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Ufton Court
Ufton Nervet, Berkshire

The beautiful Elizabethan Ufton Court was originally a minor manor possibly split off from Ufton Robert in the late fourteenth century, and called Ufton Pole. Some of the present house still dates from the 15th century, including the crossway of the great hall with the original buttery and pantry doors. It was largely rebuilt by the Perkins family who moved over from Ufton Robert in 1567. The Perkins were well known catholics who were persecuted by the local magistrates in the 16th century. They had to pay heavy fines for refusing to attend the parish church, and Ufton Court was raided at least twice by officials looking for priests in hiding. Sir Francis Knollys found some of their hiding places and a small fortune in gold plate in 1599, but the priests had gone. The secret chapel up in the rafters of the court still remains today, as well as traces of an escape tunnel leading into the woods. In the 18th century, long after the persecutions had stopped, Bonnie Prince Charlie is said to have visited the Perkins' on one of his forays back into the country incognito. The famous Ufton Bread Dole is distributed every year from a certain window at the Court. Lady Elizabeth Marvyn, widow of Richard Perkins, left the money for the dole in her will (1581) in thanks for finding her way home after getting lost in some woods. The Perkins finally sold up in 1802. The house is currently owned by the Benyons of Englefield.

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