Events and things to do in Berkshire - May 2017

PUBLISHED: 10:02 02 May 2017 | UPDATED: 14:39 10 May 2017

Pretty ponies, magnificent show jumpers and perhaps some famous faces. See it all at the horse show

Pretty ponies, magnificent show jumpers and perhaps some famous faces. See it all at the horse show


With spring here and Bank Holidays arriving, there’s a feast if entertainment to choose from in Berkshire

Garden owners open their gates

Some superb gardens will celebrate the National Garden Scheme (NGS) 90th anniversary in May. Take your pick of old favourites and new finds which provide a chance to find ideas during a great day out. For instance, St Timothee, a recently created two acre garden adjacent to Pinkneys Green, has gently-flowing colour-themed borders planted for year-round interest. Other features include a box parterre, wildlife pond, rose terrace and wild areas. Delicious home-made teas will be available.

In Cookham, three contrasting gardens open together. At 2 Bellevue Cottages view a modern garden which shows what can be done within a narrow space. This garden is not suitable for children, wheelchairs, or dogs. At 2 Vicarage Close there’s a small water garden overlooking Cookham Church. The third, Hunters Lodge, is a country style garden with Victorian summerhouse and newly created wildlife pool.

Considered the ‘Finest Parsonage in England’, The Old Rectory in Farnborough, once the home of John Betjeman, near Wantage, opens on 21 May. It has immaculate garden rooms, arboretum, boules, roses, vegetable and a new bog garden.

For something very different visit the RISC roof forest garden in Reading on 27 May, developed to demonstrate sustainability and human dependence on plants.

The garden of Sandleford Place in Newbury opens on May 14. It’s more exuberant than manicured, with the River Enborne flowing through the four acres. There is an old walled garden and long herbaceous border flanking a wild flower meadow. Home-made teas will be available.

The garden of Stubbings House opens from Saturday, 29 April to Monday, 1 May. The parkland is set around the 18th Century house and features a large lawn with ha ha, woodland walks and historic cedars. There is a retail nursery and other attractions, plus access to adjacent National Trust woodland.

NGS entrance fees support a scheme which donated over £2.6m in 2016 to charities including Marie Curie, Macmillan Cancer Support, Hospice UK, and Carers Trust.

Opening info

• Saturday, 29 April, (10am - 4.30pm), Sunday, 30 April 10am - 4pm) and Monday 1 May, 10am – 4.30pm): Stubbings House, Henley Road, Maidenhead, SL6 6QL. £3.50 adults, children free.

• Sunday, 14 May (2 - 5.30pm): Sandleford Place, Newtown, Newbury, RG20 9AY. £5, children free.

• Sunday, 21 May (2 - 5.30pm): The Old Rectory, Farnborough, nr. Wantage, OX12 8NX. £5, children free.

• Saturday 27 May (2 - 5pm): Cookham Gardens, SL6 9QD. Combined admission £5.50, children free.

• Saturday 27 May, (12 - 4pm). RISC Roof Garden, 35-39 London Street, Reading, RG1 4PS. £3.50, children free.

• Sunday, 28 May (11am - 4:30pm): St Timothee, Darlings Lane, Maidenhead, SL6 6PA. £4, children free.


Great days out

The Berkshire Country Fayre at The Englefield Estate, Englefield, Theale, RG7 5EN on 28 May includes Berkshire Young Farmers’ classes, vintage tractors, funfair, birds of prey, dog show, classic vehicles, plenty of refreshment choices and much more. £7 adults entry, children and conc £4, plus family tickets and dogs welcome on leads. See Berkshire Country Fayre on Facebook.


Newbury Spring Festival

Get tickets now for this superb feast of music, conversation and the arts, including The Sheepdrove Piano Competition – waiting lists are already building for some of the most popular events at venues across the Newbury area. Whether your taste is for orchestral sounds, choirs, swing or Spanish wine tasting at The Vineyard with a guitar recital, there’s something for everyone.



