Description of Aldermaston 1813

This description of Aldermaston is extracted from Magna Britannica, printed in 1813,

Volume 1 Part 2 Berkshire Pages 230-231

Page 230

ALDERMASTON, in the hundred of Theale, lies south of the Kennet, on the borders of Hampshire, eight miles S.E. of Newbury, and about 12 S.W. of Reading.

The royal army, under the command of Colonel Gage, on its route from Oxford to Basing House, in 1644, halted at this village; on their return, finding the enemy in possession of the place, they went by another road a. The Earl of Essex was with his army at Aldermaston, in the month of October, the same year, and marched thence by way of Padworth and Bucklebury Heath, to Newbury b, immediately before the second battle which was fought near that town. The Earl of Manchester lay at Sir Humphrey Foster’s house, the 17th of October, on his route from Reading to Newbury c.

The manor of Aldermaston is said to have been given to Richard Achard, by King Henry I d. It certainly was in the possession of one of that family and name, so early as the year 1229 e, and continued to belong to his descendants in the male line., till about the year 1358, when it passed by marriage to the De la Mares f, and from them about 1500 to the Forsters. Sir George Forster, who was sheriff of Berkshire and Oxfordshire in 1514, married Elizabeth, the daughter and heir of John De la Mare esq. His father, Humphrey Forster, who served the office of Sheriff for the same counties in 1472, is described by Fuller as of Aldermaston :

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it appears more probable that he was of Harpeden, in Oxfordshire, which was the family seat before they became connected with Aldermaston. Sir Humphrey Forster, son of Sir George, was one of the esquires of the body to King Henry VIII. His descendant, Sir Humphrey, was honoured with a visit from Queen Elizabeth in 16o1, in 1620 he was created a baronet.
William Lord Stawell, having married Elizabeth, only daughter of William Pert esq.  sole heiress, in right of her mother, of Sir Humphrey Forster bart. by whose death the title became extinct in 1711, became possessed of this manor, which passed to Ralph Congreve esq in consequence of his marriage with Charlotte, only surviving child of Lord Stawell above mentioned, by his wife Elizabeth. Aldermaston is now the property of William Congreve esq. a collateral relation of Ralph Congreve above mentioned, who died without issue.

Aldermaston-house, the seat of Mr. Congreve, was almost wholly rebuilt by Sir Humphrey Forster in 1636. A large stack of chimneys in brick-work, variously ornamented, evidently exhibits the remains of a much more ancient mansion. The windows of the hall, and some other rooms, are decorated with coats of arms in stained glass, representing the matches of the families of Achard, De la Mare, and Forster. The hall is very lofty, and is surrounded by a spacious gallery. The house having been lately fitted up, and all the ornaments restored as they were in 1636, exhibits a curious specimen of the style of decoration then in use.
In the parish church are several monuments of the Forster family, particularly an altar tomb of alabaster, with the figures of Sir George Forster, who died in. 1526, and his wife Elizabeth, heiress of the De la Mares; round the sides, under Gothic canopies, are small figures of eleven sons in armour, and eight daughters, with the angular head-dresses of that time. The tomb of one of the ancient family of Achard is denoted by the arms, but the inscription is gone.

The benefice of this parish, which lies in the deanery of Reading, has been called a vicarage, but improperly; there is no income whatever annexed to it, and the minister has been appointed, ever since the reign of Queen Elizabeth, by the lord of the manor, without any particular form, and without receiving institution from the bishop. The lord of the manor has, ever since that period, received all the tythes, both great and small, which were formerly appropriated to the priory of Sherbourn, paying a small quit-rent to Queen’s College, in Oxfords g.

It is erroneously stated in Bacon’s Liber Regis, that the patronage of the Vicarage, as it is there called, is vested in that college.

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Robert Dixon, minister of this parish in 1706, built four alms-houses for poor widows.

There are three annual fairs at Aldermaston, May 6, July 7, and Oct 11.

a Clarendon’s Hist. of the Rebellion, 8vo. II. 529. 531.
b Heath’s Chronicle, p. 64
c Coates’s History of Reading, p.42.
d Leland.
e Col. Rot. 13 Hen. III.
f Esch. Edw. III.
g From the information of the Rev. Mr. Bird, the late minister.

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