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Hurst (St. Nicholas)

HURST (St. Nicholas), a parish, in the union of Wokingham, hundreds of Charlton and Sonning, county of Berks, 3½ miles (N. N. W.) from Wokingham; containing, with the liberties of Newland, Winnersh, Whistley-Hurst, and Broad Hinton, 2339 inhabitants. Hurst House is an ancient mansion, originally built by Ward, treasurer to Queen Elizabeth, and forming an interesting specimen of the domestic architecture of that period. It was subsequently inhabited by Sir John Harrison and his son, Sir Richard, and was afterwards the residence, for many years, of the Queen of Bohemia; the royal arms, emblazoned in stained glass, still embellish the window of the hall. The estate of Bearwood is the property of the Walter family, of whom the late John Walter, Esq., who died in July, 1847, greatly improved the vicinity: Mr. Walter was the principal proprietor of The Times newspaper, which, under his management during a period of forty years, attained its present eminence. The parish comprises 6471 acres, of which 71 are common or waste; it is intersected by the Great Western railway. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Bishop of Oxford; net income, £150: the tithes have been commuted for £1540. The church contains handsome monuments to the memory of Margaret, wife of Sir Henry Savile, founder of the Savilian professorship at Oxford; and Sir Richard Harrison, who twice raised at his own expense a troop of cavalry for the service of Charles I. A second church, dedicated to St. Catherine, was consecrated in April, 1846. It stands upon the most commanding point of the elevated range occupied by the mansion and demesne of Bearwood, and near the borders of the parish of Wokingham, and is an exquisitely finished specimen of the decorated style. The cost of the erection and endowment was about £9000, to which the Walter family, who are the patrons, largely contributed. An hospital was founded by William Barker, who died in 1685, for eight persons. Dorothy Harrison, in 1690, gave £7 per annum for instruction; and Edward Polehampton, in 1721, erected a chapel, schoolroom, and dwelling-house, which he endowed with £40 a year, for a clergyman to officiate in the chapel, and teach ten boys.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.