White Hart Crest of the Royal County of Berkshire David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History

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Smewyns Farm at Shottesbrooke - © Nash Ford PublishingShottesbrooke
Small and Idyllic

At the time of the Domesday Book, Shottesbrooke was owned by Alward, the Saxon Royal Goldsmith, and it was here the Saxon Royal Regalia was forged. Charcoal from the local woods being used for the smelting. It was his skilled craft that enabled Alward to keep his lands under the Norman Kings. A medieval village stood here between the 13th and 15th centuries, but it has long gone. The Parish and Collegiate Church of Shottesbrooke must be the most idyllic in the county. It is a cruciform building entirely of the decorated period, put up in 1337 by the Lord of the Manor, Sir William Trussell. The spire was said to be based on that of Salisbury Cathedral.

William was Constable of Odiham Castle (Hants), and the step-son (and heir) of Edward IIís favourite Oliver De Bordeaux. He may have moved to Berkshire when he inherited the Manor of Foliejon (Winkfield), but he did not live there long. He bought Shottesbrooke from a London Vintner two years before he founded an ecclesiastical college and built the church for the attendant warden, five chaplains and two clerks. These clergymen were to sing masses for the souls of the King, for William and for all his ancestors and descendants. In return they received 40s in rent from the manor and the right to appoint the parish priest. The little door, still to be seen, on the churchís southern side once had a covered walkway connecting it to the chaplainsí residence: two spacious halls with parlours and high chimneys. Inside the church are some wonderful medieval memorials: The founderís superb decorated tomb (did it once house wooden effigies?), one of the college chaplains in his stone coffin and several fascinating brasses, including Trussellís daughter (ancestress of the Pembridges of Tong (Salop)) and a stunning 14th century priest and layman (missing inscription, but probably the Warden of Shottesbrooke, John Bradwell, & William Frith, a London merchant and probable relative who died in 1386).

Prince Arthur, elder brother of Henry VIII, had a hunting lodge at Smewyns Farm and often visited the parish. It was later the home of the late 17th century theologian, Henry Dodwell, a great friend of Francis Cherry, the lord of the manor who resided at Shottesbrooke Park, an Elizabethan house built for a cousin of Speaker Powle, but greatly remodelled in later ages. Cherry was a pious man, but a staunch Jacobite. He was thus no great friend of the King, William III, who he saw as a usurper. The two, however, did share a great love of hunting. Cherry was a famous horseman and the King, who often met with his hounds at Shottesbrooke, became his rival. The former would risk his life at the most difficult leaps for the mere chance that the King would follow and break his neck! Later the house was the home of the Vansittarts, one branch of whom moved to Bisham, and their cousins, the Smiths, who still live there.

    © Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.