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Binfield Hamlets
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History of the Village of Binfield in the Royal County of Berkshire
by David Nash Ford



The name derives from "Bent Grass Field". The local hundred of Beynhurst has a similar derivation. Billingbear is the north-western portion of Binfield parish.

The Luck of Binfield hangs in Binfield Place, a mostly Jacobean Manor (partly Henry VII) with a missing wing. It is a 17th century bas-relief of a lady's head, said to pour misfortune upon any owner who removes it. Binfield Manor was built in 1754, by William Pitt the Elder (later Earl of Chatham), at a cost of 36,000. He became Prime Minister of Great Britain two years later, but still spent much of his time in Binfield. John Constable (the artist) stayed here on his honeymoon in 1816 and twice sketched the church.

Binfield Church by John Constable 1816 All Saints Church is mostly mid-nineteenth century, but has some ancient fittings. Of particular note is the 17th century hourglass and elaborate iron stand. It features the arms of the Farriers' Company of London. The famous writer, Alexander Pope, lived at Pope's Manor in Popeswood and sang in the church choir as a boy in the early 1700s.

Centre Elm, BinfieldThe Stag and Hounds is the village's most historic inn: part of it is 14th century. It was a Royal hunting lodge used by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The latter used to sit in her window and watch the Maypole dancing on the green outside. Being at the centre of Windsor Forest, the inn may originally have been the headquarters of the Royal gamekeepers. It is, in fact, said to be at the exact centre of the old forest, as marked by the eight hundred year old Centre Elm which stands outside. The sad hollow trunk is all that remains of this once great tree - it was ravaged by Dutch Elm Disease in the 70s - but you can still see where the forest poachers are said to have cheekily hidden in times gone by. It is also said to have been a refuge for some of Cromwell's men during the Civil War. The lodge became a coaching inn in 1727. The 18th century travel writer, William Cobbett, once stayed there and wrote that it was "a very nice country inn". He called nearby Bracknell a "bleak and desolate" place.

See also Binfield Hamlets.

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