For more information about any area in the Thames Valley including house prices as well as local facilities, background and characteristics, contact Property Assistant. We take pride in understanding our local area so we can help property buyers make the right decision about where to buy their next home. Call us today on 0118 912 2370.

Featured image via Flickr.

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Wokingham: Compared to the Rest of England

Though the Wokingham area (as a unitary authority) has a population density of over 125,000 people, the town itself is home to just 30,000 people. A small market town nestled between Reading, Bracknell, Windsor and Camberley, Wokingham consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in the UK. Good schools, excellent transport links and comparably low house prices for the south of England, Wokingham is a sought-after location for families, professional people and retirees.

As one of the towns in our area, we thought it might be fun to look at how Wokingham compares to the rest of the UK when it comes to those all important factors when choosing somewhere to live.

Stats on the Wokingham Area

Deprivation

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the IMD Deprivation Score for Wokingham is 5.7; the lowest in the country. The score uses several indices to produce an overall score and includes information taken from:

  • Income
  • Employment
  • Education, Skills and Training
  • Health and Disability
  • Crime
  • Barriers to Social Housing and Services
  • Living Environment

The data is also calculated in proportion to the effects of income deprivation on children and older people.

The local areas of Bracknell (10.5), West Berkshire (10.2) and Reading (19.3) all fall under the average score calculated for England (21.8).

Education

For the period 2015/16, 70.9% of GCSE students in the Wokingham area achieved 5 (or more) A*-C grades which ranked the area 3rd in England just behind Kingston upon Thames (74.6%) and Richmond upon Thames (73.4%).

wokingham area good schools

The Wokingham area has a reputation for excellent schools and students can expect great results. Image via Pixabay.

Crime

Reported cases of violent crime in Wokingham were recorded at a rate of 7.2 incidents per 1000 households for the period 2015/16. This placed Wokingham as the second lowest area behind Rutland at 6.7 cases per 1000 households.

Employment

Long term unemployment in Wokingham is the second lowest in the country at 0.8 cases per 1000 people of working age (just behind Oxfordshire with 0.7 cases).

Health

According to the 2011 census, 54% of residents in Wokingham rate their overall health as Very Good (compared to 47% nationally) with more recent data from the ONS showing us exactly why.

  • 8.8% of residents in Wokingham are smokers which is the second lowest in England and way below the national average of 15.5%
  • The rate of smoking in pregnant mothers in the Wokingham area is 4.8% and places the area at 14th in the national league table.
  • The rate of teenage pregnancy in Wokingham 8.1 females (aged 15-17) per 1000 and is far lower than the national average of 20.8 and the regional average of 17.1. This places Wokingham 3rd lowest in England with Bracknell Forest being 2nd.

It’s not all good news though and Wokingham doesn’t perform as well in a few areas including obesity.

  • The prevalence of obesity in children (by Year 6) in Wokingham is 14.6% which is lower than the national average of 19.8% but still high.
  • 63.3% of adults in Wokingham are also classified as obese and is broadly average for England (64.8%).
wokingham area health stats

Obesity levels are high in Wokingham for both children and adults. Image via Pixabay.

The average life expectancy for Wokingham’s residents is high at 81.6 (male) and 84.8 (female). The best performing authorities in England record ages of 83.4 and 86.4 respectively placing Wokingham in 9th and 12th position.

However, infant mortality rates are high with 3.9 cases per 1000 cases of live births. Whilst this is equivalent to the average in England, it is twice as high as the lowest rate of 2.0.

Suicide rates are one of the lowest in the country at just 6 cases per 100,000 people and is only behind Central Bedfordshire on the national index.

Social Indices

Statutory Homelessness is an indicator of people in priority need and is measured in cases per 1000 households. In Wokingham, the rate is measure at 0.6 which is lower than the regional average of 0.8 and significantly lower than the worst affected areas which measure 8.9 cases of homelessness per 1000 households.

