Letcombe Regis is a little less than two miles south of Wantage, in the Vale of the White Horse, which was in Berkshire for centuries until it was transferred to Oxfordshire in 1974.
The village stands on a branch of the river Ock, and near the Wilts and Berks canal. With its sister villages Letcombe Bassett and East and West Challow, the three once formed a single estate, from which Letcombe Bassett had been separated by the time of the Domesday survey. The chapelries of East and West Challow remained part of Letcombe Regis until 1852, when these two townships formed one ecclesiastical parish and later, two civil parishes.
The Letcombe Brook flows through the village, widening in places to form small lakes.
2,155 acres (872 hectares)
416 in 1851; 578 in 2011
Poor Law union
Present-day local authority
Vales of the White Horse, Oxfordshire
SU 38 86
Adjoining parishes in 1851
See Berks FHS Books for coverage of this parish in the society’s range of CDs.
See also Berkshire Record Office holdings.
- H J Daniell Extracts from notes on Letcombe Regis (1906)
- Letcombe Regis: snapshots of a downland village (Letcombe Regis Parish Council, 1994)
Anglican church and parochial organisation
Letcombe Regis is a vicarage in the diocese of Oxford. It formerly included the chapelries of East and West Challow, which separated out as another parish in 1852.
The church of St Andrew dates from the late twelfth century. It underwent a radical restoration in 1858.
An Evangelical Alliance listing of 1857 names the Rev Daniel Thatcher as Wesleyan preacher of Letcombe Regis. Primitive Methodist preachers also visited from the Faringdon Circuit, according to a Methodist magazine of 1846.
A small endowed school existed in 1833. A school and schoolteacher’s house were built by subscription in 1856, together with a £20 grant from the National Society, and a directory of 1868 confirms that National and infant schools existed.
The 1851 census recorded the Sparrow Inn, which is now a private house. A directory of 1868 lists the Greyhound, which still exists today. (In the same year the blacksmith doubled as beer seller.) It is said that the Riot Act was read from the front of the Greyhound, in the late nineteenth century, apparently for the last time in England, after locals burnt an effigy of the owner of Antswick manor.
Other local history
The parish contains an Iron Age hill fort, known both as Letcombe Castle and as Segsbury Camp.
The title "Regis" is claimed in connection with a local hunting lodge said to have been owned by King John.
Letcombe Regis was for centuries one of the seats of the wealthy and powerful Fettiplace family.
The area has long been associated with hare-coursing, and since the mid-nineteenth century, racehorse training. Horse-racing took place for a short period in the late eighteenth century on Craven-owned land.
Bowers Farm, in the 1851 census, housed not only the Plowman family of six, a governess and maid, but also seven farm servants. The acreage was given as 755, on which Robert Plowman employed 31 labourers.
The churchyard contains an obelisk monument to George King Hipango, a Maori chieftain who died of tuberculosis at Letcombe Regis in 1871, aged 19. He had been staying at the vicarage while training to become a missionary.