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Englefield, Berkshire

Historical Description

Englefield, a village and a parish in Berks, near the river Kennet, 1 mile NW from Theale station on the G.W.R., and 5½ W by S from Reading. Post town, Reading; money order and telegraph office, Theale. Acreage, 1406 of land and 30 of water; population, 341. The manor was known to the Saxons as Englafelda, was the scene of Ethelwolf's victory over the Danes in 871, belonged to the family of Englefield, suffered forfeiture in consequence of Sir J. Englefield being charged with plotting to rescue Mary Queen of Scots, was given to Sir T. Walsingham, passed to Paulet the famous Marquis of Winchester, and belongs now to Richard Benyon, Esq., D.L., J.P. His seat, known as Englefield House, is a fine Tudor mansion, very beautifully situated in the midst of a well-stocked deer park. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Oxford; net value, £320 with residence. The church stands in the park, is Early English, was restored and improved in 1857 and 1868, and contains a monument of the famous Marquis of Winchester, and several other interesting monuments and brasses.

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

Administration

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

Ancient CountyBerkshire 
HundredTheale 
Poor Law unionBradfield 

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


Church Records

The register of baptisms and marriages dates from the year 1567: burials 1569.


Churches

Church of England

St. Mark (parish church)

The church of St. Mark, restored in 1857, and the chancel rebuilt at the sole expense of the late R. Benyon esq. is a building of flint and stone, consisting of chancel with north aisle, nave, south aisle, south porch and a western tower with broach spire, containing 6 bells, presented by Mr. Benyon in 1878; the north aisle was added to the chancel in 1514, and is known as the Englefield chapel, having been for a series of years the burial place of that family; Sir Thomas Englefield knt. Speaker of the House of Commons in 1496, and in the first Parliament, of Henry VIII. the founder of the chapel, is here buried; his monument, an elegant altar-tomb, surmounted by a canopy and once bearing brasses, stands on the north side of the communion table; and there is also in the chapel a monument to Sir Francis Englefield bart. ob. October 16, 1631, and Jane (Browne) his wife, with effigies of both, kneeling at a desk, and of several children, besides other monuments of the Englefield family: there is also a monument to Charles Benyon, lieutenant, in H.M.S. "Ajax," killed while attempting to board a French vessel off the Isle of Elba; on the north wall is a mural tablet of black marble, with epitaph by Dryden, to John Paules, fifth Marquess of Winchester, of Basing, Hants, who held Basing House for four years for King Charles I. but the mansion being eventually stormed by the Parliamentary forces was burnt to the ground; the Marquess died March 6th, 1674; the monument is surmounted by a shield of arms and the motto, "Donec pax redit terris;" a portion of this monument, hitherto missing, together with three other sepulchral stones, were discovered in the pavement of the church in September, 1878, during some alterations then proceeding, and the four slabs are now fixed upon the surface; that belonging to the monument of the Marquess bears a long inscription, detailing his public services, marriages and issue; the others are inscribed to Honora (de Burgh), his second wife, 1601; John Paulet, her eldest son, 1660; in the south aisle is a beautifully sculptured mural monument to Mary, wife of Richard Benyon esq. 1777, and another to Powlet Wright esq. 1779; over the pulpit is a mural brass inscribed to Richard de Beauvoir Benyon esq. 1854; in the south aisle, under two obtuse arches in the wall, are two recumbent effigies: one of these is a stone figure of a knight in full armour, with a surcoat, and bearing his shield upon his arm; the other figure is that of a lady in the costume of the 14th century, and is carved out of a solid piece of oak; the arcade between the nave and south aisle has Early English arches with very bold mouldings supported on plain round massive pillars, with Transition Norman caps; in the Englefield chapel is a piscina, discovered in removing part of the wall for the introduction of a window and sedilia: in 1878 a massive signet ring, of pure gold, of 16th century date and unusually large size, was found in the churchyard; it bears a sard, engraved with a helmeted head in profile, inclosed by a cable moulding: the church was partially rebuilt in 1874, at a cost of £2,200, and restored in 1891, at a cost of £450, defrayed by the patron. There are 265 sittings.


Civil Registration

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

Englefield was in Bradfield Registration District from 1837 to 1937 and Wokingham Registration District from 1937 to 1974


Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Englefield from the following:


Land and Property

Englefield House, is a fine Tudor mansion, charmingly situated on a gently rising slope of the fine deer park, facing south and overlooking the valley of the Kennet, its many turreted pinnacles giving it a noble appearance; it was built by one of the Paulet or Powlett family, but reduced and modernized by one of their descendants, Paulet Wright esq. and was also renovated and refaced by the late owner, Richard Benyon esq. who added a new entrance hall, and converted the old hall into a magnificent library. Sir Francis Englefield being attainted of high treason in 1564, the manor became the property of Sir Francis Walsingham K.G. Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth; on one occasion the Queen visited his house, and Sir Francis, in order to save Her Highness the trouble of ascending the staircase, built a gallery 120 feet long, so as to reach the level of the hill outside at the back of the house; this gallery was reduced to 90 feet by modern alterations within the house; from the second storey of the building, along its passage, an exit is gained to the park outside: a portrait of Queen Elizabeth, presented by herself in commemoration of this visit, still hangs on a wall in the library; in the hall and corridor are some exquisite sculptures by Munro, Foley, Power and others; the drawing room is a very fine apartment, with a painted ceiling representing the four seasons; in one of the upper rooms is a bedstead brought from Gidea Hall, Essex, and said to have been used by Charles I.; from these apartments and from the tower magnificent views are afforded of the beautiful woodland scenery, which is here the greatest charm of the far-stretching landscape; the gardens are very attractive.

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


Maps

Online maps of Englefield 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.

CountyWest Berkshire
RegionSouth East
CountryEngland
Postal districtRG7
Post TownReading