Sonning, a pleasant picturesque village on the right bank of the Thames, and a parish in Berks and Oxfordshire. The village stands 3 miles ENE from Reading, and 2 NW from Twyford station on the G.W.R. The Earley station on the Reading and Reigate branch of the S.E.R. is also in the ancient civil parish. The river here is crossed by an ancient brick bridge of eleven arches, from which two beautiful but quite dissimilar views of the stream are to be obtained. Sonning was anciently the seat of a bishopric, afterwards removed to Sherborne, and finally to Salisbury; retained an episcopal palace till the time of Elizabeth; contains a house in which Sydney Smith wrote " Peter Plymley's Letters." It has some excellent inns, and a post, money order, and telegraph office under Reading. The parish comprises the ecclesiastical parishes of Earley and Woodley and Sandford, which are noticed separately, and the liberty of Eye and Dunsden in Oxfordshire. Acreage, 9740 of land and 179 of water; population of the civil parish, 3048; of the ecclesiastical, 782. Holme Park is a good country mansion, pleasantly situated amidst an extensive park, and there are several other good residences in the parish. The river is well preserved, and excellent fishing is to be obtained during the season. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Oxford; net value, £574 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of Oxford. The church-whose grey, square, embattled tower adds greatly to the charm of the up-river view from the bridge-is a spacious building of flint and stone dating from the 13th century, and consisting of chancel with aisles, nave, aisles, and N and S porch, in addition to the tower previously mentioned. It possesses great wealth of ancient and interesting brasses, tombs, and monuments, and a fine view may be obtained from the top of the church tower. There are also a Congregational chapel and several small charities.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Sonning St. Andrew|
|Poor Law union||Wokingham|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The register dates from the year 1592.
Church of England
St. Andrew (parish church)
The church of St. Andrew is a large edifice of flint and stone, dating in part from the 11th century, and consists of a spacious chancel with aisles, clerestoried nave of five bays, aisles, north and south porches and an embattled western tower containing 8 bells and a clock: the arches on the south side of the chancel are elliptical; those on the north side are pointed, on clustered piers, the easternmost arch being richly sculptured with figures in stone representing on one side Our Lord blessing the Apostles; and on the other, figures of kings and queens, with the Virgin and Child as a keystone; this arch serves as a canopy to a monument erected to the memory of the Rev. Hugh. Pearson, canon of Windsor and vicar of Sonning, 1841-82: in the south aisle is a modern marble monument with brasses to various members of the family of Palmer, of Holme Park, and here also is a painted monument of marble to Katherine, Lady Lidcott, 1620, with her effigy kneeling at a desk: a mortuary chapel, separated from this aisle by an oak screen, is almost entirely allotted to memorials of this family: and the belfry contains a monnment of black marble to Thomas Rich, alderman of Gloucester, 1613, and to Sir Thomas Rich bart. of Sonning, his son, ob. Oct. 15, 1667: in the wall by the vestry door are two curious tablets, dated respectively 1533 and 1605: in the vestry, north of the chancel, is a mural inscription to Robert Wright S.T.P. Oxon and others; and below to Robert (1533) and Agnes (1579), probably children, with a shield of arms: on the floor of the nave are brasses to Laurence Fyton esq. bailiff of Sonning, 1434; William Barker, steward of the lordship of Sonning, 1549, and Anne his wife; William Barker esq. 1575, and Anne (Stoughton) his wife; Anne (Barker), wife of William Staverton, of Oakingham, gent. 1589; and Elizabeth, daughter of Sir George and Dame Ann Chute, 1627; in the north aisle is a fine tomb to Anna, wife of Sir John Clarke bart. of Salford, Warwick, 1654: and there are also memorials to William (Scott), first and only Baron Stowell, who died Jan. 28, 1836; to Viscount Sidmouth and to E. Golding esq.: there are memorial windows to Hugh Henry and Caroline Pearson, and one, inserted in 1893, to William Gregory, a former organist: the font is of Caen stone with a lofty canopy of oak: in a niche over the door of the north porch is a figure of St. Andrew, the patron saint: the church was completely restored in 1853, and further restorations were effected during the period 1879-90, at a cost of £900: there are 800 sittings.
There is a Congregational chapel, erected in 1807, with sittings for 170 persons.
Sonning was in Wokingham Registration District from 1837 to 1974
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Sonning from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Sonning (St. Andrew))
- Kelly's Directory of Berkshire, 1915
Land and Property
The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Berkshire is available to browse.
Online maps of Sonning are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Berkshire papers online:
The Visitations of Berkshire 1532, 1566, and 1665-6 is available online.