Barkham probably means ‘Birch Home’ which referred to the birch trees growing on the edge of Windsor Forest. In 952AD it was Beorchamme. In the Domesday Survey of 1086, the Manor (once owned by Edward the Confessor) was held in demesne by the King.
The Black Death of 1348/9 decimated the population in Barkham and many other parts of Berkshire. With fewer people to pay taxes to the Manor, the balance of power between lords and villeins changed forever.
Located on the edge of the Royal Forest of Windsor, during the mid 14th century, Barkham supplied timber used in the roof of the choir of Westminster Abbey in London.
The Bullock family became Lords of the Manor from 1330 to 1589 until accumulating debts forced the sale of Arborfield and the Manor of Barkham in 1589 for £4,000. It is said that the two inns in Arborfield and Barkham were each named ‘The Bull’ after the Bullock family.
Adjacent to the Bull in Barkham is Sparks Farm, originally called Faurbyes (probably after the original owner). Its first recorded occupier was John Hedgers, husbandman, who died there in 1576. Alice, daughter of Thomas Simonds, inherited Sparkes Farm in 1719 and after her marriage to James Allwright they made it their home. In 1758 Alice established Allwright’s Charity for the poor of Barkham and Newland, which is remembered today. Sparkes Farm passed through many hands, until it was sold by the Sturges family in 1948.
Barkham Butts (Biggs Farm) was originally a moated farmhouse mentioned in the earliest surviving Barkham will of Thomas Barowe dated 1505 who left the property to John Gawson. In 1904 the War Office leased 286 acres including Old Biggs Farm and in 1911 it purchased the freedhold and demolished Old Biggs Farm.
The first record of a permanent church in Barkham is that dedicated to St James the Apostle in the early 1300s.
Poor Law Union
Berkshire Family History Society has transcribed a number of the parish records of Barkham.
The registers of Barkham St James (1538 – 1998) are available on a CD.
Over 1,200 marriages of Barkham St James (1542 – 1998) are also contained in the Berkshire Marriages CD 3rd Edition.
Burials from Barkham St James are also included in the society’s Berkshire Burials CD 11th Edition (1539 – 1733, 1733 – 1740 (BTs) and 1741 – 1985).
Barkham St James baptisms (3,026) can also be found in the Berkshire Baptisms CD 2nd Edition (1539 – 1903)
Details of 84 wills and other probate documents relating to men and women from Barkham and proved in the the archdiaconal court between 1532 and 1825 can be found in the Berkshire Probate Index CD.
Links for more information on Barkham
by Brian Wilcock
Two small plaques commemorating deaths in World War I and World War II are on the wall inside the church of St James in Barkham at SU764 664