Woodley is a town and civil parish
Civil parish
In England, a civil parish is a territorial designation and, where they are found, the lowest tier of local government below districts and counties...

 in Berkshire
Berkshire is a historic county in the South of England. It is also often referred to as the Royal County of Berkshire because of the presence of the royal residence of Windsor Castle in the county; this usage, which dates to the 19th century at least, was recognised by the Queen in 1957, and...

, England. The Office for National Statistics
Office for National Statistics
The Office for National Statistics is the executive office of the UK Statistics Authority, a non-ministerial department which reports directly to the Parliament of the United Kingdom.- Overview :...

 places Woodley within the Reading Urban Area
Reading, Berkshire
Reading is a large town and unitary authority area in England. It is located in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway, some west of London....

, but for purposes of local government it falls within the Borough of Wokingham, outside of the jurisdiction of Reading Borough Council. The name Woodley is derived from Old English words means 'a clearing in the wood'. Anciently, Woodley was a part of the ecclesiastical parish of Sonning
Sonning, occasionally called Sonning-on-Thames is a village and civil parish in the Borough of Wokingham in the English county of Berkshire, a few miles east of Reading. The village is situated on the River Thames and was described by Jerome K...



The ecclesiastical parish of Woodley came into existence in 1881, following the earlier erection of the church of St. John the Evangelist by Robert Palmer in 1873.

Until the 1930s, Woodley was a very small village of no great significance. In that decade, an airfield and flying school was opened in the 100 acre (0.404686 km²) field belonging to Sandford Farm. In 1932, F.G. Miles came to Woodley and joined forces with Philips and Powis in the production of the Miles Hawk
Miles Hawk
-See also:-Bibliography:* Amos, Peter. and Brown, Don Lambert. Miles Aircraft Since 1925, Volume 1. London: Putnam Aeronautical, 2000. ISBN 0-85177-787-0....

 aeroplane, leading to the foundation of Miles Aircraft Ltd which continued producing aircraft in Woodley until after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. During the pre-war years many famous aviators landed at Woodley, including Charles Lindbergh
Charles Lindbergh
Charles Augustus Lindbergh was an American aviator, author, inventor, explorer, and social activist.Lindbergh, a 25-year-old U.S...

 and Amy Johnson
Amy Johnson
Amy Johnson CBE, was a pioneering English aviator. Flying solo or with her husband, Jim Mollison, Johnson set numerous long-distance records during the 1930s...

; Douglas Bader
Douglas Bader
Group Captain Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader CBE, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, FRAeS, DL was a Royal Air Force fighter ace during the Second World War. He was credited with 20 aerial victories, four shared victories, six probables, one shared probable and 11 enemy aircraft damaged.Bader joined the...

 lost his legs in an accident on the airfield. The aviation tradition of Woodley is still carried on by the presence of the Museum of Berkshire Aviation
Museum of Berkshire Aviation
The Museum of Berkshire Aviation is a small aviation museum in Woodley, a suburb of the town of Reading in the English county of Berkshire. The museum is on the edge of the site of the former Woodley Aerodrome, and many of its exhibits relate to Phillips & Powis and Miles Aircraft companies that...


After World War II Woodley continued to grow, with industry relocating from Reading and new housing growing up. In the 1960s a new town centre was created, replacing the old village shops. In the 1980s the airfield site was redeveloped as a major housing area, and Woodley is now largely indistinguishable from Reading to the casual visitor.

In the west of Woodley, Old Bulmershe Manor was the home of the Blagrave family and probable birthplace of the famous 17th century mathematician, John Blagrave
John Blagrave
John Blagrave was an English mathematician.He was probably born in the vicinity of Reading in 1561, to John Blagrave of Bulmershe Court at Earley and his wife, Anne, daughter of Sir Anthony Hungerford of Down Ampney in Gloucestershire...

