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A Place of Bells and Bull Baiting
- In Saxon
times, Wokingham was the home of an important chief called Wocca. It
means 'Wocca's People's Home'. He owned other villages at Wokefield,
near Stratfield Mortimer, and at Woking, in Surrey.
- Wokingham was near the centre of Windsor
Forest. The Forest people had their own court called the 'Verderers'
Court'. It was held in Wokingham.
- Wokingham was an industrial medieval town. The 'Bell Foundry' was
very important. Bells for churches all over the south of England were
- During the Reformation of the Church
in Tudor times, the Protestant Flems fled from Belgium. A group of
weavers settled in Wokingham. It became well-known for making silk.
- A group of the King's soldiers came to Wokingham during the English
Civil War. They were being besieged at Reading
and wanted fire-wood and bedding. The townspeople told them to go
away. So the soldiers burnt down some of their houses!
- In 1661, a man left the town money in his will to buy a bull with
every year. The bull was 'baited'. This means it was chained up and
attacked by dogs until they killed it! This horrible 'sport' was very
popular and Wokingham became famous for it. It was banned in 1821.
- In Georgian times, the town was the headquarters of a gang of
criminals called the 'Wokingham Blacks'. They painted their faces
black and went about Windsor Forest, poaching, robbing, blackmailing
and even murdering the local people! The ringleaders were captured and
hanged in 1723.
- The well-known poem about 'Fair Molly Mogg' was written at the Rose
Inn in Wokingham. The authors were the famous poets, Pope, Gay, Swift
and Arbuthnot. They were sheltering there from the rain. Molly was the