Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for NEWBURY

NEWBURY, a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Berks. The town stands on the river Kennet, at its junction with the Kennet and Avon canal, and on the Reading, Hungerford, and Bradford branch of the Great Western railway, 17 miles W by S of Reading. Itoriginated in the Roman station Spinæ, and was builtout of the ruins of that station, on a neighbouring site, under the name of Newbyrig. Spene is mentioned in acharter by King Kenwulf to the Saxon abbot Bethmeein 821; two villages, called Spone and Bagnor, were on the site of the original Spinæ at Domesday; and the places called Speen and Speenhamland, now adjacent to Newbury, perpetuate the ancient name. The manor was given, by William the Conqueror, to Ernulph de Hedin; passed to the Marshalls of Hampstead-Marshall, the Bigods, and others; and was given, as a jointure, to Queen Jane Seymour and to Queen Anne of Denmark. A castlewas built at Newbury by some early owner of the manor; and is recorded by Hollingshed to have been besieged and taken by King Stephen. King John, while residing at Kingsclere parish, often visited Newbury; and he is said, in an ancient ballad, to have been conce aled in the house of an old spinning-woman here, when he fled from his insurgent barons. The town, in 11 Edward III., sent three deputies to a great council of trade held at Westminster; and, during the times of Henry VII. and Henry VIII., it rose to high eminence as a seat of broad-cloth manufacture. John Winchcombe, commonly called Jack of Newbury, one of its cloth manufacturers, whokept 100 looms at work, marched at the head of 100 ofhis workmen, equipped at his own expense, to aid in resisting the Scottish invasion which terminated at thebattle of Flodden; gave entertainment, in Newbury, after his return, to Henry VIII.; procured, afterwards, from the King, some privileges on behalf of the Newbury manufacturers; and is commemorated both in a ballad called the " Newberrie Archers, " and in a brass of1519 in the parish church. Christopher Shoemaker was burnt at Newbury, in 1518, for reading the Gospelsto a listener; and Julius Palmer, a fellow of Magdalene College, Oxford, was burnt, in 1556, at a place called the Sand Pits, ¼ of a mile from Newbury. Two sanguinary battles were fought in the vicinity of the town, during the civil wars of Charles I.; the first, in 1643, on a common called the Wash; the second, in 1644, in thefields between Newbury, Speen, and Shaw. Threetumuli, covering the remains of the slain, still exist on the Wash battlefield; and chain-shot, cannon-balls, and other relics of the fight are still occasionally found. The astronomer F. Baily was a native of Newbury; and the Marquis of Cholmondeley takes from the town the title of Baron.

The town stands in a fertile valley, amid pleasant environs; consists mostly of broad and well-paved streets; and presents a solid and quiet appearance. The soil beneath it is part of a bed of peat, not more than ½ a milewide, but many miles long, and abounding in curiousgeognostic remains; and this soil, being of an elasticnature, occasions a perceptible vibration in the houseswhen any heavy waggon passes along the streets. Aneat stone bridge takes the principal thoroughfare acrossthe Kennet. The town hall, or mansion-house, over themarket-place, contains a picture by Price of the surrender of Calais, and a portrait allegedly of Jack of Newbury, but really of his son. The corn exchangewas built in 1862, at a cost of £6, 500; is a handsome and commodious building in the Italian style; presentsa front of Bath stone, with Corinthian pilasters; measures160 feet in length, 50 in width, and 50 in height; and has an iron roof, glazed with Hartley's rough glass. The literary and scientific institution contains a good library; and a museum in connexion with it contains a geological collection from the peat deposit around the town, and a collection of other curiosities both local and general. The parish church, or St. Nicholas' church, is later English, and spacious; has a fine tower, said to have been built by Jack of Newbury; and, in the chancel portion, both externally and internally, was recently restored. Two rectors of this church were the famous non-conformist W. Twiss and the poet Penrose. St. John's church was built in 1860; is of red brick with stonedressings, in the decorated English style; consists of nave, N aisle, and chancel, with bell-turret; and has large Eand W windows, filled with stained glass. There are chapels for Independents, Baptists, Quakers, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, and Unitarians; a free school, national schools, a British school, and a Wesleyan school; and no fewer than about 84 alms-houses, supported by endowments of aggregately about £3, 500. St. Bartholomew's hospital supports the free school and 24 of the alms-houses; includes a chapel, called the Litten; is an ancient foundation, said to have been chartered by King John; and has an endowed income of £900.

