Parishes: Uffington

A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1924.

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'Parishes: Uffington', in A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4, ed. William Page, P H Ditchfield( London, 1924), British History Online [accessed 21 July 2024].

'Parishes: Uffington', in A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Edited by William Page, P H Ditchfield( London, 1924), British History Online, accessed July 21, 2024,

"Parishes: Uffington". A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Ed. William Page, P H Ditchfield(London, 1924), , British History Online. Web. 21 July 2024.

In this section


Offentune (x–xi cent.); Offentone (xi cent.); Offinton (xiii cent.); Uffinton (xiv cent.); Offington (xvi cent.).

The ancient parish of Uffington with its chapelries of Balking and Woolstone (fn. 1) covered 6,451 acres in the Vale of the White Horse and on the downs. The land slopes upward from about 250 ft. at the River Ock, the northern boundary of the parish, to an average height of 700 ft. on the downs, the highest point of which is reached at Uffington Castle, 856 ft. above ordnance datum. Corn-brash is found by the River Ock, but the lower slopes of the parish lie chiefly on the Lower Greensand and Gault, with a band of Upper Greensand between this and the chalk down; the soil varies between loam, stone-brash and chalk. Much of the down is now cultivated, 1,461 acres in the parish being arable land (fn. 2); in the Vale the land is chiefly laid down to grass, dairy farming being general. (fn. 3)

The village of Uffington lies at a height of about 280 ft. and is a mile from Uffington Junction on the Swindon branch of the Great Western railway. (fn. 4) It is a large village built about a series of interlacing roads, with the church of St. Mary at the western side of the central loop. Close to the church once stood 'the old farm-house,' locally called the Hall, (fn. 5) where the Rev. Thomas Hughes, D.D., lived as vicar and where his grandson Thomas, author of Tom Brown's Schooldays, passed his early boyhood. (fn. 6) In the large green field west of the church, 'the road to Farringdon. along one side of it, and the brook by the side of the road,' the village feast was held in the middle of the 19th century. (fn. 7) The present school-house was built in 1872; the earlier house, on the south of the church, is a plain rectangular building of chalk on a rubble base, measuring externally 30 ft. by 21 ft. 8 in., with steep-pitched stone-slated roof, patched with tiles. The windows are square-headed and of two lights, and the end gables have stone copings and fleur de lis finials. Over the doorway, which is at the west end of the north wall, is a sunk circular panel with the date 1617 in leaded figures, and on the south side a square panel dated 1634. A stone in the north wall bears an inscription, partially illegible, and the date 1637. The building is now used as a reading room and club. The Congregational chapel was built in 1879, and there is also a Baptist chapel.

From the southern end of the village the Broad Way leads up to the Portway or Icknield Street, and then climbs White Horse Hill. 'There it stands,' wrote Hughes, 'right up above all the rest, nine hundred feet above the sea, and the boldest, bravest shape for a chalk hill that you ever saw. (fn. 8) It is crowned by Uffington Castle, a prehistoric camp, which commands magnificent views 'down on that great Vale spread out as the garden of the Lord. wave on wave of the mysterious downs behind; and to the right and left the chalk hills running away into the distance (fn. 9) traversed by the Ridgway. Just below the rampart of the camp, and on the northwest slope of the hill, the famous White Horse is cut in the turf. (fn. 10) 'Right down below the White Horse,' continued Hughes, 'is a curious deep and broad gully called "The Manger," into one side of which the hills fall with a series of the most lovely sweeping curves, known as "the Giant's Stairs" The other side of the Manager is formed by the Dragon's Hill, a curious little round self-confident fellow, thrown forward from the range and utterly unlike anything round him. On this hill, some deliverer of mankind, St. George the country folk used to tell me, killed the dragon.' (fn. 11) Roman coins have been found in Dragon's Hill; a Romano-British burial-place has been found on the east of the camp, and also Saxon secondary interments. (fn. 12) The village of Woolstone stands close under the down and a little to the north of the Portway; a Roman villa has been found here, and there are various barrows on Woolstone Down. The houses are built along a by-lane from the Portway to Uffington. The ancient chapel of All Saints lies of this main road and close to the Manor Farm. There was a capital messuage here in 1308–9, when mention is made of the stable, kitchen, lord's chamber, garden and dovecot then being rebuilt. (fn. 13) The mill mentioned in 1325 (fn. 14) stood on the site of the present Woolstone Lodge, the residence of Mr. William Joseph Butler, J.P. Hall Place, the home of the Saunders family, stood at the north end of the village. It was pulled down in or about 1850 by Captain Butler, who some eighteen years before had made the present mill and mill-pond close to the old house. (fn. 15)

The village of Balking lies to the north-east of Uffington, and is grouped about a green of about half a mile in length and running roughly north and south. The church of St. Nicholas lies on the green, and the Manor Farm is at some distance to the north. The village school was built in 1877. Balking Grange is the residence of Mr. R. W. Wilson. Balking was anciently a market town, (fn. 16) with a market day on Thursday, which was changed in 1219 to Tuesday; it had, however, ceased to be held before 1792. (fn. 17)


At some time between 924 and 941 the vill of UFFINGTON was granted by Athelstan a 'senator' to the abbey of Abingdon. (fn. 18) Land assessed at 14 hides was held by the house in demesne in 1086, (fn. 19) and afterwards (fn. 20) formed the manor of Uffington, which was conveyed by the last Abbot of Abingdon to the Crown early in 1537–8. (fn. 21) In 1541 it was purchased by John Malt, the king's tailor, (fn. 22) who demised his farm place here to Oliver Hyde in 1545. (fn. 23) Malt left a daughter and heiress Bridget, wife of John Skutt, (fn. 24) to whom the manor descended. (fn. 25) Anthony Skutt was in possession of the manor in March 1577–8, (fn. 26) and in 1588 conveyed it to Thomas Parry, (fn. 27) who made various settlements. (fn. 28) Thomas died seised of the property in 1616, leaving as heirs a great-nephew and nephew, Thomas Knyvett and John Abrahall, (fn. 29) who conveyed their respective shares in 1617 and the spring of 1617–18 to Francis Jones, (fn. 30) alderman of London. (fn. 31) In 1620 Francis and Elizabeth Jones and their son Abraham conveyed the property to Elizabeth Craven, (fn. 32) whose son William was created Viscount Craven of Uffington, and from this time this manor followed the descent of that of Lambourn (q.v.), being now in the possession of the Earl of Craven.