. The adjoining large house of Bulmershe Court
Bulmershe Court
Bulmershe Court is, today, a campus of the University of Reading, situated in what is now the Reading suburb of Woodley, in the English county of Berkshire...

 alias Woodley Lodge was built in 1777 by James Wheble. The house was subsequently bought by Henry Addington, at that time Speaker of the House of Commons
Speaker of the British House of Commons
The Speaker of the House of Commons is the presiding officer of the House of Commons, the United Kingdom's lower chamber of Parliament. The current Speaker is John Bercow, who was elected on 22 June 2009, following the resignation of Michael Martin...

 and later Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

. He lived there when not in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and was frequently visited by other prominent figures of the age, including William Pitt the Younger
William Pitt the Younger
William Pitt the Younger was a British politician of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He became the youngest Prime Minister in 1783 at the age of 24 . He left office in 1801, but was Prime Minister again from 1804 until his death in 1806...

 and, it is said, King George III
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

. During World War II, the house was used by the US Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

. In the 1960s, it was demolished and replaced by a teacher training college that has subsequently become part of the University of Reading
University of Reading
The University of Reading is a university in the English town of Reading, Berkshire. The University was established in 1892 as University College, Reading and received its Royal Charter in 1926. It is based on several campuses in, and around, the town of Reading.The University has a long tradition...



Woodley is a civil parish with town status (adopted in 1974) and an elected town council. It falls within the area of the unitary authority
Unitary authority
A unitary authority is a type of local authority that has a single tier and is responsible for all local government functions within its area or performs additional functions which elsewhere in the relevant country are usually performed by national government or a higher level of sub-national...

 of Wokingham. Both the town council and the unitary authority are responsible for different aspects of local government.

Woodley falls within the Reading East and Maidenhead
Maidenhead (UK Parliament constituency)
Maidenhead is a county constituency in Berkshire which returns one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, elected by the first past the post voting system...

 parliamentary constituencies.



Nearby towns and cities: Reading
Reading, Berkshire
Reading is a large town and unitary authority area in England. It is located in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway, some west of London....

, Earley
Earley is a town and civil parish in the English county of Berkshire. The Office for National Statistics places Earley within the Reading/Wokingham Urban Area, for purposes of local government it falls within the Borough of Wokingham, outside of the jurisdiction of Reading Borough Council. The name...

, Wokingham
Wokingham is a market town and civil parish in Berkshire in South East England about west of central London. It is about east-southeast of Reading and west of Bracknell. It spans an area of and, according to the 2001 census, has a population of 30,403...

Nearby villages: Sonning
Sonning, occasionally called Sonning-on-Thames is a village and civil parish in the Borough of Wokingham in the English county of Berkshire, a few miles east of Reading. The village is situated on the River Thames and was described by Jerome K...

, Twyford
Twyford, Berkshire
For other places of the same name, see Twyford.Twyford is a village and civil parish in the English Royal county of Berkshire. It is situated, at , in the heart of the Thames Valley on the A4 between Reading and Maidenhead, close to Henley-on-Thames and Wokingham.-History:The town's name is...

, Winnersh
Winnersh is a village and civil parish, a part of the Borough of Wokingham, in the English county of Berkshire. The parish is roughly bounded on the north-east by the A329, to the north-west by the river Loddon, Old Forest Road and Simons Lane on the south east and Bearwood Road on the south west...

, Hurst
Hurst, Berkshire
Hurst is a village in the civil parish of St Nicholas Hurst in the English county of Berkshire.-Geography:The parish of St Nicholas Hurst is situated at , north of Wokingham and south of Twyford in the county of Berkshire...

, Charvil
Charvil is a village and civil parish in Berkshire, England a few miles east of Reading on the A4 road to Maidenhead, between Sonning and Twyford. The village is home to around 2,000 residents....


Woodley is home to two secondary, comprehensive schools that have achieved specialist school
Specialist school
The specialist schools programme was a UK government initiative which encouraged secondary schools in England to specialise in certain areas of the curriculum to boost achievement. The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust was responsible for the delivery of the programme...

  • Waingels College
    Waingels College
    Waingels College is a co-educational comprehensive secondary school located in Woodley, Reading, Berkshire, England. It has a population of 1,500 students but may rise due to overcrowding in the area and an appeals process which now has to take place...

     (Mathematics and Computing
    Mathematics and Computing College
    Mathematics and Computing Colleges were introduced in England in 2002 as part of the Government's Specialist Schools Programme which was designed to raise standards in secondary education. Specialist schools focus specifically on their chosen specialism but must also meet the requirements of the...

