This month’s walk takes us west to the village of Leckhampstead tucked amongst the rolling Berkshire Downs which form part of the North Wessex Downs area of outstanding natural beauty.
Known as Lecanestede in the Domesday Book we head south through the village to the brick and flint St James’ Church which was built in 1859. The building replaced a much older church that probably dated back to Saxon times, though fortunately, several items were reused including the Jacobean pulpit and the 13th century font.
From here we head east through fields passing the picturesque hamlet of Hill Green with its collection of lovely thatched cottages including the Old Manor before arriving at Peasemore.
The first reference to the village was in a charter of King Edred in 951 and like Leckhampstead, it was mentioned in the Domesday Book where it was known as Praxemere. However, the area’s history goes back much further than this as a Neolithic stone axe was found at Prince’s Farm and flint tools were found at Warren Down. The manor house is slightly more recent having been built in the early 15th century, with later alterations; this was once the home of Thomas Chaucer, the son of the great poet Geoffrey Chaucer.
At the south-eastern corner of the village is Peasemore House, which was once owned by Poughley Priory; the priory, which was founded in 1160, was located to the south-west near Welford. After Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, Peasemore House passed to Cardinal Wolsey for a while.
The Victorian styled red-brick St Barnabas’ Church, which replaced and earlier Norman building, has a tall tower and spire that can be easily seen from the surrounding countryside. Just to the south of the church is the Old Rectory where the former Prime Minister, David Cameron, was brought up.
From the church we head past the Fox pub before turning south through Grove Pit Green common to arrive back at Leckhampstead, with its triangular shaped village green and unusual War Memorial.
The Grade II listed memorial comprises an obelisk on a plinth with two clocks, one facing north and the other facing south. The clock hands are made from old bayonets, with the roman numerals and minute marks made from spent ammunition. The surrounding chains, which are supported on shell cases, are from a battleship that took part in the Battle of Jutland; published in Berkshire Life, December 2018.