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The village of Sindlesham is on the site of an old Saxon settlement. The Walter Arms is a typically solid Victorian building, built in approx 1850 by John Walter III of the famous Walter family, founders of The Times newspaper, and it was he who was responsible for building the model village of Sindlesham, including an enormous Victorian mansion which replaced the more modest Georgian home built by his father, but still known as ‘Bearwood’. He did, however, need to house thirteen children!
The building itself, along with many of the surrounding buildings, was built from bricks made from the clay which was extracted from where the lake now is at California Country Park.
The pub was originally built to provide a meeting place for all the villagers. By 1911 the Walter family fortunes were beginning to diminish due to competition from other newspapers and in 1912 The Walter Arms was leased to the brewers Simonds of Reading for the annual rent of £59. At that time there was sawdust on the floors with only wall benches to sit on, and spending a penny meant having to trudge out the back to an Elson closet in the meadow!
During the First World War the mansion was used as a convalescent home for Canadian soldiers, and the ‘wives’ of these wounded men stayed at the pub. One soldier was said to have had four different ‘spouses’.
In 1925 the pub, together with 1½ acres of land, was sold to Simonds for £2,600 and the Walter family finally left the village in 1957.
Many thanks to David Ford for helping us compile the history of The Walter Arms.