A quick note: the Emmer Green site is being developed, with content being added as time permits.
A brief introduction to this site.
I’ve been associated with the Caversham website (caversham.org.uk) since the mid 1990s. Now, and since 2021, it’s in a new incarnation, reflecting changing times. It includes a lot of content that’s either about, or is directly relevant to Emmer Green.
Emmer Green was once a hamlet in its own right. But, these days, it seems that for many people any distinction between Emmer Green and Caversham is barely known about. Hence the decision to treat the two together on the Caversham web site.
However, doing so is NOT to ignore Emmer Green in its own right! Far from it. The last thing I’d want to see is Emmer Green’s own identity forgotten.
Thus, with this site – emmergreen.org.uk – I’ve tried to provide a broad brush stroke introduction to this specific area. I’ll include any particularly relevant links to third-party sites for more details if / as / when I come across them.
As a resident, over several decades, of first Emmer Green and now Caversham, I’ve naturally – accidentally – acquired a fair bit of anecdotal local knowledge. And I’ve actively researched some aspects of the area too. My hope is that both this site and the Caversham one prove useful, interesting and sometimes entertaining too.
Where is Emmer Green?
Just what constitutes Emmer Green these days, anyway?
Referencing the (free) Open Street Map, it’s roughly north of Surley Row/Rotherfield Way, but west of Peppard Road/Buckingham Drive – right up until South Oxfordshire boundary.
Note that Caversham Park Village estate isn’t in Emmer Green, but Caversham Park (the house) is generally included. Indeed, Caversham Park (both house and estate) may well be why Emmer Green as a hamlet grew up in the first place.
(Caversham Park Village – unhelpfully just showing as Caversham Park on the map – is on some of what was once Caversham Park house’s lands.)
There are a few big buildings within Emmer Green, each with their own stories. They were major factors in the development of the area. To a varying extent they still are.
Note: it is quite hard to get good photos of any of the buildings I mention, below. If you have any that you’d like to share, please do get in touch via the main ‘Caversham’ web site.
Caversham Park (house) has a history going back to the Domesday Book. It has been significant enough to merit its own extensive history, and for real detail I’ll refer you to ‘Caversham Park and its Owners’, by John Malpas. (Though it can be hard to find.)
All I’ll add is that Royalty have visited, it’s burnt down several times, in the 1920s it became a school (the Oratory School, now near Woodcote) and from the 1940s until fairly recently was used by the BBC Monitoring service.
(As a strange little aside, a sort-of namesake’s grave was in the grounds there.)
As I write both house and grounds are pending redevelopment. (There’s more about this aspect of it on the Caversham website.)
Once known as Caversham Grove, this mansion became Grove Secondary School in 1952. It was significant for me when I was young in that by then it was (and still remains) part of Highdown School, which I attended way back when.
Another relatively grand building (now listed), dating to the 18th century, it has had various other roles, not least as a maternity hospital and a store for Reading Museum.
From my youth, I remember fanciful tales of tunnels leading from the cellars to all sorts of far-flung parts of Caversham. There’s also an interesting old building, I think a tithe barn, there in the grounds, which was used for music when I was there.
Rosehill House, pretty well on the north outskirt of Emmer Green, dates to the late 18th century. It’s easy to miss unless you know it’s there.
Among its various uses, it was a prep school for the Oratory School for a while, and also the Salvation Army’s HQ. These days it has been turned into flats and its grounds are now a small housing estate.
I must admit I didn’t really register its existence when I was young, although the (then) quiet circuit around Rosehill Park (between Crawshay Drive and Peppard Road) was a favourite for cycling around – informal racing between four of us.
Springfield St Luke
One little more modest building that I was aware of was/is the big, white building that is Springfield St Luke – on Surley Row, the entrance is opposite Sheepwalk. I knew it as a convent but I’m not sure that’s strictly right – though it had religious connections.
When I was a teenager, I was told there was a gardener there who had been badly burned during the Second World War, and that he was a fighter pilot who’d been injured when we was shot down.
Back then, Springfield Mews (running parallel to Surley Row) didn’t exist and the St Luke site was, as it were, very reserved. Which is perhaps fitting for a religious building. These days, the main building has been converted into flats, and a care home built in the grounds – accessed from Marshland Square.