Farnborough is located in Oxfordshire although before 1974 it was located in north Berkshire. It is often confused with with the Farnborough in Hampshire which is famous for it’s aviation establishment. Farnborough (Oxon) is situated high on the Berkshire downs and about 11 miles NNW on Newbury and 5 miles SE of Wantage. It is also situated about 2 miles south of an ancient trackway known as the Ridgeway, reputed to be Britain’s oldest road. However, it is not now situated close to any main through routes and is to some extent, unspoiled.
In the 2001 census the population of the civil parish was exactly 100, not a great many more than in 1087. Moreover, the present day population is considerably less than in the past; in 1851 there were 222 souls enumerated in Farnborough. This reflects the drastic reduction of the number of people working on the land and it is probable that many of the present day occupants are either retired or commuters.
Early written records date back to Saxon times when Aethelfred grants the manor to Eadric in 916 AD and then again in 931 AD when Aethelstan grants it to Aelfeah, possibly Eadric’s heir. The next recorded transfer was in 1042 when Hardacnut grants the land to Abingdon Abbey and this is the ownership at the time of the Domesday book when ‘Fermeberge’ is recorded in the Abbey’s holdings. Following the Norman conquest, there was a reduction in the value of the manor which may indicate that some of the inhabitants had resisted the newcomers and had either fought and died or had fled the area. As the value of the manor was based on the amount of land and the number of inhabitants to cultivate it, a reduction in population would inevitably lead to a reduction in value. By the time of the Domesday survey, the value has risen to £8 compared with a pre 1066 valuation of £9. At this time 8 villagers, 10 smallholders and one slave were recorded indicating a population of about 65-70 including women and children
However, Farnborough has a long history, in 1872 four middle bronze age palstaves were found on Latton Down indicating that the area was inhabited long before records began; Roman coins have also been found though these may have been dropped by travellers passing though.
The parish registers of All Saints church (Ordnance Survey grid reference SU743181) have been deposited at the Berkshire Record Office and transcribed by Berkshire Family History Society volunteers. These have been published on CD-ROM and are available from the society shop. The coverage of the CD-ROM includes the baptism registers between 1739 and 2004, the marriage registers between 1739 and 2006 and burial registers between 1739 and 2002. The 8th edition of the Berkshire Burial Index includes burials between 1607 and 2007.