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History of the Village of Warfield in the Royal County of Berkshire
by David Nash Ford



Two possible derivations of the name Warfield have been put forward: Woer-Feld meaning "Weir Field" or Woernawell-Feld meaning "Wren's Stream Field".

There was a chapel here in Saxon times: Queen Emma tried to give it to the Bishop of Winchester. It was replaced by a new building in the 12th century but the two may have been very similar in appearance. The later church was small and narrow with an eastern apse just like Saxon models. It has been greatly enlarged in later years (it is mostly 15th century), but the old Norman building still remains as the north aisle. The present decorated chancel is one of the delights of all Berkshire churches. It was attached to it in about 1330 as a private chapel for the monks of Hurley Priory. The local Manor was a grange of this community and, when constant flooding drove the monks from their monastery, they chose Warfield as their home. They not only built the chapel but many domestic buildings where the Rectory stables now stand. There is thought to have been a cloister connecting the two that may have lain against the 17th almshouses (or Parish Rooms). The monks stayed here for nearly a century. During this period the Great Plague took a great toll on the parish. Two parsons died in succession in 1350 and tradition says local people were buried in two plague pits in Hatch Lane.

The church has many treasures: the chancel has 14th century glass, a superb sedilla, a much damaged Easter Sepulchre and a relic chamber behind the restored screen for use by the Hurley monks; the north chapel has the most fantastic late medieval rood screen complete with loft, the only one in the county; it also has a fine 16th century Armada Chest and once had three canopied tomb recesses. This north chapel is usually called St.Katherine's or the Staverton Chapel after the family whose memorials litter its floor and walls. They lived at the Manor House at Hayley Green.

See also Warfield Hamlets.

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