Aldworth

Aldworth is a beautiful little village of only 250 inhabitants, on the famous Ridgeway of the Berkshire downs.

There are around 250 inhabitants in the parish, which also includes the neighbouring hamlet of Westridge Green.

Amenities and Facilities

The Aldworth Village Hall was officially opened on Saturday 12 March 2016 by Lord Iliffe.

The Aldworth village hall offers a large hall (approx 11.5m x 7m) that seats 72, with sprung floor, beautiful exposed beams and large windows giving great views onto the field; as well as a smaller meeting room (approx 6.2m x 4.5m), that seats 20 or that can be used as changing rooms. It has a fully equipped kitchen, toilets, disabled access and a shower. Tables and chairs are available for your use in the hall.

There is an Arts & Craft  Group, painting, Pilates, Saturday market and a Toddler group.

Food & Drink

The Bell Inn is a Grade II listed public house at Aldworth, Berkshire, England. It is said to have been a manor house before it became a pub. It was built in the 15th century or possibly earlier, with C17 and C19 alterations and a C20 addition. It has been in the same family continuously since the 18th century. The Bell is your archetypal ‘unspoilt’ pub.

The Four Points Inn is a relaxed, family friendly environment. Ian and Chantelle have been at The Four Points Inn for seven years and offer a varied menu, a cozy, welcoming setting and top quality food and drinks.

Schools

There are no schools in Aldworth

Sports

There is Cricket,  Karate and Walks available.

Church

St Mary’s church in Aldworth dates back in part to around 1200. The Yew tree in the churchyard is at least 1000 years old and though it has been struck by lightning and blown over in a storm it is still partly alive.

It houses the Aldworth Giants. Unique in representing so many of an ancient family in such a small parish, nine members of the de la Beche family lie in stately stone splendour in the little church of St. Mary’s, Aldworth.

The oldest part of Aldworth Church is the lower half of the tower, which is in the style known as Transitional Norman and may be dated about the year 1200, but the site is probably much older. The original circular shape of the churchyard suggests an earlier pagan burying ground which can still be seen by a ring of holly trees to the east of the church. The church yard was extended to the beech hedge in the 1930s.

Health

The Downland Practice has a surgery in nearby Compton.

Transport 

There are no bus routes in Aldworth.

Local History

Aldworth was recorded in the Domesday Book as Elleorde, an Old English name meaning Old Enclosureor Old Farm. During the 12th century it was known as Aldewurda. In medieval times there was a fortified manor or castle at Aldworth.

La Beche Castle once stood on the site of what is now merely Beche Farm in Aldworth. This was the main residence of the De La Beche family, after whom it was named. They were a well-known family of medieval knights holding many high positions at court since at least 1260.

The De La Beche family were powerful landowners and knights in the 14th century. Many of them were retainers to the king, warders to the Tower of London, and sheriffs of Oxfordshire and Berkshire. The family were influential during the reign of Edward II and Edward III, and were embroiled in the royal intrigue of the time.Sir Phillip was imprisoned in Scarborough Castle from 1322 to 1327, but later pardoned by Edward III. His father, also Sir Philip was gaoled and later pardoned during the reign of Edward II.

A mile to the south-west a complete Pottery kiln of Roman date was found which is now in the Science Museum at South Kensington. Two miles to the north-west is the site of the Iron Age camp of Lowbury and just north of the village along the crest of the Downs runs the Ridgeway, perhaps the oldest road in England. The late Colonel Burn in his book The Battlefields of England gives convincing reasons for placing the site of King Alfred’s victory of Ashdown over the Danes, in 871, on the Ridgeway at the meeting of tracks known as Guidepost.

De la Beche effigies
In the 13th century the Manor was held by the Norman family of de la Beche (after a French place name). The nine stone effigies of this family all date from the half century 1300-1350 and are unique in the country. No other parish church possesses anything like them, even in their damaged condition, and to find them in a tiny village is remarkable.

The Reverend F. Llewelyn Lloyd, vicar from 1859 to 1888, gave much thought to identifying the effigies from documents of the age and his conclusions may be taken as the most probable. The nine effigies represent five generations of the family. The splendid figure lying on its side is Sir Philip de la Beche, valet to King Edward II. If he really was as big as that he was indeed a giant! The statues are popularly known as the “Aldworth Giants”. It is possible that the dwarf is deliberately put at his feet to emphasise the contrast. The other eight are those of his grandfather, father, wife, three sons, Lady Isabella, wife of his eldest son Sir John, and a son of these two who died young. Lord Nicholas, in the centre, was a leading figure of the early years of Edward III, Seneschal of Gascony, Constable to the Tower of London, and custodian of the Black Prince as a child. It is presumed that he and Lady Isabella built the south aisle about the year 1340, turning the south wall into an arcade. The south aisle is a little wider than the nave, an unusual feature.

 

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