  • The Bulmershe School
    The Bulmershe School
    The Bulmershe School is a mixed-sex comprehensive school located in Woodley, Berkshire, England, which first opened in 1964 as a grammar school. It caters for children of all abilities between the ages of 11 and 18...

    Sports College
    Sports Colleges were introduced in 1997 as part of the Specialist Schools Programme in the United Kingdom. The system enables secondary schools to specialise in certain fields, in this case, PE, sports and dance. Schools that successfully apply to the Specialist Schools Trust and become Sports...


It also the home of many primary schools such as Highwood, Beechwood, St Dominic's Roman Catholic, Rivermead, Woodley Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, Southlake and Willowbank.

Notable people

  • Felix Bowness
    Felix Bowness
    Felix Bowness was an English comedy actor best remembered for his portrayal of the jockey Fred Quilly in the BBC sitcom Hi-de-Hi!.-Biography:...

    , comedy actor, best known for ex-jockey Fred Quilty in Hi De Hi
  • James Henry
    James Henry (footballer)
    James Henry is an English footballer who plays for Millwall as a right winger or as a central midfielder.-Reading:Henry was born in Reading. Having grown up in Woodley, attending Waingels College which has sport facilities, and started his playing career at local club, Woodley Saints...

    , footballer
  • Hamza Riazuddin
    Hamza Riazuddin
    Hamza Riazuddin is an English cricketer. He is a right-handed lower-order batsman and a right-arm medium-fast bowler who currently plays for Hampshire. He is a British Pakistani...

    , Hampshire cricketer
  • Irwin Sparkes, vocalist, The Hoosiers
    The Hoosiers
    The Hoosiers are an English pop/rock band, consisting of members Irwin Sparkes , Martin Skarendahl and Alan Sharland ....

  • Chris Tarrant
    Chris Tarrant
    Christopher John "Chris" Tarrant, OBE is an English radio and television broadcaster, now best known for hosting the first version of the television game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in the United Kingdom and later Ireland, as the two national versions of the show merged in 2002.Chris...

    , TV presenter, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
    Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
    Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is a television game show which offers large cash prizes for correctly answering a series of multiple-choice questions of increasing difficulty. The format is owned and licensed by Sony Pictures Television International. The maximum cash prize is one million pounds...

  • Jamie Willcox, guitarist, Pure Reason Revolution
    Pure Reason Revolution
    Pure Reason Revolution are a British rock group formed at the University of Westminster in 2003 and who are playing their final dates together in November 2011. Their music incorporates elements of progressive rock and electro. Their music has been variously described as 'Astral Folk' and 'New...


Woodley has also been the home of Woodley Town Football Club. The club can trace its roots back to 1904, and it is thought a team existed in Woodley in the nineteenth century. Today, 2009, Woodley Town run 3 teams in the Reading Football League. The 1st team won the Senior Division in 2008 - 09 (Step 7 of the FA National League System)and the BTC Senior Cup to complete the League and Cup double and is a FA Charter Standard Development Club. It has ambitious plans for a stadium and club house in the heart of Woodley so that the club can progress and it will be playing Step 6 football in 2009 - 10 in the Hellenic League thus bringing a better standard of non-league football to a thriving community. The club also runs a thriving youth section, Woodley Town Kestrels with boys and girls teams from u7 to u17 age groups. A link to the clubs website can be found further down this page.

Woodley is also home to Southlake Angling Society who run the popular Southlake fishery close to Woodley Town Centre. Established in the early 1960s on the former estate lake it shares its name with. This club has gone on to become very popular with the local residents of not only Woodley but also the surrounding towns and villages. As the sport of angling has increased, Southlake Angling Society have thrived adding another local lake in Hurst called Redlands and a stretch of the River Loddon that flows close to the east of Woodley and Earley.

See also

  • List of places in Berkshire
  • List of civil parishes in England
  • Sonning Cutting
    Sonning Cutting
    Sonning Cutting is on the original Great Western Railway built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It is to the east of Reading station and to the west of Twyford station near the village of Sonning in Berkshire, England. It had been intended to route the railway around the north of Sonning Hill past the...

     on the Great Western Railway
    Great Western Railway
    The Great Western Railway was a British railway company that linked London with the south-west and west of England and most of Wales. It was founded in 1833, received its enabling Act of Parliament in 1835 and ran its first trains in 1838...

    to the north of Woodley

External links

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