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History Month Fact 8: Bluecoats School

St. Thomas Chapel, the “chapel of the borough”, is built in 1304AD at East Street, now Chapel Street, financed by Sir Richard de Fokerham of Colthrop. It will later become the Bluecoat School and is Thatcham's oldest remaining building after the church of St. Mary’s, and the only grade 1 listed building in Thatcham. The building has been used as a chapel, a school and an antiques shop. You can find out more about this chapel at www.oldbluecoatschool.org.uk...Read more

History Month Fact 7: Domesday

The Domesday book shows that Thatcham is the centre of a royal estate of five manors; Thatcham, Midgham, Greenham, Crookham and Colthrop. As a royal estate it pays no taxes. The Domesday entry for Thatcham records demesne lands as two hides and land for 25 ploughs, 35 villeins and 12 cottagers, with 25 ploughs between them; 12 houses of freemen worth 55/- rental per annum, two mills worth 22/6d per annum, 147 acres of meadow and woodland providing pannage for 60 hogs. The church of the manor is held by two clerics with three hides which are worth £3. Thatcham's total value is £34...Read more

History Month Fact 6: St. Mary’s Church

St. Mary’s Church is believed to have originally been built on the site of a Saxon Church dating from the mid seventh century. This would have been a wooden structure, probably pulled down before being rebuilt in stone by the Normans. Largely restored in the nineteenth century, the main archway in to the church is the most visible Norman feature that can be seen today. More information available on the St. Mary’s church website at www.stmarysthatcham.org.uk .Read more

History Month Fact 5: Heros

In more recent times the people of Thatcham have been justly proud of three men of the village, two of them brothers, who won the Victoria Cross for gallantry in action. In 1900AD, William House received the award for rescuing a wounded soldier while under enemy fire during the Boer War. In 1915AD, Alexander Buller Turner was mortally wounded in a single-handed grenade attack upon a German position. His medal was awarded posthumously. During the Second World War, his brother Victor was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in the field while commanding a battalion of the Rifle Brigade with...Read more

History Month Fact 4: Francis Baily

One of Thatcham’s best known celebrities is the world famous astronomer Francis Baily, who was born on the 28th April 1774 in Newbury, but having strong ties with Thatcham. He braved many hazards charting huge tracks of unexplored land in America, later returning home to become a successful stockbroker. His interest in astronomy led him to take a prominent part in the foundation of the Astronomical Society, of which he held various posts including Secretary, Vice President and President. He also held posts in the Royal Society. He died in Italy in 1844AD, and was buried at his own request, in...Read more

History Month Fact 3: Black Death

The people of Thatcham suffered terribly during the period of the bubonic plague, better known as the Black Death, which struck between 1348 and 1350AD. Almost the total population of the Manors of Greenham and Crookham perished. In Crookham the customary tenants (tenants of land held by custom and not by the will of the lord) all die and the land lies useless and uncultivated. Thatcham and Newbury were similarly afflicted.Read more

History Month Fact 2: Prosperity

Thatcham reached the peak of its medieval prosperity around 1300AD and it was possibly granted a borough charter by King Edward I though there is no longer any record of this. Certainly during the reign of King Edward III (1327-1377) it was classed as one of the four boroughs of Berkshire, the others being Windsor, Wallingford and Reading.Read more

History Month Fact 1: Occupation

There is evidence of occupation within Thatcham dating back to 7500BC. This period of history is known as the Mesolithic or Middle Stone age. Indeed evidence exists throughout the area for most periods including the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman Occupation and on through to modern times.Read more

Old Maps

We have recieved several enquiries asking about maps of Thatcham and the surrounding area. This seems to be a hot topic at present and so a few pointers. If possible you should try you local Museum ( West Berkshire Museum ) and Libraries ( Newbury and Thatcham ) and then the Ordnance Survey . Alternatively, there are various services and websites that will provide you with histoical maps. One of these is Cassini . Again they have various versions, perhaps the most useful of which is the Past and Present maps which for Newbury and Thatcham show four maps ranging from 1817 to the present.Read more

Thatcham, Berks, and its manors

I wrote a post on my personal site, nickbits.co.uk , that some of the Society website visitors may like to read: Most of you know that I love my history, especial local and ancient. The book I am reviewing this week is 110 years old, written in 1899 by Samuel Barfield and in my opinion is the best reference material for the history of Thatcham. The full title of the book is " Thatcham, Berks, and its manors. " The author passed away before having it published and so James Parker arranged for its publication in 1901. The book constists of two volumes, the second of which contains copies of the...Read more