Northern Wokingham, centred on Ashridge, was, archaically, a detached part of Wiltshire. This area extended well into the town centre (and the area currently where the Dowlesgreen, Norreys and Bean Oak estates currently are situated) until transferred to Berkshire in 1844. The ancient parish was divided in 1894 into urban and rural civil parishes, Wokingham Without forming the latter.
Wokingham was one of the boroughs left unreformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and was reformed subsequently in 1883. Wokingham merged with the Wokingham Rural District in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972 to form the non-metropolitan district of Wokingham, which has been a unitary authority area since 1998. It consists of 54 elected councillors and is presided over by one councillor who is elected annually to be the Chairman of the Council. The Borough Council Offices are based at Shute End in the town of Wokingham.
A successor parish continued in existence in Wokingham and is governed by Wokingham Town Council. The council is elected every four years and consists of twenty-five councillors representing Emmbrook, Evendons, Norreys and Wescott, the four wards of the town. Every year, they elect one of their number as Mayor. The present town hall was erected in 1860 on the site of the guildhall.
Wokingham is on the Emm Brook in the Loddon Valley in central Berkshire situated 33 miles (53.1 km) from Central London. It sits between Reading and Bracknell and was originally in a band of agricultural land on the western edge of Windsor Forest. Suburbs include Emmbrook, Matthewsgreen, Dowlesgreen, Woosehill, Limmerhill and Eastheath. Older names include Woodcray and Luckley Green.
The soil is a rich loam with a subsoil of sand and gravel.
Wokingham currently consists of the town centre, with main residential areas radiating in all directions. These include Woosehill to the west, Emmbrook to the northwest, Dowlesgreen, Norreys, Keephatch and Bean Oak to the east and to the south Wescott and Eastheath.
Much of Wokingham has been developed over the past 80 years. Woosehill and Dowlesgreen were built on farmland in the late 1960s and early 70s, along with Bean Oak. Keephatch was built in the early 90s. The Norreys Estate was built in the 1960s; however, Norreys Avenue is the oldest residential road in that area, having been built in the late 1940s as emergency housing following the Second World War. Norreys Avenue has a horseshoe shape and occupies the site of the demolished Norreys Manor. Much of the road contains 1940s-style prefabricated houses, although there are some brick houses along with three blocks of 1950s police houses.
Train services to Reading, London Waterloo and Gatwick Airport run from Wokingham railway station.
Most local bus services are provided by First Group but the Sunday and Bank Holiday services from Wokingham to Reading are operated by Courtney Coaches.
Wokingham is served by four state secondary schools. The Emmbrook School and St Crispin's School are mixed-sex comprehensive schools, both of which have specialist status as Maths and Computing Colleges. The Holt School, founded in 1931 in the Dower House of Beche's Manor, is a girls' school and is a specialist Language College. The Forest School is a boys' school and is a specialist Business and Enterprise College. It is in Winnersh but it shares the same catchment area as the Holt and the majority of the pupils are from Wokingham. A small number of Wokingham pupils gain places at Reading School and Kendrick School, the two single-sex grammar schools in Reading.
The private school Luckley-Oakfield School, founded at Luckley House Ludgrove School, moved to Wixenford House in 1937 Bearwood College, actually at Sindlesham, but often referred to as being in Wokingham White House Preparatory School , for girls aged 2-11
In the 1860's the Walter family, who then owned the Times newspaper, created Queensmere, an 11 acre lake in part of a 43 acre valley area through which the River Emmbrook flowed. This land is pine, heather and rhododendron country on the edge of the Bagshot Sands and a few miles from the former Walter estate at Bearwood.