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St Nicholas, Hurst, Berkshire

(51°27′1″N, 0°51′31″W)
SU 794 730
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Berkshire
now Wokingham
medieval Salisbury
now Oxford
  • Ron Baxter
09 March 2010

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Feature Sets

Hurst is a village in the SE of the county, just outside the western edge of Reading and three miles N of Wokingham. St Nicholas' church is on the southern edge of the village, and consists of a nave with separately roofed aisles and a modern S porch, a chancel with a N chapel and a 19thc N vestry, and a W tower of 1612. Construction is of flint except for the brick W tower. Inside, the nave arcades are of three bays; the two E bays of the N arcade are 12thc., but the W bay is significantly later, perhaps c.1300. The S arcade is mid-13thc. work with complex moulded capitals and pointed arches with multiple mouldings. The 12thc. parts of the N arcade are recorded here.

The church was formerly chapel of ease to Sonning.


Hurst was formerly the name given to a large parish of four liberties of which the manor of Whistley, which contained the church and the village concerns us here. The manor was given in 968 by King Edgar to his thegn Wulfstan who conveyed it to Abingdon Abbey, and it remained a possession of the abbey until the Dissolution. The parish was originally part of Sonning parish, and a chapel of St Nicholas was built in the 11thc by Abbot Athelelm of Abingdon (1071-83) for the convenience of parishioners, and dedicated to St Nicholas by Bishop Osmund of Salisbury (1078-99). After some initial disputes concerning loss of earnings by the priest at Sonning, an agreement was reached whereby the abbey supplied a priest for Hurst and paid an annual fee to the Bishop of Salisbury to ensure that the church of Sonning suffered no financial loss. To judge from the accounts in VCH, this arrangement led to some confusion over the jurisdiction and the advowson of the chapel


Interior Features



Pevsner's account is useful, and he describes the N arcade as "evidently tampered with and now inexplicable in more than one way." The VCH account of this feature is meticulous but curiously unhelpful.


Victoria County History: Berkshire III (1923), 247-60.

H. Farrar, The Book of Hurst, Buckingham 1984 (now available as The CD-Rom of Hurst, or online at http://history.woodedhill.org/Hurst/)

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. Harmondsworth, 1966, 209-10.

G. Tyack, S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Berkshire. New Haven and London 2010, 335-36.