Six hides in Uffington were held of the abbey in 1086 by Gilbert, (fn. 33) possibly the Gilbert de Columbars who held land here and at Hardwell at an early date. (fn. 34) Matthew de Columbars was lord of the fee at the beginning of the 13th century, Henry de Columbars being enfeoffed under him. (fn. 35) Henry was dead by 1258, (fn. 36) and no further mention of the family has been found in connexion with this place. By 1276–7 two-thirds of a knight's fee here were in the. hands of Master Richard de Uffington. (fn. 37) Henry de Tubney in the 13th century also held land here, (fn. 38) which apparently followed the descent of his manor of Tubney. (fn. 39)

The abbey of Westminster held lands in Uffington (fn. 40) from the reign of Henry III; Queen's College, Oxford, owned Oldfelds there, and the monastery of Rewley, near Oxford, had a rent of 2d. in the parish. (fn. 41) In 1288 the Abbot of Abingdon claimed free warren in right of a charter granted by Henry III. (fn. 42)

Five hides in BALKING (Bedelacing, Balking, Bedelakinges, x cent.; Badeleking, Badeking, xii cent.; Baddeleking, Batheleking, xiii cent.; Bauking, xvi cent.; Bawlkin, xvii cent.) were granted by King Edred to Cuthred his servant in 948, (fn. 43) and were said to have been given by him to the abbey of Abingdon. (fn. 44) Before 1187 the lordship had passed into the hands of the lords of Kingston Lisle (fn. 45) (q.v.), the descent of which this manor has followed to the present day. (fn. 46)

In 1086 the Bishop of Winchester held land in WOOLSTONE (Olvrichestone, xi cent.; Wulwricheston, Wluricheston, Wulevycheston, xiii cent.; Wlfricheston, Woulricheston, xiv cent.; Wolierston, Wolston, xvi cent.), which was assessed at 10 hides. (fn. 47) This was already assigned to the support of the monks of the priory of St. Swithun, Winchester, (fn. 48) and from at least the 13th century was in the possession of that house. (fn. 49) The priory retained it (fn. 50) until the Dissolution, when it was granted to Sir Thomas Seymour. (fn. 51) By his attainder in 1549 it reverted to the Crown, and was granted in 1551 to Thomas Weldon of Cookham, one of the masters of the king's household and afterwards cofferer to Queen Elizabeth. (fn. 52) His son William Weldon succeeded him in March 1566–7 (fn. 53) and made various settlements, (fn. 54) possibly in accordance with the trusts established under his father's will. (fn. 55) From William Weldon it passed, probably in 1583, (fn. 56) to Edmund Wiseman. Edmund settled it in February 1597–8 on his son William and his wife. William died in 1603, leaving an infant daughter Elizabeth, and Edmund then made a settlement on Charles Wiseman, his eldest surviving son. (fn. 57) Edmund died in March 1605–6. (fn. 58) Elizabeth received a livery of one-third of the manor in January 1616–17, (fn. 59) and her uncle Charles, who made a settlement of the manor in 1629, (fn. 60) died seised of it in 1635, (fn. 61) leaving a son and heir Edmund, a minor. The latter made a conveyance of the manor, (fn. 62) and was succeeded by a son Edmund. He was holding in 1691, (fn. 63) and on his death without issue in 1694 was followed by his brother William. (fn. 64) Woolstone formed part of the jointure of Elizabeth wife of William Wiseman, but was sold with her consent before August 1712 (fn. 65) apparently to Bartholomew Tipping of Woolley Park. It then followed the descent of Woolley Park (fn. 66) (q.v.), and was inherited by Mary Anne niece and sole heir of Bartholomew Tipping and wife of the Rev. Philip Wroughton, who was in possession in 1805. (fn. 67) They sold it in 1814 to the second Earl of Craven, and it is now the property of the present Earl of Craven. (fn. 68)

In 1538 the reputed manor of HALL PLACE in Woolstone was settled by John George on his son John and his wife Edith. (fn. 69) The younger John George died in February 1538–9, leaving an infant daughter Frideswide, whose custody was in 1542 granted to her stepfather John Wilmot. (fn. 70) Frideswide afterwards married Levencot Hide and obtained livery in 1560. (fn. 71)

Saunders of Woolstone. Party cheveronwise sable and argent with three elephants' heads razed and counter-coloured.

