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The archives of British History Online records the following from historical documents:


Brief Chronology 1362-1903

"The reputed manor of MAIDEN EARLEY was apparently formed out of Earley Whiteknights. In 1362 John de Earley had licence to grant two messuages and 19 acres of land with appurtenances to Robert de Earley and John his wife. (fn. 162) Robert de Earley answered for a quarter of a fee in the manor of Whiteknights at the assessment of an aid in 1401–2. (fn. 163) This estate seems to be Maiden Earley, of which Richard Earley died seised in 1502, (fn. 164) his heir being his sister Margaret wife of Thomas Chafyn. The manor descended to William Chafyn, who died about 1539. (fn. 165) Thomas Chafyn, apparently son of William, (fn. 166) sold the manor in 1545 to Oliver Hyde. (fn. 167) Humphrey Hyde died seised of the manor of Maiden Earley alias Woodhatches in 1608, leaving a son and heir Richard. (fn. 168) He died in 1628, when his son Humphrey, aged twelve years, was his heir. (fn. 169) In 1647 Humphrey and his wife Margaret conveyed the manor to John Hyde, but apparently not in fee, (fn. 170) as it was sold by Humphrey in 1673 to Valentine Crome. (fn. 171) He with his wife Philliden conveyed it to Theophilus Earl of Huntingdon and John Holles, son and heir-apparent of Gilbert Earl of Clare in 1685. (fn. 172) In 1744 Edward Le Grand and other members of the Le Grand family were dealing with it by fine. (fn. 173) According to Lysons it was at the end of the 18th century in the possession of William Matthew Birt, Governor-general of the Leeward Islands. (fn. 174) It was purchased by the Right Hon. Edward Golding, M.P. for Downton, Wilts., lord of the Treasury during the administration of Lord Sidmouth. He amassed great wealth in the East Indies and spent his large fortune in purchasing this estate and other lands in Berkshire. After his death in 1818 Maiden Earley descended to his son Edward Golding, J.P., D.L., who died in 1844. He was succeeded by his son the Rev. Edward Golding, vicar of Brimpton, Berks., who died in 1857, when Captain William Golding, son of the preceding owner, came into possession of the estate. It was leased for fourteen years from 1864 to 1878 to John Hargreaves, master of the South Berkshire hounds, who purchased the manor and estate in the latter year from Captain William Golding with the consent of the Court of Chancery. It was acquired in 1903 from his executors by Mr. Solomon B. Joel, who is the present lord of the manor."

From: 'Parishes: Sonning with Earley, Woodley and Sandford', A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3 (1923), pp. 210-225. URL:  Date accessed: 27 July 2009.


Solly Joel

        Solomon Bernato Joel was one of the great benefactors and legends of Reading and the borders of Redlands. Known affectionately as "Solly", he was born into a Jewish family in 1865, being one of three sons of Joel Joel (a London tavernkeeper of the King of Prussia), and Kate Isaacs, who was a sister of Barnett Isaacs, later to be called Barney Barnato. Along with his brothers  Jack and Woolf, he was taken under the wing of Barney Barnato and made a fortune from the Barnato Diamond Mining Company.   

        One of those self-driven self made men, within ten years, he had become a millionaire (which today would mean at last a multi0-millionaire or even billionaire!), primarily by buying seemingly worked-out diamond mines in South Africa. On Barney Barnato's death in 1897, Solly became head of the family business, Barnato Brothers. Despite having a keen interest in diamonds, he played a greater role in the gold industry. He established the Van Ryn Deep in 1902, the Government Gold Mining Areas (Modderfontein) in 1910 and the New State Areas in 1918. He acquired control of Langlaagte Estate and Gold Mining Company and Randfontein Estates Gold Mining Company from J.B.Robinson and became a director of the Diamond Syndicate.

        In 1903 Joel purchased the Maiden Erlegh Estate in Earley.. He was renowned for being a generous man who purchased the first motorised ambulance for the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Another illustration of his generosity was exhibited when Sol Joel Park close to his estate was given to the Corporation of Reading in 1927. The official opening was undertaken by the then Duke of York , who became King George VII and was again an extravagant event.

        Solly Joel died in 1931 and immediately his estate and possessions were sold at auction. The Home Stud Farm was sold in 1932 but continued until the 1980s.

Final Years and Erasure.

After his death, in 1931, the luxurious contents of the mansion were sold by auction. The Mansion itself became Maiden Erlegh School for Boys. During the summer a punt was used to take certain pupils onto the large island on Maiden Erlegh Lake and lessons were held in the thatched building which stood there until the 1960s. The school flourished until 1942. In 1945 the building was sold in to the Church Army, who used it as a Training College until 1952. ICI then bought the Manor and used it as a conference centre and offices until 1954, when Cooper Estates Ltd purchased the site. Hungarian refugees were housed there, following the Soviet invasion of their country in 1956. They were its last residents - the bulldozers starting their destruction in March 1960. The County Council had considered purchasing the site from ICI and establishing their offices there. However, they opted for the site at Shinfield instead.


Saving of The Park

In response to the demands of local residents, Cooper Estates agreed to sell Maiden Erlegh Lake and the surrounding woodland, almost the last remnants of the old Maiden Erlegh Estate, to Earley Parish Council in return for being allowed to build on another greenfield site. As the purchase would lead to an increase in the rates the Council held a public meeting and a referendum. With the backing of the people of Earley the Council purchased the site for £8,500 in 1965. More recently Old Lane Wood, at the rear of Sellafield Way, was obtained from the District Council, making the Park some 24 acres in total.

The fine Mansion stood between Silverdale Road and Crawford Close. The large Turkey Oak which stands in the middle of the Close is believed to have grown against the Palm Court, and thus is not symmetrical in shape. To get to the Mansion one travelled from Wokingham Road along Maiden Erlegh Drive, most of which still exists today complete with sections of Victorian fencing and the Lodge.