Last updated

Silchester - - 942386.jpg
The village sign in front of Silchester Village Hall, showing St Mary's Church
Hampshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Hampshire
Population918 (2001 census) [1]
921 (2011 Census including Little London) [2]
OS grid reference SU6262
Civil parish
  • Silchester
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Reading
Postcode district RG7
Dialling code 0118
Police Hampshire
Fire Hampshire and Isle of Wight
Ambulance South Central
UK Parliament
Website Silchester Parish Council
List of places
51°21′11″N1°06′04″W / 51.353°N 1.101°W / 51.353; -1.101 Coordinates: 51°21′11″N1°06′04″W / 51.353°N 1.101°W / 51.353; -1.101

Silchester is a village and civil parish about 5 miles (8 km) north of Basingstoke in Hampshire. It is adjacent to the county boundary with Berkshire and about 9 miles (14 km) south-west of Reading.


Silchester is most notable for the archaeological site and Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, an Iron Age and later Atrebates Celtic settlement first occupied by the Romans in about AD 45, and which includes what is considered the best-preserved Roman wall in Great Britain and the remains of what may be one of the oldest Christian churches.


The present village is centred on Silchester Common. It is about 1 mile (1.6 km) west of the Church of England parish church and former manor house (now Manor Farm), which are in the eastern part of the former Roman town.

Local government

Silchester is a civil parish with an elected parish council. Silchester parish is in the ward of Pamber and Silchester, [3] part of Basingstoke and Deane District Council and of Hampshire County Council and all three councils are responsible for different aspects of local government. The ward returns two councillors to the borough council. [4] The 2011 census recorded a parish population of 921. [1]


Silchester Common is served (as of October 2017) by bus route 14 between Basingstoke, Chineham Shopping Centre, Bramley, Little London, Silchester Common and Tadley, operated by Stagecoach on Monday to Saturday.


Silcester was recorded in the 11th century, when one Alestan held a manor here with King Edward the Confessor as his overlord and one Cheping held another manor with Earl Harold Godwinson as his overlord. [5] The Domesday Book of 1086 recorded that the Normans William De Ow and Ralph de Mortimer possessed Alestan's and Cheping's manors respectively. [5] The book assessed Alestan's manor at five hides and Mortimer's at three hides. [5] De Mortimer's tenant was another Norman, Ralph Bluet. [5] In 1204 he or a later Ralph Bluet gave a palfrey horse in exchange for a licence to enclose an area of land south-east of the former Roman town as a deer park. [5] Today parts of the earthwork park pale survive and parts of the former park remain wooded. [5]

Forms of the toponym included Ciltestere and Cilcestre in the 13th century, Scilchestre in the 14th century and Sylkchester in the 18th century before it reached its current spelling. [5]

The Irish peer Murrough Boyle, 1st Viscount Blesington (1685–1718) bought the manor in 1704 and it remained with his hereditary heirs until the death of William Stewart, 1st Earl of Blessington in 1769. [5] In 1778 it was inherited jointly by Thomas Vesey, 1st Viscount de Vesci and Edward Pakenham, 2nd Baron Longford. [5] In 1806 Baron Longford's daughter The Hon. Catherine Pakenham married Arthur Wellesley, who in 1814 was created Duke of Wellington. In 1821 Catherine's brother Thomas Pakenham, 2nd Earl of Longford was created Baron Silchester, but in 1828 he and John, 2nd Viscount de Vesci sold the manor of Silchester to the Duke. [5] In the first decade of the 20th century Arthur Wellesley, 4th Duke of Wellington still owned the manor of Silchester. [5]

Church and chapel

Parish church of St Mary the Virgin behind the Roman town wall Church of St. Mary Cavella 0414.JPG
Parish church of St Mary the Virgin behind the Roman town wall