In 1599 John Saunders of Woolstone (fn. 72) died, and was apparently succeeded by Thomas Saunders, who in 1617 settled Hall Place on John his son and heir on his marriage with Margaret daughter of John Evelyn of Godstone, Surrey. (fn. 73) John, who had been admitted to the Middle Temple in 1608, (fn. 74) succeeded his father and died in 1638, leaving a son Thomas, a minor. (fn. 75) This boy apparently died without issue, for in 1664 John son of Thomas Saunders declared that he was nephew of John Saunders, 'a Barester at Law. (fn. 76) John son of Thomas died in 1674 and had a son Thomas Saunders. (fn. 77) The Saunders sold to Thomas Bigg in 1754, who left the property to his brother Rev. Walter Bigg. His son Lovelace succeeded, and took the name of Wither in 1789. Lovelace's son Harris Bigg-Wither sold it to Capt. Butler in 1828, who in 1864 sold Woolstone Farm to the Earl of Craven, but Mr. W. J. Butler retains the rest. (fn. 78)


The church of ST. MARY is a large cruciform building of stone and clunch, but the greater part of the walling is covered externally with rough-cast. With the exception of one window, the upper part of the tower, and some 17th-century restoration, it belongs entirely to the first half of the 13th century, though a small round-headed recess on the south side of the chancel may be a fragment of an earlier building. No other traces of 12th-century work, however, remain, the church having been rebuilt anew from the foundation. The building consists of a chancel 38 ft. by 19 ft., central tower 16 ft. square, north and south transepts each 26 ft. by 19 ft. with 'chapels' or altar recesses on the east side, aisleless nave 51 ft. by 23 ft. 6 in., and south porch with chamber over 12 ft. by 9 ft. 6 in., all these measurements being internal. The total internal length is 113 ft. 6 in., and the breadth across the transepts 76 ft. 6 in., and the walls are 3 ft. thick. The north transept has two eastern 'chapels' and the south transept one, with a doorway and porch at the south end of the east wall. There was formerly a sacristy about 10 ft. square on the north side of the chancel, but this has disappeared, though the doorway and the roof weathering remain. The tower is octagonal above the roof and was originally surmounted by a stone spire.

Plan Of Uffington Church

No alteration has taken place in the plan with the exception of the destruction of the sacristy, and restoration has effected less damage to the fabric than is sometimes the case. A new window was inserted in the south-west corner of the chancel in the 14th century, and after the Reformation the church appears to have been allowed to fall into a state of ruin. It was repaired in 1678. (fn. 79) but the extent of the work then done cannot be precisely stated, though the Churchwardens' Accounts record various payments during the period 1677–9, among them £25 'for the end wall of the church pulling it down and setting it up.' (fn. 80) The old high-pitched roof of the nave seems then to have been taken down and a new flat leaded roof erected, the upper part of the nave windows being altered during the process. (fn. 81) Mention is made of 'setting up the battlements,' paving 'the Ile called S. John Baptist's Ile' (the south transept), and for whiting and plastering the church. The 'steeple' was repaired in 1704 and pointed in 1725, in which year the aisles, or transepts, were again plastered. On 2 December 1740 the spire was 'beat down by a tempest,' (fn. 82) but no record remains of the extent of the damage done. It seems clear, however, that the upper stage of the tower was so badly damaged as to necessitate its rebuilding, and this was carried out in 1742. (fn. 83) The next extensive reparation was in 1812–14, when the leaded roof of the nave was replaced by the present high-pitched slated one, a west gallery erected, and the seats repaired. The chancel and transepts were restored in 1851 by G. E. Street, and the west gallery was probably removed at that period. (fn. 84) Repairs have been carried out from time to time, the last being in 1912, but the church has undergone no systematic restoration and is the more interesting on that account. The roofs are caved and are all covered with old stone slates. The architectural details of the building are exceedingly good, and remains of mediaeval ritual arrangements are numerous.

The chancel is divided into three bays. Each bay was lighted by two original lancets on either side, except the middle bay on the north, which was occupied by the sacristy, where there are two blank lancets forming an arcade. The 14th-century window, which has reticulated tracery, is on the south side of the west bay. The east window consists of a triplet of lancets, the middle light higher than the others. All the lancets have moulded heads and labels springing from shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The capitals of the two middle shafts of the east window are further enriched with foliage. The eastern bay, which forms the sanctuary, is divided from the rest of the chancel by a pointed arch of three chamfered orders springing from wall shafts of three roll mouldings resting on corbels. The shafts have moulded capitals, and the corbels are carved with the head of a king on the north side and a lady on the south. The arch itself above the springing dates only from 1852. The sanctuary was originally vaulted, or intended so to be, the springers of the ribs remaining in the north-east and south-east angles carried on corbelled angle shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The spring of the vault also remains on the east face of the transverse arch, and similar wall shafts between the second and third bays, the corbels of which are carved with small animals' heads. In the north-west and south-west angles of the west bay are shafts similar to those at the east end, but the vaulting, if intended, seems never to have been begun.

The sedilia consist of three seats with moulded trefoil arches springing from detached shafts. The piscina is under a fourth arch of similar detail, the whole forming a very beautiful and unrestored composition. The earlier round-headed recess is further east, and there is a second piscina with a trefoil head in the middle bay to the east of the priest's doorway. This doorway has a pointed arch of two orders, the outer order with a roll moulding between two hollows springing from slender angle shafts with carved capitals, and the inner with a continuous chamfer. In front of the doorway is a shallow gabled porch projecting 14 in. The north doorway to the sacristy has a plain chamfered arch, but is now built up. The chancel roof dates from 1851 and the carved oak reredos from 1902. Part of the lower panelling of the 15th-century rood screen remains on the north side of the opening against the jamb of the chancel arch. (fn. 85) The chancel fittings are modern.

The tower is of three stages above the eaves of the roofs, the lower square stage weathering back at the angles with two octagonal stages above and terminating in an embattled parapet with crocketed angle pinnacles. (fn. 86) On each side of the ground stage are pointed arches of three hollow-chamfered orders, the inner springing from half-round shafts or responds with chamfered bases and moulded capitals, the upper member of which continued forms the impost of the outer orders. In the eastern angles are quarter-round shafts with chamfered bases and moulded capitals from which the outer orders of the north, south and east arches spring. There is a plaster ceiling. Above the roofs the walls of the tower are stripped of roughcast, the older lower stage being of rubble with ashlar dressings. In the lower octagonal stage are four plain louvred lancets, one on each of the cardinal sides, and in the later stage above, which is of dressed stone, four plain pointed openings similarly placed. There is a projecting polygonal newel staircase in the north-west angle carried across the angle of the nave and north transept.

