A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.
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The parish of Woolhampton contains about 719 acres of land, of which 54 are arable, 483 under permanent grass and 47 woods and plantations. (fn. 1) It lies to the north-west of Aldermaston, between Midgham and Beenham, and the River Enborne forms part of its southern boundary. A large part of the parish to the south of the village is marshland, liable to floods, but to the north the ground rises and the country is pleasantly wooded. The soil is alluvium and London Clay, with a strip of the Reading Beds close to the village. The common lands were inclosed in July 1811. (fn. 2) Midgham station on the Great Western railway is in Woolhampton.
The village of Woolhampton stands at the western edge of the parish, on the road from Newbury to Reading and close to the banks of the River Kennet. It contains some old brick and timber houses. Woolhampton House, the residence of Captain Count Dudley Beaumont Gurowski, is a plain brick structure. There are a few other large houses, some of them recently built. The church of St. Peter stands on a hill to the north of the village, and next to it are the schools. The vicarage appears to be a modernized Elizabethan house. The Gill Campbell Hall is used as a club for the working men of the village; it was built in memory of the Rev. Gill Campbell, formerly curate of this parish, by Miss Blyth, who also gave the drinking fountain here to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee.
Douai Abbey and College, formerly St. Mary's College, was founded in 1833 as a Roman Catholic school, but after the expulsion of the Benedictines from Douai in 1903 by the French Government it was taken over by that order, who there re-established their abbey and abbey school. The college has since been rebuilt and greatly enlarged.
The manor of WOOLHAMPTON belonged to Godric the Sheriff in the time of Edward the Confessor, (fn. 3) and in 1086 was in the possession of Henry Ferrers, (fn. 4) whose descendants held it in demesne or overlordship until 1266. (fn. 5) When Robert Ferrers, sixth Earl of Derby, forfeited his lands for rebellion in that year, the overlordship of Woolhampton seems to have been granted with his other possessions to Edmund Earl of Lancaster, (fn. 6) whose grandson Henry Earl of Derby and Duke of Lancaster died seised of it in 1361. (fn. 7) There is apparently no further mention of the overlordship, which must have passed to the Crown on the accession of Henry Duke of Lancaster to the throne as Henry IV.
The manor of Woolhampton was granted to the Prior and brethren of the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem before 1159 (fn. 8) by Robert Ferrers, second Earl of Derby, whose gift was confirmed by King John in his charter of 1199. (fn. 9) The Hospitallers are described about the same time as holding a moiety of Woolhampton of the gift of Geoffrey de Hostreville. (fn. 10) Possibly the latter was co-tenant of the Ferrers fee with the predecessor of Henry de Chequers (see below). In 1227 the prior of the Hospitallers, Robert de Diva, agreed that the moiety of Woolhampton held by Henry de Chequers should do suit of court at the hundred of Reading, in return for which the abbot, Adam of Lathbury, quitclaimed to the prior all his right to suit and service from the other half together with his right to fines and the goods of fugitives. (fn. 11) The Knights Hospitallers remained in possession of the manor of Woolhampton until the Dissolution. (fn. 12)
In 1544 Henry VIII granted the lands of the hospital in Shalford and elsewhere to William Wollascott, (fn. 13) who afterwards obtained from Queen Elizabeth licence to alienate them to Thomas Farmer and Edmund Plowden. (fn. 14) This alienation, however, appears to have been made only for the purpose of a settlement, as William Wollascott the younger was in possession of both Shalford and Woolhampton in 1613, (fn. 15) and the manors followed the descent of the manor of Brimpton until 1906, (fn. 16) when Woolhampton was bought from Mr. James Blyth, then lord of the manor, by a syndicate. The property is now being developed for building purposes.
In 1227 Henry de Chequers had a holding in Woolhampton, which had previously belonged to Roger Panculf, (fn. 17) as under-tenant of Ferrers. His son and heir Ralf de Chequers died seised of the estate before 1286, (fn. 18) leaving as co-heir his daughter Katherine the wife of William Hawtrey (fn. 19); her share was settled in that year upon William and Katherine and their children with remainder to William's son and namesake. (fn. 20) Thomas was the son and heir of this second William, (fn. 21) but the estate appears to have passed to Ralf Chenduit, son apparently of Agnes Chenduit, co-heir of Ralf de Chequers. (fn. 22) The property seems to have afterwards passed to Sir Thomas de Sibthorpe, (fn. 23) clerk, who granted land described as a twentieth of a knight's fee and rents in Woolhampton in 1341 to the Prior and brethren of St. John in exchange for rents in Sibthorpe and the advowson of the church there. (fn. 24) In the following year, when the living of Sibthorpe fell vacant, the prior tried to evade his share of the agreement, but Thomas brought an action against him in the court of King's Bench and recovered the presentation. (fn. 25) The tenements in Woolhampton granted by Sibthorpe were held of the Earl of Derby by the service of one-twentieth of a knight's fee, and were worth, together with a rent which he also gave, 8 marks yearly. (fn. 26) It seems clear, however, that what the Hospitallers came into possession of was the quarter of a fee which had belonged to Ralf Chenduit, for the prior was said to be holding this in 1428. (fn. 27) It was amalgamated with the other lands of the Hospitallers in Woolhampton.
