St.Mary's Church, Sulhamstead Abbots
Sulhamstead shown within Berkshire
|Population||1,248 (Parish, 2001)|
|OS grid reference|
|Unitary authority||West Berkshire|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
It is located at grid reference SU632687, in the district of West Berkshire. Prior to 1782, the area consisted of two ecclesiastical parishes, Sulhamstead Abbots and Sulhamstead Bannister, based on the ancient manors. It is bounded by Burghfield Parish to the East, and Ufton Nervet Parish to the West. It also borders Englefield parish to the North and Stratfield Mortimer Parish to the South
There are four centres of population in Sulhamstead. The greatest number of houses stand on Sulhamstead Hill which runs from the top of the hill by Ufton Church down to the water meadows by the Kennet and the Bath Road (A4). The other two long-standing centres are Sulhamstead Abbots and Sulhamstead Bannister. Lastly the north-western corner of Burghfield Common village is in Sulhamstead parish, the remainder of the village being in Burghfield parish. There are other residences scattered about the parish. Sulhamstead Abbots Church, St.Mary's, to the south, is now the parish church. Sulhamstead Bannister consists of two detached regions, "Upper End" and "Lower End". The former lies between Wokefield and Grazeley, although this has since been absorbed into Wokefield civil parish. The core of its village was around the old demolished church, where the inventor Samuel Morland's father was once the vicar.
Currently[update], Sulhamstead is partly in the Newbury constituency for House of Commons general elections, however the Boundary Commission has recommended that it be moved completely into the Wokingham constituency to bring the size of the electorate of Newbury closer to the national average.
The name Sulhamstead (there is no 'p' in middle) means 'Narrow Valley Homestead' and was given to the area by the first Saxon settlers. There is supposed to have been a Danish Camp of some sort there during the troubled times just before and during King Alfred's reign.
Banister was the name of the Lords of the Manor from the early 12th century. They were still holding lands here three hundred years later, and had another important manor in Finchampstead. The Upper End was, however, often called Meales and Meales Farm, a reputed manor, stands next to the site of Sulhamstead Bannister’s Church of St. Michael from which its name derives.
Buildings and structures
Sulhamstead House, commonly known as the White House, was the manor house of Sulhamstead Abbots. It was built by Daniel May, son of the Basingstoke brewer, Charles May, in 1744. His sister's descendants, the Thoyts family, resided there for many years. The house was largely rebuilt in 1800 for William Thoyts, the High Sheriff of Berkshire. It was the childhood home of his great granddaughter, the famous Berkshire historian and palaeography expert, Emma Elizabeth Thoyts (1860–1949). In 1949, the house became the headquarters of the Berkshire Constabulary. Since the merger of the local county forces to form the Thames Valley Police, it has functioned as that force's training centre and houses the Thames Valley Police Museum. It is a Grade II listed building.
Sulhamstead is the location of Folly Farm.Originally the main house comprised a timber-framed cottage which is believed to date back to around 1650 which was gradually enlarged into a farm house and now survives as the north-east wing of the present house. The house was transformed, in 1906, by Edwin Lutyens into a country house for H H Cochrane. It was extended, again by Lutyens, for Zachery Merton, six years later. It is one of Lutyens' best-known house designs. Lutyens collaborated with Gertrude Jekyll in designing the very fine garden. Folly Farm is Grade I listed and is an exceptional example of the continuation of classical and Arts and Craft architecture.
The church of St Mary (formerly St Bartholomew) dates from the 13th century and is Grade I listed.
The village hall for Sulhamstead and Ufton is situated halfway down Sulhamstead Hill. It was built in 1927 and has been recently refurbished.
To the North of Sulhamstead, and close to the village is Sulhamstead Lock, Tyle Mill and Tyle Mill Lock on the Kennet & Avon Canal, where there is a wharf, lock and swing bridge. The singer-songwriter Kate Bush resided in a large canalside home close to Tyle Mill for several years until 2004.
Omer's Gully Wood is the strip of wood just behind Hunters Hill, Abbey Park, and Bluebell Drive, at the north-western corner of Burghfield Common village. The larger part is owned by the Englefield Estate and the remainder by West Berkshire Council. The wood covers 3.6 hectares. The woodland has been well coppiced for firewood in the past. 86 different plant species and 46 different birds have been found in Omer's Gully Wood, and there are lots of animals, such as foxes, deer, badgers, squirrels and rabbits. The woodland links up with other woodland by Omers Brook, such as Clayhill Copse to the north east, to form an important wildlife corridor.
-  David Nash Ford's royal Berkshire History: Sulhamstead
- Ford, David Nash. "Sulhamstead House". May Family History. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
- "Thames Valley Police Training College (Sulhamstead House)". Images of England. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
- "Church of St. Mary". Images of England. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
-  Friends of Omer's Gulley website
Swing bridge gallery
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