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Barkham, St James Church - - 135120.jpg
St James' parish church
Barkham is located in Berkshire
Location within Berkshire
Population3,511 (2001 census)[1]
3,348 (2011 Census)[2]
OS grid referenceSU7867
Civil parish
  • Barkham
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townWokingham
Postcode districtRG40, RG41
Dialling code0118
PoliceThames Valley
FireRoyal Berkshire
AmbulanceSouth Central
UK Parliament
List of places
51°24′07″N 0°52′34″W / 51.402°N 0.876°W / 51.402; -0.876Coordinates: 51°24′07″N 0°52′34″W / 51.402°N 0.876°W / 51.402; -0.876

Barkham is a village and civil parish in the borough of Wokingham in Berkshire, England, located around 2 miles (3.2 km) southwest of the town of Wokingham.


The old part of Barkham is the small settlement by the parish church at grid reference SU781666 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. 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.


Barkham Manor house in winter

The toponym "Barkham" is derived from the Old English bercheham[3] meaning "birch home" referring to the birch trees on the edge of Windsor Forest.[4] The name evolved via forms including Berkham' in the 14th century and Barcombe in the 18th century.[3]

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.[4]

For many centuries the manor house was a secondary home of the Bullock family.[4] The Bull Inn public house in Barkham is named in reference to their surname.[4] 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.[4]

The manor passed by marriage and inheritance through the Standen, Waterman, Kingsmill and Pitt families. In about 1783, the manor was purchased by the Dowager Countess Gower, the third wife of John Leveson-Gower, 1st Earl Gower, and became the property of the Leveson-Gower family.[3] The present manor house is a late 18th-century[3] Georgian building of two wings of differing dates.[5] Barkham had two moated farm-houses.[3] One of these survives, having been divided into two cottages.[3]

Parish church[edit]

The earliest known record of the Church of England parish church of Saint James[6] dates from 1220.[3] However, the present church building was built in 1860–61[5] or 1862.[3] It was designed in a 13th-century Gothic Revival style[3] by the architects J.B. Clacy and Son[5] of Reading.[7] The chancel and transepts were added[5] or rebuilt[3] 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.[5]

The bell-tower has a ring of four bells cast in 1863 by John Warner and Sons[8] of Cripplegate in the City of London.[9]

A number of members of the Leveson-Gower family are buried in the church, including Lady Mary Tufton, Countess Gower, widow of the first Earl Gower; her son Admiral John Leveson-Gower (d.1792); his son, General John Leveson-Gower and daughter-in-law Isabella Mary Leveson-Gower (née Broke); as well as his grandson, John Leveson-Gower (d.1883), with his wife Charlotte (d.1876), son Sackville (d.1874), and mother-in-law the Right Hon. Lady Harriet Mitchell (d.1855).[3]

Rev. David Davies (1741–1819) was Rector of Barkham from 1782 until his death in 1819.[3] He studied the condition of the labouring poor, recorded statistics of their wages, cost of food, etc. in various districts of England and Scotland.[3] He published his findings in 1785 in the form of a book called Cases of Labourers in Husbandry Stated and Considered.[3]

Rev. Peter Ditchfield, FSA (1854–1930) was Rector of Barkham from 1886 until his death.[10] 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[edit]

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.[4]

An open field system of farming prevailed in the parish until early in the 19th century. Parliament passed the Inclosure Act for Barkham in 1813, but it was not implemented until 1821.[3]

Parish Council[edit]

Barkham Parish Council meets regularly at the Arborfield Green Community Centre.[11] It has 10 councillors that are elected by the parish residents for a term of four years.[11]


Bohunt School Wokingham, opened at Arborfield Green in Barkham parish in 2016, is a mixed-sex independent academy.


  1. ^ "Area selected: Wokingham (Unitary Authority)". Neighbourhood Statistics: Full Dataset View. Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  2. ^ "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Ditchfield & Page 1923, pp. 238–241
  4. ^ a b c d e f Ford, David Nash (2004). "Barkham". Royal Berkshire History. Nash Ford Publishing. Archived from the original on 1 November 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d e Pevsner 1966, p. 75
  6. ^ Arborfield and Barkham Churches
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Davies, Peter (18 November 2006). "Barkham S James". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  9. ^ Dovemaster (31 October 2012). "Bell Founders". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  10. ^ "Families: Rev. Peter Ditchfield". Arborfield Local History Society. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  11. ^ a b Barkham Parish Council Archived 15 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine


External links[edit]