Welcome to Wokingham Remembers.

24th July Click on image to read article

24th July 2015 article from the Wokingham Paper. An example of the range of subjects covered on this website. Click on image to read article

Welcome to Wokingham Remembers, a research project originally formed to tell the story of our small town’s response to the challenge of the Great War. Soon after its launch in 2011 we began to receive enquiries from people across the world who raised questions on a whole range of subjects related to local matters. As a result and with the aid of local historians we have now increased the scope of the project to act as a repository for local historical information. To prevent (or at least try) it losing total focus we are now considering which were the most important factors which established this old place we call home. Here now is a little more information on how we started and how we are organising the huge amount of information coming our way on a weekly basis.

Our objectives

Wokingham Remembers initially started with a question: who were the men named on the Town Hall’s War Memorial? The answers were not as we expected, having believed they were solely men from the town. We soon discovered the names were given by those after the war who wanted to remember their loved ones. They could well have moved into the area after the war and presented the name e.g. of their husband. Therefore, this is not just a local list. (Read the ‘unexpected history’ page for more information). Other names came from villages around the town, spreading out into the Crowthorne area.

Click on map to enlarge. Map shows where the families once lived and the shear scale of local loss.

Click on map to enlarge. Map shows where the families once lived and the shear scale of local loss.

The second question began to emerge following the initial research on the local fallen. We now know how they died, but how did they live? We cannot provide a story of the men unless we can attempt to describe the times they grew up in, both locally and nationally. Just who were these people of the Edwardian age and were they really so different to us? And crucially, what happened after the war? To help us understand how Wokingham developed post 1920, we have been lucky enough to draw on the memories of the Culver and Goatley families. Our story is not presented as a book, with a beginning a middle and an end; this is a learning process, which as we discover more information and rectify facts, we will present this to you as we learn more about the story of our town. Therefore, although the central theme is the Great War and its effect on Wokingham town, we also provide a wider look at the tight affiliation of local villages in the area and a more generalised local history.

Wokingham's Mayor and Mayoress read the story of the Hills Nicholson family. All four sons killed in two world wars.

Wokingham’s Mayor and Mayoress read the story of the Hills Nicholson family. All four sons killed in two world wars.

In 2015, following the successful Heritage Day of September 2014 which commemorated the fallen across the Borough, a new newspaper was introduced named ‘The Wokingham Paper’. The proprietor quickly identified the need for a heritage page to appear in the Paper and adopted the name ‘Wokingham Remembers’. This decision has enabled the same team of local historians to present local stories to a wide readership across the Borough and this again has broadened the scope of the Wokingham Remembers project. This has enabled us to describe a landscape which became Wokingham and characterise a community within which the young men of war grew up. We believe we are now providing an early picture of how a small market town and a few villages on the edge of a forest is today ranked as one of the country’s leading communities.

How do we organise all this information?

The Great War information tends to organise itself, with names of the men and the battles they fought in being the main two categories. How though do we build a picture of a local area’s development by keeping it simple but also recognising the individual nuances which make up its identity? Do we organise the information in chronological order, or by area or by subject matter? If original thought draws a blank then copy someone else. Looking at the book of photographs of the area by Bob Wyatt the sections he developed have proved to be successful and accurate starting points. Therefore education, religion, industry, transport, social structures, national politics and local government are all important pieces in building the great Wokingham jigsaw. Not that Wokingham Remembers has populated all these sections, but these are the ones we will start off with and see how they develop. In addition and probably most important of all there will be stories of individuals and families.

13 Responses to Welcome to Wokingham Remembers.

  1. stanley kaye says:

    i was wondering if you would post this on you facebook page or any were else you would think fit to do so,thank you stan
    Next year is the Commemeration of the outbreak of WWI and I just thought to myself, what a good idea if everyone bought a packet of Poppy seeds (or 2) and scattered them in random places, ie: hedghrows, traffic roundabouts, empty back garden borders, planters etc. (not somewhere that is mown or tended to regularly by the COUNCILS, for example. Then, this time next year, when they flower, we would all be looking at Poppy’s in rememberance of those who fell during the 1914-1918 War. ‘Like’ this comment but , more importantly, SHARE it as I’d love it to go Global with this and get the whole planet involved in ‘Plant A Poppy Day
    Have now set up a facebook page please join share with every one https://www.facebook.com/groups/rememberingworldwarone/

  2. Victor Nicholson says:

    7-3-2013
    For Jim Bell-I am sorry I missed your 2 emails from May. Both went to my junk mail folder. When I tried to mark them safe they disappeared. Can you resend to me using the outlook mail address above? I am happy to help answer questions. I have a lot of family records including my Grandfather’s WWI diary.
    Victor Nicholson -Garden Grove California—–

  3. Alec Somerville says:

    Writing as a Canadian – I was always under the impression that ‘Winnie’ was a lone bear cub found alongside the railway at Wawa, Ontario, by the Winnipeg Fusiliers, who were on their way to France. They brought the cub with them as a mascot and named him ‘Winnie’. It has always been said that Milne was an Officer in the Army Educational Corps who saw ‘Winnie’ in the Canadians’ camp, where he was teaching… ‘The Pooh’ comes from the then-common Army expression ‘a Poo-bah’ meaning a useless regular Army Officer whose main claim to fame was ‘that he had served in Poonah…’ which he repeated interminably… ‘When I was in Poonah…’

