Englefield History

The Lake

 

The lake in front of Englefield House called Cranemoor Lake today but previously also known as Crane Moor, Cranmoor, Cranmore or Cranmere and sometimes “Pond” rather than Lake, is fed by a spring at its south west corner that regularly flooded the road at Parker’s Corner and caused alarm to travellers. The first reference to a lake here is as a free fishery called "Cranmere" in the 16th century granted to Sir John Englefield, brother of Sir Francis. Ownership of this fishery was retained by the Englefields after Sir Francis's lands were seized and granted elsewhere by Queen Elizabeth in 1589 and it was leased to the Earl of Essex in 1593. The son of John Englefield was in possession of the fishery when he died in 1631.

 

The name Crane Moor may derive from the bird of the same name but there may be a connection with somebody called Cranmer for the plan of the Great Field tentatively dated to about 1690 shows a path leading to "Cranmer Stile" on the edge what is now the lake. At that time a Mr Cranmer had a number of strips in the field, though on the evidence above the origin of the name is clearly much earlier.

 

Ballard’s map of 1762 (right) shows what is clearly a long and obviously man-made canal running south west to north east and another crossing it from north to south, in appearance looking remarkably like an airfield. The longer canal ends at the wide green avenue running down from the south front of Englefield House. Around these "canals" are irregular pieces of open water, perhaps the original fish ponds that Powlett Wrighte was in the process of converting into an ornamental lake.

 

The plan of the new Pangbourne Road in 1822 (left) and the enclosure map of 1829 show that the lake was by then a single complete open expanse of water, but of little greater overall extent than that shown by Ballard. The enclosure map shows a number of islands, though these are omitted on the simpler plan.

 

 

 

The 1844 survey map shows that the excavation had been completed by then and the lake had reached its greatest extent, in which form it continued for about another 150 years. The 1829 lake has been extended across the former avenue and almost right up to the edge of the coach road and the map also shows the many islands in the original part but not the one at the north end, seen in the picture on the right. Late in the 20th century, problems with leakage led to this north end of the lake being filled in and although the remainder of the later extension still holds water, the oldest part has reverted to what it probably was in its original state, a spring-fed boggy area filling with water only in very wet weather.

 

Places

The north end of the lake in the 1960s before it was filled in

(Click to enlarge)

© 2019 Richard J Smith

Englefield History

Englefield History

Englefield History

Englefield History