The percentage of children in low income families in the Wokingham area is 7% which is the lowest in England. The average for the region is 14.7% with the rest of England being 20.1%; the worst performing authority has 39.2% of children under the age of 16 living in a low income family.

Broadband

Though the UK average broadband speed of 16.5mbps is falling well short in the global rankings (31st as of August 2017), much of the Wokingham area enjoys access to super-fast broadband with speeds of up to 300mbps.

broadband speed wokingham

Wokingham has some of the highest broadband speeds in the country. Image via Pixabay.

In Urban locations, three in four properties receive broadband speeds of 10mbps or above whereas in the country, 67% of ISP’s fail to reach these speeds.

Fortunately, most of the surrounding area also enjoys access to the same speeds.

Bizarrely, the worst performing areas in terms of broadband speed in the UK are in London and include Westminster, Lambeth and the City of London; the reason appears to be density rather than simply one of technology.

And the best?

Tamworth in the West Midlands, Adur in West Sussex and our own Reading.

Recycling

Here is where the local area is falling down nationally and we should hang our heads in shame. For the period 2015/2016, Wokingham was ranked 243 out of 351 authorities with just 38.0% of our household waste sent for reuse, recycling or composting.

When it comes to the golden boys of the UK, South Oxfordshire District Council can take pride in first place with a 66.6% recycling rate (West Oxfordshire comes in 6th and Oxfordshire comes 16th).

Wokingham’s closest neighbours performed as follows:

Rank Authority Recycling Rate
60 West Berkshire District Council 51.8%
120 Windsor & Maidenhead Borough Council 46.7%
244 Bracknell Forest Borough Council 38.0%
296 Reading Borough Council 32.1%
327 Slough Borough Council 26.8%
329 Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council 26.3%

If you are interested, the worst performing authority was the London Borough of Newham with a recycling rate of just 14.7%.

wokingham area stats recycling

Could do better! Wokingham sends 62% of its waste straight to landfill. Image via Pixabay.

Property Prices

The average house price for the Wokingham area for July 2017 was recorded £411,964 which is 14.98% higher than the national average of £358,307.

The average for the area breaks down as follows:

Area Detached House Semi-Detached House Terraced House
Bracknell £644,707 £388,873 £300,501
Reading £608,666 £379,032 £302,250
West Berkshire £562,596 £340,240 £274,474
Wokingham £628,971 £389,104 £306,015

If you are considering the Wokingham area as a location for your next property move, either to buy or to rent, then we can help you find your perfect home. Property Assistant is a family-run estate agency providing clients with independent advice tailored to your needs, not ours.

We’d welcome the opportunity of discussing any property matter with you so why not give us a call on 0118 912 2370.

You might also find our area guide on Wokingham useful.

Data for this report has been compiled using information from Public Health England, the Office of National Statistics, Ofcom and Let’s Recycle.

Cost of Living Comparison: London vs Reading

Reading, the county town of Berkshire, is just a 30 minute train journey away from London and shares many of the same conveniences that Londoners enjoy, at a fraction of the cost. In fact, the cost of living in Reading can be up to £1,000 a month cheaper.

In this guide we take a look at the cost of living in Reading compared to London and bring you the latest statistics between the two places to live.

The Overview

Taking the latest data and comparing the same standard of living, the cost to live in London vs Reading is £1,166.42 higher per month, breaking down as follows:

  • Rental prices in Reading are 47.08% lower than in London
  • Consumer prices in Reading are 9.41% lower than in London
  • Restaurant prices in Reading are 5.95% lower than in London
  • Local purchasing power in Reading is 40.43% higher than in London.

In fact, the only thing more expensive about living in Reading is in the cost of groceries, which are 1.09% higher than in London, and utilities. Gas, electricity and water for an 85 sq m apartment costs 29.74% more in Reading than it does in London.

riverside reading great place to live

Only half an hour by train from London, Reading is a cheaper place to live. Image via Wikimedia.

So, factoring in the short commute to London, why would anyone want to pay more to live in the capital?

Not convinced? Let’s dig in to this further.