The Church of England parish church of St Mary the Virgin is just within the walls of the former Roman town, possibly on the site of a Roman temple. [6] [7] The building may contain some re-used Roman materials. [8] The building dates from the late 12th [5] or early 13th century. [9] It has a north and south aisle, each of two bays. [5] There is no chancel arch, and the chancel is longer than the nave. [5] The wall of the south aisle was rebuilt in about 1325–50, incorporating an ogee-arched tomb recess containing the effigy of a lady wearing a wimple. [9] Two new windows were added to the church in the 14th century, and two more including the Perpendicular Gothic [9] east window of the chancel in the 15th century. [5]

The church has a Perpendicular Gothic [9] rood screen. [5] The pulpit was made early in the 18th century but its tester is dated 1639. [9] There is also a carved memorial cartouche to the Irish peer Viscount Ikerrin (died 1712). [9] The bell-turret has a ring of five bells. Four were cast by John Stares of Aldbourne, [10] Wiltshire in 1744. [11] The other was cast by William Taylor of Oxford [10] in 1848. [11]

There is a Primitive Methodist chapel on Silchester Common. [5]

Iron Age and Roman town

Site plan Calleva Atrebatum plan.png
Site plan

Calleva Atrebatum was an Iron Age oppidum and subsequently a town in the Roman province of Britannia and the civitas capital of the Atrebates tribe. Its ruins are beneath and to the west of the parish church, which is itself just within the town wall and about 1 mile (1.6 km) to the east of the modern village.

The site covers an area of over 107 acres (43 ha) within a polygonal earthwork. The earthworks and extensive ruined walls are still visible. The remains of the amphitheatre, [12] added about AD 70–80 and situated outside the city walls, can also be clearly seen. The area inside the walls is now largely farmland with no visible distinguishing features, other than the enclosing earthworks and walls, with the church and old manor house in one corner.

Silchester was the subject of antiquarian interest from the 16th century onwards. The bronze Silchester eagle was discovered in the Basilica at Calleva in 1866 and can now be seen in Reading Museum. The most extensive excavations were carried out by the Society of Antiquaries from 1890 until 1909 under George E. Fox and W. H. St. J. Hope. [13] During excavations carried out in 1893, the Silchester Ogham stone was located. Dated c. 500 AD, it is one of very few found in England. It is now held in storage at Reading Museum. The inscription on the ogham stone was in the Latin alphabet, but in Irish and appears to be indicating that the property belonged to someone named Tebicatos. [14] The precise identity of Tebicatos remains a mystery, but it is possible that he was a pilgrim or a mercenary. [15]

Analysis of plant remains shows that Calleva residents had access to typcal foods eaten in Roman Britain, such as cereals, coriander, and cultivated fruits. They also received imports of exotic medlar and mulberry fruits. [16]

Calleva was finally abandoned in the 7th century, which is unusually late compared to other deserted Roman settlement. [17]


Silchester's sole public house is the Calleva Arms, [18] named after the former Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum that lies within the village boundary. It was known as The Crown prior to being renamed.

The parish has regular events and village activities through the year including a beer festival, fun run, church fete, and music festival. [19] The village has an amateur dramatic society [20] and a village association. [21]

Silchester Cricket Club [22] compete in Regional Division Three North East in the Hampshire Cricket League. [23]


Silchester has a Church of England aided primary school. [24] Most Silchester children of secondary school age attend The Hurst School in Baughurst.


Silchester was voted "Hampshire Village of the Year" (2008) and "South England Village of the Year" (2009) in the Calor Village of the Year competition. [25]

Silchester Environs Project

The University of Reading is leading a five-year archaeological research project to explore the later prehistoric use of the landscape around Silchester Roman Town and its underlying Late Iron Age oppidum (ancient Celtic fortified town). To date (2020) the project has identified 671 new archaeological sites, from the Neolithic through to WWII, in addition to the 267 already known. [26] A number of reports on the archaeological investigations have been published by Historic England. [27]

Notable persons

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Calleva Atrebatum</span>

Calleva Atrebatum was an Iron Age oppidum, the capital of the Atrebates tribe. It then became a walled town in the Roman province of Britannia, at a major crossroads of the roads of southern Britain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tadley</span> Town in Hampshire, England

