Hurst Village (wooded hill)

Hurst depicted on Saxon's map of Berkshire, 1607

A wooden church, dedicated to St Nicholas, was built at Whistley before 1089, possibly on the site of the present parish church. The name Hurst, which means 'wooded hill' was not used until 1220 when, during a visit to Sonning by the Dean of Salisbury, the scribe used 'Herst' when referring to the village.

Hurst grew in importance and, although a daughter church to Sonning, became the centre of a large parish, stretching from Twyford in the north, six miles south to the boundary with Arborfield. East to west it measured between three to four miles, and covered an area of 6,898 acres.

Part of the Tithe Map, 1840

Church Hill, with the parish church, the Castle Inn and Almshouses, is the historical centre of Hurst. But few people live there. Until late in the 19th century Whistley was one of the main centres of habitation. Although some houses existed in Tape Lane, only a handful of people lived along The Street, now called Wards Cross, between Tape Lane and Townsend Pond. No houses are shown there on the map of the manor made in 1723, and in 1840 the street is dominated by Thomas Brent's blacksmith's shop. In fact it is the only property shown on the north side.

Hurst village street map (select name in red for more information)

Aerial view of Hurst (© I J H Richardson)

A Pictorial Tour Through Hurst in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries

A Pictorial Tour Through Hurst in the Late 20th Century

A Pictorial Tour Through Hurst in the 21st Century


References in main text:

         I   Early Forest (1)
        II   Going to Church (6)
       III   The Bounds (2)
      IV   Visitations (8)
       V   The Manors (3)
      VI   The Royal Village (14)
     VII   Peace and Prosperity (14)
    VIII   War and Poverty (8)
      IX   Great Houses (14)
       X   Bread (16)
      XI   Commuting (9)
     XII   Commerce (14)
    XIII   New Farmland (12)
    XIV  Pleasant Memories (12)
     XV  Recently (4)