A small trip to Reading – Wokefield Mansion

Hello my little Demons! I’m back with another travel post!

Between the 6th and 8th of December I took a trip down to Reading for a job assessment, but rather than booking a cheap Premier Inn hotel, I decided to book somewhere a little different; The Wokefield Mansion, and make a little trip of it.

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Photography by Penny Hooper (c) Please do not copy / reuse without written permission from myself.

Wokefield Mansion

History

Wokefield Estate has been around since 1560 when the first house was built by Sir Edmund Plowden (1518-1585), an English lawyer, scholar and theorist. However, back then it was known as Oakfield Park.

Unfortuatenly the estate has seen many change of hands over the years, unlike many estates which have been passed down through the family over the generations.

It had also seen many changes, with renovations, gardens, new mansions and buildings being built, and even occupations, from being a family estate to a business (and not just a hotel!)

It had only been passed down through the Plowden family until 1627 when it was sold by Edmund’s grandson Francis and sold to the Weaver family.

In late 17th century it was sold again and went to the Pearces, and in the late 18th century it went to the Parry family.

It was Charles Parry who rebuilt the house in 1720 to the Mansion now seen (the Mansion in which I stayed the night). It is said that it was built to look much like Kinlet Hall in Shropshire (although I personally like the look of Wokefield Mansion).

In 1742 it was sold to the 1st Earl of Uxbridge, Henry Paget. But the 2nd Earl of Uxbridge (who’s name was also Henry Paget) sold the estate to Bernard Brocas (who owned the nearby Beaurepaire).

It is estimated that around this time, the estate was landscaped with avenues, woodlands and water, which can be seen on an old map of Berkshire made by John Rocque (a surveyor and cartographer).

Although Bernard Brocas passed away not long after he aquired the estate, the Brocas family enlisted Sir John Soane to make some ‘alterations’, although I cannot find what alterations were made in this time.

In 1839 the estate was put up for sale again, and went to Robert Allfrey.

In the early 1900s it was sold again (along with the rest of Allfrey’s fortune) to Alfred Palmer, of Huntley & Palmers, a british biscuit maker based in Reading.

Palmer undertook a complete renovation of the house’s interior which included Adamesque plasterwork and a wooden staircase screened by columns.

In 1936 the house was again sold to the De La Salle brothers, The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, and of course, became a school called St. Benedict’s Approved School.

In 1967 the house becomes a grade II* listed building.

The estate (totally the mansion and 35 acres) was then sold to Style Conference Limited, a leading corporate training centre operator. The mansion house was converted into a 60 bed conference and hospitility venue and opened mid 1986, the outwer buildings also being converted to provide a further 41 en suite rooms.

In the early 1990s the farm and a further 140 acres were purchased to redevelop the site, where a 18-hole golf course and driving range where constructed, along with two gyms (one small and one large), swimming pool and sauna where house in the mansion house, and other outdoor activities such as archery, climbing and ropes course.

In 1998 there were a few buildings and extensions demolished and redeveloped, and a new building built specifically for BMW.

In the 21st century it appears the history of the estate and the company that owns it becomes a little fuzzy, with companies changing and new companies being generated, but somewhere along the line the estate followed a more hotel orientated occupation.

In 2015, the Executive Centre building was damanaged by fire, which affected 100 of the hotel’s 222 total rooms, though the fire was contained within a newer part rather than the historic house.

My Review

I stayed two nights in a single room in the Mansion house, it was a small room, with a large single bed with a beautiful picture of a map of Berkshire hanging above the headboard, a large modern flatscreen TV on the wall, a lovely large ceiling window with single-pain glass, complete with very long and thick curtains that reached all the way up to the ceiling, there was a handy desk over by the window with details of the services the hotel offers, two bedside tables, one sporting a vintage style radio and the other a vintage style telephone. Although the vintage style of the room, it was also very well updated with USB charging points in the walls.

The room was also equiped with a large wardrope with a safe, mini fridge, tea and coffee with real ornate mugs, extra quilt and pillow and ironing equipment and the decorating was fabulous, with unique pictures of plant and flower diagrams, golf pictures, and old prints.

The bathroom was a huge shock, being nearly the same size as the main area, which was very mordern inside. A large bath with a shower over it, and large and clean sink and toilet, complete with large fluffy towels, bottles of shampoo, shower gel, soaps and a cute little De Vere Duck and more plant diagrams in frames.

The bed was extremely comfortable, probably one of the best night sleeps I’ve had in a while, and was very happy with the service I received both checking in and checking out a few days later.