The transepts are lighted by double or triple lancets in the end and west walls with details similar to those in the side windows of the chancel. The two altar recesses in the north transept differ in size, one being 10 ft. 3 in. long, and the other 7 ft. 6 in., the depth in each case from the face of the wall being 5 ft. 6 in. They are separated from the transept by pointed arches of two moulded orders with hood moulds springing from large half-round shafts, or responds, and smaller angle shafts, all with moulded capitals, but only the responds and middle shafts supporting the labels have moulded bases. Externally the 'chapels' have gabled stone roofs and the windows consist of three lights, the heads of which follow the rake of the gable. The jambs and mullions are moulded on both sides and there is a small singlelight window at the north end. The piscinae are in the usual position on the south side of each recess and have moulded trefoil heads. In the north wall of the transept is a large square aumbry divided by a stone shelf and upright into four compartments and rebated for a door, the hinges of which partly remain. Below it is a fine old muniment chest. At the south end of the west wall is a shouldered doorway to the newel stair, now built up. The recess in the south transept is 8 ft. long by 6 ft. in depth, but is otherwise similar to those on the north, except that the hood mould of the arch terminates in a mask, and a large dog-tooth ornament. The mouldings of the piscinae are modern. The south-east doorway stands within a shallow gabled porch, the moulded outer arch of which is almost semicircular and springs from angle shafts with moulded capitals set within moulded jambs. In the gable is a deeply-recessed quatrefoil, the mouldings of which have been restored, and the roof is covered with stone slabs. The doorway is pointed and of two moulded orders, the outer carried on angle shafts with moulded capitals and bases, and the inner continuous. The porch projects 3 ft.

The nave has a triplet of lancets at the west and double lancets at the eastern end of the north and south walls; the lights in the latter are separated by a mullion and originally may have been set within a containing arch. When the 17th-century roof was erected the heads were removed and the windows taken up to the wall-plate, where they now finish with a square head below the eaves. The west wall, if entirely taken down, appears to have been rebuilt with the old materials, but the windows were treated in a somewhat similar manner, the lancet heads being replaced by flat segmental arches at a level with the wall-plate with flat lintels inside. In the north and south windows the internal angle shafts have been lengthened and the capitals raised, but in the west window the capitals have gone. The pointed north doorway is now built up. Above the blocked north door is a large sexfoil window inclosed within a moulded circle, a bold and effective piece of work. The south doorway is of two richly moulded orders, the outer carried on angle shafts with moulded bases and bold conventional foliage in the capitals, and the inner order is continuous. The door is ancient and preserves its original ironwork, which is a good example of the work of the period. The porch is vaulted, the ribs springing from angle shafts with moulded capitals and bases and the outer arch consists of two moulded orders, both springing from shafts with carved capitals and moulded bases, below a moulded label. The gable has a moulded stone coping with two lizard-like animals in the apex, but the walls are rough-casted. Above the doorway is a small shouldered window to the porch chamber with moulded head and jambs, and another, plainer in detail, opens to the nave. Access to the chamber was by a projecting newel stairway in the north-west corner opening from the nave by a shouldered doorway, but the position of the steps was altered when the gallery was erected, an entrance, since built up, being made from the porch. The porch buttresses terminate in gablets and have trefoiled niches on either side of the entrance with pedestals for statues. The east and west walls are blank. In the porch is preserved the lid of a stone coffin bearing a foliated cross. It was found in the churchyard in 1913.

On the exterior of the building are eleven circular moulded panels for metal consecration crosses, the twelfth having probably been on the north wall of the destroyed sacristy. The positions of those remaining are: three below the east window, three at the west end of the nave, one on the south wall of the chancel, one on the north, and one on the south side of the nave, and one on each of the end walls of the transepts. The rivet holes still remain in each panel, the crosses having probably been of bronze or copper. (fn. 87)

The font, pulpit and seating are all modern, but there are some late 15th-century oak benches with carved ends in the north transept, partly made up from pieces of the rood screen.

In the west wall of the south transept is a recessed Jacobean tomb, with painted recumbent figure below a semicircular canopy, to John Saunders of Woolstone, 'justice of Peace and well experienced in ye comon lawes of England,' who died in 1638. The monument, which was erected by his wife, bears also an older brass plate, formerly in the floor of the nave, recording the burial of John Saunders (d. 1599) and Anne his wife. There is also a mural monument in the south transept, erected in 1703, to the Rev. Robert Green, 'minister of this parish 42 years,' who died in 1699. Below the end window of the north transept is a good Renaissance monument with Corinthian columns, entablature and shield of arms to Edward Archer (d. 1603), and a brass plate in the floor of the nave records the burial of Thomas Saunders (d. 1644). The blue stone slab in which the plate is set bears the arms of Saunders with helm, crest and mantling, and there are other inscribed stones in the nave to members of the Saunders and Lockey families. The transepts contain many 18th and early 19th-century tablets. (fn. 88)

The organ stands in the north transept.

Five bells were recast in 1657, (fn. 89) but the present ring of five are all of later date. The oldest, the tenor, was cast by Thomas Rudhall in 1762, the fourth by R. Wells of Aldbourne in 1770, and the treble by James Wells in 1803; the second (1886) and third (1867) are by Mears & Stainbank. (fn. 90) The clock dates from 1910. Another clock of 1613 is preserved in the church.

The silver plate consists of a cup of 1583, with the usual band of leafwork and the maker's mark R.W. within a shield, and a paten of 1879 inscribed, 'In pious memory of Catharine E. Poole 1880.' There are also a plated cup and salver, a pewter flagon inscribed 'C.G., O.L. 1711,' (fn. 91) and a pewter salver inscribed 'Tho. Thatcher & Rich. Gerring Churchwardens 1790.'

