Walking history – Chapel Street

Chapel Street, which forms part of the A4, is often overlooked for its history and yet it is full of items from the medieval to the present.

Starting from the West (the Broadway) end there are the often forgotten milestone and water pump. Milestones were placed on turnpiked roads and this stretch being turnpiked sometime in the late 18th century. This milestone reads 3 miles to Newbury, 14 to Reading and 53 to London.

The water pump was the village pump. It is not known how old this pump is but bears the mark of Edwards and Godding Ltd, Newbury which was established c.1790, possibly replacing an earlier pump. Houses numbered 4 to 16 were all built in the late 18th or early 19th century. The Wesleyan Methodist met in the High Street, at the house of William Newman. In 1832 a plan was made to convert an old brush turnery in Chapel Street into a chapel. The building was converted and in use by summer 1834. However you could not see this from the road as there were cottages in front of it and access was through a small passage. The cottages were purchased and demolished, replaced with a lawn and trees.

Further along are the Thatched cottages which are generally believed to be 17th century although there is evidence they might go back to the 15th or 16th century. Originally built of wattle and daub although much has now been replaced by brick.

Towards the East end there a chapel was built and was open for services in 1304. At this time it was referred to as the “Chapel of the Borough” and it is believed it may have been called “St Thomas’s Chapel.”

In 1910 the British School in Church Lane had become successful but it no longer met the requirements of the Department of Education and there was little room to make required improvements. Thus a new school was built. The British School closed at the start of Easter weekend 1913 and the Council School opened the following week with Horatio Skillman as the headmaster assisted by Miss Hettie Peters, Miss Eleanor Pinnock, Miss Rhoda Pearce, Miss Kate Ashman and Miss Mayors.

For more information and places in Chapel Street please visit https://www.thatchamhistoricalsociety.org.uk/history/walking-history-chapel-street/.