Row is at one of the highest points of the southern Chiltern hills. The land is poor for farming with few natural
sources of water. Deposits of clay and the surrounding
woods have been an important local resource.
The village is mainly along the 'main' road linking Sonning
Common and Nuffield. The
parish church (the Church of St. John the Evangelist)
is at one end of the village and the pub, the Cherry Tree,
and the chapel are at the other. At the pub end there
are some reasonably attractive older buildings, whereas
at the church end most of them appear to be newer.
the centre is a village store and a garage and an attractive
Indian-style well and a cherry orchard. The 365 feet deep
well is known as the Maharaja's Well and was dug in the
C19 entirely by hand as a gift from the Maharajah of Benares
due to his friendship with a prominent local landowner,
Mr Edward Anderdon Reade. Mr Reade was Governor of the
Northwest Provinces of India and during his time as Governor
presented a well to the people of India. There was an
absence of available water in the Stoke Row area, and
the Maharajah generously reciprocated the gesture to demonstrate
his feelings for England and as a token of friendship
with Mr Reade. As well as paying for the well, the Maharajah
paid also for the adjacent Warden's cottage and cherry
orchard, which provided a modest income for the upkeep
of the well. The well has recently been restored and is
open to the public.
Once year-round water was available in the village the
village started to grow. The local clay deposits were
put to good use by the building of a brick works making
bricks and tiles and a pottery, and the local beech wood
was used for the turning of chair legs and tent pegs which
were used by the army. About 3 million tent pegs were
made locally during the Second World War.
Although, until well after the war, the village had a
blacksmith, builder, baker, general store with Post Office
and five public houses, all that remains now is the village
store and the garage and, in the village, a single pub!
The Independent Chapel was erected in 1815, and the Church
Row is between the Wallingford to Reading and the Wallingford
to Henley roads, about 3 miles north-west of Sonning