People have been living and working in Ashampstead for over 6000 years and originally, together with Upper Basildon, would possibly have been part of a large Saxon estate.
The varying natural resources of each area provided the estate with community needs.
During that period, Ashampstead may well have been called 'Assedone' meaning a 'hill covered in ash trees'.
They are a friendly, vibrant, rural community of approximately 400 residents located in particularly beautiful countryside with access to many miles of woodland and open Downs walks.
Ashampstead’s peace and tranquillity are its principle attraction, but so is its sense of community.
Like many rural communities, Ashampstead does not have a pub, but their resourceful locals got together to create the Ashampstead Arms – a monthly pub night run by volunteers and usually held on the first Saturday in every month at the Village Hall.
Why not come along for a drink and chat!
Throughout the year we have a number of village events and plan to have a lot more.
The village has a beautiful 12th century church – St.Clement’s, a Victorian village hall available for hire, a large recreational ground and a popular farm shop – Casey Fields and Vicar’s Game - where excellent fresh produce can be bought, including quality meats, fish, eggs, vegetables and also has a welcoming café.
Information by kind permission of Rita Butler
WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGERS | AMENITIES AND FACILITIES
Ashampstead is set in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Their village hall is situated in the centre of village, very close to their 12th century church - St. Clement's.
The hall is a handsome Victorian building.
It was built in 1875 and was originally the village primary school.
It has recently been refurbished to a high standard and is suitable for hire as a venue for social occasions, weddings, clubs and meetings.
It has 2 function rooms, a fully equipped kitchen, professional barbecue, car park and lawns.
They have a bar and music licence and arrangements can be made with excellent local suppliers for a catering service.
WiFi connectivity is also available - the password clearly visible around the hall.
This is also where their defibrillator is housed - on the outside wall to the right of the main door.
It is an unlocked cabinet as mobile connection can be spasmodic and time is obviously of the essence.
Clear instructions as to use are given.
WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES: FOOD & DRINK
There is a small coffee area at the local farm shop.
Casey Fields Farm
off Dog Lane
WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES: HEALTH
The Downland Practice has a surgery in nearby Compton and there is also Pangbourne Surgery.
WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES: TRANSPORT
There are no bus routes in Ashampstead.
WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES:SCHOOLS
There is Hampstead Norreys, Compton and Yattendon primary schools nearby.
WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES:Church
The church at Ashampstead was built in the late 12th century as a chapel of Basildon.
The massive timber roof and the bell-turret are of 16th century date.
Berkshire is not best known for a proliferation of medieval wall paintings in its churches, yet Ashampstead Church has some of the finest in the country.
They appear to have been painted in the 13th century by a Benedictine monk, perhaps from Reading Abbey or even Normandy.
The style is certainly of the 'Windsor School' of this period and the technique used was similar to fresco painting.
These colourful pictures were used by the priest to help instruct the congregation about the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity and the appearance of Gabriel to the Shepherds.
The figure of Christ and the Apostles over the chancel arch is particularly powerful, with souls being dragged down to Hell on the right and admitted to Heaven on the left.
The artist paid particular attention to detail, right down to the dogs barking at the archangel.
The new wave of Protestantism in the 16th century did not agree with such religious art and all the paintings were then plastered over.
They were further covered in Biblical texts during the 18th century.
But, in 1886, some of the plaster fell off during a storm and the vicar discovered his church's hidden treasure.
They have been treated to ensure their future preservation in the 20s, the 50s and, most recently, in 1990.
St Clement's has shown to be a popular church for weddings, christenings, etc not least as its setting is so beautiful backed by open fields and in a country lane with classic cottages and houses.
A local team of volunteers keep the interior clean and fresh and arrange beautiful flowers on a regular basis.
Outside, the church yard is also maintained by volunteers, though a professional grass cutter ensures the grass always looks in good order.
WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES:Parish Council
The Parish Council consists of six Councillors who each have a lead responsibility as shown below on the current list of Councillors.
All Councillors, on acceptance to the Council, sign an Acceptance of Office form and an agreement to the Code of Conduct.
The Clerk is employed by the Parish Council and it is the Clerk’s responsibility to attend and minute all meetings whether Ordinary, Annual or Extraordinary.
The Clerk is also the main point of contact for residents.
Ordinary Meetings are held in January, March, May, July, September and November.
Annual General Meetings are usually held in May and Extraordinary Meetings can occur at any time when an issue, usually Planning, arises that needs to be dealt with swiftly.
Recent legislation states that all planning, whether straightforward or controversial, must now be reviewed and discussed by a quorum of Councillors who will hold a meeting at the Village Hall.
Notices of all these meetings are pinned to the notice board at the western front edge of the recreational ground, printed in ‘The Leaflet’ and posted onto their website.
Meetings are held in the Jubilee Hall and usually start at 7.00pm.
Residents may attend any of these meetings and voice their opinions or raise concern on specific matters.
WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES:Ashampstead Recreational Trust
Ashampstead Recreational Trust’s charitable objectives are the provision and maintenance of the Village Hall and recreation ground for the use of the residents and the immediate neighbourhood without distinction of political religious or other opinions including use for meetings, lectures and classes and other forms of recreation with the object of improving the conditions of life for their residents.
The Trustees are all volunteers and give their time enthusiastically to meet the Trust’s objectives.
