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Chamberhouse Castle
Little-Known Fortified Manor

Chamberhouse Farm on Crookham Common, though lately occupied by the Tull family whose monuments can be seen in Thatcham parish church, was originally the site of a late medieval castle or fortified manor house. In 1446, John Pury, the Lord of the Manor of Chamberhouse and esquire to King Henry VI obtained permission from the latter to crenellate his home and empark 300 acres surrounding it. This seems to have been an unpopular move locally, for several presentments were made against Pury in the manorial court the following year. The castle was surrounded by a moat and had its own private chapel and was enjoyed by Pury's descendants in the female line, for almost a hundred and fifty years.

His daughter, Anne, and her husband, William Danvers - a famous judge - later enjoyed the comfort of such splendour and are buried together in a special chantry chapel in Thatcham Church. Their daughter, Isabel, and her husband, Martin Docwra, inherited in 1530 according to an agreement made at the time of their marriage; but their possession seems to have been disputed by the Abbot of Reading who with "sixteen others entered it in arms and did much damage". The last of the family, Edmund Docwra, was forced to attempt to sell up in 1572. Unfortunately, he entered into an agreement with John Astley, Master of the Queen's Jewels, which had a condition in it by which Astley could change his mind, if he announced this in a document nailed to the south door of Thatcham church. This he did with only three days to go before the deal was finalized. Edmund eventually did manage to sell up thirteen years later. So his son, Henry Lord Docwra of Culmore, the famous founder of Derry in Ireland, never inherited the manor. The deer and their park only lasted about a hundred years, and the same may be true of the castle, though it is said to have been finally demolished in 1713.

   

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