2. History of the parish

Originally, the area was part of the Great Forest of Windsor.  People lived in tents and small cottages in clearings in the forest.  They were very poor and made a living by making and selling brooms - hence they were call 'Broomdashers'.  They were lawless and heathen and worshipped at mounds of peat decorated with pieces of broken pottery.  Although in the parish of All Saints, 3 miles away in Wokingham, they were largely ignored by the Church.

This situation so alarmed a Mr Francis Soames, Churchwarden of All Saints that, in 1846, he wrote a letter to the Dean of Sarum appealing for help.  His letter speaks of "a wild and remote district, the population composed of labourers and broomdashers who stand in dire need of regular pastoral superintendence, the want of which is attended with the growth of irreligion, vice and immorality.  Means should be speedily adopted to put an end to evils of so deplorable and awful a character".

Although some attempts to convert people were made by Baptists, who held a small day school and there were occasional Sunday services held by a man from Heelas, the drapers in Wokingham, the situation continued until the 1860s.