Aldermaston

Aldermaston is situated between Woolhampton and Theale. A thriving village with the Kennet & Avon Canal running through it, with a canal wharf, cafe and museum.

Amenities & Facilities

There is a quaint parish hall, which is open to neighbouring communities and it can be hired. There are baby changing facilities, disabled parking spaces at the front and a disabled toilet. The main hall has a stage and it has been used for exhibitions, parties, dinners. It has a well equipped kitchen and disabled access. “Posh” China and cutlery can be hired. Alcohol is able to be served, if it is to be for sale, a licence is needed. The smaller hall has a billard table and is suitable for small meetings and clubs. It has the Aldermaston craft group, ladies group, parish council meetings, PCC meetings, the Aldermaston toddler group, the local am dram, and yoga. The is a village shop, Aldermaston Stores.

Food & Drink

There is the Butt Inn, The Hind’s Head Hotel and the Old Mill.

Sports

There are Brownies, Allotments, a Cricket Club, Motor Club, Scouts, a Rugby Club, Village Bowls, Bowman,  Angling, a Gun Club, a Rugby Football Club, Airfield and Runners.

Schools

There is Aldermaston CE Primary School and Cedars School.

Communication

There is the Basingstoke Gazette,  Kennet Radio and the Tadley roundabout. There is also a parish notice board.

Church

The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Aldermaston is the Church of England parish church of Aldermaston in Berkshire. The church, which is dedicated to St Mary, dates from the mid-12th century and has examples of Norman and Jacobean architecture.

Transport

Public transport links are good at the northern and southern ends of Aldermaston Parish but not so good in between.To the north Aldermaston Wharf is connected by train on the Reading-Newbury line and by the Jet-black 1 Reading-Newbury bus service.To the south near AWE there is a frequent bus service to Basingstoke and a peak service only between Reading and AWE. There is a local train service.There are local taxi firms.

Parish Council

Aldermaston Parish Council generally meet on the second Tuesday of every month in the Parish Hall.  The meeting is open to the public and there is a specific item on each month’s agenda for public participation.   You can find out more about what goes on at the Council meetings by looking at the minutes of previous meetings which are public records and can be found on the aldermaston website. The agenda for each meeting, including a list of planning applications to be discussed, is published on this website and on noticeboards 3 working days before the meeting.

Environment

The Pang, Kennet & Lambourn Valleys  include Aldermaston. Their aim is to enhance and protect the natural beauty of the Pang, Kennet and Lambourn valleys and help people appreciate the countryside.

Their objectives are:
a) to conserve and enhance the biodiversity of the natural environment and landscape in the Pang, Kennet and Lambourn valleys.
b) promote environmentally responsible farming practices throughout the projects’ areas.
c) increase awareness of countryside and environmental issues through education and interpretation.
d) involve all sectors of the community in caring for and appreciating the local environment and countryside.

ALDERMASTON – A Brief History

The name Aldermaston was first recorded in 1086 in the Domesday Book. It was written as ‘Aeldremanestone’, which in Old English means ‘Alderman’s Homestead’. At that time an Alderman was an important person, equal to today’s Lord Lieutenant of the County. In 1167, in the Pipe Rolls, it became ‘Aldermannestun’. In 1086 the village ‘answered for 15 hides’ (120 acres) and consisted of ‘land for 30 ploughs, 36 villagers and 12 smallholders, 2 slaves, a mill, two fisheries, a church, meadow, 124 acres, woodland, 30 pigs – value totalled £20 10s’.

In the old book, ‘On Foot in Berkshire’, Aldermaston is described as ‘This dainty village curtseying feudally to the proud gates of the Court ….’ And, despite today’s constant heavy traffic passing up The Street, this is how one would still regard the village.

For hundreds of years the Church and the Manor have been the focal points of the village they owned. In the 11th Century the Lordship came into the possession of William the Conqueror and in 1100 King Henry granted Aldermaston to one of his faithful knights, ROBERT ACHARD. The title then passed down through the centuries to the last resident Lord of the Manor and owner of the estate, CHARLES KEYSER, who bought the estate in 1893. Mr Keyser built the parish Hall and put in a waterworks for the village. The old and original manor house, adjacent to the Church, burned down in 1843 and the present Manor House was built in 1849 by the then Lord of the Manor, DANIEL HIGFORD BURR.

After the death of Charles Keyser the whole estate, including the village, was put up for auction in September 1939 at Reading Town Hall.

At the time of the Norman Conquest there would have been a wooden church, but in Norman times a stone church was built, a small one that has been added to over the centuries. It was restored in the Victorian period, and so it remains today, with its fine alabaster tomb of SIR GEORGE FORSTER and his Lady, dated 1533, and with its windows of medieval glass.

Most of the houses in The Street are now Grade II listed buildings. Many of them were 17th or 18th century estate workers’ cottages, built of red and blue local brick. The larger houses belonged to professional persons such as the doctor and the Vicar, and there are also a number of Victorian dwellings. The public house, THE HINDS HEAD, formerly the Pack Horse and the Congreve Arms, was built in the 17th Century. Behind it is the village LOCK-UP, last used in 1865, when a drunk was locked up and burned himself to death.

Aldermaston has many interesting tales and traditions. It is said it had its own WITCH, Maria Hale, to whom was attributed the casting of spells on villagers. The Headmaster of the village school propagated the WILLIAM PEAR in 1770 and today there is a plaque beside the school commemorating this. The EAGLE GATES – the pair of William the Third wrought iron gates that stand imposingly at the top of the village street – originally belonged to Midgham Manor, but in the early 19th century they were won over a game of cards by the then Lord of the Manor, William Congreve, who then erected them at Aldermaston, and surmounted them by the Congreve family crest – a falcon.

One tradition that still flourishes is the CANDLE AUCTION. This takes place every three years in December, in the Parish Hall, to auction the letting of the land known as Church Acre. The Churchwardens gather and smoke their long clay pipes and the Vicar is the auctioneer. The auction begins with a horseshoe nail being set into the side of a tallow candle, which is then lit, and the bidding closes at the precise moment when the nail falls out.

Aldermaston is also famous for its annual production, in the Church, of the 14th century YORK NATIVITY PLAY. This takes place just before Christmas and 2004 was its 48th year of production. What is very special is that all the parts in this play are played, year after year, by local villagers.

In the 18th and 19th centuries two horse and cattle Fairs were held in The Street in May and October each year. Nowadays the Aldermaston and Wasing produce Show takes place on the first Saturday in September. It was started in 1943 in order to promote the growing of vegetables during the Second World War, but has become an important event in the social calendar of the village, attracting visitors from a wide area.

This, briefly, is what Aldermaston is all about – come and see it for yourselves.

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