Englefield History

Roads Around Englefield

 

One of the remarkable things about the village of Englefield is the absence of through traffic, though terminating traffic is now pretty well continuous throughout the day. This was not always the case though, for the Englefield of the 1760s was very much in the main stream of traffic (such as it then was). The village was situated on a cross roads at Appleton’s Corner, made up of what are now the private drive to Englefield House, Englefield Street and the track across the Park. These roads were then public through-routes and formed the principal connections between the Bath Road and the villages of Bradfield, Tidmarsh and beyond. Indeed the road from Theale to Bradfield formed part of the accepted "high route" between Reading and Newbury and was frequently used in winter as a better alternative to the Bath Road when wet weather made that very difficult going. Had this situation continued then Englefield would certainly not be what it is today.

 

In 1761, the year before Josiah Ballard’s map, John Rocque produced “A Topographical Survey of the County of Berks” which, while not in such detail as Ballard's map, covers a wider area (left).

 

Thirty years later Thomas Pride published "A Topographical Map of the Town of Reading and the Country adjacent to an Extent of Ten Miles" (below).

 

Fortunately, the situation did not continue and Pride's map already shows us the beginning of the creation of modern Englefield with the addition, in 1771, of the new turnpike from the Bath Road at Bostock along the edge of the modern Park to the existing road from Theale. This did little to remove traffic from the village but did at least make a start by enabling Wrighte to close the road across the Park in front of his house.

 

Richard Benyon de Beauvoir continued the road building with a view to closing up the road to Bradfield that then ran under the Long Gallery at the back of Englefield House. He first extended the road that ran from Parker’s Corner up the south side of Blyth’s Hill (nowadays Common Hill) in both directions to connect the Bath Road at Theale Green to Bradfield village. He next built another road (now the A340) from the Bath Road to Hogmoor Bridge and this enabled him to close Paulet Wrighte’s turnpike that ran through the village.

 

This still did not remove all through traffic, though, and that did not happen until, finally, New Road extended the road leading to Chalkpit Farm and the chalkpit on to Bradfield. This meant that there were now satisfactory alternatives for all journeys that previously had to pass through Englefield and the road past the back of Englefield House could finally be closed, though this was not achieved until the year after the death of Benyon de Beauvoir in 1854.

 

Crucially, all this occurred just in time so that the village itself now sits on an island of relative calm, unblighted by the huge increases in 20th century traffic.

© 2019 Richard J Smith

Englefield History

Englefield History

Englefield History
Englefield History