The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) baptisms 1654 to 1737, with irregular entries from 1742 to 1761, marriages 1663 to 1701, and burials 1654 to 1701; (ii) burials 1678 to 1744 and in 1748, marriages 1701 to 1737; (iii) baptisms 1760 to 1783, burials 1760 to 1782; (iv) marriages 1754 to 1812; (v) baptisms 1783 to 1812; (vi) burials 1783 to 1812.

The Churchwardens' Accounts begin in 1655 and are continuous.

The church of ST. NICHOLAS, Balking, is a 13th-century structure consisting of chancel 23 ft. 6 in. by 13 ft. 9 in., and nave 51 ft. 9 in. by 18 ft., these measurements being internal.

No change has been made in the plan since the building was erected, except by the addition of diagonal angle buttresses in the 14th century, to which period also belong the two windows on the south side of the nave. The window on the north of the nave is a late 15th-century insertion, but all the chancel windows are original. There is a small modern stuccoed bellcote at the west end, but the building is of the simplest character, though not without architectural interest. There was a restoration in 1889, when a low flying buttress was built against the south wall of the nave at the east end.

The walls are of rubble covered with rough-cast, but the chancel has been stripped, and the roofs are covered with stone slates overhanging at the eaves. The bell-turret has a stone-slated pyramidal roof. Internally all the walls are plastered.

The chancel has an east window of three lancet lights, having internal angle and mid-shafts with moulded capitals and bases and moulded arches. The middle light is higher than the others and the sills slope internally. There are two lancets on the north and two on the south side, placed near the ends of the walls. The sill of the easternmost window on the south side forms a sedile, and in the east jamb is an angle piscina with two moulded arches carried by a circular shaft with moulded capital and base—a very good piece of 13th-century detail. The wall between the chancel and nave goes up only to the height of the side walls (12 ft.), the space above being open. The stairs to the rood-loft, which apparently rested on the wall at this height, are still in situ at the north-west angle of the chancel, but have been built up in the upper part. The chancel arch is of three chamfered orders on the east and two on the west side, the middle order springing at a height of 6 ft. 5 in. from semicircular responds with moulded capitals and bases. On each side of the arch, which is only 4 ft. in width between the faces of the responds, are clumsily cut squareheaded openings in the wall, that on the south side being the wider and of two lights. The roof of the chancel is an ancient plain open-timber one of three bays plastered between the rafters. The floors of the nave and chancel are on the same level.

The nave has north and south doorways 20 ft. from the west end, with a single square-headed window of three cinquefoiled lights on the north side near the east end, and two pointed windows on the south side, one on each side of the doorway, each of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in the head. The south doorway has a pointed arch of a single chamfered order springing from quirked and chamfered imposts, below which the chamfer is continued down the jambs. The north doorway is similar in design, but the impost is carried along the wall a short distance on each side. The west end of the nave is screened off to form a vestry. (fn. 92) The nave roof is of open timber work plastered between the rafters and consists of six bays, the tie-beams being apparently of 17th-century date. They are moulded on the lower edges and have turned spiked pendants. The floor. is flagged and tiled. On the north wall to the east and west of the doorway are remains of paintings, portions of a border in black and red being still clearly distinguishable. There are also remains of red colouring on the north respond of the chancel arch.

The font consists of a plain octagonal stone basin on a short circular stem and base and is probably of the same date as the church. The oak pulpit is a good piece of Jacobean work, hexagonal in plan, with carved and panelled sides, standing on a modern stone base.

At the west end of the nave is preserved a large squared block of stone with chamfered angles, which was formerly fixed against the wall under the east window and may have been part of the support of the original altar slab. (fn. 93)

Plan Of Balking Church

There are no ancient monuments, the oldest being dated 1698. (fn. 94) The turret contains two bells.

The plate consists of a cup of 1583, of the usual type, with floral band round the bowl; a two-handled covered cup without date letter, but with the maker's mark R.A. below a crown, inscribed 'The gift of Mr. Thos. Champion Vintner of London for ye use of ye Chappel of Baulking for Ever, March 23, 172¾,' (fn. 95) and bearing a crest on the lid and bowl; and two patents of 1715 with the same inscription, and maker's mark C.O. There is also a brass almsdish presented in 1880.

The registers begin in 1848, previous to which year they were kept at Uffington.

The church of ALL SAINTS, Woolstone, (fn. 96) consists of a chancel 23 ft. by 14 ft. 6 in., nave 45 ft. 6 in. by 17 ft., and south transept 15 ft. 6 in. by 14 ft. 3 in., all these measurements being internal. There is also a modern vestry on the south side of the chancel.

The building dates from about 1195, but new windows were inserted in the chancel, transept, and north wall of the nave in the early part of the 14th century. The plan, however, apart from the vestry, remains unaltered. At some time in the 18th century the east wall of the chancel was rebuilt in brick and the west window altered, and in modern times a stone bellcote has been erected over the west gable containing one bell. (fn. 97) The church is built of chalk or clunch, with stone quoins and dressings, and the roofs are covered with thin stone slates overhanging at the eaves. The walls, which are without buttresses, were originally rough-casted but are now stripped. The vestry is of brick.

The chancel has a modern pointed window of two lights which in 1914 replaced a single-light roundheaded east window of the same date as the rebuilt wall. There are two pointed windows on either side in the north and south walls, each of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in the head. In the usual position in the south wall is a trefoil-headed piscina, the projecting part of the bowl of which is cut away, and the sill of the easternmost window forms a sedile. Between the windows is a narrow priest's doorway, now opening into the vestry, with semicircular arch of a single chamfered order in six stones springing from quirked and hollow-moulded imposts. Immediately to the west of the opening, now inside the vestry, is an incised sundial. The pointed chancel arch is of two chamfered orders with a billeted hood mould on each side, and springs from large torus imposts which are continued along the wall on either side. On the west the hood mould terminates in modern carved heads, but on the east it rests on the imposts. The roof is a modern boarded one of three bays, and is lower than that of the nave.

