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!

Website: thegirlwhowhisperedblog.wordpress.com

Social Media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thegirlwhowhispered

Twitter: twitter.com/penny_hoops

Instagram: www.instagram.com/thegirlwhowhispered_author/

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The Girl Who Whispered – The Next Chapter

A few of you may already know about my history (and why I call myself The Girl Who Whispered), and I won’t bore you with the details now. But the jist is, I was a very shy girl growing up and as a result I was so shy at school that I became very quiet. I was bulled because I was an easy target and to communicate with friends, I would whisper quietly to them to avoid being heard by the bullies. This progressed into secondary school and I became The Girl Who Whispered.

Well, that shy girl has changed so much since then, she’s no longer shy and she certainly doesn’t whisper anymore. In fact, I am now more confident and willing to speak up for myself. I do so by proving to myself that I am not stupid, like my bullies told me, and I use my writing as a way to express myself and important topics.

Yesterday was my very last day as an Open University BSc Psychology student, I handed in my very last assignment (I actually handed it in on the 30th, as I was worried about the internet going down in this isolated village! But technicalities!). I eagerly and a little impatiently await my results.

I hope to gain a 2:1 grade overall, because if I do. I will be heading to my next chapter of my educational path… a Master’s Degree!

I also am progressing with my writing, I have had a few people comment on my published book (It’s My Mistake) saying that they really enjoyed reading it (I’ll add a link to the bottom of the post if you’d like a copy), I have also had comments about my first draft of ‘I fell in Love with a Psychopath’ which is up on WattPad (also at the bottom) and I am currently in the process of sorting a cover letter and 3,000 word synopsis to send my ‘Rose Garden Sanatorium’ series to a literary agent. I have one already picked out and plan to do more research to find others.

Someone said to me today, my luck is turning around.

I hope so. ❤
Here are the links:
It’s My Mistake (UK Paperback): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-My-Mistake-Penny-Hooper/dp/1985376709

It’s My Misake (US Paperback): https://www.amazon.com/Its-My-Mistake-Penny-Hooper/dp/1985376709

It’s My Mistake (Ebook): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/744287

I fell in Love with a Psychopath (WattPad Draft copy): https://www.wattpad.com/story/137106427-i-fell-in-love-with-a-psychopath%7E-complete

WattPad profile: https://www.wattpad.com/user/penny_bones16
(Where you can read my other written works)

Also, please check out my other posts for sneak chapters of Rose Garden Sanatorium).

No one likes you! – A short story.

A short story,
Based on a true events.
By Penny Hooper (aka The Girl Who Whispered)

Early 90s

“Are you okay?” said a big scary woman in her strange blue clothes said as she bent down to look at me.

I nodded viciously, hoping she would just leave me alone. It was easier to just sit here quietly. I wouldn’t get in trouble if I sat and stayed quiet. What if I wasn’t allowed to speak to strangers? I didn’t know this woman. Even if she looked like she worked there.

She smiled at me and just walked off. I sighed. And tried to calm my beating heart as I sat on the hard plastic chair in the corridor of the hospital.

But I didn’t know what to do. What do I say? Do I say something? Do I sit and wait? Do I find him? Or had I been left here? I had no concept of how long I was sitting there panicking. I knew I was there to think about what I had done. Dad was angry with me the moment he burst into my room. I hadn’t even got in his way yet. Or said something wrong to him. But I had an idea of what it was I had done. He tried to get me to speak. I refused. He got angry.

But I couldn’t think about what I had done. I only sat, tried not to cry – I wasn’t allowed to cry – and hoped that he would come back for me. Eventually.

I couldn’t forget what happened to me though, even though I wasn’t thinking about it at the time. I hoped one day I might forget. A kid at school had trapped me in tables and chairs. The teacher had called us all over, I think it was reading time, but the kid, he was ignoring the teacher and was instead moving the tables and chairs to trap me. I don’t know why. Was this a game? He was laughing. Or had I done something wrong? But the teacher had called us, she wanted us all over to her, we would get told off if we didn’t!

