The scattered village of Binfield Heath grew out of groups of houses, a few subsistence farms and tiny hamlets roughly arranged around a central heath.
Shiplake Row was among the earliest roads to be populated and there are a large number of old properties within a small area: Holmwood Farmhouse, The Old House, Tea Pot Cottage (formerly Dormons), Well Cottage, Shiplake Rise Farm, The White Hart and Walnut Cottage, all of which may have 17th century origins. In addition there was Keeps Farm, towards the top of Keeps Lane, which was pulled down in the 1800s.
Many of the oldest cottages in Binfield Heath village may survive from the 16th and 17th centuries and still stand picturesque in their timber and thatch, although it is thought that some even older cottages may have disappeared long ago.
The majority of early housing in Binfield Heath was predominantly for agricultural labourers. Through the centuries various parts of the heath developed in an uneven fashion, much of it hidden to the casual passer-by.
Between 1869 and 1935, the kilns in the village resulted in an expansion of housing. The late Victorian, early Edwardian development period produced a range of ‘villas’, semi-detached and detached houses in characteristic purple and red bricks from the brick works in Kiln Lane.
Building continued to be sporadic and just before the turn of the last century houses began to be constructed along Heathfield Avenue, Gravel Road and at a few other isolated sites using bricks made in Kiln Lane.
Between the world wars there was more development with infilling between existing houses. There followed a lull in building activity until post-war council houses and bungalows were built as part of a strategy of expansion. These estates, generally constructed of new bricks and concrete slabs, were in New Road, off Kiln Lane and Heath Drive, off Gravel Road.
Regrettably, with one or two exceptions, the quality of design at this period was poor but the village still retained its rural character. The estate built in the centre, in the1960s, sadly had little harmony with its surroundings, a close of ‘commuter homes’, opposite the former village pond. This land became available when owners of Holmwood had to sell it to offset death duties.
With greater regard for local architectural history, a small group of houses was created in King’s Common Close, reflecting earlier cottage styles, in 2001. There has been very little other new building, although some houses are extended and improved when they change hands. A few barns and a set of pig shelters have been turned into interesting homes. The most recent total renovation was Hollow Tree Cottage, sympathetically converted to a modern from its original form with earth floors, a central wood fire and without electricity or running water!
Although much of the village is not classically pretty it nevertheless retains an open, scattered, rural aspect and an eclectic mix of houses, many with large gardens. The twin factors of the availability of housing and employment has directly influenced the population, which has remained stable for years. Today, the village is still protected by a general presumption against development by South Oxfordshire District Council planners.
Altered over the years: Laundry Cottage, Binfield Heath, as the name suggests, was once the laundry for Coppid Hall. Alfred and Elizabeth Clark ran the laundry for the Phillimore family at the turn of the last century. Linen was brought by horse and cart both from Coppid Hall up the road and from the family home in west London. The large iron was heated over the fire and there was a tiny one ‘to deal with the fine frills’. Modernised and extended over the years, the laundry is now a private house, still owned, as many cottages in this village, by the Phillimore Estate.