Jazzy Twelfth Night

The Watermill Theatre is staging a new 1920s inspired production of Twelfth Night, directed by Paul Hart, continuing the theatre’s bold approach to Shakespeare, until 6 May. Returning to The Watermill are Victoria Blunt (Benvolio/Maria), Rebecca Lee (Friar/Viola), Lauryn Redding (Nurse/Toby Belch), Mike Slader (Paris/Aguecheek) and Stuart Wilde (Romeo/Sebastian).

The actor-musicians will perform jazz with a modern twist including Duke Ellington, Django Reinhardt and Ella Fitzgerald, fused with an innovative approach to staging. Then Romeo & Juliet opens from 10 May.

Box Office: 01635 46044, see


Let’s Rock The Moor

The 80s retro music festival that draws thousands to Cookham’s Marsh Meadow returns on Saturday, 20 May. Headliners include Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), Howard Jones, Sister Sledge, Tiffany, Kid Creole and the Coconuts and Go West.


Head To Hat For a Feast of Art

The May Bank Holiday weekend will draw many to Henley and Twyford, some returning day after day to take in HAT, The Henley Arts Trail.

The event now in its 12th year will have 32 venues as artists open their studios and offer handmade jewellery, stunning ceramics, beautiful textile pieces, paintings, woodwork and just about every other craft discipline. So even with HAT running from Saturday, 29 April to Monday, 1 May, you may need to plan your route. Fortunately, a handy guide with maps can be downloaded at

It’s hard to choose a favourite, but we must mention Venue 21, ‘Art in the Garden’ at the Big Plant Nursery, Wargrave Road, Twyford. Here, 12 talented artists will be showcasing outdoor sculpture, with pieces displayed amongst the plants in this mature plant nursery. The art will include a life size bronze resin horse, metal sculpture and water features, all designed to add impact, movement and style to gardens. In addition, local artist Sarah Pye will be under cover, demonstrating her unique style of painting inspired by nature.

The nursery will be open as usual and showcasing an inspiring range of plants and topiary.



An Artistic Affair

A new exhibition has opened at Cookham’s Stanley Spencer Gallery and one of the most fascinating works on show is the celebrated portrait of Daphne Charlton, a compelling character who professed to have ‘no inhibitions at all’. She was 18 years younger, and married, when she began an affair with Spencer following his two failed marriages.

The famous Spencer Scrapbook drawings began at the outset of their affair. Daphne features largely, and we can see her going about everyday tasks from dressmaking to cutting Stanley’s nails and Fetching Shoes (on loan from a Private Collection).

The Woolshop 1939 (on loan from Tate) was the first painting to be derived from a Scrapbook drawing. In the picture, high-spirited, curvaceous Daphne is buying wool, assisted by a diminutive Stanley. Their affair ran from 1939 to 1941, but they remained in touch for the rest of his life.

Gallery Trustee and renowned Spencer expert Carolyn Leder, who knew Daphne well and shared her confidences, is the author of the exhibition catalogue (An Artistic Affair: Stanley Spencer and Daphne Charlton, price £8).



Royal Windsor Horse Show

The first of the big events on the calendar runs from 10 to 14 May and is a must for those who love all or any of top class show jumping, carriage driving, dressage, showing and endurance events. And we haven’t even mentioned the sheer spectacle of this Royal event, the evening programmes including the Musical Ride of The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and Musical Drive of The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, let alone the hospitality and shopping!

Once again show organisers are offering free entry to the public on the Wednesday, after which tickets cost from £14 (£10 conc, children £5) depending on when you go and what you want to see, with upgraded tickets (some reserved seating) available, plus Saturday or Sunday £70 family tickets.