Leisure

The average cost of a standard monthly membership to a fitness club in Reading is £24.90 compared to £45.81 in London. A saving of £20.91 or 45.64%, you can almost afford to go twice as often!

Even things like the cost of a cinema ticket are lower in Reading with a ticket for a film on international release costing almost 20% less (£12.00 vs £9.70 per seat).

Childcare

The average monthly childcare fees are in the region of £1,080 in London with similar provisions costing 5.24% less, saving £55 a month. Small beans across the board but it all adds up. Private schooling is even lower with annual fees being around 18% cheaper in Reading.

Property Prices

According to Right Move, the average cost of a home in London topped £607,000 last year with apartments (the main housing stock in London) being £537,000. In Reading, the average house price is just £417,153. That’s a staggering difference of £189,847!

Renting is just as cost effective in Reading with an average one bedroom flat costing £885 per month in the centre of town vs £1662 per month in the centre of London. Head to the outskirts of London for a better deal and this reduces to just £1,180…outside of Reading, this falls to £743.

Transport

Commuting in London is an expensive part of monthly wages and can cost upwards of £1500 per year using an Oyster Card for Zones 1-2. In Reading, average costs of travelcards are 57% lower and allow you access to neighbouring towns including Wokingham, Maidenhead, Winnersh and even Oxford.

Taxis are also cheaper with the average cost of a 1km journey being 30% lower in Reading and a one-hour wait being 25% lower.

cost of transport london vs reading

No underground in Reading but far cheaper transport costs. Image via Pixabay.

Running a car is cheaper in Reading without the need to pay the Congestion Charge and factoring in better miles to the gallon with less time spent idling in traffic. Yes, Reading does get congested during rush hours but not nearly as badly as Central London.

Groceries and Markets

As we said in the intro, the overall grocery bill in Reading is around 1% higher, but there are many ways in which costs are still lower in Reading.

  • A litre of milk is 24.13% lower whilst bread is 3.57% higher
  • A dozen eggs will be 11.87% lower with chicken being similar in price
  • A 1.5l bottle of water is 26% lower but a 0.5l bottle of beer being 11.63% higher

Bizarrely, being in the country, Reading charges more for its beef and cheese than in the capital (26.07% and 46.63% higher respectively).

cost of living reading (2)

Overall, a 1% increase in groceries should be scant reason to keep you in London. Image via Pixabay.

Average Salary

Okay, so it’s cheaper living in Reading than it is in London but surely you can earn more money in the city, right?

Wrong.

The average monthly salary after tax in London is £2,218 vs £2,308 in Reading. That 4% increase goes a lot further with a lower cost of living.

Quality of Living in Reading

We are going to let the stats speak for themselves here….

London Reading
Purchasing Power Index Moderate 78.56 High 109.9
Safety Index Moderate 52.58 High 64.19
Health Care Index High 68.01 High 78.78
Climate Index Very High 88.44 Very High 88.11
Cost of Living Index High 91.38 Moderate 83.12
Property Price to Income Ratio Very High 24.08 Moderate 8.27
Traffic Commute Time Index High 47.68 Low 33
Pollution Index Moderate 58.95 Low 23.26
Quality of Life Index Moderate 108.9 Very High 180

The Take Home? Reading or London?

There is no doubt, and no surprise, that living in Reading is cheaper than living in London and quality of life much better. The only motivating factors for staying in the capital come down to commuting times and a preference for city living. Granted, the commute to London from Reading takes you to Paddington and anyone working in Canary Wharf or the city could still face a lengthy journey but there are many benefits to living outside of London.

We have helped numerous families, couples and single professionals escape city living to enjoy the rural benefits of a life in Berkshire. If you want to join them and find out more about what the Thames Valley can offer you then contact Property Assistant today to get further information on your property search. Why not check out our area guides to the surrounding towns of Winnersh, Wokingham and Crowthorne.

Featured image via Pixabay and Wikipedia.

Unless stated, all facts and figures have been derived from the online comparison database, Numbeo.