White Hart Crest of the Royal County of Berkshire David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History

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Beech Hill
of Romans & Retreats

Beech Hill -  Nash Ford Publishing

We don't know whether there were any Romans resident in Beech Hill, but they would certainly have passed through, along the Camlet Way between St. Albans and Silchester. It joined the Devil's Highway at Fair Cross on the southern border of the parish. Perhaps travellers would stop at the 'Trumk Well' to refresh themselves. The first element of the name is unidentified but is probably Celtic. Trunkwell House stands on the site today. In Tudor times, this was the home of a branch of the widespread Noyes family from around Andover (Hampshire). However, the present building was only put up in 1878.

'Beech Hill' appears to be a Norman name given to the place by the De La Beche family who lived at nearby Beaumys Castle in Swallowfield. Adjoining this stronghold, on the Beech Hill side of the border, lived a hermit to whom they were probably patrons. In 1170, the old hermitage was given to Vallemont Abbey in Normandy and they established a small priory there. It only ever housed two monks however and seems to have been a simple manor house plus chapel of St. Leonard. It was granted into secular hands in 1399 because of the troubles inherent with alien monasteries. A 17th century house still known as 'The Priory' stands on its site. The monastic foundation was always known as 'Stratfield Saye Priory'  and this reminds us that, until 1866, Beech Hill was the Berkshire part of Stratfield Saye, a parish which, like Stratfiled Mortimer, crossed the county boundary. The parish church was built the following year.


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