Winterbourne is a village and civil parish in the Berkshire Downs, about three miles north of Newbury. It is also the name of the stream, a tributary of the river Lambourn, which runs in winter, not summer, through the parish.

Winterbourne is a chapelry of Chieveley ecclesiastical parish, and therefore Winterbourne church parish still answers to Chieveley. In local government terms however it was created as a separate civil parish in the late nineteenth century.

Local place names include Hop Castle, North Heath, Penclose, Snelsmore, Bussockand Honey Bottom.

There are Winterbournes also in Kent and Gloucestershire.


2,112 acres  (855 hectares)


395 in 1851; 189 in 2011



Poor Law union


Registration district


Present-day local authority

West Berkshire

Grid reference

SU 45 72

Adjoining parishes in 1851

Boxford, Chieveley, Leckhampstead, Peasemore, Shaw-cum-Donnington, Speen

Genealogical resources

See Berks FHS Books for coverage of this parish in the society’s range of CDs.

See also Berkshire Record Office holdings.

St James the Less, Winterbourne… memorial inscriptions [index] by Paul Bryant et al, is held in West Berks Library

Published local history

In the Victoria County History Berkshire Winterbourne is covered under Chieveley.

B H Bravery Atlee Notes on the history of Chieveley with Winterbourne, Oare and Curridge (also of Leckhampstead) together with provisional lists of those from these parishes who served in the Great War (Newbury, Blacket Turner, 1919) is held in West Berks Library.

Anglican church and parochial organisation

Winterbourne is a chapelry of Chieveley, in the deanery of Newbury and the archdeaconry of Berkshire, which transferred from Salisbury diocese to that of Oxford in 1836.

The small, twelfth-century church of St James the Less at Winterbourne is still in use. Victorian restoration retained its fourteenth-century east window in the chancel, an earlier lancet window in the south wall, and the eighteenth-century north chapel and bell tower. A major repair programme was completed in 2003. shows a good photograph of fragments of Roman tiling above the church door.


The only pub named in the 1851 census was the Blue Boar at North Heath (where Cromwell supposedly spent the night after the second battle of Newbury 1644) which has been renamed the Crab in recent years. Also still in existence is the Winterbourne Arms (formerly the New Inn), which claims a 300-year history.


In 1839, now accommodating 40 children, the school house was rebuilt, and control passed to the National Society. It is on record as having also received a government grant in 1840. Berkshire Record Office holds North Heath School deeds 1810. (At Abingdon Assizes in 1852 the schoolmaster of this school was convicted for indecent assault on his female pupils, and sentenced to two years’ hard labour.) In 1854 and 1863 an endowed school at Winterbourne was recorded – probably North Heath.

The 1851 census gives Winterbourne School as an address, but it is occupied by a gardener’s family. The only schoolmistress enumerated (nearby) is described as retired.

Other local history

Farm names in 1851: Copyhold, Field, Winterbourne, Penclose, Drewetts, Bussock.

Hop Castle is a flint-built folly, used at one time as a hunting lodge.

Snelsmore Common is now a 250-acre country park owned by the local council. It is one of Berkshire’s largest surviving tracts of heathland, and was granted SSSI status in 1954. The heath is managed to preserve the specialised ecosphere.

Rake-making was a local industry in 1851, employing several people.

Major houses of the parish include Bussock House/Mayne, and the seventeenth-century Winterbourne House/Manor. The latter is Grade II-listed. and and describe and picture an Iron Age hill fort at Bussock, in Winterbourne.

John Betjeman also identified Bussock, in Winterbourne, in his poem Indoor games near Newbury, the first verse of which runs:

In among the silver birches,
Winding ways of tarmac wander
And the signs to Bussock Bottom,
Tussock Wood and Windy Break.
Gabled lodges, tile-hung churches
Catch the lights of our Lagonda
As we drive to Wendy’s party,
Lemon curd and Christmas cake.

Berkshire Family History Society

Berkshire Family History Society