The present Manor House was built, probably on the site of a timber Saxon house, between 1250 and 1280, in limestone rubble, as a central hall with two-storey transverse wings at either end, together with various outbuildings. It has a 17th century wing as well as later alterations and additions. It is one of the oldest inhabited houses in Britain.
The name ‘Charney Manor’ is misleading as it was not a medieval Manor. It was built as a grange by Abingdon Abbey, to house the steward or bailiff appointed to look after the Abbey’s lands around Charney. These were extensive and the size and elegance of the bailiff’s house indicate what a rich estate they formed. The Abbey’s rule was strict – Charney had to provide the Abbey with a specified number of bushels of grain and barrels of fish every year, it was the bailiff’s job to see that these were delivered. The fish was principally salmon from the Ock (a pre-Saxon word meaning young salmon). Salmon was a staple part of the diet in the Thames Valley in the Middle Ages. The Ock also provided crayfish which were on sale in Oxford until c1900.
Until it was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1538 Abingdon Abbey was one of the great Benedictine establishments not only of England but of Europe.
The Yates family rented the manor and their family tree is given in Jasmine Howse’s Book ‘Charney Bassett through the Centuries’.
The Society of Friends (Quakers) bought Charney Manor in 1948 and it is now a Conference and Retreat Centre known as a quiet and safe venue for delegates involved in conflict resolution and international affairs. It also provides facilities for groups which include charities, businesses, medical and research staff, musicians, authors and artists.
Sheila Terry worked at The Manor for many years ending up as the manager helping it though some difficult years. Her fascinating memories of The Manor are given here.
c1960. The thirteenth-century solar and chapel in Charney Manor.
[Vale of the White Horse – pocket images Nigel Hammond & Jim Brown]
‘Near Oxford’ by H T Inman M.A. published in 1904
Sale of The Manor in 1924
The Manor was put up for sale June 1924 and the sales literature is held in The Berkshire Records Office, Reading ref DEP/7. Extracts, mainly relating to the gardens, are given below.
The Grounds and Pleasure Gardens: which are mainly entered from the Entrance Hall by the West Porch, are quite a feature of the property, the present owner having spend a considerable amount of money in bringing them up to their present state of perfection. They were laid out but the well-known Landscape Gardener Norman Gauntlett, of Chiddingfold, Surrey, and are mainly surrounded by a high stone wall, covered with a great variety of flowering shrubs, and miniature stone walls flanked with masses of rock plants dividing the terraces. On the Upper Terrace there are two fine Irish Yews of about 500 years old. Stone steps to Lower Terrace which is surrounded by herbaceous borders, clumps of Rhododendrons and many other rare and uncommon flowering shrubs. There is a full-sized grass court, also a well laid out hard court (cinder).
The paddock adjoining has been converted by the owner into an excellent 5-hole miniature Golf course with 5 tees.
On the opposite side of the road there is a small full bearing apple orchard.
The Vendor at present rents the Shooting rights over 1,350 acres of Partridge land from the Berkshire County Council …. At the nominal rent of £50 per annum, which includes the fishing rights for 2 miles in the Trout Stream called “The Ock”.
The following are extracts from the Newbury and District Field Club [Founded in 1870 the Field Club is Newbury’s local history society with additional interests in all aspects of the Newbury district’s natural history, geology etc.]
Volume 10/1, 31, 32 [Pub : 1951-1958]
Volume 12/4, 42-48, 43-44, 46 [Pub : 1970-1981]