Plan Of Woolstone Church

In the north wall of the nave near the east end is an oblong aumbry rebated all round for a door, and in the east wall of the transept near the south end a square-headed piscina placed unusually high, with quatrefoil bowl and wooden shelf above. (fn. 98) The 14th-century window in the nave is rather later in date than those in the chancel, and consists of two cinquefoiled lights with geometrical tracery in the head and moulded jambs and mullion. Near the west end of the nave, north and south, are two original lancet windows. The west window is a squareheaded opening of two lights, probably of 18th-century date. The north doorway has a semicircular arch of two orders with a square billeted hood mould terminating in long dragons' heads. The outer order has a round moulding on the edge, and the inner is carved with zigzag ornament and a small nail-head on the angle, the soffit being plain. The arch springs from quirked and hollow moulded imposts resting on slender nook shafts with carved capitals and moulded bases to the outer order, the inner order having plain chamfered jambs. The south doorway is built up flush with the wall outside and has a pointed arch, but the detail cannot be seen. It may be of 14thcentury date. On one of the quoins at the south-west angle of the nave are the markings of a sundial. The nave roof is modern.

The transept arch is a pointed one of two chamfered orders springing from halfround responds with shallow scalloped capitals and moulded bases. The capitals, which are semicircular on plan, are without abaci, and the arch itself is probably later in date than the responds, the capitals perhaps having been altered when it was introduced. The east and west walls of the transept are blank. The 14th-century window in the end wall is of two trefoiled lights with a trefoiled circle in the head, but is without hood mould.

The font is of great interest, and consists of a circular lead bowl 21 in. in diameter (fn. 99) by 14 in. high, on a circular stone stem and modern base. It is probably not earlier than the 14th century. The bowl is divided by raised vertical bands into a series of compartments, 'each containing a pair of leaves forming a pointed arch,' (fn. 100) across which a series of zigzag lines are carried. A narrow fillet runs round the top of the bowl between the vertical bands with a series of smaller pointed 'arches' in the spaces thus formed. (fn. 101)

The pulpit and all the fittings are modern. There are no monuments. In the chancel are two good brass chandeliers, each of twelve lights, one of them inscribed 'The gift of Thomas Boddeley Printer, of the City of Bath, 1754.' Another plainer one of ten lights is in the nave. The two former belonged originally to Uffington Church, and were sold to Woolstone by a former vicar.

The plate consists of a cover paten of 1581 with the maker's initials H†C and the date '1582' on the button; and a modern plated cup and paten. (fn. 102)

The registers begin in 1848, previous to which year they were kept at Uffington.


The church of Uffington belonged in the 12th century to the abbey of Abingdon, (fn. 103) and in 1343 the abbot obtained licence of appropriation. (fn. 104) The advowson followed the descent of the manor of Uffington until 1620, when it was retained by Francis Jones, who then sold the manor. (fn. 105) The advowson then followed the descent of the manor of Welford (fn. 106) (q.v.), being now in the gift of Captain Archer-Houblon.

The chapels of Balking and Woolstone were dependent on the mother church of Uffington at the Dissolution. (fn. 107) Both were made separate ecclesiastical parishes in 1846, and are in the gift of Captain Archer-Houblon. The chapelry of Woolstone is, however, about to be reconstituted by an Order in Council.


For the school founded by Thomas Saunders see article on schools. (fn. 108) The property consists of 17 a. 2 r. and two cottages and gardens producing £30 a year or thereabouts, which is applied in moieties in aid of the National school and in prizes to school children.

Edward Rushley, as recorded on a tablet in the church, gave £10, one half of the interest to be distributed in bread and the other half in money on St. Thomas's Day. In respect of this charity 10s. is distributed annually out of the church funds on St. Thomas's Day in sixpences to poor widows.

In 1909 Charles Henry Price, by will proved at London 16 August, bequeathed £100 for the benefit of the minister of the Congregational chapel. The legacy is represented by £121 0s. 6d. consols with the official trustees. The annual dividends, amounting to £3 0s. 4d., are under the provisions of a scheme, 13 May 1910, applied in keeping the chapel in repair.