The town has a head post-office, ‡ a railway station with telegraph, two banking offices, and two good hotels; and is a seat of sessions, and a polling-place. A weeklymarket is held on Thursday; fairs are held on Holy Thursday, 5 July, 4 Sept., and 8 Nov.; an annual woolmarket, begun in 1862, is held on 30 June; and anannual hiring-market is held on the Thursday after old Michaelmas day. The cloth trade is extinct; and atrade in corn, malt, silk-manufacture, and paper-making is now carried on. The town sent members to parliamentin the time of Edward I., but not afterwards; it is a municipal borough by prescription, and was first chartered by Elizabeth; and it is governed, under the newact, by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors. Its limits, as a borough, are conterminate with the parish. Real property, £23, 808; of which £220 are in gas-works. Pop. in 1851, 6, 574; in 1861, 6, 161. Houses, 1, 342. The head living is a rectory, and the living of St. Johnis a p. curacy, in the diocese of Oxford. Value of theformer, £380; * of the latter, £170. Patron of both, the Bishop of Oxford. The principal seats in the neighbourhoodare Highclere Castle, the Earl of Carnarvon; Hampstead Park, the Earl of Craven; Benham Park, formerly the Earl of Craven and the Margrave of Anspach, now R. Sutton, Esq.; Barton Court, formerly Lord Amesbury, now Capt. Isherwood; Sandleford Priory, formerly Lord Rokeby, now W. P. Chatteris, Esq.; Cannon Park, Lord Bolton; Woolhampton House, J. Blyth, Esq.; Shaw House, H. R. Eyre, Esq.; and Donnington Priory, formerly the Cowslads, now the Rev. T. Hubbard.

The sub-district contains the parishes of Newbury, Sandleford, Enborne, Hampstead-Marshall, and Newtown-near-Newbury, the last electorally in Hants. Acres, 6, 521. Pop., 7, 193. Houses, 1, 570. The district comprehends also the sub-district of Speen, containing the parishes of Speen, Shaw-cum-Donnington, Chieveley, Boxford, and Welford; and the sub-district of Thatcham, containing the parishes of Thatcham, Woolhampton, Brimpton, and Wasing. Acres, 42, 956. Poor-rates in 1863, £14, 505. Pop. in 1851, 20, 815; in 1861, 19, 999. Houses, 4, 409. Marriages in 1863, 127; births, 666, of which 47 were illegitimate; deaths, 423, of which130 were at ages under 5 years, and 13 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1, 431; births, 6, 107; deaths, 4, 300. The places of worship, in 1851, were 21of the Church of England, with 2, 843 sittings; 5 of Independents, with 1, 565 s.; 5 of Baptists, with 772 s.; 1of Quakers, with 150 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 220 s.; 8 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 1, 553 s.; 8 of Primitive Methodists, with 1, 432 s.; 1 of Brethren, with 70 s.; 2undefined, with 150 s.; 1 of Latter Day Saints, with200 s.; and 2 of Roman Catholics, with 500 s. The schools were 22 public day-schools, with 1, 991 scholars; 32 private day-schools, with 817 s.; 28 Sunday schools, with 2, 513 s.; and 1 evening school for adults, with 132 s. The workhouse is in Newbury; and, at the census of 1861, had 202 inmates.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Newbury CP/AP       Newbury SubD       Newbury PLU/RegD       Berkshire AncC
Place: Newbury

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