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Aldermaston Court
Aldermaston, Berkshire

Aldermaston Manor was the home of the Achard family from 1227 until 1361 when the family died out. It is not known what their house looked like, but their heirs, the De La Mares, appear to have built themselves a quadrangular building, of the type that was popular in the late 14th century. This stood immediately alongside the parish church. Only it's amazingly elaborate chimneys have survived, and are incorporated into the present house. In 1636, soon after the young Sir Humphrey Forster had inherited Aldermaston, changing fashions led him to mortgage the estate in order to rebuild the house completely. His dedication stone can still be seen. Sir Humphrey's enemies claimed he had used the money to bolster the King's cause in the Civil War that was raging all around them! The Forsters' house burnt down about the same time that the last of their heirs, the Congreves, died in 1843. The place was not completely gutted and the beautiful figured wooden staircase was saved along with some old stained glass. Five years later, these were reinstalled at the new Court, built by Daniel & Mary Higford Burr. This interesting building stands 200 yards east of the old house, whose cellars still exist beneath the lawn.

The Court is an Elizabethan style courtyard house with an imposing tower. Mary Burr's initials can be seen in the brickwork. The surrounding park was first enclosed in the 1290s. It has lost its deer, but is particularly well known for its beautiful lake. Skating is not unknown in winter. The main entrance gates to the park, in the village, were won in a card game from the owner of Midgeham House. The estate is currently owned by Blue Circle Cement, who have built sympathetic new lakeside offices there. The "Manor House" as the Court is now styled is a hotel and conference centre.

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