Other events

• 6-7 May, Vintage Funfair – Steam Spectacular, Pinkeys Green,

• 7 May, Sponsored Walk, Newbury Rotary Club, Snelsmore Common Country Park, tel: 01635 42027

• 11 May, Newbury Rotary Charity Golf Day, Donnington Valley Golf Club, tel: 01635 254123

• 14 May, Charity Run & Fun Day, Park House School, Newbury, tel: 01635 573911

• 14 May, Family Fun Day, LADD’s Garden Village, Hare Hatch, tel: 07561 421277

• 20 May, Thames Hospice Sunflower Walk, Virginia Water, GU25 4QF, tel: 01753 842121

• 29 May, Yattendon & Frilsham Fete, Village Square, tel: 01635 202096

• 27 May – 1 June, John F Kennedy Anniversary Trail, Runnymede, North Lodge, Windsor Road, Old Windsor, tel: 01784 432891



The Hexagon, Queens Walk, tel: 01189 606060

4 May, Pasha Kovalev: Let’s Dance the Night Away; 5 May, Remembering Fred with Aljaz and Janette; 7 May, The All Star Stand-Up Tour; 8-10 May, Babe, The Sheep-Pig; 11 May, Imelda May; 12 May, Someone Like You: Adele Songbook; 13 May, Elvis Tribute Show; 17-20 May, The Wizard of Oz; 21 May, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra presents Noisy Kids: All Creatures Great and Small; 21 May, RPO with Martin Roscoe

The Mill at Sonning, tel: 01189 698000

Until 6 May, Improbable Fiction; 11 May – 1 July, Don’t Dress For Dinner; 14 May Rick Wakeman; 21 May, The Simon & Garfunkel Story; 25 May, Talk, Tour & Afternoon Tea



The Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, tel: 01635 46044

Until 22 July, Twelfth Night; 10 May-22 July, Romeo & Juliet; 17-20 May, Masquerade; 25 May – 1 July, House and Garden

Corn Exchange Newbury & New Greenham Arts, Market Place, tel: 0845 5218218

6 May, Dutch Swing College Band; 13 May, Black Dyke Band; 13 May, Dr Dees Daughter & The Philosophers Stone; 13 May, Croft & Pearce are Not Themselves; 14 May, Morriston Orpheus Choir; 16 May, Kathryn Tickell & The Side; 17 May, Leo Popplewell; 18 May, Marcel Lucont’s Whine List; 18 May, Ballet Central; 19 May, Bollywood Brass Band; 20 May, Travelling by Tuba; 20 May, Close to You; 23 May, Brian Conley – The Greatest Entertainer (In His Price Range); 25 May, Mark Thomas: Predictable



Theatre Royal Windsor, Thames Street, Tel: 01753 853888

1-6 May, Mindgame; 8 May, The Quo Experience; 9 May, I Remember You! An Intimate Audience with the Legendary Frank Ifield & Friends; 10-13 May, Noel and Gertie; 14 May, Marty Wilde; 15 May, The Rat Pack is Back; 16 May, Chris Dean’s Syd Lawrence Orchestra; 17-20 May, Strictly Murder; 22 May, Hello Again, Neil Diamond; 23 May, Someone Like You, The Adele Song Book; 24-27 May, The Sound of Murder; 28 May, Prince Revelation; 30 May - 3 June, Miss Meena & The Masala Queens



Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Altwood Road, tel: 01183 788660

10 May, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; 11-14 May, NT Live: Obsession; 13 May, Jimmy Lee & The Edge of Chaos Orchestra; 17 May, Octopus; 19 May, Martin Turner; 20 May, Ayesha Hazarika: State of the Nation; 20 May, Brian Conley; The Greatest Entertainer (In His Price Range); 24 May, Belshazzar’s Feast; 24 May, RSC Live: Antony & Cleopatra



South Hill Park, Ringmead, tel: 01344 484123

9-13 May, Boogie Nights: The 70’s Musical; 17-21 May, The Importance of Being Earnest; 20 May, Ian Campbell’s Single-Handed Blues Band

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