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Sulhampstead Abbotts St.Marys Church.jpg
St.Mary's Church, Sulhamstead Abbots
Sulhamstead Tyle Mill wharf 1.JPG
Sulhamstead Tyle Mill wharf
Sulhamstead is located in Berkshire
Location within Berkshire
Area7.08 km2 (2.73 sq mi)
Population1,471 (2011 census)[1]
• Density208/km2 (540/sq mi)
OS grid referenceSU6369
Civil parish
  • Sulhamstead
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townREADING
Postcode districtRG7
Dialling code0118
PoliceThames Valley
FireRoyal Berkshire
AmbulanceSouth Central
UK Parliament
List of places
51°24′47″N 1°05′24″W / 51.413°N 1.090°W / 51.413; -1.090Coordinates: 51°24′47″N 1°05′24″W / 51.413°N 1.090°W / 51.413; -1.090

Sulhamstead is a village and civil parish in West Berkshire, England. It occupies an approximate rectangle of land[n 1] south of the (Old) Bath Road (A4) between Reading, its nearest town and Thatcham. It has several small clusters of homes and woodland covering about a fifth of the land, in the centre and north beside which is Thames Valley Police's main Training Centre at Sulhamstead House. Its main amenities are its Church of England parish church and a shop and visitor centre by the Kennet & Avon Canal.


1888 Ordnance Survey Parish Boundary Map

Sulhamstead's immediate neighbours toward its northern border, the A4 road, are much more populous Theale which has the nearest railway station and shops and similarly low density Ufton Nervet. Across this road is very low population and housing density Englefield.

A dispersed village, it has five clusters of homes. The greatest of these is linear, on Sulhamstead Hill (road) from the top of the hill by Ufton Church down 1 mile (1.6 km) to the water meadows by the Kennet and the Bath Road (A4). Three further developed points are diminutive Sulhamstead Abbots, Whitehouse Green and Sulhamstead Bannister. Lastly the northwestern corner of Burghfield Common village is in the far south, the remainder of the village part of Burghfield.

Sulhamstead Abbots Church, St Mary's, to the south, is the active ecclesiastical parish church. Sulhamstead Bannister forms the narrowly buffered halves: "Upper End" and "Lower End". Upper End is 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.

Before 1782, Sulhamstead consisted of two ecclesiastical parishes, Sulhamstead Abbots and Sulhamstead Bannister, approximate to the boundaries of the manors of the same name before medieval and later subdivision.


The name Sulhamstead 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.[2]

Ban(n)ister 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 the Church of St. Michael from which its name derives.[2]

A congregational chapel/church was built in 1881 in place of an older chapel. The inclosure of the two parishes of Sulhamstead Abbots and Sulhamstead Bannister was made by Act of Parliament, effective 1817.[3]

Grazeley was a tithing in the parish of Sulhamstead Abbots containing of 519 acres (2.10 km2). In 1854, when the manorial estate of Grazeley was advertised for sale, it was inclosed in a ring fence and apparently included the whole tithing.[3]

Between 2013 and 2015, 8 gold coins from a single treasure hoard were discovered at an undisclosed location near Sulhamstead. The coins are estimated as having been buried between 20-30 BC. Six of these coins are quarter staters, similar to some others found in Berkshire and Wiltshire. The remaining two are believed to have originated from North West France. As of 2019, the coins are on display in the West Berkshire Museum, and will continue to be displayed in the museum's 'Hoards' exhibition throughout 2019.[4][5]

On August 15, 2019, the A4 near Sulhamstead was the location of the murder of a Police Officer of the Thames Valley Police Roads Policing Unit, who was responding to reports of a local burglary.[6]


Narrow boat (named Toad) emerging from lock with black gates and white ends of the gate arms. Around the lock is a grassy area.
Tyle Mill Lock

Sulhamstead House[edit]

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, becoming home to his sister's descendants, the Thoyts family.

The house was largely rebuilt in 1800 for William Thoyts, the High Sheriff of Berkshire. It was the childhood home of his great granddaughter, Berkshire historian and palaeographer, Emma Elizabeth Thoyts (1860–1949).[7] It refurbishment was paid for in 1910 by William G Watson, created a baronet (territorial designation: of Sulhamstead). The baronetcy is extinct.

In 1949, the house became the headquarters of the Berkshire Constabulary. Since their merger into 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.[8]

The Sulhamstead estate is owned by the Astor family.[9]

Folly Farm[edit]

This was built around a small timber-framed cottage dating to around 1650, which was gradually enlarged into a farm house and now survives as a small wing of the house. The house was transformed in 1906 by Arts and Crafts architect Edwin Lutyens into a country home for H. H. Cochrane. It was extended, by Lutyens, for Zachary Merton, six years later. It is one of Lutyens' best-known house designs. Lutyens collaborated with Gertrude Jekyll to make the diverse, multi-level garden. Folly Farm is Grade I listed, being the highest category, as it is an exceptional example of Arts and Craft architecture.[2]

Other buildings[edit]

Church of St Mary

The church of St Mary (formerly St Bartholomew) dates from the 13th century and is Grade I listed.[10]

The active village hall for Sulhamstead and Ufton is halfway down the road Sulhamstead Hill, built in 1927.

Sulhamstead Lock, Tyle Mill and Tyle Mill Lock on the Kennet & Avon Canal have a wharf, lock and swing bridge. The singer-songwriter Kate Bush lived in a large canalside home for several years until 2004.

Omer's Gully[edit]

Omer's Gully Wood is next to the north-west corner of more populous Burghfield Common village. The most part is owned by the Englefield (Manor) Estate and the remainder by the Local Authority. 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 and it is a recorded habitat for mammals including foxes, deer, badgers, squirrels and rabbits.[11] The woodland links up with other woodland by Omers Brook, such as Clayhill Copse to the north east as part of a larger natural woodland covered habitat.


2011 Published Statistics: Population, home ownership and extracts from Physical Environment, surveyed in 2005[1]
Output area Homes owned outright Owned with a loan Socially rented Privately rented Other km² roads km² water km² domestic gardens Usual residents km²
Civil parish 134 210 144 73 14 0.193 0.221 0.299 1471 7.08

Notable people[edit]

  • Florence Nagle (1894–1988), racehorse and dog breeder
  • Kate Bush (b.1958) singer/songwriter lived in Sulhamstead from 1990's to 2004.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ With a short, half-width south-west projection, west of Burghfield.
  1. ^ a b Key Statistics: Dwellings; Quick Statistics: Population Density; Physical Environment: Land Use Survey 2005
  2. ^ a b c David Nash Ford's royal Berkshire History: Sulhamstead Retrieved 2014-12-16.
  3. ^ a b 'Parishes: Sulhamstead Abbots with Grazeley', A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3 ed. P H Ditchfield and William Page (London, 1923), pp. 306-311
  4. ^ 'Treasure hoard found in Sulhamstead'
  5. ^ 'West Berkshire Museum 2019' pp. 6
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Ford, David Nash. "Sulhamstead House". May Family History. Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  8. ^ "Thames Valley Police Training College (Sulhamstead House)". Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  9. ^ "The thirty landowners who own half a county". Who owns England?.
  10. ^ "Church of St. Mary". Retrieved 16 September 2006.
  11. ^ Friends of Omer's Gully Wood Archived 29 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2014-12-16.

External links[edit]