The Berkshire Record Society

Registered Charity No: 1027976

President: Mr James Puxley, Lord-Lieutenant of Berkshire

Chairman: Professor Ralph Houlbrooke

General Editor: Professor Anne Curry

Atlas Cover

An Historical Atlas of Berkshire (Second Edition)

Edited by Joan Dils and Margaret Yates

with maps by Clive Brown

Published by Berkshire Record Society in 2012

ISBN: 0 9548716 9 3

This new edition is almost half as large again as its 1998 predecessor, with 78 articles on Berkshire’s history (and pre-history) from the Paleolithic period to the twenty-first century, each accompanied by specially-drawn maps in full colour, and with numerous illustrations. Most of the original articles have been revised and updated, and many new ones added. The editors, Joan Dils and Margaret Yates, have assembled a formidable band of specialists to create what is likely to become the standard work on Berkshire’s history for many years to come. For those wishing to possess an accessible introduction to the history of our Royal County, this book will be indispensable.

The scene is set with articles on Berkshire’s geology and topography and on the changing county boundary. Major upheavals in the county’s history are covered by articles on the civil war, the enclosure movement and the ‘Swing’ riots, while essays on bridges and roads, rivers and canals, and the railways, explore the history of features in the landscape that still shape the Berkshire of today. Church and chapel, which featured large in the lives of our ancestors are covered by a range of articles on Anglican churches medieval and modern, church monuments, protestant non-conformity from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, Roman Catholicism in Berkshire, and the 1851 religious census.

The essay on religious houses reveals that there were many more such establishments in Berkshire besides the two great abbeys of Reading and Abingdon, while the one on Anglican church building in the nineteenth century shows what a rich legacy of buildings was left to us by our Victorian forebears. The stories of rich and poor are both covered, with articles on country houses and workhouses: Berkshire was a popular place for new country houses in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with nearly a hundred being built between 1750 and 1800, while the poor were herded together in the gaunt union workhouses (the largest accommodating up to 500 paupers) erected after the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. The importance of farming in Berkshire’s economy is revealed in articles on landholding and agriculture, while the contribution that agriculture made to business and industry in the county becomes clear in articles on rural crafts and servicing trades, woodland trades and industries, and malting and brewing. A ground-breaking article on country carriers reveals the complex network of routes established by these vital providers of transport in the nineteenth century. But while Berkshire was predominantly an agricultural county, the history of its towns is not forgotten, with articles on the market towns, 1750-1901, the development of Reading, 1800-2010, and (new for this edition) on Bracknell New Town. Other aspects of its twentieth-century history are covered in articles on Berkshire during World War II and Berkshire airfields.