  • 1. Now separate ecclesiastical parishes (see below).
  • 2. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 3. The open fields were inclosed under an award of 1776 (Com. Pleas D. Enr. 19 Geo. III, m. 6, 61).
  • 4. The village lies near no main road and was previously very inaccessible (Hughes, Memories for the Children), yet Edward I passed through Uffington in February 1291 on his way from Andover to Chippenham (Cal. Pat. 1281–92, p. 243; Cal. Close, 1288–96, p. 150).
  • 5. a Inform. from the Rev. Edward M. Hadow.
  • 6. Hughes, Memoir of a Brother, I, 2; Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 7. Hughes, Tom Brown's Schooldays, chap. ii.
  • 8. Ibid. chap. i.
  • 9. Ibid.
  • 10. V.C.H. Berks. i, 188–91. The White Horse lay within the manor of Woolstone until transferred to Uffington in 1776 (Com. Pleas D. Enr. Mich. 19 Geo. III, m. 6, 61). Thomas Baskerville, writing at the close of the 17th century, declared that 'some that dwell hereabout have an obligation upon their lands to repair and cleanse this landmark' (Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiii, App. ii, 297). For the customs, &c., connected with the White Horse see Hughes, The Scouring of the White Horse.
  • 11. Hughes, Tom Brown's Schooldays chap. i. This story was told in 1757 (N. and Q. [Ser. 6], x, 325).
  • 12. V.C.H. Berks. i, 215, 222, 283.
  • 13. Mins. Accts. (Gen. Ser.), bdle. 756, no. 3.
  • 14. Ibid. no. 4.
  • 15. a This and other local information has been kindly supplied by the Rev. Edward M. Hadow.
  • 16. Close, 3 Hen. III, m. 12.
  • 17. Rep. of Royal Com. on Market Rts. and Tolls, i, App. 139–49.
  • 18. Chron. Mon. de Abingdon (Rolls Ser.), i, 69.
  • 19. V.C.H. Berks. i, 341. T. R. E. it was assessed at 40 hides.
  • 20. Chron. Mon. de Abingdon (Rolls Ser.), ii, 125; Rentals and Surv. (Gen. Ser.), R. 713; Feud. Aids, i, 50, 57, 58, 68; Mins. Accts. Hen. VIII, no. 109.
  • 21. Feet of F. Div. Co. Hil. 29 Hen. VIII.
  • 22. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvi, g. 878 (41).
  • 23. Anct. D. (P.R.O.), C 3167.
  • 24. Ld. Rev. Misc. Bks. clxxxvii, fol. 169; Feet of F. Berks. Mich. 1 Eliz.
  • 25. Feet of F. Berks. Mich. 1 Eliz.
  • 26. Pat. 20 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 15; Feet of F. Berks. East. 20 Eliz.; Recov. R. East. 20 Eliz. m. 632.
  • 27. Pat. 31 Eliz. pt. vi, m. 6; Feet of F. Berks. Hil. 31 Eliz.
  • 28. Pat. 32 Eliz. pt. xiv, m. 37; Feet of F. Berks. Mich. 32 Eliz.; Recov. R. Hil. 13 Jas. I, m. 50.
  • 29. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccclvi, 129. Sons respectively of Sir Thomas and Muriel Knyvett and of John and Frances Abrahall.
  • 30. Feet of F. Berks. Trin. 15 Jas. I; Hil. 15 Jas. I.
  • 31. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccccxlvii, 106.
  • 32. Feet of F. Berks. Trin. 18 Jas. I; Cherry, 'Prosapiae Bercherienses,' ii, 569.
  • 33. V.C.H. Berks. i, 341.
  • 34. Chron. Mon. de Abingdon (Rolls Ser.), ii, 5.
  • 35. Anct. D. (P.R.O.), A 8908.
  • 36. Ibid. A 5799. Under Henry William de Parys held a mesne lordship, while tenancies in demesne were held by Adam de Argoges and James de Uffington (Feet of F. Berks. 40 Hen. III, no. 4; 41 Hen. III, no. 1, 38; Anct. D. [P.R.O.], A 7437, 7882; Rentals and Surv. [Gen. Ser.], R. 713).
  • 37. Rentals and Surv. (Gen. Ser.), R. 713.
  • 38. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 121.
  • 39. Harl. Chart. 54 D 28; 58 D 45; Chan. Inq. p.m. 6 Hen. IV, no. 6; 5 Hen. V, no. 34.
  • 40. Deeds at Westm. press 2, shelf 2 (Hen. III, 1677); L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvii, g. 714 (5).
  • 41. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 229, 254.
  • 42. Abbrev. Plac. (Rec. Com.), 217.
  • 43. Birch, Cart. Sax. iii, 24.
  • 44. Chron. Mon. de Abingdon (Rolls Ser.), i, 139.
  • 45. Pipe R. 33 Hen. II, m. 14; cf. Dugdale, Baronage, i, 411.
  • 46. For other freeholds here see Feet of F. Berks. 10 Ric. I, no. 18; 19 Hen. III, no. 7, 8, 34; 30 Hen. III, no. 3; 45 Hen. III, no. 3, 4, 27; 13 Edw. I, no. 1; 34 Edw. I, no. 13.
  • 47. V.C.H. Berks. i, 335. The assessment T. R. E. was 20 hides.
  • 48. Ibid.
  • 49. It is not mentioned in the Pipe R. of the Bishopric of Winchester, 1208–9 (ed. Hall), and in 1284 was quitclaimed by the bishop to the priory (Add. Ms. 29436, fol. 52 d.; Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, p. 288).
  • 50. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 123; Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), 9.
  • 51. Pat. 33 Hen. VIII, pt. viii, m. 29.
  • 52. Ibid. 5 Edw. VI, pt. iii, m. 41; Acts of P.C. 1550–2, p. 423.
  • 53. Exch. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), file 824, no. 1.
  • 54. Ct. of Req. bdle. 59, no. 18; Feet of F. Berks. East. 17 Eliz.; cf. Hil. 20 Eliz.; Pat. 30 Eliz. pt. viii, m. 20; 29 Eliz. pt. iii, m. 44.
  • 55. P.C.C. 5 Babington.
  • 56. Feet of F. Berks. East. 24 Eliz.; Recov. R. East. 25 Eliz. m. 828.
  • 57. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccxc, 107.
  • 58. Ibid.
  • 59. Fine R. 14 Jas. I, pt. i, no. 2.
  • 60. Feet of F. Berks. Trin. 5 Chas. I.
  • 61. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), dxviii, 55.
  • 62. Feet of F. Berks. Trin. 31 Chas. II.
  • 63. Ibid. Mich. 3 Will. and Mary.
  • 64. Cherry, op. cit. i, 456; Recov. R. Hil. 7 Will. III, m. 71.
  • 65. P.C.C. 42 Aston. The sale was probably in 1708 (Feet of F. Berks. East. 7 Anne; Recov. R. East 7 Anne, m. 109).
  • 66. In Chaddleworth, Faircross Hundred.
  • 67. Add. MS. 9410, fol. 263; Lysons, Mag. Brit. i, (2), 257, 391.
  • 68. a Inform. kindly supplied by the Earl of Craven.
  • 69. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), lxiv, 119.
  • 70. Ibid.; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvii, g. 362 (73).
