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Earley Whiteknights
A Place of Knights and Knaves


George Spencer, Marquis of Blandford (& 5th Duke of Marlborough) -  Nash Ford Publishing

 

  • Old Whiteknights House (demolished) -  Nash Ford PublishingEarley was originally in the parish of Sonning. It was made up of three manors: Earley St. Nicholas, Earley St. Bartholomew and Maiden Earley.
  • The first two were named after the chapels that stood there.
  • Reading University is built on the site of the most important manor, Earley St. Nicholas. It was the home of the De Earley family in medieval times.
  • John de Earley II was the foster-son of the Earl of Pembroke who lived at Hamstead Marshall & Caversham. He was a very important man but fell out with King John. While John de Earley was in Ireland, the King told everyone he was dead and took his lands away!
  • Later, the Bishop of Hereford got permission to live at Earley while the new owner was still a boy. The Bishop's name was Thomas Cantilupe and he was Chancellor of England (a bit like the Prime Minister). He needed to be near the King in Windsor as they ran the country together. After his death, he became a saint.
  • The name of Earley St. Nicholas was changed to Earley Whiteknights in honour of the young boy, John de Earley IV. When he grew up, he became a knight and wore white armour while helping King Edward I to invade Scotland.
  • Throughout Tudor and Stuart times, the Englefield family lived there. They had had their original home at Englefield House confiscated because they were Roman Catholics.
  • In Georgian times, the Marquis of Blandford lived at Earley Whiteknights. He spent so much money on posh plants, antique books, expensive paintings and wild parties that he went bust!
  • The big house was pulled down in Victorian times and the park was split up. The famous architect, Alfred Waterhouse, built several smaller houses there. He lived in one, and at Yattendon, but is best known for building the Natural History Museum in London.

 

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