Maps & Travels
Towns & Villages
Castles & Houses
Odds & Ends
A Place for Cloth Working & Coaches - and a Castle?
In Saxon times, Newbury was a very small village called Ulvriton.
- After the Normans arrived in England, King William the Conqueror gave
Ulvriton away to one of his warriors called Arnulf de Hesdin. Arnulf built a
new town or 'New Borough' there, so the name was changed. It became a great rival of nearby
- In the 1150s, King Stephen was fighting a civil war against his cousin, Matilda, who wanted to be Queen instead of him being King. He is said to have besieged her friend, John Marshal, at 'Newbury Castle'. This was probably just west of the town at
Hamstead Marshall. Stephen was victorious and took John's 7-year-old son,
William, hostage so that he would behave himself afterwards.
- Bad King John was rather
fond of Newbury. He visited several times and started up St. Bartholomew's
Hospital around 1200. This was like an old people's home. During his war with
all the barons, he is said to have hidden in the town.
- In Henry II's reign, customers started going to Thatcham Market instead of Newbury. So the Newbury merchants marched on their rival town and kicked over all the market stalls!
- In late Medieval times, another civil war called the War of the Roses was fought between two people who both thought they should be King: Henry VI and the Duke of York. The people of Newbury supported the Duke of York. So several of them were hung, drawn and quartered by Henry VI!
- Newbury became famous for manufacturing
cloth. The wool came from sheep
farmed on the Berkshire Downs. In Tudor times, the richest wool merchant in England was John Winchcombe, known as
'Jack of Newbury'. He was friends with King Henry VIII and built St. Nicholas' Church in the town.
- In Tudor times, during the Reformation
of the Church, there were many arguments about what sort of Christian you
should be. Lots of Protestants
lived in Newbury. The Queen, 'Bloody Mary,' wanted everyone to be a Roman
Catholic though. So she had several of the townspeople burnt
- Newbury was an important place on the road from the West Country to London. During the English Civil War, between King Charles I and Parliament, armies marching along this road clashed with each other twice around Newbury.
- The 1st Battle of Newbury was fought in 1643 on Wash Common. The 2nd Battle of Newbury was fought in 1644 around Speen. Both were very bloody and no-one really won either.
- In the 18th century, Newbury became a popular stopping place for coaches using the Bath Road from London to Bath. There were many inns and taverns for people to stay in.