Discover Newbury's History
Delve deep into the past and discover the last 1,000 years of Newbury's history as a market town
For nearly 1,000 years, since the days when William the Conquerer sat on the English throne, Newbury has been recorded as a town with the right to hold a market and a fair. The basic potted history included in the timeline below has been taken from information sourced online, including the Newbury History website and Newbury’s Wikipedia page.

If you’re fascinated by local history, pay a visit to the wonderful West Berkshire Museum in Newbury’s Wharf. Greenham Common Control Tower also has a fantastic museum focusing on the history of Greenham Common in the unique setting of one of its few remaining airfield buildings.

Before you travel down the page and journey through time, take a few minutes to watch this wonderful video from Philip Cutting about the oldest buildings in Newbury and how Dendrochronology has enabled historians to accurately date them. Philip also has a brilliant video about Jack of Newbury here.

11th Century

Newbury was recorded as a town which had the right to hold a fair and a market. The manor of Newbury was granted by William the Conqueror to a French Knight, Emulph de Hesdin, in 1080.

11th Century

12th Century

Newbury Castle was built by John Marshal in the nearby village of Hamstead Marshall, 4 miles west of Newbury.
12th Century

13th Century

King Henry III visited town for the Newbury Tournament on Ash Wednesday in 1248, which William de Valance participated in.
13th Century

14th Century

During the Black Death in 1349, up to a third of the population of Newbury sadly died. Donnington Castle was rebuilt by Sir Richard Abberbury in around 1386.
14th Century

15th Century

During the late 15th century, Newbury came to prominence for manufacturing highly regarded cloth. In 1466, St Bartholomew’s School was founded and is still in existence today, albeit it within new premises.
15th Century

16th Century

Two of Newbury’s most famous clothiers were “Jack of Newbury” John Winchcombe and Thomas Dolman, who built Shaw House in the late 16th century. Decades earlier, Christopher Shoemaker in 1518 and “The Martyrs of Newbury” in 1556 were burnt at the stake in the town for their respective religious beliefs. In 1596, Newbury was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I.
16th Century

17th Century

The two battles of Newbury took place during the English Civil War. In 1643, the First Battle of Newbury was fought in what is now Wash Common, with the Earl of Essex and his men overcoming King Charles’s army after they ran out of gunpowder. In 1644, Donnington Castle was reduced to a ruin following 20 months of being besieged by the Parliamentarians in the Second Battle of Newbury.
17th Century

18th Century

During the 18th century, Newbury was a coaching centre, perfectly positioned on the Old Bath Road for travellers journeying from Bath to London. The town started to flourish and new industries were established including agriculture, with barley shipped to London via the River Kennet.
18th Century

19th Century

The early 19th century saw the Kennet & Avon Canal developed between Reading and Bristol, which was used for transporting corn until its decline when the Great Western Railway arrived later that century. Newbury’s reputation as a coaching hub continued and accommodation and entertainment venues such as inns, theatres, and horse racing opened to service the passing travellers.
19th Century

20th Century

In the 20th century, Newbury rose to prominence for horse racing with the construction of Newbury Racecourse, activity at Greenham Common, and the Newbury bypass protests. During WW2, some local residents were wounded and killed when the town was bombed, Newbury Racecourse provided a marshalling yard for the American army, and Greenham Common was part-occupied by the 101st Airborne Division. During the cold war, Greenham Common was an American nuclear bomber base and later a Cruise missile base, with 96 fully operational cruise missiles. In 1996, the clearance of woodland for the A34 Newbury bypass led to some of the largest anti-road protests in European history.
20th Century

21st Century

The beginning of the 21st century saw Parkway Shopping arrive in the town centre, bringing a wider selection of national brands and independent retailers to Newbury. Newbury attracted its own cinema and development began in Market Street, providing new apartments and a gateway into the town centre from Newbury railway station. Greenham Common came to prominence again when it was used as a filming location for Star Wars (The Force Awakens).
21st Century

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