Ashbury, Berkshire

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Ashbury, Oxfordshire.jpg
Ashbury and War Memorial
Grid reference: SU2685
Location: 51°33’50"N, 1°37’8"W
Population: 495  (2001)
Postcode: SN6
Dialling code: 01793
Local Government
Council: Vale of White Horse
Website: Ashbury Parish News

Ashbury is a village in western Berkshire, found some 7 miles east of Swindon in neighbouring Wiltshire. The parish includes the hamlets of Idstone and Kingstone Winslow.

The neolithic burial site of Wayland's Smithy is in the parish a mile east of the village.

Ashbury has but one public house, the Rose and Crown Hotel and a Post Office.

The Church of England primary school in Ashbury serves both Ashbury and Compton Beauchamp.[1] The present school was built in the latter part of the 20th century. The previous school building is now the village hall.


15th century manor house

The earliest known record of Ashbury is from the year 840, when King Æthelwulf of Wessex granted land at Aisshedoune to his minister Duda.[2] In subsequent charters the name evolved as Æcesbyrig in AD 856, Aysshedoune in AD 947, Æcesburuh in AD 953 and 960 and Eissesberie in the 11th century.[2]

After 953, the manor of Ashbury was granted to Glastonbury Abbey, which then held it until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539.[2] A deer park was established for the Abbey in the south of the parish.[3] It is bounded by an ancient embankment enclosing a rounded area characteristic of Mediæval parks.[4] It may equate to the Aysshen Wood recorded in a terrier of the parish in 1519 as covering 415 acres.[2] The former deer park is now the Upper Wood of Ashdown Park.

Ashbury Manor House was built in the 15th century.[2][5] The brick upper storey of its porch was added in 1697, which is also the likely date that the chimneys were added.[2][5]

Ashdown House, built in about 1660, is within the parish about 2 miles south of the village itself.


St Mary the Virgin

The parish church of St Mary was originally Norman but was rebuilt in the 13th century.[6] In the 20th century the artist Martin Travers converted the north transept into a chapel of Saint Hubert in memory of Evelyn, Countess Craven who had lived at Ashdown House in the parish.

Ashbury Mission Hall was a "tin tabernacle" building of corrugated iron opened in 1908.[7] The building was replaced in 1972-73 with the present Ashbury Evangelical Free Church.[7]

A Methodist chapel once stood in Chapel Lane.[7] It is now a private home.

About the village

Ashbury is a pretty village full of natural charm. Its thatched cottages nestle round the church and the 15th century manor house. Some of the buildings are constructed of locally quarried chalk blocks reinforced with much stronger sarsen stones found in abundance locally, or with brick.

Sarsen stones are believed to represent fragments of a sheet of silica formed 50 million years ago; over time the silica sheet broke into pieces thus creating the stones. Large numbers may be seen from the road between Ashbury and Lambourn in the grounds of Ashdown House. According to local myth, they represent a flock of sheep petrified by Merlin the magician, and this is the origin of the stones' alternative name of "Grey Wethers".

As in other spring line villages, Ashbury used to cultivate watercress beds fed by the pure water running from the chalk, but these like many other such natural watercress beds have died out.

Big Society

Former parish school, now the Village Hall

Ashbury has a Village Hall and a cricket club: Ashbury Cricket Club.[8]

Outside links


  1. Ashbury with Compton Beauchamp CE(A) Primary School website
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Page & Ditchfield, 1924, pages 503-512
  3. Ford, David Nash (2004). "Ashbury". Royal Berkshire History. David Nash Ford. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  4. Rackham, 1976, page 144
  5. 5.0 5.1 Pevsner, 1966, page 71
  6. Pevsner, 1966, pages 70-71
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Bunce, Suzanne (2009). "Ashbury Evangelical Free Church". Ashbury. Ashbury Parish Council. Retrieved 17 January 2011. 
  8. Ashbury Cricket Club


("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Ashbury, Berkshire)
  • Page, W.H.; Ditchfield, P.H., eds (1924). A History of the County of Berkshire, Volume 4. Victoria County History. pp. 503–512. 
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus (1966). Berkshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 70–72. 
  • Oliver Rackham (1976). Trees and Woodland in the British Landscape. Archaeology in the Field Series. London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd. p. 144. ISBN 0 460 04183 5.