The Past Lives Heritage Project is co-ordinated and funded by Wokingham Without Parish Council with the aid of a group of volunteers.
Its remit is to research the rich history of Wokingham Without. The parish of Wokingham Without is situated between the town of Wokingham and the village of Crowthorne. The latter, founded in the 19th century, has a portion within the Wokingham Without parish boundary. In the 1700s this area was one of many tracks which ran through the Forest of Windsor and lay either side of the Nine Mile Ride. The Civil Parish of Wokingham Without was created in 1894.
This project commenced with an investigation of Pinewood which opened in 1901 as the London Open Air Sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis patients from London. During World War II it expanded to treat sick and wounded Canadian, New Zealand, & Australian soldiers. The hospital closed in the mid-1960s following the advent of modern drugs to treat TB. Attempts to transform it into a general hospital were unsuccessful and in the late1970s Wokingham Without Parish Council acquired part of the site for leisure facilities which exists to this day.
This project has since expanded to include the investigation of the history of Bigshotte Preparatory School (initially named Bigshotte Rayles School). This public school was first established in 1895 and was finally demolished in 1977, to be replaced by the Pine Ridge housing development. Evidence of its occupancy can be seen to this day – the driveway and Lodge at the top of the New Wokingham Road, the playing field and pavilion (though not the original building) in Bigshotte Park.
However, there remain many more areas of Wokingham Without to be investigated – pubs, large houses, farms/cottages, St Sebastian’s Church and school along with archaeological sites, lost roads and tracks…
We therefore need more volunteers to join us in our task of researching the history of Wokingham Without – enthusiasm and curiosity are the most vital attributes needed. Please contact the Parish Office on 01344 771425 to register your interest.