Due to my long drive there, my very busy day the next day at my Assessment Day and the long drive back the next, I didn’t spend much time exporing the grounds or facilities, but I did have a small wander around on the last day before setting off early for the long trek back to Scotland. I was surprised to see there was a gentleman on a golf buggie collecting rubbish from the grounds and bins, and was very happy to see a little bug hotel near the carpark next to the Mansion house. The grounds looked excellently kept, all clean, well kept and beautiful and it was beautiful both inside and out, especially in the evening when the front was lit up with beautiful and tasteful lights.

I also spent a few minutes at check out speaking to the staff at the reception, after the guy found out about my profession and was thus very enthusiastic to chat and wished me a safe journey home.

Of course, there were a few bad points about the hotel, such that, when travelling down at night when it was cold and foggy, it was a little difficult to find the main entrance, and even on the estate, it was a little difficult reading the signposts and locating the car park. The hotel room was a little difficult to locate, the room was cold one day because the only heating was a large radiator which was tucked behind the large curtains and was left on low. The room was a little on the small side, having to squeeze past the bed and the TV on the wall, knocking it a few times by accident. I also wasn’t told where the bar, resturant or other services on the hotel’s estate were, even if I wanted to or had the time to experience.

A few other issues, such as the thin walls where I could hear my next-door-neighbour cough, the noise from the bar downstairs and the single-glazed glass window where all small negatives but easily acceptable given both the age of the house and the fact it is a listed building.

Despite the negatives, I would happily return to Wokefield Estate and stay again, aside from the fact I stayed because I had an Assessment Day to attend in the area, I felt like I had a little mini holiday and would recommend others too! Especially when my stay was only £71 a night!

All above photos are copywrited to Penny Hooper (c).
Please do not copy/share without prior written permission from myself.

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Also, I’ve noticed I’ve been getting comments from an outside source, this original post is from WordPress, original website: thegirlwhowhisperedblog.wordpress.com if you are reading this from outside of WordPress, please do let me know, I would love to know how far and wide my blog posts are getting and thank you everyone who has commented already.

If you liked this post, please do give it a like! And feel free to leave a comment!
~Penny (Aka The Girl Who Whispered).

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If you liked this blog post, please do check out my others:

Douglas, South Lanarkshire – A Hidden Gem

Living in Australia – Part 1: Breakup from hell and Brisvegas

Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 5

Happy Birthday! But why do we celebrate?

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November…

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

I won! I came first in the Earnesty Writer’s Awards 2018 Paranormal Genre!

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Rebecca – Chapter 1

Bit of a back story to this one before you read on. I started this one a while ago, before ‘Rose Garden Sanatorium’ and way before ‘It’s My Mistake’ but I never finished it. Reason for that was because I came up with the idea of Rose Garden Sanatorium before finishing it and got distracted to write that one instead!

Now, a few months on and I have decided to finish ‘Rebecca’ first and publish it along with ‘It’s My Mistake’, just to get a few books out there before I finished ‘Rose Garden Sanatorium’. I have decided to publish Rose Garden professionally and as my studies start up soon I might not have a lot of time to finish it before then (nor the funds, as it’s going to cost up to £1500, which I don’t have as I’m not employed!)

Anyway, I figured I’d post a few chapters of Rebecca for you anyway, so you can see what to expect when I finally finish and publish this one.
If you’re interested in the other two and haven’t come across them before, see below for the links to my other posts.

P.S. Please bare in mind this currently in first draft stage, but if you do see any mistakes in grammar, spelling or even if you’d like to comment on plotline/wording/description (or lack of as that hasn’t been added perfectly yet either) feel free to let me know. 🙂

Warning: May contact strong language and mature content


Chapter 1

I looked outside at the weather. It was horrendous, I wished I never decided to travel to Canada now or at least wished I’d looked at the best time of year to go. It wasn’t winter yet, it was mid-autumn but I was too busy in the eastern side of Canada in the summer. So here I was, travelling in this torrential weather to Vancouver, on a bus.

I should have known it was the wrong time of year to go, considering I was the only person on this bus. But the need to travel was too strong that it overruled my common sense. Never mind, I’m here now and the only time I could get work in this area was this time of year, so I had no choice really. Unless I stayed in England.

I sat on the uncomfortable bench of a seat on the bus as the rain washed passed on the windows, it was early evening by now. After a bit of a long trip from my post on Vancouver Island. The sun had settled two hours earlier and I could tell the temperature was dropping slightly too. I was just lucky that it wasn’t winter and it was freezing cold. The chances of getting stuck in the snow were greater. Although, the weather might have been drier.

