Coley Park and Beyond

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The name Monck is documented as also being spelt as Monke or Moncke. On this site it is always referred to as Monck.


The Monck Family

Owners of Coley Park estates 1810-1937

Coley Park estate was owned by the Monck family throughout the 19th century. Many family members served Reading as Members of Parliament, Town Councilors and Justices of the Peace.

The MONCK Coat of Arms

(Gules a cheveron between three lions' heads razed argent) 


John Berkeley Monck (1769-1834)

John was the eldest son of John Monck, of Bath, England. He was educated at Eton and was admitted to Lincoln's Inn on 27 March 1790. From 1796 he practiced as a barrister until the death of his father in 1809. John inherited a huge fortune from his father, and purchased the estate of Coley Park in 1810.

On 4 May 1810, John married Mary Stephens (born c1790) (daughter of William Stephens of Aldermarston) at Aldermarston. John was 41 and Mary was 20. They had four children; John Bligh (1811), Emelia (1816), Mariette (1821) and William Stanley Monck (1822).

At this time the Coley Park estate consisted of Coley House and grounds, Coley Park Farm, Little Coley Farm and lands including Kennet Moor, Restraws Meadow and Pigney Meadow. Until the early 19th century the estate included Whitley manor in the Reading parish of St Giles. In 1810, through the marriage of John Berkeley Monck and Mary Stephens of Aldermaston, Southcote Farm and lands were added. From 1812 the estate also included Aldworth manor, with property and lands in Aldworth and Streatley.

John later purchased further estates in the county of Berkshire.

John, Member of Parliament for the Borough of Reading from 1820 to 1830, took a prominent part in the life of Reading, especially in the Parliamentary Reform movement, and has represented Reading in three parliaments. The Reform Bill, for the reform of parliament had caused a great deal of public agitation. The all-invading taxation, wasteful and at times corrupt administration, and traditional ascendancy in politics of the upper classes, were among the many grievances which had led to nationwide discontent.

The Reform Bill when introduced into parliament in 1831 roused the interest of the whole country. The Reform Bill being eventually passed by the House of Lords in June 1832. In Reading the celebrations were held on Wednesday July 18 1832, when a cannon was fired at dawn, drums beat, church bells rang, and people decorated their houses with laurel boughs. In London Street, as in every other main street in Reading, long tables were set up and loaded with food. At 3pm, 7000 people sat down to dine, with the vast banquet being presided over by none other than John Berkeley Monck.

John was widely respected in Reading and Berkshire. He was also a magistrate and the Grand Master of the lodge of Masons. In 1832 he was chairman at the banquet held in Reading to celebrate the passing of the Great Reform Bill.

John died on the 13 December 1834 and was buried at St. Mary's Church in Reading. The estate passing to his eldest son, John Bligh Monck.

John's daughter Mariette Monck married Charles Hill of Wellingborough, Northants, in 1842.



John Bligh Monck (1811-1903)

John, born August 8, 1811, inherited the estates from his father in early 1835.

He married Margaret Elizabeth Yates (daughter of Rev. Wildman Yates - Vicar of St. Mary's, Reading) on June 22, 1841. They had seven children: William Berkeley (1842), Charlotte Margaret Emilia (Emily) (1843), Mary Louisa (1844), John Stanley (1845), Charles Henry Bligh (1846), Frances Elizabeth (1847) and George Gustavus (1849).

By 1835, Little Coley Farm was no longer in existence. The estate now consisted of Southcote Estate, Great Coley Farm and lands, named lands formally part of Little Coley Farm, Coley Mansion (erected by John McConnell), site of the old mansion (Vachell House), Pigney Meadow (20 acres), pasture land at Bower Farm, Streatley (62 acres), the manor and lordship of Aldworth, with Dunworth Farm and lands, Aldworth, Bower farmhouse and lands, Aldworth, cottage on the east side of Aldworth Street, Aldworth, Bell public house, Aldworth.

John made some alterations to Coley House around 1840, which included a new balustrade marble staircase - perhaps ready for his new bride the following year (Unfortunately the staircase was badly damaged by fire in the 1990's by vandals who broke into the house when in a derelict state).

John became a Sheriff of Reading in 1845.

Around 1860, the Rifle Range would have been commissioned in the fields behind Coley Park Farm and utilised by the Reading Volunteer Corps (see inset panel above).

According to the census of 1861, John Stanley Monck age 16, his aunt Emelia age 45, and his grandmother Mary age 74 were living at The Rectory in Henley-on-Thames, Berkshire. George Monck age 11, scholar, was residing with his uncle John W. Moore at The Rectory in Hordley, Shropshire.

John died in 1903. The estate passed to his eldest son, William Berkeley Monck.

John Stanley Monck, the second son of John Bligh Monck. was born in Coley Park on February 28 1845. He is recorded as playing first class cricket for Canterbury (New Zealand) during the 1873-1874 season. He died on September 3 1929 in Sumner, Christchurch-Canterbury, New Zealand. (Thanks to Gillian Figures for this information).



William Berkeley Monck (1842-1905)

William inherited the estates (including Aldworth and Southcote estates) in 1903 after death of his father.

William Berkeley Monck married Althea Paulina Louisa Fanshawe (born 1850), of Warsaw, in 1872. They had at least four children: Louisa E. (1875), Margaret A. (1877), George Stanley Stevens (1880) and John B. Monck (1884).

William had played an active role in the affairs of Reading Town. He was Mayor for Reading in 1887 and again in 1897. He was an active member of the Thames Conservancy Board and also Chairman of the Education Committee. His profession was Barrister in Law.

Unfortunately William died suddenly in 1905 due to a shooting accident, and was succeeded by his son, George Stanley Stevens Monck in 1906. (Not sure if the shooting accident was related to the nearby rifle range. Ed.) A Coroner's Inquisition into the death of William Berkeley Monck, was carried out by Reading Court on 8 Sep 1905.

Berkeley Avenue named after William Berkeley Monck



George Stanley Stevens Monck (1880-)

The estates passed to George (including Aldworth and Southcote estates) in 1905, with the deeds of the Coley, Southcote and Aldworth estates, passing over to him in 1907, after the accidental death of his father, William Berkeley Monck.

In 1914 George Monck granted permission for the removal of tablets and benches from the Lady Chapel, at the request of St Mary's Parish, Reading.

Following his father's death (in 1905), the family eventually decided to move away, with the contents of Coley House sold and the house let. However the estates remained with the Monck family until it was broken up and put up for auction in 1937. It is believed George Monck moved to the 'Fishery' at Maidenhead, then later to Seaford in Sussex.

Berkeley Avenue Extension 1908

In 1908 a grant was received to construct an extension of Berkeley Avenue from the junction of Wolseley Street and St Saviour's Road to the end of Pell Street, thus allowing through traffic to Southampton Street. A number of bridges were incorporated to cross over the River Kennet, Holy Brook rivulet and the new Coley Goods Branch railway line.

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