UK Genealogy Archives logo
DISCLOSURE: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we may receive a commission.

Great Shefford, Berkshire

Historical Description

Shefford, West or Great, a village and a parish in Berks. The village stands on the south-western bank of the river Lambourn, 5½ miles NE by N of Hungerford station on the G.W.R., and has a post and money order office of the name of Great Shefford, under Lambourn (R.S.O.); telegraph office, Chaddleworth. The parish contains also the hamlet of Shefford Woodlands, which likewise has a post office under Hungerford. Acreage, 2243; population, 499. There is a parish council of five members and a chairman. The manor and most of the land belong to the Marquis of Downshire. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Oxford; net value, £539 with residence. Patron, Brasenose College, Oxford. The church is an ancient building of flint, dating from the reign of Henry III., and consisting of chancel, nave, S porch, and a round Norman tower, with octagonal perpendicular upper storey. There are Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels in Shefford, and there is also a Wesleyan chapel at Woodlands.

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 parishShefford St. Mary 
Poor Law unionHungerford 

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

Church Records

The register of baptisms dates from the year 1571; marriages and burials from 1599: the registers also record that the font was removed out of the church and the clergyman dispossessed of his living during the Great Rebellion.


Church of England

St. Mary (parish church)

The church of St. Mary, approached through a fine avenue of lime trees, is an edifice of flint stone, affording a very admirable specimen of a church of the time of Henry III.; it consists of quasi-chancel, nave, south porch and a circular western tower containing 6 bells: also a clock which strikes, but is without a face: the lower part of the tower, which has massive walls, partly built of flint, is Late Norman: the upper portion is octagonal and of Perpendicular date; the tower arch is Transition Norman: the fine south doorway is of the same date, as well as the font, which has a cylindrical basin, richly carved with scrolls of foliage, in four bands, the lowermost having an invected border and pendent leafage: the east and west windows are stained: the former, a Perpendicular insertion, is a memorial to Miss Lucy Menzies, sister of the Rev. Canon F. Menzies M.A. rector here 1866-87; on the east walls are paintings of the Virgin Mary and Gabriel; in the chancel are brasses to the Rev. Thomas Ashley, d. 1851, and the Rev. Thomas Townson Churton M.A. d. 1865, both former rectors; also tablets to various members of the Browne family, including one to Sir George Browne kt. ob. 1673; there is a piscina in the south wall of the nave; the lectern, presented in 1871 by Edward Stewart Jones esq. is of oak and marble with brass mounts: the church was effectively but carefully restored in 1870 at a cost of upwards of £1,500, under the direction of the late Mr. J. West Rugall, of Oxford: an organ chamber was erected, and the font, which had been resting, without a base, in a pew on the north side of the church, was repaired and set upon a new base; the space beneath the tower is now utilised as a baptistery and vestry: during the restoration the plaster on the exterior of the east wall was removed and the outlines of a series of Transition Norman windows disclosed; in the church are two ancient metal flagons and a paten with foot, given 31 March, 1621, by Thomas Harvye, and ornamented with shields of arms and various devices, and on the margin the legend :- WHAT HAVE WE THAT WE HAVE NOT RECEIVED OF THE LORD-1616. There are 200 sittings. An ancient cross, found in the churchyard in 1870, now stands near the church on the south side; it consists of a plain stone shaft on an octagonal pedestal, with rude sculptured heads at the angles.

Civil Registration

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

Directories & Gazetteers

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

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Great Shefford 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
Postal districtRG17
Post TownHungerford