Tadley is a town and civil parish in the English county of Hampshire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roman road from Silchester to Bath</span>

The Roman road from Silchester to Bath connected Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester) with Aquae Sulis (Bath) via Spinae (Speen), Cunetio and Verlucio. The road was a significant route for east–west travel and military logistics in south-east England during the 1st to 5th centuries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Little London, Tadley, Hampshire</span> Human settlement in England

Little London is a village situated between the North Hampshire Downs and the gravel plains of the Kennet valley, 7 miles (11 km) north of Basingstoke and 15 miles (24 km) south of Reading. It is situated within Pamber civil parish and backs on to Pamber Forest, a 500-acre (2.0 km2) SSSI and remnant of the much larger ancient Royal Forest of Pamber. It is recorded as having been established for at least 400 years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wharram Percy</span> Deserted medieval village in North Yorkshire, England

Wharram Percy is a deserted medieval village and former civil parish near Malton, North Yorkshire, on the western edge of the chalk Wolds of North Yorkshire, England. It is about 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Wharram-le-Street and is signposted from the Beverley to Malton road (B1248). Wharram Percy was part of the East Riding of Yorkshire until the 1974 boundary changes. In 1931 the parish had a population of 40.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Foudry Brook</span> River in Hampshire and Berkshire, England

Foudry Brook is a small stream in southern England. It rises from a number of springs near the Hampshire village of Baughurst, and flows to the east and then the north, to join the River Kennet to the south of Reading. The upper section is called Silchester Brook, and beyond that, Bishop's Wood Stream. The underlying geology is chalk, covered by a layer of clay, and so it has the characteristics of a clay stream, experiencing rapid increases in level after heavy rain due to run-off from the surrounding land. It passes a number of listed buildings and scheduled monuments, including the site of the Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum or Silchester.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tidmarsh</span> Village in England

Tidmarsh is a village in West Berkshire, England. Its development is mainly residential and agricultural, and is centred on the A340 road between Pangbourne and Theale. The rural area is bounded by the M4 motorway to the south. It is centred 1.5 miles (2.4 km) south of Pangbourne, 5.5 miles (8.9 km) west of Reading and 40 miles (64 km) west of London.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wrest Park</span> Country estate in Bedfordshire, England

Wrest Park is a country estate located in Silsoe, Bedfordshire, England. It comprises Wrest Park, a Grade I listed country house, and Wrest Park Gardens, also Grade I listed, formal gardens surrounding the mansion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stratfield Mortimer</span> Human settlement in England

Stratfield Mortimer is a village and civil parish, just south of Reading, in the English ceremonial county of Berkshire and unitary authority area of West Berkshire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boxford, Berkshire</span> Village in England

Boxford is a village and civil parish in the unitary authority of West Berkshire, England. The village is on the east bank of the River Lambourn, about 4 miles (6.4 km) northwest of Newbury but south of the M4 motorway. The hamlet of Westbrook is on the opposite bank of the Berkshire Downs tributary.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Padworth</span> Human settlement in England

Padworth is a dispersed settlement and civil parish in the English county of Berkshire, with the nearest town being Tadley. Padworth is in the unitary authority of West Berkshire, and its main settlement is at Aldermaston Wharf or Lower Padworth, where it has Aldermaston railway station. It has its southern boundary with Mortimer West End, Hampshire. The south of the parish is wooded towards its edges and the north of the parish is agricultural with a hotel beside the Kennet and Avon Canal. In the centre of the parish is a school, Padworth College, which is Georgian and a later incarnation of its manor house.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Port Way</span> Roman road that ran from Calleva Atrebatum to Sorbiodunum

Port Way is an ancient road in southern England, which ran from Calleva Atrebatum in a south-westerly direction to Sorbiodunum. Often associated with the Roman Empire, the road may have predated the Roman occupation of Britain.

