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Cholsey, Berkshire

Historical Description

Cholsey, a village and a parish in Berks. The parish lies on the G.W.R., adjacent to the river Thames, 1 mile from Moulsford station, and 2½ miles SW of Wallingford, with a post, money order, and telegraph office (S.O.) Acreage, 4438; population, 2014, which includes the lunatics at the asylum. The population of the parish proper is 1400. A monastery was founded here in 986 by Ethelred to atone for his brother's murder, and was given by Henry I. to Reading Abbey. Traces of the foundations and surrounding moats still remain. The living, is a vicarage in the diocese of Oxford; net yearly value, £308 with residence. Patron, the Lord Chancellor. The church is partly Norman, and contains some very ancient brasses. There is a Baptist chapel. Winterbrook is a hamlet 2 miles NE. The County Lunatic Asylum, which is in this parish, was opened in 1870, and is a building of red brick standing on an estate of 80 acres, and affording accommodation for about 600 patients. It is generally known as the Moulsford Asylum.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyBerkshire 
Ecclesiastical parishCholsey St. Mary 
Poor Law unionWallingford 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The register dates from the year 1679.


Church of England

St. Mary (parish church)

The church of St. Mary is a cruciform building, without aisles, and consists of chancel, nave, transepts, south porch and an embattled central tower containing 6 bells: the tower was restored in 1909 at a cost of over £300: the ancient church having been burnt down by the Danes, an Early Norman edifice was built on the site; some traces of the older edifice, consisting of burnt stones &c. were found when the chancel was restored in 1873: the chancel is very fine Early English, with five lancets on south and three on north side and a good east window with three lights partly filled with stained glass: the massive piers supporting the arcade are Early Norman, but the upper part of the tower is Decorated and has an octagonal stair-turret of the same date with a pyramidal roof; the south doorway of the nave is also Norman, with zigzag and billet mouldings and sculptured caps, and the door retains its original iron work; the nave has two windows on the north side, and also two long and narrow Norman windows on the south side: in the nave and south transept are several brass inscriptions, the earliest of which, in Norman-French, is to "John Barfoot de Chelseye," who died 8th Oct. 1361; another and later brass commemorates Sir John Gate, one of the earliest vicars. who died 21st July, 1394; in the chancel is an interesting brass, somewhat mutilated, to John Mere, also a former vicar of this church, with effigy in eucharistic vestments and holding a chalice; he died 13th June, 1471: the church was partly repaired in 1849, and the chancel and transept were resstored in 1878 at a cost of £1,300: during the year 1886 the south transept was fitted up for daily services: there are about 350 sittings: in the churchyard is a yew tree, the trunk of which is about six yards in circumference.

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

Cholsey was in Wallingford Registration District from 1837 to 1974

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Cholsey from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Berkshire is available to browse.


Online maps of Cholsey are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Berkshire papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitations of Berkshire 1532, 1566, and 1665-6 is available online.

DistrictSouth Oxfordshire
RegionSouth East
Postal districtOX10
Post TownWallingford