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Great Faringdon, Berkshire

Historical Description

Faringdon or Great Faringdon (formerly Chipping Faringdon), a market and a union town and parish in Great Faringdon parish, Berks. It stands adjacent to Faringdon Hill, in the White Horse Vale, at the terminus of a short branch of the G.W.R., 2½ miles S of the river Thames, and 17 SW from Oxford. It was anciently called Feardune or Fearndnn, and it was a seat of the West Saxon kings, and the death-place of Edward the Elder. An ancient castle stood at it, and was razed by Stephen. A Cistercian priory, subordinate to Beaulieu Abbey, was founded on the site of the castle in 1202 by King John, gave entertainment for a night to Henry III. and his queen, was given at the dissolution to the Seymours and the Englefields, and has entirely disappeared. Faringdon House, near the church, was built by Henry James Pye, the poet-laureate, and is now the seat of the Bennett family. An ancient mansion on the same site belonged to Sir Robert Pye, the son-in-law of Hampden, was garrisoned for Charles I. during the Civil War, and put under the command of Sir Marmaduke Rawdon, sustained two attacks by the Parliamentarians, one of them headed by Cromwell in person, and, was one of the last places to surrender. Faringdon Hill commands a brilliant view of the White Horse Vale, and of parts of Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, and Wilts, is crowned by a grove of Scotch pines, which serves as a landmark for a great extent of surrounding country, and forms the subject of Pye's exaggerated poem of "Faringdon Hill." The town is small, but cleanly, well-built, and pleasant; it has a head post office, a station on the G.W.R., a banking office, a town-hall, a corn exchange, and a workhouse. It is a seat of petty sessions, and publishes a weekly newspaper. The corn exchange is an ornamental edifice of 1864. The church is ancient, large, and cruciform; shows characters from Early English to Decorated in its chancel, and characters of Late Perpendicular in its Pye chapel; has a stunted, Late Norman tower, the spire of which was destroyed in the Civil War; and contains, among other interesting memorials, tombs of Sir Marmaduke Eawdon, Sir Alexander Unton and his lady, and Sir Edward Unton. There are also Baptist, Congregational, Primitive Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels, and a Friends' meeting-house. A weekly market is held on Tuesday, and a great cattle market on½the first Tuesday of every month. There are also statute fairs on the Tuesday before and the Tuesday after Old Michaelmas Day. The industries include iron founding, brick and tile making, and brewing. The parish includes, in addition to the town of Great Faringdon, the township and chapelry of Little Coxwell, and the ecclesiastical parish of Littleworth, with the hamlets of Thrupp and Wadley, which will be found noticed under COXWELL, LITTLE, and LITTLEWORTH. Acreage of Great Faringdon, 5866 of land and 31 of water; population, 3133. Acreage of Little Coxwell, 887; population, 251. Population of the ecclesiastical parish of Great Faringdon, with Little Coxwell, 2988. The living of Great Faringdon is a vicarage, united with the perpetual curacy of Little Coxwell, in the diocese of Oxford; value, £230. Patrons, Simeon's Trustees. The living of Littleworth is a separate benefice.

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 parishFarringdon All Saints 
Poor Law unionFarringdon 

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


The Nonconformists' cemetery of about 1½ acres, on the western side of the town, was opened for burials in 1865, but has no mortuary chapel.

Church Records

The parish register dates from the year 1582.


Church of England

All Saints (parish church)

The church of All Saints is an ancient and interesting cruciform edifice of stone in the Norman and later styles, consisting of chancel, nave of four bays, aisles, double gabled transepts and a low central tower with plain parapet, containing 8 bells and a clock; the north door of the nave, now disused, is Early Norman; the nave and other portions of the church are in the Transition style, dated from about 1180, and including the south door, which retains some remarkably good Early English ironwork; the nave arches are semi-circular, supported by massive cylindrical piers with rich foliated capitals; the Early English tower, erected about 1200, is sustained by four great piers, lined with clusters of semi-cylindrical shafts, each furnished with a capital of an elegant and varied form; the chancel is also Early English, of about the same period, and is remarkable for its great length and extreme simplicity; there are canopied sedilia, with rich decorated work, dating from about 1300; the Unton chapel of the north transept is also Decorated, but later, and dates from about 1370; the window is remarkable as having a foliated canopy in its splay; the windows of the north aisle of the nave are Perpendicular and were probably inserted about 1400; the west window of the nave is about a century later; the Pye chapel, attached to the chancel, was probably added soon after the Reformation; the east window and six others in the chancel, four in the south transept, three in the aisle of the south transept and two in the south aisle of the nave, are stained; in the Unton chapel is an alabaster tomb, with recumbent effigies of Sir Thomas Unton kt. of Wadley, and Elizabeth, his wife; adjoining is a monument to Sir Alexander Unton kt. ob. 1547, with effigy of himself in a tabard, and his two wives, Mary and Cecyll, in heraldic mantles, with ten children; on the west wall is a marble monument to Sir Edward Unton, made a knight of the Bath at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth, who married Anne (Seymour), widow of John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, daughter to Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector of England; on the east wall is a tablet to Sir Henry Unton, knighted in Holland in 1586, by Robert, Earl of Leicester, for his bravery at the siege of Zutphen; he was twice chosen ambassador to France, and died in 1596, during the embassy; the monument was erected in 1606 by his widow, Dorothy, whose kneeling effigy formerly stood on a pedestal at the foot, but is now in the Pye chapel; in this chapel, on a buttress of the tower, is a mural monument to Lionel Rich, ob. 1742, who married in 1734, Annie, daughter of Henry Pye esq.; against the north wall is a noble monument of white marble, with blue columns supporting cherubs of alabaster, to Jane Pye, ob. 1706; another monument of variegated marble, supported by columns of the Tuscan order, in memory of Ann Pye; there are many additional monuments and brasses to the Parker, Purefoy, Pleydell and other families, but these have been mostly mutilated or removed from their original positions; Richard Lenton, vicar, ob. 1410; Thomas Faryndon esq. ob. 1396, and Margaret, his wife, ob. 1402; and their daughter, Catherine Pynchepole, ob. 1443: in the chancel is a memorial window, erected in 1902, to the late Mrs. Bennett, of Faringdon House: the oak vestibule screen within the south door was erected in 1904, at a cost of £78. In 1909 a stained glass window was erected by the parishioners to the memory of the late G. W. Habgood esq. The church was thoroughly restored in 1854: there are 900 sittings. The church is approached by a pleasant avenue of chestnut trees.


Baptist Chapel, Block Green Square

The Baptist chapel, Block Green square, first founded in 1576, is of stone, and will seat 250 persons.


Congregational Chapel, Marlborough Street

The Congregational chapel, Marlborough street, erected in 1840, has 300 sittings.


Primitive Methodist Chapel, Coxwell Street

The Primitive Methodist chapel, Coxwell street, erected in 1896, will seat 200 persons.

Wesleyan Chapel, Gloucester Street

The Wesleyan chapel, Gloucester street, erected in 1837, has 180 sittings.

Society of Friends

Friends' Meeting House

The meeting house of the Society of Friends in Lechlade road is a building of stone.

Civil Registration

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

Great Faringdon was in Faringdon Registration District from 1837 to 1937 and Wantage Registration District from 1937 to 1974

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Great Faringdon from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Great Faringdon 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:

Villages, Hamlets, &c


Visitations Heraldic

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


The Poor Law Institution, a stone building in Union street, would hold 450 inmates.

DistrictVale of White Horse
RegionSouth East
Postal districtSN7
Post TownFaringdon