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Things to do in Bucklebury, Berkshire

Boats moored at Thames in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England
Boats on The Thames at Abingdon © Shutterstock / stocker 1970

Few people had heard of the small village of Bucklebury in Berkshire until April 2011, when suddenly the news was full of one family from the village - the Middletons.

Catherine Middleton had been the longtime girlfriend of Prince William and they were married on April 29, 2011.

Situated on the banks of the River Pang, the early village was named after Burghild, an Anglo-Saxon princess.

Bucklebury is first recorded in a charter in 956 AD when King Eadwy granted Abingdon Abbey the rights to wood from the forest to rebuild Abingdon Church.

However, the village has much earlier traces of civilization with the remains of Roman dwellings and a Bronze Age fort near the northwest parish boundary.

With the arrival of the Normans in 1066, it became part of the royal hunting grounds.

In 1086 it was recorded in the Domesday Book as Borchedeberie and after various spellings, it became known as Bucklebury in the 18th-century.

The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin in parts dates back to the 11th-century.

The village did not expand beyond a small community as newer properties were built on higher ground at Upper Bucklebury, above the river floodplain.

Henry I granted Bucklebury to his new abbey at Reading in 1153 and the Abbot had a manor house built in the village.

Fish ponds which provided his household with fish can still be seen. There were several small watermills along the river which were used for grinding corn.

Press cameras and lighting equipment prepared to report the birth of the royal baby outside the parish church in Bucklebury, England
Parish Church, Bucklebury © Shutterstock / photocritical

Between 1158 and 1165 the plague hit the village and many people died.

It is recorded that the Abbot of Reading brought the hand of St James, celebrated mass in the church and dipped the hand in holy water.

He then stood on the nearby hill, blessed the village and the plague stopped at that very hour.

With the Dissolution of the Monasteries Act in 1536, Abbot Hugh of Reading refused to surrender his abbey to the king.

He was imprisoned in the Tower of London and then executed outside his own abbey.

The Manor of Bucklebury was given to John Winchcombe, an influential Member of Parliament from 1544.

He replaced the Abbot's house with a fine Elizabethan house where it is said his son entertained Queen Elizabeth I.

The lovely avenue of oaks was planted to commemorate her visit.

Unfortunately, the house was damaged by fire in 1830 and all but one wing was demolished.


Present Day Bucklebury

Bucklebury is 12 miles west of Reading and has a population of just over 2,000.

The larger village of Upper Bucklebury has a general store, village hall, pub, church and a primary school.

St. Helens Church, Abingdon with the Thames in front
St. Helens Church, Abingdon © Shutterstock / Arena Photo UK

Bucklebury is clustered around the parish church and a tour of the church will reveal a beautifully carved Norman doorway with rosettes, faces and flowers.

Inside there is a mediaeval muniments chest carved from one tree which would have stored parish records and valuable church silver.

The Blade Bone Inn got its name as the copper sign encases the bladebone of a mammoth discovered in the 17th century.

The Manor has been in the hands of the Hartley Russell family since 1540.

It is now the site of the Bucklebury Farm Park with farm animals and tractor rides.

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