The Centre of Windsor Forest
The name derives from 'Bent Grass Field'. The local hundred of Beynhurst has a similar derivation. Billingbear is the north-western portion of Binfield parish, although the park, near Shurlock Row, is over the border in Waltham St. Lawrence.
The Luck of Binfield always hung in Binfield Place, a mostly Jacobean Manor (partly of Henry VII's reign) with a missing wing. It was a 17th century bas-relief of a lady's head, said to pour misfortune upon any owner who removes it. Is it still there? Binfield Manor was built in 1754, for Sir William Pitt (a distant cousin of Pitt the Elder, Earl of Chatham), at a cost of £36,000. In 1816, John Constable (the artist) stayed at the rectory on his honeymoon and twice sketched the church.
All Saints Church is mostly mid-nineteenth century, but has some ancient fittings. Of particular note is the 17th century hourglass and elaborate iron stand. It features the arms of the Farriers' Company of London. The famous writer, Alexander Pope, lived at Pope's Manor in Popeswood and sang in the church choir as a boy in the early 1700s.
The Stag and Hounds is the village's most historic inn: part of it is 14th century. It was a Royal hunting lodge used by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The latter used to sit in her window and watch the Maypole dancing on the green outside. Being at the centre of Windsor Forest, the inn may originally have been the headquarters of the Royal gamekeepers. It is, in fact, said to be at the exact centre of the old forest, as marked by the eight hundred year old Centre Elm which once stood outside. The sad hollow trunk of this once great tree - it was ravaged by Dutch Elm Disease in the 70s - remained for many years until inexplicably removed in 2003. Forest poachers are said to have cheekily hidden inside it in times gone by. It is also said to have been a refuge for a number of Parliamentary soldiers during the Civil War. The lodge became a coaching inn in 1727. The 18th century travel writer, William Cobbett, once stayed there and wrote that it was "a very nice country inn". He called nearby Bracknell a "bleak and desolate" place.
See also Binfield
|© Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.|