Leckhampstead | West Berkshire Villages

Leckhampstead is North West of Newbury and lies in the North Wessex Downs, an Area of Outstanding Beauty. It includes  Leckhampstead Thicket, where there are a number of thatched cottages, and Hill Green. 

The village is characterised by five distinct areas or ‘Ends’ – Barretts End, South End, Middle End, Church End and Limes End – each with its own cluster of residential properties and interspersed by arable and pasture farmland, with woodland to the north. A smaller area to the east is separated from the rest of the parish by the A422.

Compared to times past, today’s Leckhampstead is small in terms of people and homes, with a population of around 200 and 73 residential properties. However, it can trace its history back to times of a higher population and divided lordships, which is thought to account for the dispersed pattern of settlements.

Leckhampstead is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 and at that time boasted three manors, of which the largest was held by Gilbert Maminot, the bishop of Bayeux. A 2002 survey by the University of Leicester as part of the Whittlewood Project found evidence of house platforms and pottery dating back to medieval days.

In the years 1870 to 1872, there were 106 houses and  482 people. The population decreased over several centuries until by 1901 it stood at 241, less than half of its likely total at the time of the Hundred Rolls ‘census’ of 1279.
 
What has not changed is the main use of the land – agriculture. Records from the Middle Ages show it was used for arable crops such as wheat and oats, together with herds of goats, cattle, pigs and a few sheep. Sheep farming increased following the Enclosures of the late 15th and early 16th century and is still the predominant livestock farmed today.
 

21st century Leckhampstead is a sympathetic mix of historic and modern homes, working farms, miles of public footpaths and bridleways through open countryside, a village hall and green and its most important listed building, the 12th century parish church of St Mary. At one time, it also boasted a village school, pub and shop but which, in common with many other villages, were closed in the 1960s although the buildings remain as private homes.

Leckhampstead church is a beautiful Victorian  building designed by S.S. Teulon in brick and flint.

A road and boundary stone in Leckhampstead, the Hangman's Stone and Hangman's Stone Lane, are named after a story of a man who roped and carried a sheep from a farm in Leckhampstead around his neck (to steal it) but the rope strangled him after he stopped and slept.

 
AMENITIES AND FACILITIES

There is a village hall. A quiz is held once a month, pastel classes, art group and WI. Coffee mornings are held 10.00-12.00am very Wednesday. The hall can be hired. There are disabled toilets and a ramp for disabled access. Email: info@leckhampsteadvillagehall.co.uk. There is a mobile library every three weeks on a Monday, route H.

TRANSPORT

There is a bus service in Leckhampstead. The Downland Volunteer Group provide transport. Tel No: 01635578394 on Monday-Friday 9.30-11.30.

COMMUNICATION

There is a Church PCC website.

CHURCHES

Part of the West Downland Benefice,  St James’ Church has a service at 08.00am every fourth Sunday of the month.

HEALTH

The local GP surgery is the Downland practice.

LECKHAMPSTEAD| WEST BERKSHIRE VILLAGES |HISTORY

Leckhampstead is approximately eight miles north west of Newbury, just west of the B4494 road which runs from Newbury to Wantage, and lies in the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The village is a mixture of modern and more traditional thatched houses with around 300 inhabitants and is mainly open fields and coppices with few roads. It is in three parts – the main, middle part of Leckhampstead, the smaller part to the west, Leckhampstead Thicket, and the hamlet of Hill Green which lies to the east of the B4494.Hill Green was the original Leckhampstead until the time of the plague when this settlement was so devastated that the few remaining inhabitants decided to move to the other side of the valley (now with the B4494 running through it) to the high ground. The chapel (dating from around 1050) remained at Chapel Farm until 1859 when the present church dedicated to St James the Less was built. It houses the Saxon font, the Jacobean pulpit and altar rails, the single church bell (1350) and also the porch timbers from the original chapel and the church itself has an interesting brick work design. The War Memorial is surrounded by naval chains and 4″ shell cases and the clock on the Memorial has hands made from First World War bayonets, hours made of .303 cartridges and minutes made from .303 bullets. In the Census of 1881 there were 311 people living in the Parish with almost all the adults working in the Parish, whereas today, although the number of people in the Parish is much the same, very few actually work there.

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