Coley Park and Beyond

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The Landowners of Coley Park Estates from around the 13th century up to the present day in chronological order.
These pages provide a fascinating insight into the ever-changing ownership and the many events that shaped Coley Park forever.



Reading owed its prosperity to the abbey founded there in 1121, and in particular to the cloth trade which flourished under monastic protection.
The history of the hamlet of COLEY (and later Coley Park) is bound up with that of the Vachell family. It first appears in the persons of Walter Vachell who was one of the jurors for the borough of Reading at the assizes of 1261, and of Susanna his wife. John Vachell and Roger Vachell filled the same office a few years later; Roger in 1326 held a messuage in Reading. John Vachell in 1297 was appointed one of the commissioners to buy wool in the counties of Oxford and Berkshire. In 1301 he granted a tenement in Old Street to Roger le Dubbare, at the hands of whose son Walter he apparently met his death in 1303. It was probably his son John who started the connection of his family with COLEY PARK by buying land in 1309 from Thomas Syward.

Coley Park Estate lies to the southwest of Reading in the parish of St Mary. It has been in existence since at least the 13th century with the Vachell Family purchasing the land from Thomas Syward of Reading in 1309.

According to current historians there is no real evidence to support any earlier settlements in the area other than a few flour mills and fisheries dotted along the nearby Kennet river as recorded in the Domesday book of 1086. However there is a chance that Romans passed through here when travelling between Reading (used as a possible river port) and the nearby Roman town of Silchester (known as Calleva Atrebatum). According to hearsay, there were a number of Roman coins dug up during the excavations for the Coley High Rise Flats.

The Vachell family resided at the estate for over 418 years, and in that time built a stately manor house on the banks of the Holy Brook stream, and had a nearby working farm. The house was modified a number of times but was eventually demolished in the early 1800s when a new house was built on higher ground. This is the Coley House (or Mansion) that we know today. Coley House, located off Wensley Road, two lodges on Coley Avenue and some restored farm houses and barns at the nearby Coley Park Farm are the oldest surviving buildings in the immediate area.

Click HERE to view a c1870 map of Coley Park estate.


Major Landholders of Coley Park Estate

Thomas Syward 1280-1309
Vachell Family 1309-1727
Colonel Richard Thompson 1727-1792
William Chamberlayne 1792-1802
Thomas Bradford 1802
John McConnell 1802-1810
Monck Family 1810-1937
John Bucknell 1937-1955
Reading Corporation (RBC) 1955 ...


Please remember that information is at times thin and somewhat sketchy, but over time more snippets of information is located that fills in the missing pieces. The names and dates are only as accurate as can be ascertained from varying records, so please allow for errors from time to time.

The Rev Gibbs Payne Crawfurd is acknowledged as a major source of information for the Vachells of Coley. His works published in 1894 assisted by the memoirs of Lieutenant-General Henry Tanfield Vachell who himself provided a majority of the materials and illustrations, has been an invaluable resource for this site.

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