A messuage and 2 virgates of land in Woolhampton were held of the Prior of St. John of Jerusalem (fn. 28) in 1390 by Simon Godewyne, who in that year released his right in them to William Fauconer. (fn. 29) In 1458 the property was settled on Margaret (Fauconer) the wife of Robert Fitz Elis or Physeles, (fn. 30) who died seised of the property in 1469, leaving as her heir her granddaughter Sibyl the wife of George Ingilton. (fn. 31) Sibyl was succeeded by Robert Ingilton, perhaps her son, (fn. 32) who died in 1503, leaving a widow Anne and a daughter and heir Joan. (fn. 33) The descent of his holding in Woolhampton after this date is unknown.
There was another manor in Woolhampton, not entered in Domesday Book, (fn. 34) which was held in the 13th century by William Revel of Robert Achard by service of half a knight's fee. (fn. 35) It seems to have passed to Ellis de St. Albans, rector of Wethersfield, before 1331, in which year it was valued at £20. (fn. 36) It was then said to be held of the Abbot of Reading, (fn. 37) but this was perhaps a mistake, as the overlordship, if this estate be the same, would have descended in the Achards and Delamares, (fn. 38) the heirs of the last Robert Achard of Aldermaston. The half fee of Ellis de St. Albans was held in 1428 by John Delamare, (fn. 39) who possibly belonged to a younger branch of the Delamares of Aldermaston. (fn. 40) After this date its history becomes obscure, but it possibly reverted to the elder branch of Delamare at John's death, (fn. 41) and descending to Sir Humphrey Forster became amalgamated with his lands in Woolhampton.
A certain small holding in Woolhampton, which seems to have formed part of the manor of Wasing, (fn. 42) was granted between 1257 and 1262 by Walter atte Northwelle to Giles Bishop of Salisbury, (fn. 43) and passed before 1282 into the possession of the hospital of St. Nicholas by Salisbury. (fn. 44) The hospital further obtained, early in the 14th century, a grant of land called 'le Fleyhelne' which John de Binfield, the son of Walter, had granted to Richard de Herteland, chaplain, and Henry the son of Peter. (fn. 45) These lands continued in the possession of the hospital until the Dissolution, (fn. 46) and were granted in 1543 by Henry VIII to Sir Humphrey Forster together with Wasing Manor, (fn. 47) the descent of which (q.v.) they have followed since that date. (fn. 48) The present owner is Mr. William Arthur Mount of Wasing Place.
A park at Woolhampton belonged in 1304 to John Drokensford, afterwards Bishop of Bath and Wells. (fn. 49) Possibly he held the estate which in 1331 was in the hands of Ellis de St. Albans (see above).
The church of ST. PETER was rebuilt in 1857, the nave walls of the old church being encased in the present walls. It consists of a chancel, north vestry, nave, and north and south transepts. There is a wood and stone south porch and over the west gable is a small wood bell-turret with a shingled spire.
There are three bells, the tenor being of preReformation date and having the marks of the Workingham foundry; the second is inscribed in black letter 'Gloria in excelsis Deo' with the initials W.K. 1585, the founder being William Knight of Reading; the third is by Thomas Mears & Son, 1805.
The registers previous to 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms, marriages and burials from 1626 to 1747; (ii) marriages from 1754 to 1800; (iii) baptisms from 1769 to 1812, with an inset from 1760 to 1790; (iv) marriages from 1801 to 1812.
There was a church in Woolhampton in 1291, valued at £4 13s. 4d. (fn. 50) The advowson belonged to the Prior and brethren of St. John of Jerusalem, who retained it until the Dissolution, (fn. 51) at which time the rectory was said to be worth yearly £7 17s. 6d. (fn. 52) The patronage was given by the Crown to William Wollascott, (fn. 53) and subsequently followed the descent of the manor until 1906, (fn. 54) when it was in the possession of Miss Blyth, who gave it before 1910 to the Church Pastoral Aid Society. (fn. 55)
Richard Jeyes's charity, founded by will proved in the P.C.C. 5 February 1649, and indenture of feoffment 1 August 1659, consisted originally of a meadow in Sulhamstead Abbots called Mead Lands, the rent and profits being applicable in the proportion of twothirds to the poor of Woolhampton and one-third for poor widows living in the almshouses of St. Mary at Reading.
By the Award under the Inclosure Act of George III certain allotments were made in respect of the trust property. In 1848 the whole of the real estate was taken by the Berkshire and Hampshire Railway Company, and the trust funds belonging to this parish are now represented by £1,707 5s. consols with the official trustees, producing £42 13s. 4d. a year.
In 1811 Mrs. Hannah Cottingham, by will, bequeathed a sum of £80 in trust, the dividends to be applied at Christmas for the benefit of the poor. The legacy is represented by £74 18s. 1d. consols with the official trustees, producing £1 17s. 4d. a year.
In 1864 the Countess of Falmouth, by will proved 26 May, bequeathed the sum of £666 13s. 4d. Bank or 3 per cent. annuities, the dividends to be given to increase the salary of the schoolmistress of the school then used as the parish school. The same testatrix also bequeathed the sum of £500 like annuities, the dividends to be applied for the benefit of the deserving poor of the parish of Woolhampton, to be selected by the rector on the anniversary of her death, 1 May. The above sums are with the official trustees, making a total of £1,166 13s. 4d. consols, producing an income of £16 13s. 4d. for the purpose of education and £12 10s. to be distributed among the poor.
The Gill Campbell Memorial Hall was erected in 1896 on land given by Miss Charlotte Celina Blyth, to be used for ever for the purposes of evangelistic and religious meetings, and also for a club room and reading room for working men and for parish council meetings. The donor also by the deed of grant dated 21 August 1896 (enrolled) declared the trust of a sum of £1,160 consols, which she had transferred into the names of the trustees by way of endowment. The annual dividends amount to £29, which is absorbed in the maintenance of the premises.