As its name implies, Oakley (or Aukeley in 1220) in Bray parish means Oak-Clearing [in Windsor Forest]. When the Vikings began raiding England in the 9th century, one of their earliest battles was the Battle of ‘Acleah’ in AD 851, probably fought in this area (or possibly in Surrey). It was a great victory for King Aethelwulf who sent the Vikings packing. The village later grew up around some common grazing land on the packhorse and drovers’ routes from Reading to Windsor. The moated site at Mills Farm was where Sheeres House stood, said at one time to have been an inn for the packhorse traders.
The area contains a number of reputed manor houses, notably Bishop’s and Kimber’s Farms. By far the most impressive is New Lodge. This was built in 1857 for Jean-Sylvain Van de Weyer, the Belgian Minister to the English Court. Until recently it was the home of a technical publishing company but is being turned into a private house once more. It is in the neo-Jacobean style and was then the centre of the large Braywood Estate, complete with a (now demolished) estate church. The founder’s tomb can still be seen in the old churchyard. The house replaced an earlier version of unknown date. The Duke of Cumberland is thought to have lived there when he was first appointed Ranger of Windsor Forest. In the 15th century, it had connections with the nearby royal kennels and was the centre of New Lodge Walke, one of the sixteen sub-divisions of Windsor Forest. It was probably the ‘newest’ of these royal hunting lodges, and was unusual in having fallow, rather than red, deer to hunt. An old ballad tells us it was there that King James I brought an unsuspecting tinker he had met near Moneyrow Green and knighted him.
Read more history of Oakley Green in David Nash Ford's book, 'East Berkshire Town and Village Histories'. Click to Order direct from the Author.
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