St James' parish church
Barkham shown within Berkshire
|Population||3,511 (2001 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||RG40, RG41|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
The old part of Barkham is the small settlement by the parish church at grid reference and close to Barkham Street. However most of the population lives in the north-east of the parish, around the post office, or in the Arborfield Garrison, which is largely in Barkham, as is the REME Museum of Technology. It is a rural parish, mostly consisting of dairy farmland and woods, despite being surrounded by the town of Wokingham and the large villages of Winnersh, Arborfield Cross and Finchampstead.
The toponym "Barkham" is derived from the Old English bercheham meaning "birch home" referring to the birch trees on the edge of Windsor Forest. The name evolved via forms including Berkham' in the 14th century and Barcombe in the 18th century.
In King Edward III's reign the income from Barkham Manor helped to pay for the rebuilding of Windsor Castle and, not long afterwards, timber from Barkham was sent to make the roof of Westminster Abbey.
For many centuries the manor house was a secondary home of the Bullock family. The Bull Inn public house in Barkham is named in reference to their surname. The Bullocks had inherited the manor from the family of William Neville, a 13th-century valet to Saint Thomas Cantilupe, the Bishop of Hereford and Chancellor of England, from whom the manor was originally bought.
The present manor house is a late 18th-century Georgian building of two wings of differing dates. Barkham had two moated farm-houses. One of these survives, having been divided into two cottages.
The earliest known record of the Church of England parish church of Saint James dates from 1220. However, the present church building was built in 1860–61 or 1862. It was designed in a 13th-century Gothic Revival style by the architects J.B. Clacy and Son of Reading. The chancel and transepts were added or rebuilt in 1887. The building retains two features from the earlier church: a late 13th-century wooden memorial effigy of a woman, and the late 18th-century baptismal font.
Rev. David Davies (1741–1819) was Rector of Barkham from 1782 until his death in 1819. He studied the condition of the labouring poor, recorded statistics of their wages, cost of food, etc. in various districts of England and Scotland. He published his findings in 1785 in the form of a book called Cases of Labourers in Husbandry Stated and Considered.
Rev. Peter Ditchfield, FSA (1854–1930) was Rector of Barkham from 1886 until his death. He was a Freemason, historian and prolific author. With William Page he co-edited three Berkshire volumes of the Victoria County History, which were published in 1907, 1923 and 1924.
Social and economic history
Another prominent farming family, that of Ball, is erroneously said to be that of George Washington's mother, Mary Ball Washington. They lived in the parish from the late 15th to the mid-17th century, but William Ball, the man once thought to have emigrated to Virginia and become Mary's great grandfather, may have actually died in London and his family lived in the East Berkshire area for at least two more generations. This is still disputed by American relatives of Mary Ball.
Barkham Village Residents’ Association (“BVRA”) was formed in 1987, initially in response to a Planning Application for housing development within the Coombes - a woodland rich in a diversity of wildlife and designated an area of special scientific interest. Planning issues remain an interest of the BVRA.
After the threat to the Coombes subsided, the BVRA continues to contribute to Barkham's community spirit by running social events and the production of a quarterly newsletter and website.
Barkham Village Hall is next to St James' parish church and is owned and run by its users.
- "Area selected: Wokingham (Unitary Authority)". Neighbourhood Statistics: Full Dataset View. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
- Ditchfield & Page 1923, pp. 238–241
- Ford, David Nash (2004). "Barkham". Royal Berkshire History. Nash Ford Publishing. Archived from the original on 1 November 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2010.
- Pevsner 1966, p. 75
- Arborfield and Barkham Churches
- Brodie, Antonia; Felstead, Alison; Franklin, Jonathan; Pinfield, Leslie; Oldfield, Jane, eds. (2001). Directory of British Architects 1834–1914, A–K. London & New York: Continuum. p. 375. ISBN 0-8264-5513-1.
- Davies, Peter (18 November 2006). "Barkham S James". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
- Dovemaster (31 October 2012). "Bell Founders". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
- "Families: Rev. Peter Ditchfield". Arborfield Local History Society. Arborfield Local History Society. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
- Barkham Parish Council
- Barkham Village Hall
- Ditchfield, P.H.; Page, W.H., eds. (1923). A History of the County of Berkshire, Volume 3. Victoria County History. pp. 238–241.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus (1966). Berkshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. p. 75.
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