East Ilsley is a beautiful village which lies in a fold of the Berkshire Downs close to the historic Ridgeway Path.
It became an important trading centre from the 13th century onwards for corn and later for wool, ultimately being granted a Royal Charter by James I in 1620.
The Sheep Fairs held fortnightly, were second only to Smithfield in London and at their height sold 400,000 with the record of 80,000 being penned in a single day.
At the peak there were 24 inns and public houses catering for all the farmers, shepherds and drovers on market days.
Nowadays the village has successfully avoided the problem of overdevelopment retaining its timeless character, and, whilst continuing its link with farming, is more associated with racehorses, with several racing stables being located in or near the village.
The village has links to the A34 by-pass, which previously went straight through the centre of the village and is now sited away to the west of East Ilsley, becoming an important dual carriageway linking the south coast to the Midlands.
The village also boasts a village pond, parish church, two well-known established Inns and a Church of England primary school.
For secondary education there is the highly acclaimed Downs School at the nearby village of Compton (2 miles) which also has a 6th form.
Additionally, there are numerous Private schools in the general local area especially Abingdon.
There are main line stations at Newbury and Didcot, providing fast commuter services up to London (Paddington) in approx 45 mins.
FOOD AND DRINK.
There are two pubs in East Ilsley The Crown and Horns where food is served throughout the day, every day – with a range of menus to satisfy any appetite. From favourite pub classics, a flame grilled rotisserie, stone-baked pizzas and a seasonal specials menu to choose from. dishes that you’ll be dying to dive straight into.
The Swan has a new menu every month including a full range of starters and main meals. The accent is on home-cooked, traditional dishes with options for vegetarians. Situated in the charming Village of East Ilsley in the heart of the rolling Berkshire Downs is one of West Berkshires oldest and historic inns. It offers five well-appointed letting rooms including an enchanting bridal suite. The extensive menu offers a large range of traditional English favourites and our ingredients are carefully chosen and where possible locally sourced. There is a choice of Greene King, seasonal and guest ales. A carefully chosen wine list from the old and new world has something to suit every palate.
The Ilsleys Primary School and Hampstead Norreys Church of England Primary School are now federated. They are a small, friendly village primary school, who believe in providing the best opportunities for the children, of all ages and abilities. They strongly feel that they “achieve more together” and can really make a difference in the children’s lives by building a partnership with our families. The children demonstrate outstanding behaviour and really are a joy to teach. The staff are fully involved in the daily life of the school to ensure that the children get the most out of their learning, enjoy their school and make a positive contribution to our community.
There is a village website.
Resting in the shadow of the Berkshire Downs, the Hermitage Team of Churches covers an area of about 100 square kilometres east of the A34 trunk road and both side of the M4 motorway near to junction 13. The nature of its seven Parishes varies from rural seclusion to busy commuter belt, with residents working in nearby and continuously growing urban developments of Newbury, Reading and Oxford. It is about midway along the M4 corridor between London and Wales.
The nearest doctor’s surgery is the Downland Practice.
There is a bus and the Downland Volunteers
East Ilsley parish council is always happy to talk about issues related to our parish and hear your ideas on how we can continue to work together and strive to make East Ilsley an even better place to live.
EAST ILSLEY | WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGERS | HISTORY
The village of East Ilsley, which can be traced back to the Domesday Book, is situated in the North Wessex Downs, in Berkshire, England in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The village was historically noted for its great Sheep Fairs, and more recently for its horse-racing connections. The East Ilsley Historical Society is dedicated to preserving East Ilsley’s heritage (village records, documents, photographs, maps, etc.), researching aspects of village life and history, then making results and archive material available for the benefit of anyone with an interest in the village.