Three Mile Cross
alias 'Our Village'

Three Mile Cross is best known for having been immortalised in Mary Russell Mitford's "sketches of rural character and scenery" called 'Our Village'. It was first published in a popular magazine from 1822 and then in 5-volume book form two years later. For most of her life, Miss Mitford lived in Three Mile Cross, next to the 16th century Swan pub. She had been reduced to living in this cramped labourer's cottage with her well-to-do parents, after her father had gambled away all their money and had to sell their elegant home at Poundgreen. Most of her books and plays were written at Three Mile Cross:

  • Julian (1823)
  • Our Village (1824-32)
  • The Foscari (1826)
  • Rienzi (1828)
  • Charles I (1834) and
  • Belford Regis (1835)

Mary became firm friends with the poetess, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who helped gain her a civil pension of £100 a year; but financial worries continued even after the death of her father and his debts had to be paid by public subscription.

Just north-west of Three Mile Cross, adjoining the M4 motorway, is the area of Shinfield parish known as Hartley, meaning Stag's Clearing. The area was anciently split into five small manors, probably carved out of the medieval Spencers Wood: Hartley Court, Hartley Dummer, Hartley Battle, Hartley Amys and Hartley Pellitot. The last four were, for many years, owned by the Woodcock family who lived at Hartley Pellitot. The road in Three Mile Cross called Woodcock Court commemorates their residence, as does Woodcock Lane alongside the A33. They were relatives of Doctor Robert Huick, Queen Elizabeth I's Chief Physician, who also had an estate in Shinfield. Its exact site is unknown, but he probably rented one of the Hartley manors. Hartley Court is the only manor house to survive. It is an early 16th century house with an 18th century façade. It was probably built for Thomas Beke, the grandson and namesake of a mayor and MP for Reading. There is apparently a fine wooden mantelpiece in the house featuring the colourful Beke coat-of-arms dated 1509. The family had other properties at Whiteknights in Earley and at Haddenham in Buckinghamshire. Thomas' grandson, Henry, has a superb monument in Shinfield Church.

Read more history of Three Mile Cross and other nearby settlements, like Spencers Wood, in David Nash Ford's book, 'Mid-Berkshire Town and Village Histories'. Click to Order direct from the Author.


Whether you are from Mid-Berkshire or just visiting, this book is the place to find out all about the history of some 113 different towns, suburbs, villages and hamlets in the Boroughs of Reading and of Wokingham and the eastern portion of the District of West Berkshire. From Streatley to Padworth and Ruscombe to Finchampstead, join David Nash Ford from in his second volume examining the structures, people and events that have shaped each place. Some of these histories were first published in part here on this website, but they have all been considerably expanded and are joined by many new histories of places often missed by historians, including those which only joined Berkshire in 1911 or later. Click for full details and purchase options. 



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