    • Hi Alec, just come back from hols (if visiting Dachau can be described as such). Well, what a fascinating angle you’ve presented. I originally picked up the Pooh story when in White River; I was driving across Canada in 2003 with my family. Whilst researching the fate of local soldiers, I again came across more stories about Pooh. Your version sounds a good one and contradicts that of the one I found in the Lonely Planet Guide. Interesting you mention Wawa; our van blew up there and we had to hang around in Wawa for a week whilst waiting for another vehicle to arrive. I think White River is not too far from Wawa. In the article there are some links which point to where some of the alternative stories come from and one of them is based around Harry Colebourn. As: http://www.wokinghamremembers.com/winnie-the-pooh-and-the-great-war/ Have a read of the links and let me know what you think. I love the story of where the name Pooh comes from and hope AA Milne paid up some royalties !
      Kind regards,

      Mike Churcher

  4. jeff cavell says:

    Hello, I came accross your website whilst looking for contact details for Bearwood, St Catherines churchyard. I work for the CWGC and I am seeking permission to renovate the small plot of war graves within the churchyard and add fine turf and horticulture just has we do many other places world-wide. I have just recently finished the renovation of the plot at St Sebastiens Wokingham.
    I have noticed that there are 3 WW1 casualties buried within the churchyard that were local to the area, WINGFIELD G which you mention also RISBRIDGER LG has far as I can acertain was from Sindlesham and HALL EH who was from Bearwood. There are also 3 casualties from FROM WW2 which seem to have local connnections;
    PHILIPS HO, SORRELL RR and EVANS L from Winnersh.
    Regards
    Jeff

  5. Nicholas Leonard says:

    Hi,

    I have enjoyed your site very much and wish to compliment you on your valuable work for Wokingham.

    I would like to ask for your help in relation to the following matter:
    I am looking for information about Miss Elizabeth (Lizzie) Curtin, a native of Castlefarm, Firies, Co. Kerry, Ireland, who was appointed Postmistress of Wokingham Post Office in or around 1890.

    Her appointment was influenced by Lady Kenmare, Killarney, Co. Kerry, as a gesture of kindness to Lizzie. In 1885, Lizzie’s family home had been attacked by armed agrarian agitators and her father was shot dead, he having shot dead an attacker. Lizzie and her brothers and sister fought hand-to-hand with the armed raiders- the females being furiously brave and fearless.

    The remaining Curtin family members were subsequently viciously and persistently intimidated, boycotted, and forced to sell up and move out.

    Lizzie served as Postmistress at Wokingham until she returned to Ireland in 1896, to take up a similar position at Wicklow Post Office. She retired on pension in or about 1913 and died in 1938.

    I would be most obliged if you could throw any light on Lizzie’s appointment, her service in, and her leaving of Wokingham.

    I would expect that there might have been some discomfort for the local candidates for the position, seeing that Lizzie was ‘parachuted’ into the position from afar. Maybe there was some notice taken by the local press of the appointment?

    Thanking you for your time and looking forward to hearing from you – at your convenience,

    Best wishes,

    Nicholas Leonard
    26.11.2013

    • admin says:

      Hi Nicholas, sorry about delay in responding. There are no accounts of Lizzie’s appointment in the local news and no reports which involved her work at Wokingham. Have you looked in 1891, 1901 and 1911 Census records ? Kind regards,
      Mike Churcher

      • Nicholas Leonard says:

        Hi, Mike,

        Sincere thanks for your j=kind response.

        Unfortunately, I missed seeing it as a result of the Christmas fuss!

        The following is information I have received from An Post, Dublin – the Irish Post Office:

        Elizabeth Curtin’s career.
        She was appointed postmistress – through your research by Lady Kenmare’s influence – not in Drogheda but in Wicklow in 1887, moved to Wokingham in Berkshire in September 1890 where she stayed until February 1896.
        She was then appointed postmistress at Drogheda from which office she retired in about April or May 1913….

        Best Wishes,

        Nicholas.

  6. Nicholas Leonard says:

    P.S. – I forgot to mention that Lizzie was Roman Catholic. She never married.

    One of her sisters lost three sons fighting in WW1 in France.

    Nicholas Leonard

  7. Tim Bell says:

    Very interesting Website. I’m interested in Berkshire men who were posted to the 17th Manchester Regiment in Sept 1916 after being attached on 11th July. I suspect a number of the fatalities of the 5th RBR on 30th July 1916 (6 showing on CWGC) fall into this category, but as the CWGC and SDGW records show RBR, it is difficult to speculate further. One possibility may be 21000 William Dance of Wokingham. Do you know anything further about where he went missing? Any other tips?

    Cheers

    Tim

  8. sue hunter says:

    hi, my paternal gt uncle is listed on ancestry public members list with your owner details. can you let me know why please?

    George herrman/herman hepper

    thank you

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