I got told off. For not going over to her. For playing. I didn’t know I was playing. I was trapped. I couldn’t go anywhere. How could I explain that to her? But I just wanted to go home. I didn’t want to be there anymore. What did I do wrong? How could I have done that differently?

I had decided not to talk anymore. The grown-ups didn’t listen. They didn’t see and they didn’t listen. I was just a kid. But it was okay, that kid was a boy. Boys will be boys after all!

But why did I feel so bad?

I had gotten home after school and refused to talk to mum. Mum didn’t like it. But dad was angry at me. I don’t remember exactly what happened, it all went by in a flash; he took me in his car and drove me to the hospital, told me to sit, I obeyed and then he walked off. Taking a cigarette out and walked off without even looking back at me.

After what felt like hours, I saw out of the corner of my eye, dad was coming back. I felt a little relieved. I hadn’t been left here. I wasn’t going to have to live on this plastic seat for the rest of my life. But I was also nervous. What if I did that wrong? What if I sat here wrong? What if I was supposed to do something? What if he yelled at me again? What if he forced me to speak again?

Early 2000s

I sat in my class, staring at my book and scribbling notes hurriedly, trying not to look at anyone. I didn’t want to grab someone’s attention and then they pick on me. If I ignored everyone, maybe they’d leave me alone. I already had a bad day in my previous lesson. Physical Education. PE. I hated PE. It meant changing in a room full of other girls and playing sports that I hated and wasn’t even good at. It was a good lesson to have others laugh at you too. At least if you’re writing and got your head in a book, the other students can’t see how terrible you are. I was stupid after all.

PE was up there with Drama. I hated Drama too.

“Oi, you talking yet?” I heard someone whisper behind me. I felt every muscle in my body go tense. I hadn’t been small enough. Someone was talking to me. I pretended I didn’t hear.

“I thought you had a sore throat?” another kid said from behind me, I recognised her voice, “Been going on for a few years now hasn’t it? Faking it much?”

I gulped as I felt the tears in my eyes again. I had already fought the tears back after my PE teacher told me off for having an attitude. I didn’t have an attitude. I didn’t hear her call my name and then turned round to see her staring at me angrily. I got called into her office. The smelly PE office. She told me off for ignoring her. I wasn’t ignoring her. I crossed my arms, not knowing what to do with them. They felt suddenly heavy and in the way. I got told off for crossing my arms.

I can’t do anything right.

“She’s such a looser,” said one of the girls behind me and the other one giggled as if it was the funniest thing her friend had said.

I stared at the same word on my page in my school book, attempting to control my shaking and my beating heart and blinked away the tears. I wasn’t sure what was worse, the popular kids name calling me and throwing things at me or the kids that weren’t popular, the smart ones, calling me names now too.

I sat and pretended I was somewhere else. Anywhere else than here. Well, maybe not home.

Late 2000s

I heard whispering and giggling from behind me as I sat on my computer. I looked round at the two girls that used to be my friends. They stopped and turned round as if suddenly getting caught doing something wrong. They had.

Were they upset with me? What had I done? I know I was hanging out with my two guy mates more. I got on with them better. We had more in common. It was cool to hang out with them. But I had no idea that the girls didn’t like me anymore. I still said hello to them, asked them how they were. Although one of them completely ignored me that morning. I didn’t know why.

I looked back round at my computer, I was trying to figure out this problem. I was starting to think college wasn’t for me. My two mates sat next to me were happily tapping away on their keyboards, they looked like they knew what they were doing. But I couldn’t get past this one bit. How could I do a whole two years of this?

I sighed just as I heard whispering and giggling again. I turned around and noticed the two girls were looking at me again.

“Do you have a problem?” I said loudly, everyone in the class looked round at me.

But to my joy, the two girls stopped, went pale faced and looked back round at their own computers. They left me alone from then on.

I felt proud. I’d spoken up for myself.

I found out a few days later why they didn’t like me. I had said something to one of the girls. Apparently she took offense. I didn’t mean to be nasty, I was just joking with her. Had I of known I upset her, if she told me, I would have apologised. But instead she decided to pick on me. But I had enough of that at school.

College was supposed to be different.

Sometime between 2012 and 2013.

