Online Encyclopedia

WOKINGHAM

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 769 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WOKINGHAM, a market town and municipal borough in the Wokingham parliamentary division of Berkshire, England, 36 m. W. by S. of London by the South-Western railway, served also by the South-Eastern and Chatham railway. Pop. (1901) 3551. It lies on a slight eminence above a valley tributary to that of the river Loddon, in a well-wooded district on the outskirts of the former royal forest of Windsor. The church of St Laurence is Perpendicular, greatly altered by restoration. Two miles west of the town is the village of Bearwood. The trade of Wokingham is principally agricultural. The borough is under a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Area, 557 acres. Wokingham (Wokyngham, Oakingham, Ockingham), which was within the limits of Windsor Forest, was formerly situated partly in Berkshire and partly in a detached piece of Wiltshire, which is now annexed to Berkshire; the Berkshire portion of the town was in the manor of Sonning, which was held by the bishops of Salisbury from before the Conquest until the reign of Elizabeth. The earliest existing charter to Wokingham is that of Elizabeth (1583), which recites and confirms some ancient customary privileges respecting the election of an alderman and other corporate officers. The governing charter for more than 250 years was that of James I. (1612), incorporating it as a free town under the title of the " Alder-man and Burgesses of the Town of Wokingham in the Counties of Berks and Wilts." Under the provisions of the Municipal Corporations Act of 1882 a new charter of incorporation was granted, instituting a municipal body to consist of a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Wokingham was assessed at £5o for ship-money, Reading being assessed at £220. It had at this time a manufacture of silk stockings, which flourished as early as 1625, and survived up to the 19th century. The town shared in the benefactions of Laud, whose father was born there. The Tuesday market, which is still held and which, during the first half of the 19th century, was famous for poultry, was granted to the bishop of Salisbury by Henry III. (1219), who also granted (1258) two annual fairs to be held on the vigil, day and morrow of St Barnabas and All Saints respectively; the latter is still kept up, the former appears in the list of fairs held in 1792.
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