Maps & Travels
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Odds & Ends
A Place of Fantasies and Phantoms
- There was a small round Roman
temple at Faringdon, but the place is basically Saxon.
The name means 'Fern covered Hill'.
- The Kings of Wessex had a
palace at Faringdon, probably near the
church. Some people say that King Alfred burnt the cakes there and
that his son, King Edward the Elder, died there. This is unlikely to
be true though.
- During the Civil War between the Empress Matilda and her cousin,
King Stephen, Matilda's half-brother, the Duke of Gloucester, built
her a castle at Faringdon. King Stephen besieged her soldiers there
and they soon surrendered.
- The castle was excavated in the 1930s. The dead bodies of the King's
soldiers were found in the ditch!
- King John was a very bad man. In
Medieval times, he was mean to a bunch of white monks. He then had a
nightmare in which he was whipped all night long. In order to get a
good night's sleep, he decided to build a monastery for the monks at
Faringdon. It was later moved to Beaulieu in Hampshire.
- The monks kept a farm or 'grange' at Faringdon. The Great Coxwell
Tithe Barn was where they collected all the grain.
- During the English Civil War, the Pye family owned Faringdon House. They
were mostly Royalists, but the eldest son, Sir Robert, supported
Parliament. He ended up besieging his own home!
- This is when the church spire was blown up. Later, Sir Robert's son,
Hampden, also got blown up. His ghost then haunted the churchyard.
- In Georgian times, one of the Pyes became Poet Laureate (the man who
writes poems for the King). He was extremely bad at it. People took
the mickey out of him because he wrote so many poems about birds. They
used to sing, "Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket-full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a Pye"!
- Faringdon Folly was built on the site of the old castle by Lord
Berners in 1935. He was a great English eccentric. A folly is a
building with no purpose. It just looks pretty.