My heart dropped when I saw the text message that my boyfriend had been deliberately trying to hide from me. I know he had. He said he didn’t. But I wasn’t stupid. But when I read the text message over his shoulder I saw why he was trying to hide it from me. His brother had text him to tell him that I need to suck it up and go to the New Year party because he wanted to see his brother.

I snapped. I was angry. Hurt. Upset. Both at his brother and at my boyfriend too.

“That’s it, I’m not going now!” I said.

He looked at me in shock.

“I’m not taking that!” I said, “I’m sorry! But that is just an asshole thing to say! I’m not going to make a scene there! I was just worried about that guy being there, he doesn’t like me, and you know I’m nervous in big groups of people!”

I remember the day I met the guy in question. It was about a year ago. I was at my boyfriend’s parents’ house. He at his brother had decided to have a few friends over for a barbeque, I met a load of his friends for the first time. I was stupidly nervous. I was trying to fit in, feel included. A song came on that reminded me of an ex and I told my boyfriend’s brother he was a chav if he listened to that song. It was a joke. He thought it was funny and turned it over. His friend didn’t. He had a go at me. Thought I was calling him a chav for liking the song. What was worse though, I went inside feeling stupid and all eyes were on me. Everyone hated me. My boyfriend followed me in, asked me what was wrong. He was there, he heard what went on. But had no idea why I was upset. He even told me that I was being rude for calling him a chav. I never called him a chav. I called his brother a chav. It was a joke.

But we had been invited to a New Year party at my boyfriend’s brother’s house, only that guy was going to be there. I was nervous. I was worried that he was going to have another go at me. I also wasn’t doing too well. I was lonely, missing my very few friends back home who were slowly forgetting me. I had moved far away from my hometown. I was upset too and struggling to stay happy, I had lost two grandparents and another grandparent was seriously ill and my childhood dog had died. I was tired too. Always fighting battles.

And now, I felt even worse because I felt like I was the bad person for not wanting to go to a New Year’s party and my boyfriend was starting to resent me and none of his friends liked me.

This was supposed to be a happy time of my life. I had escaped my parents. I had moved in with my boyfriend. We were living together in our first house. It was supposed to be new and exciting. But I was still miserable. I was starting to believe that I was supposed to be miserable. I must have done something really bad in a previous life to deserve this.

I just wanted to be happy.

Present day

“Why you taking your phone? To take a selfie in the bathroom?” my dad jeered as I stood up to go to the toilet. We were in a bar.

I looked at him in utter shock. Did he really think I was one of those girls? Who goes into bathrooms just to take a photo of herself? I wasn’t one of those girls.

“She doesn’t have any friends to show it to anyway!” my mum commented and I snorted and just walked off.

Any normal day, it would have been funny. It would have been me that said instead of her.

But today, it wasn’t a normal day. I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to take those jokes. But I couldn’t complain. I couldn’t fight back. It was best I just said nothing. Or just made a joke back, pretend I thought it was funny.

I walked into the bathroom and sat on the toilet, staring at my phone.

It was true. I don’t have any friends. Aside from the odd one or two I sometimes speak to. I looked at my last text message on my phone. The last text message was just an automated message with a code to log into a service. Probably PayPal. That was two weeks ago. The last text message I actually got from a friend was six months ago.

I sighed and locked my phone up. It was pointless having a phone. No one called. No one text. It was my parents’ choice that I had a phone. I was happy without one. At least if I didn’t have one, I wouldn’t have a constant reminder that I didn’t have any friends. I didn’t have anyone that cared. I was alone. A loner. A loser. Billy no mates.

Even my dad didn’t like me. Didn’t even know who I was.

Maybe I should have changed those settings on Facebook. Then I’d get a few people who would notice me today.

Today was my birthday. No one remembered.

No one liked me.

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Check out my other works:

Read Chapter 1 of ‘It’s My Mistake’ here.
Or buy on e-book here or paperback here.

Read Chapter 1 of ‘I Fell in Love with a Psychopath’ here.
Or buy on e-book here or paperback here.

Check out my Prologue for Rose Garden Sanatorium here.

Read how I come up with character names, here.