White Hart Crest of the Royal County of Berkshire David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History

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Shinfield, Berkshire - © Nash Ford Publishing

Literary Connections

Old Shinfield Manor House used to stand up by the Shire Hall (now Foster Wheeler) Roundabout. Catherine of Aragon was given the manor in Tudor times and is supposed to have planted a cedar tree in its grounds known as Catherineís Tree. Soon afterwards, the Martyns lived there and Edward Martynís memorial can be seen in the Martyn Chapel of the Parish Church. The Church was built by order of William FitzOsbern in 1069. The tower was badly damaged by cannon fire during the Civil War when a group of retreating Royalist troops took refuge in it. The Parliamentarians surrounded the church and blasted the men out of the sky. Earlier, while besieging Reading, King Charles himself stayed at Good Rest House, now part of the Crosfields School. In the village churchyard are buried the parents of the authoress, Mary Russell Mitford, who lived in Grazeley and Three Mile Cross. Others past residents of note include Queen Elizabeth I's Chief Physician, Robert Huick, and his grandson, Sir Simeon Steward, the poet.

Cut Bush Lane is named after an old thorn tree that a local farmer trimmed into the shape of the Prince of Wales Feathers some two hundred and fifty years ago. However, the man had a rival who took to spoiling the bush and a long feud ensued.

Shinfield featured twice in the works of Thomas Hardy, who called it Gaymead. Its principal appearance was as the setting for The Sonís Veto from Lifeís Little Ironies. Sophy, the chief character, even married the local rector in the church there. Later, Hardy wrote of Jude the Obscure working as a decorator in a church near Gaymead, though its exact location is uncertain.

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