This web site will become the virtual home of the Town Hall’s treasures. It is a work in progress with new items being added all the time. In the future we hope to extend the collections to include the wider history of Wokingham town.
To access the Virtual Museum click HERE
Some form of local government has been administered from the Town Hall since its opening. Major changes have been the result of national legislation to reform the structure and powers of local councils.
The Alderman & Corporation
When the Town Hall was opened in 1860, Wokingham was administered by an unelected Corporation consisting of an Alderman and about seven Burgesses. This small group met in the Council Chamber, now the Annexe.
The Borough Council with Mayor
In 1885, following the 1882 Act, Queen Victoria granted Wokingham a charter making it a Municipal Borough. This larger Council, initially elected by male suffrage, elected a Mayor. It held meetings in the Main Hall. With an expanding population and increased powers, Borough Council responsibilities grew. When the Police left in 1905, the Council bought accommodation from the County Council for offices. In 1965 much of the work was transferred to the new Council offices in Wellington Road.
The Town Council with Mayor
Under the act of 1972 much of the administration of the town was taken over by Wokingham District Council, now Wokingham Borough Council. Wokingham remained a Parish Council which, in view of its historic past, was given the title of Town Council and retained its Mayor, its coat of arms, its ceremonies and base in the Town Hall. Council meetings are still held in the Main Hall and the Council Chamber while the Mayor’s Parlour and Town Council offices occupy the other rooms. Other rooms are let to businesses and organisations and the Town Hall is licensed for wedding and civil partnership ceremonies.
You can learn about the fascinating history of the Town Hall by watching these videos, with expert commentary by Cllr Bob Wyatt.
The videos were produced for us by Connor Sharod-Southam (CSS-Media) on behalf of Bracknell and Wokingham College.
The Town Hall has always been available for community use when not required for official business. Dinners, concerts, lectures, displays, meetings, bazaars, sales and civil ceremonies are held in the Main Hall, with the smaller rooms being used for meetings and other functions. These rooms are all available for hire.
The Main Hall, Annexe, Council Chamber and the new Diamond Jubilee Room have all been refurbished to their original Victorian splendour and all upstairs rooms are fully accessible by lift.
The Town Hall is open to the public in September as part of the National Heritage weekend. Councillors are on hand to escort visitors and explain some of the history of the building. The Wokingham History Group also conducts town walks.
ARMS: Or semée of Acorns Vert a Chevron Ermine thereon a Tudor Rose barbed and seeded proper
CREST: On a Wreath of the Colours issuant from a Saxon Crown Or a demi Stag at gaze proper supporting a Crosier Or.
MOTTO: E glande quercus
What does this mean?
- A field of acorns on a gold shield represents Wokingham as a forest town
- An ermine chevron indicates the Royal House
- A Tudor rose is part of the badge of Queen Elizabeth I and our present Queen
- The Saxon crown reflects the Saxon origin of the district
- A Berkshire stag supporting a bishop’s crozier denotes ownership of the town by the Bishop of Salisbury until 1574, when it became a Royal town.
- The Motto translates as: “from the acorn, the oak”
The Arms were granted to the former Borough of Wokingham in 1953, Coronation Year. At a special court held at Windsor Castle on 16 April 1975, Queen Elizabeth II authorised by Order of Council that the Armorial Bearings were to be “lawfully borne and used” by Wokingham Town Council.
The Coat of Arms is granted to the Town Council by the College of Heralds. It may not be reproduced by any other person or organisation without the specific written permission of the Town Council. Please contact the Town Clerk for further information.
History of the memorial
Following the end of the First World War, it was felt important to record the names of those who had lost their lives. In Wokingham, Councillor H C Mylne, who served as Mayor during the war years, took responsibility for raising funds to provide a fitting memorial. Sadly he failed to see its completion as he died in October 1919.
The memorial you see inside the Town Hall today was unveiled on 10th February 1924 by Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee in commemoration of the Wokingham men who lost their lives during or as a result of injuries sustained in the First World War. It is constructed in English oak and styled in a way that is complimentary to the architecture of Town Hall. The names are painted onto inset panels with their initials highlighted in red.
A lightweight stand had for many years served as a platform for wreaths, but in view of its deteriorating state, Wokingham Town Council in conjunction with the Royal British Legion took the decision to install a new cabinet in which wreaths could be placed and be openly displayed or enclosed within. Local craftsman Trevor Ottlewski was commissioned to design and build the new cabinet in 2007 in English oak in a style which was designed to compliment the character of the existing memorial.
Each Remembrance Sunday, the Town Mayor, Councillors, Dignitaries and a number of organisations join a parade and church service, following which they assemble in the Town Hall for a wreath laying ceremony around the War Memorial.
Names on the memorial
The original criteria used for names to be added to the Town Hall War Memorial was decided nationally: individuals were required to live in Wokingham therefore having a residential address in the town boundary at the time of their death.
All those who had a residential address in the town at the time in 1924 were put on the war memorial but it is important to note that some families didn’t want names added to the Town Hall War Memorial and they chose to have it added somewhere else, e.g. if they were a member of a local Church.
In 1927 the boundary of the town was reformed and outer parts of Wokingham being built up became part of the Wokingham area. The criteria for names to be added remained the same but the boundary was wider. This meant that following the 2nd World War more people were eligible but less names were added as fewer people died compared with the 1st World War. Following that, only one additional name has been added; that of Garth Walter Hawkins who died during the Falklands War.
Wokingham Town Council would always consider additional names on the Town Hall War Memorial within the same criteria; the individual would have been required to have lived in Wokingham at the time of their death.
To see a list of the names on the Town Hall War Memorial please click HERE
More information can be found about some of the individuals named on the memorial on Wokingham Remembers Facebook Page To commemorate the Centenary of World War I in 2014, a War Memorial trail was created by Town and Parish Councils across the Wokingham Borough which identified other memorials in the area. Brochures were produced and are available from the Wokingham Town Hall Information Centre or you can download and view this information on a free app called ‘Wokingham Town History.’
If you would like to visit the memorial, please visit the Information Centre where a member of staff will be happy to arrange a viewing.
100 Years since the end of WW1
Here is a video of a record of the event on 11 November 2018 in Wokingham commemorating 100 years since the end of WW1