Whistley (marshy meadow)

Whistley Green (top of map) and site of Whistley Court Mansion
from Dalby's map of Berkshire, 1723. Note the gates on the left at
the end of the drive that were later moved to Bill Hill, and the small jetty
at the river bend. (click the map for 1761)

In 968 AD King Edgar established a manor at Whistley when he made a grant of land out of his royal forest. It was a gift to Wulfstan, the Abbot of Abingdon Abbey:

Wherefore I, Edgar, King of the English and governor and leader of the peoples, I concede to my faithful minister who is called Wulfstan ten hides in perpetuity in that place where some time ago they gave to that part of the country the name of Uuieselea; and let him have it and possess it for as long as his spirit shall have a body. Moreover, when the day of his death shall come, he may leave the land to who ever he wishes in eternal heritage. The said gift is free from all worldly hindrances, with everything that belongs to it, pastures, meadows, and woods, excepting these three things: military services and the construction of bridges and fortresses.

Whistley Court Mansion

A substantial house known as Whistley Court Mansion would have been built after the manor was created. The surrounding land became known as Hurst Park.

Whistley Green and Whistley Court Mansion from Rocque's map of
Berkshire, 1761 (mostly excavated for gravel) (click for 1723 map)

Aerial view of site of Whistley Court Mansion looking towards
Lodge Road, 1987, before gravel extraction work began
(© G J Siddall)

In 1987, after gravel extraction had begun, Frank Lacy and a small party from the Twyford and Ruscombe Local History Society visited the site of Whistley Court Mansion and the following report was printed in the Society's Journal:

The contractor had already stripped the topsoil from the neighbouring fields to reveal the gravel, but had avoided the site of the house itself. in accordance with the terms of the planning permission. However the ramp leading to their track to the new Bailey Bridge over the Loddon passes through the brick foundations of some of the outbuildings. The construction work also laid bare some of the brick footings of the Manor as well as a couple of brick tunnels which appear to be drainage culverts.

Brick foundations photographed by G J Siddall at site of Whistley Court Mansion, 1988
(© G J Siddall)

From all this we were able to deduce the outlines of the main building and the outhouses. We also located what looks like the terrace of a formal garden to the south and a circular ornamental pond to the east (which is shown on early O.S. maps). The brickwork is mainly Tudor; the roots of a large lime tree, blown over in last October's gale, contain a segment of brick flooring which we thought might have been from one of the stables. There was no sign of the post-Elizabethan additions which disappeared when, following a fire, the house was demolished in the middle of the 19th century.

We found no clues to the position of the site of the medieval Manor House which was occupied by the Steward of the Abbey of Abingdon. Of the fruit and nut trees referred to by Sam Bullock, only a single walnut remains. There is still however a very old wooden building to the south-west which shows signs of having been a cottage. The fine avenue of trees towards Lea Farm is in good condition. unlike the chestnuts which used to flank the drive from Lodge Road. The site of the ancient boathouse, on an inlet from the Loddon, is fairly easy to deduce.

View across the Loddon towards Lea Farm showing gravel workings, 2001. (© I J H Richardson)

Whistley Court Mansion site with the avenue of trees referred to in the following article.

Whistley Mill


Left: Whistley Mill, 1723. Right: Whistley Mill, 1840

A mill has existed at Whistley since at least 1086 when the Domesday Survey was recorded. It features on the map of the Manor of Hurst made in 1723, and another map surveyed in 1770 describes it as a 'Paper Mill'. When the Tithe Award map was produced in 1840, the mill and land were owned by John Leveson-Gower of Bill Hill, and leased to Henry H Wingfield. The buildings were described as 'Paper mill dwelling house and garden' with some 96 acres of ozier, meadow, pasture and arable land attached.

Whistley Mill had disappeared by the end of the century - though the Mill House survived until gravel was extracted on the site in the second half of the 20th century.

Site of Whistley Mill Farm House, 2001

Whistley Mill landfill site.

References in main text:

         I   Early Forest (9)
        II   Going to Church (13)
       III   The Bounds (6)
      IV   Visitations (1)
       V   The Manors (1)
      VI   The Royal Village (4)
     VII   Peace and Prosperity (1)
    VIII   War and Poverty (7)
      IX   Great Houses (4)
       X   Bread (2)
      XI   Commuting (5)
     XII   Commerce (5)
    XIII   New Farmland (6)
    XIV  Pleasant Memories (2)
     XV  Recently (1)