|Council:||Vale of White Horse|
The village is a spring line settlement at the foot of the Berkshire Downs. Woolstone Wells are a group of springs in the chalk escarpment less than half a mile south of the village. A stream flows north from the springs past the village of Uffington and joins the River Ock about 2 miles north of Woolstone village.
Woolstone parish is long and thin, embracing both low-lying land in the vale and upland pasture on the downs. The parish extends just over four miles north to south but is slightly less than a mile wide at its widest point.
Name of the village
In the Domesday Book of 1086, the village's name was given as Olvrichestone, suggesting an Old English original or Wulfricestun ("Wulfric's town"). In the 13th century its forms included Wulwricheston, Wluricheston and Wulevycheston. It evolved into Wlfricheston and Woulricheston in the 14th century and Wolierston and Wolston in the 16th century before reaching its present form.
The Ridgeway runs east-west through the parish along the top of the chalk escarpment just over a mile south of the village. On Woolstone Down about 2 miles south of the village are a disc barrow about 50 feet in diameter and two bowl barrows. About half a mile south of the barrows is an ancient field system. Iron Age pottery has been found just west of Woolstone village.
Steam ploughing in 1884 revealed remains of a Roman villa built of clunch in a field just west of Woolstone village. Archaeologists visited the site in 1884, found the south wall of the villa was at least 110 feet long and there were Roman mosaics in two central rooms of the villa. The villa was excavated again in 1955. No permanent marker of the site was left after either excavation, but a geophysical survey tentatively identified what may be the site in 2007.
The Domesday Book of 1086 records that the Bishop of Winchester held an estate at Woolstone assessed at ten hides. Its income was used to support the Benedictine Priory of St Swithun at Winchester. The manor of Woolstone was the property of the Priory by the 13th century and in 1308–09 it had a capital messuage that included a lord's chamber, kitchen, stable, garden and dovecot.
The Priory surrendered its all property to the Crown in the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. The King, Henry VIII, granted Woolstone to Sir Thomas Seymour, who after the King's death was created 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley. However, in 1549 Seymour was executed for treason and attainted so all his properties reverted to the Crown.
In 1551 the Crown granted Woolstone to the courtier Thomas Weldon, who in 1566 or 1567 left it to his son William. In about 1583 the manor passed from William Weldon to Edmund Wiseman, and it descended in the Wiseman family for several generations until some time after 1694. By 1712 the Wisemans had sold Woolstone to Bartholomew Tipping IV, a former High Sheriff of Berkshire. In 1798 Bartholomew Tipping VII, also a former High Sheriff of Berkshire, died childless and left the manor to his niece Mary Anne Wroughton and her husband Rev. Philip Wroughton.
South-east of All Saints' parish church are Manor Farm and a Georgian house of six bays with a hipped roof.
The parish church of All Saints was built in about 1195 as a dependent chapel of Uffington. The building is of chalk and clunch, with stone quoins. The north doorway is original late Norman, as are two lancet windows, one each on the north and south sides of the nave towards the west end.
The chancel arch looks early 13th century. There is a south transept, whose arch and south window look late 13th century. Two north windows of the chancel are Decorated Gothic and one north window in the nave also appears to be early 14th century. The font is 14th century or later and is unusual in being a lead bowl mounted on a stone pillar.
In the 18th century the east wall of the chancel was rebuilt in brick with a single-light east window, and the west window of the nave was altered. In 1914 the east window was replaced with a new one of two lights.
The common lands of Uffington, Baulking and Woolstone were enclosed in 1776.
In 1805–07 the Wilts & Berks Canal was extended eastwards from Longcot to Challow, passing through Woolstone parish about half a mile north of the village. The canal had a wharf at Uffington a mile north of Woolstone.
The Great Western Main Line was built through the northernmost part of the parish and opened in 1840. The canal declined until 1901, when the Stanley Aqueduct over the River Marden in Wiltshire collapsed and the little remaining traffic virtually ceased. The route was formally abandoned in 1914. The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is currently restoring the canal.
- Page & Ditchfield, 1924, pages 543–551
- Pevsner, 1966, page 313
- Wintle, 2007, page 2
- Wintle, 2007, page 15
- Wintle, 2007, pages 1 & 4
- Wintle, 2007, pages 1 & 10
- Wintle, 2007, pages 11–14
- Wintle, 2007, page 1
- Uffington Benefice
- Dalby, 2000, page 23
- White Horse at Woolstone
- Arkell's Pubs: The White Horse at Woolstone
- Dalby, L.J. (2000) . The Wilts and Berks Canal (3rd ed.). Usk: Oakwood Press. p. 23. ISBN 0-85361-562-4.
- Page, W.H.; Ditchfield, P.H., eds (1924). A History of the County of Berkshire, Volume 4. Victoria County History. pp. 543–551.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus (1966). Berkshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. p. 313.
- Wintle, William (April 2007). Geophysical Survey of a Roman Villa at Woolstone April 2007. Oxford: William Wintle. http://users.ox.ac.uk/~kell0199/Woolstone%20Report.pdf. Retrieved 9 February 2011.