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Maiden Erlegh House
Sonning, Berkshire

Maiden Erlegh House, on the outskirts of Reading,  was mostly built soon after 1878 when the place was purchased by John Hargreaves, Master of the South Berkshire Hunt. It is, however, believed to have included remnants of the old 17th and 18th century house. It is best known as the home of Solly Joel, the lavish, yet generous, mining, brewing and railway magnet who bought the estate in 1903. It had over seventy rooms, fifty of them bedrooms, to which Mr. Joel added a Pompeiian swimming pool built of Italian marble and painted with nude frescoes at a cost of 12,000. Stories of opulent parties and mysterious visitors have passed into local folklore. Alas, after Solly's death in 1931, the building's life as a Boys School and Training College were short-lived and Berkshire County Council decided against its purchase for council offices. It was demolished in 1960.

Maiden Erlegh House no longer stands.

    Nash Ford Publishing 2002. All Rights Reserved.