After what seemed like hours on the bus, it slowed to a stop. This alerted me out of my day-dreaming. I noticed it had stopped at a petrol station-, well gas station they were called here in Canada. I wondered if he needed to refuel.

“Just stopping for the bathroom ma’am,” the driver explained when he saw my confused look peering up from the window to him as he got up out of the driver’s seat. “Would you like to grab any snacks or visit the ladies yourself?” he asked. His accent was thick Canadian, an accent I had gotten used to for a while now after spending nearly four months in Canada. Although I had noticed a slightly change after moving away from the east coast.

“Not a bad idea,” I nodded, getting up from my seat and stretching my stiff joints. “How long now until Vancouver?” I asked, as I grabbed my bag and headed to the front of the bus.

“Another few hours, so long as the weather doesn’t get any worse,” the driver explained, hopping off the bus and waiting outside for me to get off too.

“Great,” I said, not really feeling great about it at all. I had to spend another few hours on a cold damp bus before I could go anywhere to get a decent meal and a decent night sleep. I was exhausted.

The gas station didn’t have much in terms of decent food either. I wandered down the aisles looking at the American or Canadian style chocolate bars and ‘chips’ and subsequently sighed. There were no decent sandwiches, so my choices were limited to chips and chocolates. And seeing as I wasn’t sure when my next decent meal was going to be, I decided to pick up a few things anyway, even if they were high in sugar and fat, they were better than nothing. I picked up a few packets of chips and a few bars of chocolates before heading over to the counter where the driver was talking to the guy behind the cashier already.

“I’m afraid not,” the cashier said while talking to the driver, who had come back from the bathroom. He was shaking his head and looking concerned about something. This sparked my curiosity.

“That’s just my luck,” said the driver and rubbed his face with a hand.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, dumping the snacks on the counter top.

“Road’s blocked half a mile up, no way through to the city.”

“What?” I said, feeling the blood drain from my face.

“Apparently the wind blew down an old tree, right into the road, no way of getting through.”

“Buggar!” I swore and rubbed my own face, feeling tired already, “Now what?”

“There is a Motel in the next village, hopefully they’ll have the road cleared by tomorrow?” suggested the guy behind the cash register.

“I suppose that’s all I can do!” I shrugged, “Where is the motel? Is it far?”

“A mile or so,” the bus driver explained.

I nodded and picked up the snacks, thinking that if I wasn’t heading back in Vancouver today, I might as well find somewhere to eat in the village.

“I can take you to the motel,” the driver said, “But I’ll be heading back to my town, which is a few miles away.”

I nodded, “That’ll be fine.”

The bus stopped for a second time that night, right outside a motel. I was starting to feel a little hungry, so at this point I was just glad to find somewhere to get off so I could get something to eat and rest for the rest of the night. Although I was starting to wish I had bought those snacks at the service station.

“Here’s the motel,” the bus driver said, giving me a weak smile.

“Thank you,” I said, getting up and moving to the front of the bus again.

“Keep your ticket, it’ll get you to Vancouver tomorrow.”

I nodded and thanked him again before getting off the bus. Taking my backpack and trudging up to the front reception of the motel now a little soaked from the rain.

It was only a small motel, clearly this town didn’t get many visitors.

I pushed through the reception door and up to the lady on the reception who looked up from her newspaper crossword puzzle and smiled at me. “Evening.”

“Hi, can I have room for the night?”

“Oh, sorry love, we’re fully booked for tonight!”

“Oh, shit!” I accidentally said, feeling my luck going from bad to worse.

The receptionist smiled weakly, “There is another motel in the next town up,” she said.

“Oh right, where is that?”

“If you go in that direction,” she pointed out the window, “past the post office and continue until you hit the next town, it’s right opposite a diner. They usually have a few vacancies.”

“Oh, okay, thanks!” I smiled. I just heard diner and felt my stomach urge me to leave and find food.

“Sorry again,” the receptionist smiled as I turned back around.

“That’s okay,” I muttered as I opened the door and finally trudged back out into the darkness. At least I knew there was another motel, so it wasn’t all that bad. One that had a diner right opposite. Winner.


If you like this, please check out my other work:

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

My Normal – Short Story

 

Cover designed by me, only a draft copy for illustration purposes. I do not currently own the rights to the picture displayed.
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If you’re interested in how I created my covers to any of my books, please check out this following post:
https://steemit.com/design/@penny-rose/how-i-created-my-book-cover

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