However, it is heavily reliant on the support of parishioners to keep financially sound.
There are several ways you can help:
Support Village fundraising events such as Pub Nights and special occasions at the Village Hall
Book the Village Hall for your family events
Spread the word to people outside the village that they have an excellent village hall and recreation ground
Give them your suggestions about events that will help them raise funds
If you are willing to volunteer a bit of time to help us with an event or keeping the hall and grounds maintained that would be fantastic.
Contact Les Billing: email@example.com or
Trudi Butcher: firstname.lastname@example.org
WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES:Ashampstead Theatre Club
The ATC was formed with the idea of getting together groups of like-minded people to go together to theatres, cinemas, museums, exhibitions and gardens.
Members attend a social evening once a year when they choose where they’d like to go.
The outings are hosted by individual members with travel either shared or by coach.
Recent outings have been to The Charles Dickens Museum, The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre (A Little Shop of Horrors), Bradford-on-Avon, a Devizes garden, dinner-theatre at The Mill at Sonning, the Oxford Bach Choir at the Sheldonian in Oxford, the Newbury Symphony Orchestra, Guys and Dolls at HMP Bronzefield, La Traviata at the New Theatre, Oxford and several productions at the Watermill Theatre, Newbury.
There is no annual subscription - just a one-off, lifetime payment of £10 and membership is open to anyone who lives, has lived or works in Ashampstead.
Membership brings no obligations at all – just the opportunity to consider some fun outings.
New members are always welcome. If you would like to join, please contact
Mary Calvert (email@example.com)
WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES:The Leaflet
The Aldworth and Ashampstead Leaflet is published every month (except January) and distributed to the residents of these two neighbouring villages.
The annual subscription is £5.00.
Created in 1973, when it was typed up by volunteers on stencils and then printed off on a Roneo machine in the Village Hall kitchen, it is the go-to publication for information about upcoming events, reports of past ones, minutes of village committee meetings, news of comings and goings, births, marriages and deaths.
There are also items of historical interest, gardening notes, public notices, times of church services and church rotas.
The advertisements in The Leaflet are mostly for local services and classes (exercise, art, etc.)
Editorial and design work is shared among different people from both villages.
If you would like to receive The Leaflet every month, please contact us.
Chairman: Mary Calvert firstname.lastname@example.org
Advertising Manager: Will Carter 07803 850927 email@example.com
WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES:Walks
There are plenty of walks in and around Ashampstead - some reasonably short and easy, others will give you a good workout!
All will take you through areas of interest with ever-changing scenery.
Most Friday mornings, locals meet on Flowers Piece at 10.00am and walk for about an hour before coffee at Vicars' Farm Shop - all are welcome whether for walk and coffee or just chat and coffee!
Below is a list of the numbered footpaths & byways and their walk-ability as well as fascinating information on the flora and fauna and historical facts.
An excellent website to visit for full information on footpaths in our area where maps can be downloaded to print is:
A short history of the area:
For most of history the area’s soils have governed the lives of people living on them.
If the soils did not allow the growing of food and fuel and did not provide water no one could live on them.
The bedrock of the Commons area is chalk.
It outcrops in places and is buried under acid soils in others.
Almost all of the soils are permeable so rain runs through them and there is very little surface water.
The well at The Forge is 100 feet (30m) deep.
Few crops, particularly cereals, will grow on acid soils although trees grow well.
For these reasons trees are the natural vegetation of the area.
For the last 6,000 years it has been grazed as Pasture Woodland with varying degrees of intensity.
Only after liming had been introduced to sweeten the soils did arable farming become possible anywhere but on the valley sides and bottoms where the soils were chalky.
In 1235, seeing the woodland resource being swallowed by a growing population, major landowners persuaded the king to allow them to enclose land on their manors provided they left ‘enough’ to serve the needs of their tenants.
This led to woodland being enclosed with banks and ditches and then managed intensively to produce timber and wood.
It also led to a rise in the numbers of deer parks.
The park on the Commons was built between 1235 and 1240 by the lord of Bradfield manor.
He enclosed it with a bank with a ditch on the inside that we can trace for 3½ miles.
A fence or a hedge ran along the top of the bank. Fallow deer were introduced, two park lodges and a pond were built and later an artificial rabbit warren was provided.
In building the bank the remains of a pottery industry was buried on the western edge.
It had thrived for 200 years selling pottery as far afield as Oxford and Reading.
The park seems to have gone out of use by 1600 and the area reverted to a common where manorial tenants could graze animals and gather firewood and bedding for animals.
The tenants were responsible for starting the pollard trees.
Pollards allow their branches to be harvested at intervals without killing the tree and at the same time allow animals to graze without eating the new shoots.
This history of use has developed the very rich ground flora that graces the woods today.
On-going studies have identified well over 200 species to date.
Until County Councils were formed and took over road maintenance in 1889, Parish Councils looked after their roads.
They got material from the cheapest places, the road side waste and the commons.
This quarrying produced the many shallow pits close to roads.
Chalk quarrying produced the deeper pits.
During World War II the Commons were used by the army and remains of huts can be seen.
In 1972 the Rights of Common of individual properties were given up in favour of a Commons Agreement allowing all parishioners access to the woods and in 1996 a joint management group was set up.
This encourages research and volunteer activity to enhance and maintain this beautiful area.
One of the current activities is the ‘Veteran Trees for the Future’ project.
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