Samuel Pepys had an awkward meeting with his commander, Sir George Carteret, at Cranbourne Lodge, when acting as a naval messenger. He first got lost in Windsor Forest, then, when he eventually arrived, he found the lodge under reconstruction. Pepys had to climb up a ladder to Sir George's bedroom, the only room in use. The peer was still in bed and was not amused by the news of an English defeat off Norway.
Adjoining the Chase is the estate of Fernhill. In the 18th century, it was the last Berkshire home of the ancient Knollys family, descendants of Sir Francis Knollys, Treasurer of Queen Elizabeth I's Royal Household; and, in the 1820s, it became famous as the British residence of Lord Metcalfe, the Governor General of India, who is buried in Winkfield parish church. An adjoining 18th century mansion, Cranbourne Court, was once part of the same estate. It has had various names over the years and a myriad of well-known residents, including Admiral Sir Charles Rowley, General Sir Thomas Willshire, the Victorian actress Edna May and singer Rod Stewart. Bob Hope rented it in the Summer of 1961 when filming 'The Road to Hong Kong' and lived their with Bing Crosby and their families. Slightly nearer the village is Lovel Hill House. In origin, it is a Queen Anne House. Its most famous resident was Admiral Sir Charles Knowles, an illegitimate relative of the Knollyses. Also to be seen in St. Mary's is the brass of Thomas Montague (1630). He lived at Kilbees Manor, near Cranbourne. An arrow kept there for many years was said to have been the one that gave the place its name. It was presented, by Elizabeth I, to one of the Montagues after an extraordinary feet of archery in which he shot it straight into a hive of bees.
Ranelagh School (Bracknell) started out in Cranbourne. It was founded by the Earl of Ranelagh as the Green School in 1709. It began life at Cranbourne Hall, but moved to Lovel Road in 1878, becoming Cranbourne Ranelagh School. It opened as a Grammar School, Ranelagh School, in Bracknell in 1908.
Major-General Sir Henry Rooke took on the house in the mid 1820s. He was a personal friend of HRH the Duke of Gloucester, but is best known in Winkfield for establishing one of the first Agricultural Societies in the parish. General Rooke spent a large amount of money improving his house Martin's Heron. It was latterly home to Baroness Berkeley and her family.
Queen Anne and her husband loved to hunt through Windsor Forest and Swinley was one of their favourite haunts. They kept the Royal Staghounds at their kennels here, and the master lived in the Lodge, the centrepiece of Swinley Walke, a sub-division of the Forest. It was demolished 1830. When the Queen became too old to ride, she created the rides throughout the forest, so she could follow the hunt in her carriage. They were later extended by George III. He also hunted around Swinley and, in 1798 when the government were worried about a French invasion, he came to review the troops at their training camp here.
South of Swinley is where Bagshot Heath once spilt over the Surrey border and stretched way into Berkshire. It was a desolate area, one of the most notorious for highwaymen and footpads, and their rotting remains could often be seen swinging in chains at Wishmoor Cross. Hence:
Prepared for War,
now Bagshot Heath we cross
However, some travellers were not so badly treated. There is an old story told of the chivalrous French highwayman, Claude Duval, in which he took only 100 of £400 from a certain party on the condition that the beautiful young lady, in the coach, dance with him. This tale from the reign of Charles II is also claimed by Maidenhead Thicket, but certainly do not believe the Londoners who will tell you it took place on Hounslow Heath. On another occasion, Duval robbed Squire Roper, Master of the Royal Buckhounds, of 50 guineas and tied him hand and foot to a tree.
For Winkfield Row & Winkfield Street See Winkfield Village
References: J Harris & GM Stantan's 'A History of Winkfield', VG Hunt's 'Lily Hill House: A Family History' & 'Martin's Heron:: A House & its Owners', RW Sears' 'History of Bracknell' & R Timbrell's 'Chavey Up, Down & Around'.
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