Caversham Park (Caversham).
In medieval times, Caversham had
an important Castle or
fortified manor. It probably stood somewhere in
the present park, possibly even on the site of
the present house. It was the favourite home of
William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, the eighty
year old regent of England during the minority of
Henry III. He
died there in 1218. The castle later passed to
the Earls of Warwick, who also favoured it. Anne
daughter & eventual sole heiress of Richard
Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick, & his wife
Isabella (daughter & eventual sole heiress of
Thomas Le Despencer, 11th Earl of Gloucester) was
born at Caversham in September 1426. The Earl
later made his will here on 8th August 1437.
Although betrothed to him since before she was
thirteen, Richard Neville, son of the 8th Earl of
Salisbury (from Bisham) is
supposed to have proposed to the Lady Anne on
Caversham Bridge. He was already brother-in-law
to her brother, Henry, the 14th Earl. After they
married, Richard inherited the title from her
neice, and became known to history as the man
whose support determined the King: Henry VI or Edward IV. He
was Warwick the Kingmaker.
Old Caversham Park was built by
Francis Knollys, but it was soon bought by the
Earl of Craven. He was a great royalist and Charles I used
it as his headquarters during his attempt to
relieve the Siege of Reading. The
King was later held prisoner in the house, and it
was from here that he wrote the letter, asking to
be re-united with his children. He was allowed to
see them for a short time only in Maidenhead, but
Fairfax found the meeting so touching that he
allowed the young royals to return to Caversham
with their father. After the Civil War the place
was in ruins. It was rebuilt in 1718 like a
classical Greek temple, but burnt to the ground
in 1850. Not long afterwards the park lost the
deer that had lived there since the 13th century.
The present house is now the BBCs
International Monitoring Station and the park has
given its name to the surrounding housing estate.
Lower Caversham (Caversham).
The earliest evidence of
Christianity in Berkshire comes from Lower
Caversham. An ancient well, probably attached to
a Roman villa, was examined at Deans Farm
and found to contain a crushed metal tank. It is
decorated with the christian Chi-Rho
symbol and would thus appear to be of several
examples of portable lead fonts to have been
discovered around the country. These were used by
the early christians of Roman Britain to baptise
the faithful, and may indicate that the nearby
villa was a local christian meeting place.
It is possible that the area
continued as a major christian centre right up to
Tudor times, for Deans Farm is also one of
the possible sites of the Chapel of the Shrine of
Our Lady of Caversham (See Caversham) as identified by Preece, Kift
& Fallowfield. A field next to the farm was
called Capull (ie. Chapel) alias Rayley
in 1633. The Ray meadow still exists. The
original manor house, that was pulled down in
1493 and the moat filled in, may also have stood
here. So the two could have been part of the same
complex. The chapel had its own ferry which may
have been the one that is known to have served East
Throp, the original name of Lower Caversham.
See also Caversham.
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