• Donnington Grove

A Compleat Reunion

Over 400 years of local history came vividly to life this month, as a Newbury family revisited their post war home and shared secrets about the property dating back to the reign of Charles 1.

When Tricia Simmons (née Dagger), and family visited her old home at The Manor House, 34 London Road, now the site of Newbury-based food suppliers Compleat Food Network, she was also delighted to find that her happy family abode has now become a successful family business.

Tricia, now 81, first moved into the property at 34 London Road in 1947, with her parents, Lawrie and Rosalind, and brother Ralph. The world was still recovering from WWII, and Lawrie (who had served in the home guard due to losing a leg in an Argentine train accident in the 1920’s) was a Company Secretary for the Woodlands Laundry in Newbury. They were happy times for Tricia, with many parties at the house and in the local area, including at The Chequers Hotel and the Corn Exchange, seven decades ago.

The new owners, Directors of Compleat Food Network, Tim and Liz Scarborough, were thrilled to discover that the history of the building doesn’t stop at 1947. Whilst Tricia was visiting London Road, she also disclosed a few hidden and buried secrets about the property that date back much further. On moving in, the parents had the large creeper that engulfed the house quickly removed. Tricia’s mother, Rosalind, was a keen gardener and on one occasion, whilst digging in the garden, she discovered a Charles 1 era cannonball, dating back to the 1641 Civil War, and which now sits proudly displayed in the Newbury Museum.

Tricia also spoke of a hidden tunnel, that according to legend leads directly from the house to Shaw House. The entrance to the tunnel was allegedly located in the cellars of the property, and Tricia spent many youthful hours searching in vain for its presence. With 30 staff now located at the offices, perhaps the team at Compleat Food Network can pick up where Tricia left off and find the tunnel.

The business was delighted to welcome Tricia and her family back to her old home, with the Directors producing the original deeds to view, in addition to giving them a full tour around the building’s bright and modern office décor. Tricia gave a donation to Tim and Liz for their time which was donated to local charity, Swings and Smiles.