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Ascot
with Sunninghill & Sunningdale: Places of Races & Robbers


Queen Anne at Ascot Races -  Nash Ford Publishing

 

  • Sunninghill and Ascot & Sunningdale are adjoining parishes in East Berkshire.
  • Ascot was an important area for the people of the Bronze Age. They buried their dead there in large round burial mounds.
  • In Saxon times, a chief called Sunna set up a kingdom covering East Berkshire. He lived at Sonning, near Reading, but he also had a hill and a valley named after him at Sunninghill and Sunningdale.
  • In Medieval times, a nunnery was set up on the Surrey border at Bromhall. The nuns did not have any rich patrons and were always very poor. They argued with the King about grazing pigs in the forest!
  • In Tudor times, King Henry VII had a hunting lodge at Sunninghill. His son, Prince Arthur, visited. Another son became King Henry VIII. He held a Royal Council there.
  • After the Civil War, King Charles II let his girlfriend, Nell Gwynne, live at the Hunting Lodge.
  • Ascot Racecourse was laid out for Queen Anne in 1711. She wanted somewhere near her home at Windsor Castle to watch the horse races. The Duke of Cumberland made it very popular in the 1760s.
  • In Georgian times, Ascot Heath was a very dangerous area to travel through. There were lots of Highwaymen waiting to rob you. A rich man once shot one there, but said he "thought nothing more of it than shooting crows". 
  • During this period, Sunninghill became famous as a 'health spa'. There was a spring of water there. Rich people, including the King, came to drink the water and bathe in it. 
  • In the 1920s, Agatha Christie, the famous mystery writer, lived in Sunningdale. She created her own real life mystery when she disappeared for eleven days. She turned up in Harrogate but never revealed what she'd been doing!

   

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