  • 71. Fine R. 2 Eliz. no. 76.
  • 72. P.C.C. 22 Wallopp; Ashmole, Antiq. of Berks. ii, 201. The will of Thomas Saunders, father of John, was proved in 1551 (will in the Rec. of the Archd. of Berks. C 45 and 64).
  • 73. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cccclxxxviii, 107; M. I. in Uffington Church.
  • 74. Middle Temple Rec.: Min. of Parl. ii, 495.
  • 75. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cccclxxxviii, 107.
  • 76. a Visit. of Berks. (Harl. Soc.), i, 277.
  • 77. M. I. in Uffington Church; Visit. of Berks. (Harl. Soc.), i, 277.
  • 78. a Inform. kindly supplied by the Rev. E. M. Hadow, Rev. R. F. BiggWither and Mr. J. Hautenville-Cope.
  • 79. An inscription on the north wall of the nave records 'This church long ruined repaired by Richard Saunders and Thomas Lockey churchwardens in the yeare 1678.'
  • 80. The total amount of the items recorded is £101 16s. 11d.
  • 81. The lead roof is shown in a drawing by G. Sheppard dated 1807 in Beauties of Engl. and Wales.
  • 82. This is recorded in an old Bible in the possession of the Warren family: 'Then was Uffington stepel beat down by a tempas, wind, thunder and liten. Dec. 2nd day 1740.' The spire is shown in an old view of the church.
  • 83. The Churchwardens' Accounts show payments in 1742 and 1746 for 'building the tower and repairing the church': in all £201 1s.
  • 84. For description of the building c. 1835–40 see Arch. Journ. xiiv, 398–9: 'The building is in pretty good order now and fairly kept.' There were then no pews in the nave. A longer description, written prior to the restoration of 1851, is in The Ecclesiologist, xii, 153–6.
  • 85. Ecclesiologist, xii, 156.
  • 86. The embattled parapet and pinnacles are comparatively recent. A drawing of 1807 shows a straight parapet and classic angle ornaments.
  • 87. Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xvii, 84.
  • 88. For the monuments and inscriptions see Ashmole, Antiq. of Berks. (1719), ii, 200–2, and Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xvi, 98–101.
  • 89. Vide Churchwardens' Accounts.
  • 90. The inscriptions are as follows: (1) 'John Thatcher & Ant. Mundy, ChWardens. James Wells, Fecit. 1803'; (2) 'Mears and Stainbank Founders London 1886. Laus Deum Verum Plebem voco Congrego clerum. H. P. Gurney, Vicar. Isaac Wheeler, Geo. Jeffries, Churchwardens'; (3) 'Mears and Stainbank, Founders, London. This bell presented by Jas. Warren, Merchant, of London, to the Parish of Uffington. H. P. Gurney, vicar, 1867. John Thatcher, Isaac Wheeler, Churchwardens'; (4) 'James Mundy Churchwarden. R. Wells, of Aldbourne Fecit MDCCLXX'; (5) 'Mr. John Lockey & Wm. Mundy Churchwardens. T. R. 1762.' Since the above was written the tenor, fourth and treble have been recast (1914).
  • 91. The initials, which are on the handle, are those of the churchwardens, Charles Garrard and Oliver Lockey.
  • 92. The screen is a modern one in memory of the Rev. T. A. Morley.
  • 93. Parker, Eccl. Topog. Berks. (1849), 70; Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xii, 88. The stone is 22 in. by 11½ in. by 16½ in. in height, the front angles only being chamfered.
  • 94. It is to the memory of Robert Grove (d. 1698) and bears his arms. It is on the north side of the nave. There are also mural tablets in the nave to George Champion (d. 1722), Thomas Champion (d. March 1723–4), the donor of three pieces of plate, and Robert Grove (d. 1758). In the chancel is a tablet to the Rev. Francis Rose, incumbent (d. 1870).
  • 95. This is the date of his death; see tablet in nave.
  • 96. a By an Order in Council now under consideration Woolstone will become a chapelry of Uffington.
  • 97. This is described in 1849 as 'lately' built (Eccl. Topog. Berks. 69). There was one bell in 1783. The turret, therefore, would seem to replace an earlier one. For description of the church c. 1835–40 see Arch. Journ. xliv, 401.
  • 98. The height from the floor to the side is 4 ft. 10 in. The opening is 22 ft. high by 16 in. wide.
  • 99. The diameter at the bottom is 18 in.
  • 100. Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. xvi, 69.
  • 101. These upper and lower pointed arches are sometimes referred to as representing the clearstory and nave windows of a church, and some writers see in the whole of the ornamentation the structure of an early wooden building. 'Two perpendicular bars depict the upright beams of the walls; four thwarts, for strength, slant in opposite directions; a row of twelve pointed windows above a narrow fillet portrays the clerestorey; thirteen windows below light the nave, and one arch for the doorway rests on the ground line' (Wall, Porches and Fonts, 280).
  • 102. With the list of church plate given in Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Journ. ix, 121, has been included a silver porringer, which is the private property of Capt. Butler, and never belonged to the church. In 1783 there was one 'old small silver cup with cover.' The cover is probably the one still remaining, but the cup is gone. The marker's mark H.C. occurs elsewhere in 1579 (Cripps, Old Engl. Plate, 457).
  • 103. Chron. Mon. de Abingdon (Rolls Ser.), ii, 150. The fabric was said to have been raised by the Abbot Faricius (1100–17).
  • 104. Cal. Pat. 1343–5, p. 51; cf. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 155. Salisbury Cathedral had a pension of 10s. from the church (ibid. 229); Feet of F. Div. Co. East, 29 Hen. VIII.
  • 105. See above.
  • 106. See above, p. 118; Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.); cf. Feet of F. Berks. Mich. 23 Chas. I; Trin. 19 Chas. II; Trin. 34 Chas. II.
  • 107. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 155.
  • 108. V.C.H. Berks. ii, 281.