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Wokingham
A Place of Bells and Bull Baiting


Bull Fighting at Wokingham -  Nash Ford Publishing

 

  • 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 made there.
  • 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 sexy barmaid. 

 

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