Won­der­ful War­grave and Warfield

Berkshire Life - - HERITAGE LIFE - WORDS:

that Wally was a well-known pub fre­quenter dur­ing the 1960s, and by all ac­counts, “a bit of a char­ac­ter”. At the far end of the High Street lies The Ge­orge and Dragon. Hav­ing changed hands a few times in re­cent years, this es­tab­lish­ment is now more of a res­tau­rant than a pub­lic house. There is a fan­tas­tic ter­race where you can en­joy sip­ping your drinks in the sun­shine. Oc­ca­sion­ally, a mock steam­boat from up Henley way makes its way past this spot pro­vid­ing a Tom Sawyer mo­ment.

In Jan­uary 1879 the small ferry boat hit ice and cap­sized throw­ing all four oc­cu­pants into the river. Trag­i­cally, Es­sex Thomas, the fer­ry­man, lost his ten-year-old daugh­ter. A sad re­flec­tion of our past is that be­cause of their class, the tragedy of the girl’s death was lit­tle re­ported, and it was only re­cently that the girl was iden­ti­fied as Mary Anne Thomas. There have long been re­ports of a sprite called Benji near the Ge­orge and Dragon, who is said to lure peo­ple to their deaths in the river. He has been sighted on a set of steps on the Shiplake bank of the river that leads down to the wa­ter. Be­ing sur­rounded by flat farm­land and only the odd tree, these mist­shrouded steps must surely rank as one of the creepi­est sets of steps any­where to be found.

The largest com­mu­nity event in the vil­lage is the War­grave and Shiplake Re­gatta, in­clud­ing a large fire­work dis­play, which has taken place since 1867 each Novem­ber. Un­for­tu­nately, the event can’t go ahead this year, but the com­mu­nity spirit is stronger than ever, with lots go­ing on.

Two at­trac­tive Berkshire vil­lages that of­fer a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing

Sarah Rodi and Thomas New­port

ABOVE: Warfield Church ABOVE LEFT: The river at War­grave

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