Aldworth


Aldworth

:"Aldworth is also the name of a stately home in Blackdown, Sussex"

infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= Aldworth
latitude= 51.509463
longitude= -1.200768
civil_parish=
population = 254 (2001 Census
unitary_england= West Berkshire
region= South East England
lieutenancy_england= Berkshire
constituency_westminster=
post_town= READING
postcode_district = RG8
postcode_area= RG
dial_code= 01635
os_grid_reference= SU555795

Aldworth is a small village and civil parish, close to the northern edge of Berkshire, England. It lies in the rural area between Reading, Newbury and Streatley. There are around 250 inhabitants in the parish, which also includes the neighbouring hamlet of Westridge Green.

Location

Aldworth village is situated on the high ground of the Berkshire Downs, just off the B4009 road from Newbury to Streatley. Westridge Green is nearby, at gbmapping|SU564797

Nearby villages: Streatley, Compton, Ashampstead, Hampstead Norreys, East Ilsley, Goring-On-Thames, Upper Basildon, Pangbourne

Local government

Aldworth is a civil parish with an elected parish council, the current head of the council is Tim Chapman. It falls within the area of the unitary authority of West Berkshire. Both the parish council and the unitary authority are responsible for different aspects of local government.

History & the Aldworth Giants

Aldworth was recorded in the Domesday Book as "Elleorde", an Old English name meaning "Old Enclosure" or "Old Farm". During the 12th century it was known as "Aldewurda". In medieval times there was a fortified manor or castle at Aldworth.

La Beche Castle once stood on the site of what is now merely Beche Farm in Aldworth. This was the main residence of the De La Beche family, after whom it was named. They were a well-known family of medieval knights holding many high positions at court since at least 1260.

The De La Beche family were powerful landowners and knights in the 14th century. Many of them were retainers to the king, warders to the Tower of London, and Sheriffs of Oxfordshire and Berkshire. The family were influential during the reign of Edward II and Edward III, and were embroiled in the royal intrigue of the time. Sir Phillip was imprisoned in Scarborough Castle from 1322 to 1327, but later pardoned by Edward III; His father, also Sir Philip was jailed and later pardoned during the reign of Edward II.

The tiny parish church at Aldworth contains numerous effigial monuments to the De La Beche family. The collection is the largest number of medieval memorials to a single family in a parish church. The figures are supposed to be life size representations, depicting some of the knights as over seven feet tall. Known as the 'Aldworth Giants'. Originally thought to have been erected by the most influential member of the family, 'Lord' Nicholas De La Beche in the 1340s, historians now suggest they date from various periods.

Unfortunately many of the effigies were vandalised by Cromwell's men during the English Civil War in the 17th century. Many of the knights are missing the lower part of their legs, noses and arms, no doubt the easiest parts to break off. They were probably seen as a symbol of royalty by the parliamentarians, although many churches were ransacked in the same period.

The churchyard was the scattering-place of the ashes of poet Laurence Binyon, to whom there is a slate memorial, as well as the burial place of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's parents-in-law.

External links

* [http://www.aldworth.info/ Aldworth Village Website]
* [http://www.berkshirehistory.com/churches/aldworth.html Royal Berkshire History: Aldworth Parish Church]
* [http://gallery.beautifulengland.net/main.php?g2_itemId=13261 Information and photographs of Aldworth]


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