Aldermaston Soke is a hamlet that lies on the county boundary between Berkshire and Hampshire, and is administratively part of the civil parish of Mortimer West End, which was transferred from Berkshire to Hampshire in 1879.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mortimer West End</span> Human settlement in England

Mortimer West End is a village and civil parish in north Hampshire in England. It lies in the northernmost point of the county.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pamber Heath</span> Village in Hampshire, England

Pamber Heath is a village in north Hampshire, England. Situated within the civil parish of Pamber, the village lies at the north end of Pamber Forest.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">West Worldham</span> Human settlement in England

West Worldham is a small village in the East Hampshire district of Hampshire, England. It is 2.1 miles (3.4 km) southeast of Alton. Hartley Mauditt and East Worldham are nearby, which along with West Worldham form the Parish of Worldham. West Worldham contains some eighteen houses with a population of about 50; about half the population of 1851, when it was 98. Of note is the Manor Farm and cottage and the late 12th century St Nicholas Church, both Grade II listed buildings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Caesar's Camp, Bracknell Forest</span>

Caesar's Camp is an Iron Age hill fort around 2400 years old. It is located just in Crowthorne civil parish to the south of Bracknell in the English county of Berkshire. It falls within the Windsor Forest and is well wooded, although parts of the fort have now been cleared of some trees. The area is managed by the Forestry Commission but owned by Crown Estate, and is open and accessible to the public. The hill fort covers an area of about 17.2 acres and is surrounded by a mile-long ditch, making it one of the largest in southern England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chichester to Silchester Way</span>

The Chichester to Silchester Way is a Roman Road between Chichester in South-East England, which as Noviomagus was capital of the Regni, and Silchester or Calleva Atrebatum, capital of the Atrebates. The road had been entirely lost and forgotten, leaving no Saxon place names as clues to its existence, until its chance discovery through aerial photography in 1949. Only 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) of the 62 kilometres (39 mi) long road remain in use.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">West End Brook</span> River in England

West End Brook is a small stream in southern England. It rises near the Hampshire village of Tadley. Its name is probably related to the parish, and village, it passes through for some of its course: Mortimer West End.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bow Brook, Hampshire</span> River in Hampshire, England

Bow Brook is a small river in the English county of Hampshire, which is a tributary of the River Loddon. Contributary streams rise near Ramsdell and Sherborne St John, and after flowing through rural countryside, it joins the Loddon near Sherfield on Loddon. Historically it has powered at least two watermills.


  1. 1 2 "Area selected: Basingstoke and Deane (Non-Metropolitan District)". Neighbourhood Statistics: Full Dataset View. Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  2. "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  3. "HCC Ward Boundaries" (PDF). 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 October 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
  4. "Basingstoke and Deane Wards Information Councillors for Pamber & Silchester". Archived from the original on 11 May 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Page, 1911, pages 51–56
  6. "The Parish Church: The Silchester Trail" (PDF). Hampshire County Council. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  7. Johnson, Walter J. (1912). Byways in British Archeology. Cambridge : The University Press. pp.  24.
  8. Aston & Bond, 1976, page 53
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pevsner & Lloyd, 1967, page 505
  10. 1 2 "Bell Founders". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  11. 1 2 "Silchester S Mary". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
  12. Silchester amphitheatre
  13. Lodwick 2016, p. 2.
  14. Fulford 2021, p. 190.
  15. Fulford 2021, p. 193.
  16. Lodwick 2016, p. 16 & 18.
  17. Roman colonies in Subroman Britain
  18. Calleva Arms
  19. Pete's Silchester Pages
  20. Silchester Players Archived 22 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  21. Silchester Association
  22. Silchester Cricket Club
  23. Hampshire Cricket League
  24. Silchester Church of England Primary School
  25. "Calor Village of the Year competition". 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2010.[ permanent dead link ]
  26. "Silchester Environs Project". Silchester Archaeology. Retrieved 9 June 2020.

Sources and further reading