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History of Sunningdale in the Royal County of Berkshire
by David Nash Ford


Robbers and European Royalty

"Sunna's Valley" was one of the outposts of the followers of the Saxon chief, Sunna, whose settlements were centred on Sonning. They carved themselves a little village out of the wilds of Windsor Forest, a risky area in which to live and even more so to travel through. Chobham Common and Bagshot Heath once stretched over much of Sunningdale. They were well known for bandits and were frequented by highwaymen as late as the early 19th century. The notorious Captain Snow is still commemorated in the name of Snows Ride. The village has always relied on the local transportation routes for its prosperity. From the London to Silchester road of Roman times, later known as the "Devil's Highway" to the modern A30.

On the southern edge of Sunningdale, there was once a medieval nunnery known as Bromhall Priory. A daughter house of Chertsey Abbey, it was a rather a poor monastic house founded in the 12th century and dissolved in 1535. The modern church at Sunningdale is somewhat more recent, as the old parish church was always at Sunninghill. It is best known for its monument to Prince Victor of Hohenlohe, a well-known sculptor who, under the name of Count Gleichen, modelled such pieces as Wantage's statue of King Alfred. He was a German prince who ran away from school in his native land and was sponsored to enter the Royal Navy by Queen Victoria. He eventually became an admiral, before he turning to more artistic means of earning a living whilst in retirement.

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