Stoke Row

Stoke 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.

Location map:

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.

In 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 in 1846.

Stoke Row is between the Wallingford to Reading and the Wallingford to Henley roads, about 3 miles north-west of Sonning Common.

Images of Stoke Row:
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