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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
…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.
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.