Fawley, Berkshire

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St Mary's, Fawley - geograph.org.uk - 228571.jpg
Church of England parish church
Fawley is located in Berkshire
Location within Berkshire
Area8.78 km2 (3.39 sq mi)
Population165 (2011 census)[1]
• Density19/km2 (49/sq mi)
OS grid referenceSU4503
Civil parish
  • Fawley
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townWANTAGE
Postcode districtOX12
Dialling code01488
PoliceThames Valley
FireRoyal Berkshire
AmbulanceSouth Central
UK Parliament
List of places
51°31′08″N 1°26′06″W / 51.519°N 1.435°W / 51.519; -1.435Coordinates: 51°31′08″N 1°26′06″W / 51.519°N 1.435°W / 51.519; -1.435

Fawley is a village and civil parish in West Berkshire, England. The hub of the village is centred 3.5 miles (5.6 km) east of Lambourn and has a sub-community within its bounds, Little or South Fawley. It includes a depopulated small hill settlement of Whatcombe.

Fawley was the poor and depressed home of author Thomas Hardy's maternal grandmother – the main character in Jude the Obscure, stonemason Jude Fawley, lived in a fictional village Marygreen, and a relative, one of his biographers, links the memories of this woman to the book's bleak start.


Trig point in the south of the civil parish

The area is wholly on part of the escarpment of the tallest uplands in the county which cross into South-West Oxfordshire, the Berkshire or Lambourn Downs. The nucleus of the village is "Great Fawley"[2] or "North Fawley" with the other settled place being South Fawley or Little Fawley, in the parish, 0.6 miles (1.0 km) further south. The Ridgeway, an 87-mile path, passes in the neighbouring parish to the north. In the south of the parish is a slight peak of the downs, where there is accordingly a trig point (triangulation station) to measure the surrounding landscape. Most of the land to the west including Lambourn has only north-south public roads with the land which is made up with high fields, commons and small woods in between accessible by bridleways and footpaths.


Some Roman graves were discovered in April 1883 on a hill between North and South Fawley.[3]

The area formerly contained a rural area known as the liberty of Whatcombe.[4] This briefly in medieval records appeared as an ecclesiastical parish of its own and to have had a church in the time of Henry II who confirmed its appropriation to Hurley Priory.[3]

The (north) manor and combined rectory belonged to the nunnery of Ambresbury (dissolved 1177, also known as Amesbury Abbey) followed by the nuns of Fontevrault Abbey, France before the Dissolution of the Monasteries.[3] The ecclesiastical parish of Fawley once had its own benefice, which following appropriation (which took place before 1086) became a vicarage however its need for its own minister ceased and the area's Church of England priest today is the rector of Great Shefford ministering to the rural benefice of West Downland.[5] Its patrons were in 1870 Mr. and Mrs. Wroughton.[6]

Edmund de Polhampton, lord of the south manor, died in 1353 of wounds received in a quarrel at Enborne and his eldest son Richard sold the manor in 1364 to Edmund Chelrey or Childrey.[3]

A Nicholas Radishe sold the south manor in 1594 to Francis Moore...of East Ilsley...knighted on 17 March 1616...M.P. for Boroughbridge in 1588–9...for Reading in 1597–8, 1601, 1604–11 and 1614. He obtained a grant of free warren in 1620 and died owning the manors of North and South Fawley on 21 September 1621...[on son,] Francis's death soon afterwards [these] passed to his brother Henry, who was created a baronet of Fawley on 18 May 1627 and ceased when Sir Thomas Moore died in 1807.[3]

The population in 1871 was 243 and the parish had 52 houses.[6]


In the nave of St Mary's, looking east towards the chancel

The Church of England parish church of Saint Mary the Virgin was designed by the architect George Edmund Street and built in 1865–66.[2] It has one stained glass window by William Morris.[2] The chancel has a reredos that includes a mosaic by Salviati and a Crucifixion carved by Thomas Earp.[2] It has been protected under the commonest category of listed building (Grade II).[7]

The church replaces a medieval one that stood slightly further east and was demolished in 1866.[8] The new church incorporates original Early English fragments that suggest the former church was at least partly late 12th or early 13th century.[8]

South Fawley Manor House is at the centre of that small settlement and is Grade II* listed. The staircase is oak with turned balusters and massive newels.[7] It was built by Sir Francis Moore (barrister) about 1614, but a considerable part at the north end had been taken down by 1900.[3] None of the other buildings in the parish are listed save a farm.[9] Richard Symonds (diarist) recorded the quartering [billeting] of Lord Bernard Stewart and his troop of the King's Life Guards at Little Fawley and 'the neate and faire habitacion [home] of the Lady Moore,' on 19 November 1644. He stated that the arms of Moore, with the motto 'Regi et legi' were then painted over the porch, together with Moore impaling Twittye, and the motto 'Suum cuique pulchrum.'[3]

In film, fiction and the media[edit]

Fawley is the inspiration for "Marygreen" of Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure. Jude's surname was Fawley, and he set the novel there because it was the home of Hardy's grandmother, who had a very depressing childhood. The house in which she lived is now called Jude Cottage.[10]

Notable residents[edit]

William Bradshaw, D.D., vicar of Fawley (1717–1723), served equally as Bishop of Bristol and Dean of Christ Church, Oxford for the remaining six years of his life.

Nearest places[edit]


Of its 68 homes in 2011, 24 were privately let, the most common category in this parish. Further land use statistics were as follows:

2011 Census Key Statistics
Output area Population Homes Owned outright Owned with a loan Privately rented Socially rented Other km² km² Greenspace[n 1] km² gardens km² road[1]
Fawley (civil parish) 165 68 18 13 24 1 12 8.8 8.7 0.04 0.06

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Comprises cultivated fields, pasture, woodland and common.
  1. ^ a b Key Statistics: Dwellings; Quick Statistics: Population Density; Physical Environment: Land Use Survey 2005
  2. ^ a b c d Pevsner, p. 148.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g William Page and P.H. Ditchfield (eds) (1924). "Parishes: Fawley". A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 4. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 3 December 2014.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ A Topographical Dictionary of England. Lewis, S. (1848) London: Samuel Lewis, p.145.
  5. ^ Ecclesiastical Parish: Fawley Archived 10 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine The Church of England. Retrieved 3 December 2014
  6. ^ a b Imperial Gazetteer of Britain John Marius Wilson (1870–72). (University of Portsmouth visionofbritain.org.uk website). Retrieved 3 December 2014
  7. ^ a b Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1290304)". National Heritage List for England.
  8. ^ a b Page & Ditchfield 1924, pp. 174–178.
  9. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1210771)". National Heritage List for England.
  10. ^ Hardy, Florence Emily (2007). The Life of Thomas Hardy. London: Wordsworth Editions. pp. 259, 430. ISBN 9781840225594.


External links[edit]