Aldermaston Court
Aldermaston, Berkshire

Aldermaston Manor was the home of the Achard family from about 1115 until 1361 when the family died out. It is not known what their house looked like, but their heirs, the De La Mares, appear to have built themselves a quadrangular building, of the type that was popular in the late 14th century. This stood immediately alongside the parish church. Only its amazingly elaborate chimneys have survived, and are incorporated into the present house. By the early 16th century, the manor had passed to Sir George Forster who had married the last heiress of the De La Mares. Their superb memorial effigies can be seen in the church. Sir George's son, Sir Humphrey Forster, was something of a law unto himself and liked to bully his neighbours (see Padworth) because, being married to the daughter of the Lord Chamberlain, he thought he was above them. In 1636, soon after another Sir Humphrey Forster had inherited Aldermaston, changing fashions led him to mortgage the estate in order to rebuild the house completely. His dedication stone for the new Aldermaston House can still be seen. Sir Humphrey's enemies claimed he had used the money to bolster the King's cause in the Civil War that was raging all around them! The Forsters' house burnt down about the same time that the last of their heirs, the Congreves, died in 1843. The place was not completely gutted and the beautiful figured wooden staircase was saved along with some old stained glass and, of course, the old chimneys. Five years later, these were reinstalled at the new Aldermaston Court, built by Daniel & Mary Higford Burr. This interesting building stands 200 yards west of the old house, whose cellars still exist beneath the lawn.

The Court is an Elizabethan style courtyard house with an imposing tower. Mary Burr's initials can be seen in the brickwork. The surrounding park was first enclosed in the 1290s. It has lost its deer, but is particularly well known for its beautiful lake. Skating is not unknown in winter. The main entrance gates to the park, in the village, were won in a card game from the owner of Midgham House. for a few years, the estate was owned by Blue Circle Cement, who built sympathetic new lakeside offices there. "Aldermaston Manor" as the Court is currently styled is a hotel and conference centre.

Aldermaston Court is currently an hotel and conference centre.

 

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