The village sign in front of Silchester Village Hall
Silchester shown within Hampshire
|Population||918 (2001 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|District||Basingstoke and Deane|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|UK Parliament||North East Hampshire|
|Website||Silchester Parish Council|
Silchester is most notable for the archaeological site and Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, which was first occupied by the Romans in about AD 45 and includes what is considered the best-preserved Roman wall in Great Britain.
The present village is centred around Silchester Common. It is about 1 mile (1.6 km) west of the Church of England parish church and former manor house (now Manor Farm), which are in the eastern part of the former Roman town.
Silchester is a civil parish with an elected parish council. Silchester parish is in the ward of Pamber and Sichester, part of Basingstoke and Deane District Council and of Hampshire County Council and all three councils are responsible for different aspects of local government. The ward returns two councillors to the borough council. The 2001 census recorded a parish population of 918.
Silcester was recorded in the 11th century, when one Alestan held a manor here with King Edward the Confessor as his overlord and one Cheping held another manor with Earl Harold Godwinson as his overlord. The Domesday Book of 1086 recorded that the Normans William De Ow and Ralph de Mortimer possessed Alestan's and Cheping's manors respectively. The book assessed Alestan's manor at five hides and Mortimer's at three hides. De Mortimer's tenant was another Norman, Ralph Bluet. In 1204 he or a later Ralph Bluet gave a palfrey horse in exchange for a licence to enclose an area of land south-east of the former Roman town as a deer park. Today parts of the earthwork park pale survive and parts of the former park remain wooded.
The Irish peer Murrough Boyle, 1st Viscount Blesington (1685-1718) bought the manor in 1704 and it remained with his hereditary heirs until the death of William Stewart, 1st Earl of Blessington in 1769. In 1778 it was inherited jointly by Thomas, 1st Viscount de Vesci and Edward Pakenham, 2nd Baron Longford. In 1806 Baron Longford's daughter The Hon. Catherine Pakenham married Arthur Wellesley, who in 1814 was created Duke of Wellington. In 1828 John, 2nd Viscount de Vesci and Catherine's brother Thomas Pakenham, 2nd Earl of Longford sold the manor of Silchester to the Duke. In the first decade of the 20th century Arthur Wellesley, 4th Duke of Wellington still owned the manor of Silchester.
Church and chapel
The Church of England parish church of St Mary the Virgin is just within the walls of the former Roman town, possibly on the site of a Roman temple.  The building may contain some re-used Roman materials. The building dates from the late 12th or early 13th century. It has a north and south aisle, each of two bays. There is no chancel arch, and the chancel is longer than the nave. The wall of the south aisle was rebuilt in about 1325-50, incorporating an ogee-arched tomb recess containing the effigy of a lady wearing a wimple. Two new windows were added to the church the 14th century and two more including the Perpendicular Gothic east window of the chancel in the 15th century.
The church has a Perpendicular Gothic rood screen. The pulpit was made early in the 18th century but its tester is dated 1639. There is also a carved memorial cartouche to the Irish peer Viscount Ikerrin (died 1712). The bell-turret has a ring of five bells. Four were cast by John Stares of Aldbourne, Wiltshire in 1744. The other was cast by William Taylor of Oxford in 1848.
Calleva Atrebatum was an Iron Age oppidum and subsequently a town in the Roman province of Britannia and the civitas capital of the Atrebates tribe. Its ruins are beneath and to the west of the parish church, which is itself just within the town wall and about 1 mile (1.6 km) to the east of the modern village.
Most Roman towns in Britain continued to exist after the end of the Roman era, and consequently their remains underlay their more recent successors, which are often still major population centres. Calleva is unusual in that, for reasons unknown, it was abandoned shortly after the end of the Roman era. As a consequence, Calleva has been subject to relatively benign neglect for most of the last two millennia.
The site covers an area of over 107 acres (43 ha) within a polygonal earthwork. The earthworks and extensive ruined walls are still visible. The remains of the amphitheatre, added about AD 70-80 and situated outside the city walls, can also be clearly seen. The area inside the walls is now largely farmland with no visible distinguishing features, other than the enclosing earthworks and walls, with the church & old manor house in one corner.
Silchester was voted "Hampshire Village of the Year" (2008) and "South England Village of the Year" (2009) in the Calor Village of the Year competition.
- "Area selected: Basingstoke and Deane (Non-Metropolitan District)". Neighbourhood Statistics: Full Dataset View. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- "HCC Ward Boundaries". 2008. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
- "Basingstoke and Deane Wards Information Councillors for Pamber & Silchester". Retrieved 15 May 2010.
- Page, 1911, pages 51-56
- "The Parish Church: The Silchester Trail". Hampshire County Council. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
- Johnson, Walter J. (1912). Byways in British Archeology. Cambridge : The University Press. p. 24.
- Aston & Bond, 1976, page 53
- Pevsner & Lloyd, 1967, page 505
- "Bell Founders". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- "Silchester S Mary". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- Calleva Arms
- Silchester Music Festival
- Pete's Silchester Pages
- Silchester Players
- Silchester Cricket Club
- Hampshire Cricket League
- Silchester Church of England Primary School
- "Calor Village of the Year competition". 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
Sources and further reading
- Aston, Michael; Bond, James (1976). The Landscape of Towns. Archaeology in the Field Series. London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd. p. 53. ISBN 0-460-04194-0.
- Page, W.H., ed. (1911). A History of the County of Hampshire, Volume 4. Victoria County History. pp. 51–56.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus; Lloyd, David (1967). Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 503–505.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Silchester.|
- grid reference SU627620
- Excavations of Roman remains by Reading university
- Reading Museum web site on Silchester Roman Town
- Silchester Primary School
- British History victorian account of the village