St. Mary's parish church
Cholsey shown within Oxfordshire
|Population||3,380 (2001 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|– London||45 mi (72 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|Website||Cholsey Parish Council|
Cholsey is a village and large civil parish two miles (3 km) south of Wallingford, in South Oxfordshire. In 1974 it was transferred from Berkshire to the county of Oxfordshire, and from Wallingford Rural District to the district of South Oxfordshire.
Cholsey's parish boundaries, some 17 miles (27 km) long, reach from the edge of Wallingford into the Berkshire Downs. The village green is known as The Forty and has a substantial and ancient walnut tree. Winterbrook, at the north end of the parish, adjoins Wallingford and fell under the control of Wallingford Town Council in 2015, despite stenuous resistance from its residents. It is the site of Winterbrook Bridge, which carries a by-pass road across the Thames and was the home of late authoress Dame Agatha Christie.
The village itself was originally founded on an island (Ceol's Isle) in marshy ground close to the Thames. There is evidence that the House of Wessex Royal family owned land in Cholsey in the 6th and 7th centuries. At this time the town was home to a Saint Wilgyth who was venerated locally in the Middle Ages.
A royal nunnery, Cholsey Abbey, was founded in the village in 986 by Queen Dowager Ælfthryth on land given by her son, King Ethelred the Unready. The nunnery is thought to have been destroyed by invading Danes in 1006 when they camped in Cholsey after setting nearby Wallingford ablaze. However, Saxon masonry still survives in the Church of England parish church of St Mary. Most of this flint and stone church was built in the 12th century.
In the 13th-century a tithe barn was built in the village. It was, at the time, the largest aisled building in the world, being 51 feet (16 m) high, 54 feet (16 m) wide and over 300 feet (91 m) long. It was demolished in 1815.
Fair Mile Hospital, a former lunatic asylum, originally opened near Cholsey in 1870 and closed in 2003. Its Victorian buildings were converted to housing between 2011 and 2014, whilst portions of the site were given over to newly built accommodation.
Writer and poet John Masefield also lived in the parish, for several years during World War I, as tenant of Lollingdon Farm, at the foot of the Berkshire Downs. He was Poet Laureate from 1936 to his death in 1967 and is most famous for a series of poems and sonnets entitled Lollingdon Downs and his poem Sea-Fever, which is most often heard set to music by John Ireland.
The grave of novelist Dame Agatha Christie is in the churchyard of St Mary's. She lived with her second husband, archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan, at Winterbrook House, in the north of the parish, from about 1934 and died there in 1976.
- "Area: Cholsey CP (Parish): Parish Headcounts". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- Cromarty, Barclay, Lambrick & Robinson, 2006
- Samuel Lysons, Magna Britannia, Berkshire volume, page 264
- Sloan, Liam (22 September 2010). /8405311.Pictures_shed_light_on_history_of_Cholsey_psychiatric_hospital/ "Pictures shed light on history of Cholsey psychiatric hospital" Check
|url=scheme (help). Oxford Mail.
- Oxfordshire Blue Plaques, oxfordshireblueplaques.org.uk; accessed 21 September 2015.
Sources and further reading
- Cromarty, Anne Marie; Barclay, Alistair; Lambrick, George; Robinson, Mark (2006). Late Bronze Age Ritual at Whitecross Farm, Wallingford. Thames Valley Landscape Series 22. Oxford: Oxford University School of Archaeology. ISBN 0-947816-67-4.
- Page, W.H.; Ditchfield, P.H., eds. (1924). A History of the County of Berkshire, Volume 4. Victoria County History. pp. 296–302.
- Pevsner, Nikolaus (1966). Berkshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 115–117.
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