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Lambourn is a large village and civil parish in the northwestern corner of the ceremonial county of Berkshire in Englandmarker. It is best known for its associations with British National Hunt racehorse training.

Village centre with parish church of St Michael and All Angels
Jockeys riding horses through the village
The Valley of the Racehorse
Lambourn from the south-east
River Lambourn leaving the village
Path to Lambourn from Hungerford
Lambourn covered with snow, February 2009


Geography

Lambourn is situated in the valley of the River Lambournmarker, a summer bourn in the chalk upland area of the Berkshire Downsmarker. It lies on the B4000 some north of Newburymarker. The road following the Lambourn valley towards Newbury was known as the B4000 until the construction of the M4 motorway in the early 1970s. During construction the road following the course of the old Roman road known as the Ermin Way was improved and redesignated the B4000. Several other minor roads in the area were realigned or truncated. Junction 14 of the M4 is just outside the south-east corner of the parish. From 1898 to 1960 Lambourn was connected to Newburymarker by the Lambourn Valley Railway.

The rolling downs mostly cover the northern part of the parish and in this area are actually known as the 'Lambourn Downs': Coppington Down, Near Down, Row Down, Kingsdown, Park Farm Down, Wellbottom Down, Post Down, Pit Down, Crow Down, Stancombe Down, Warren Down and Eastbury Down.

The border with the county of Wiltshiremarker is to the west of Lambourn, with Swindonmarker only away, whilst the border with Oxfordshire is to the north, with Wantagemarker away. To the east are East Garstonmarker and Fawleymarker and to the south are Hungerfordmarker and Kintburymarker.

Horse Racing & Economy

Lambourn and the surrounding downland is best known today as a major centre of, mainly National Hunt, horse racing, with many major stables and varied turf and all-weather gallops situated in and around the village. 1,500 racehorses are based in the valley, which is thus often referred to as the "Valley of the Racehorse". They even have the luxury of two fully-licensed equine swimming pools. The 2006 Epsommarker Derbymarker winner, Sir Percy, was trained at Kingwood House Stables overlooking the village.

Many villagers' livelihoods are connected with horse racing but the area's recent business growth has created an influx of commuters to many points along the M4, including an uncommon number of Heathrowmarker airline pilots. One of the country's few cravat makers was until late 2006 located in the village.

Government

The civil parish of Lambourn has a population of about 4,200. Besides Lambourn itself, it comprises the villages of Upper Lambournmarker, Eastburymarker, Woodlands St Marymarker and Lambourn Woodlandsmarker, together with the hamlets of Mile End, Sheepdrove and Bockhampton and a considerable area of rural downland. The parish council is split into four wards for electoral purposes, with two councillors being elected by the wards of Upper Lambourn, Eastbury and Woodlands St Mary/Lambourn Woodlands; and nine councillors from Lambourn itself.

The parish shares boundaries with the Berkshire parishes of East Garstonmarker and Hungerfordmarker, with the Wiltshire parishes of Chilton Foliatmarker, Ramsburymarker and Baydonmarker, and with the Oxfordshire parishes of Ashburymarker, Compton Beauchampmarker, Woolstone, Uffingtonmarker, Kingston Lislemarker, Sparsholt, Childreymarker and Letcombe Bassett.

The parish is part of the unitary authority of West Berkshire, and lies within Newbury parliamentary constituency.

History

Lambourn is famous for its 'Seven Barrowsmarker', just above Upper Lambourn. There are actually over thirty Bronze Age burial mounds forming a large prehistoric cemetery. A small hoard of Bronze Age gold, comprising three bracelets and two 'armlets', was found in the parish in 2004, and was declared as treasure at a subsequent inquest (DCMS Treasure Annual Report 2004, case no. 2004 T348).

In Roman times, the area was extensively farmed, as shown by an archaeological research project based on Maddle Farm.

The mainly Norman parish church (CofE), sited in the village centre, has a surrounding wall built of sarsen stones and is dedicated to St Michael and All Angels. The road pattern shows an original circular enclosure, suggesting pagan Celtic origins. Alfred the Great, born in Wantagemarker, was also closely connected with the church and mentioned it in his will. It was probably King Canute who granted Lambourn Church to the Dean of St Paul's. Successors to that office held it until 1836.

Inside are monuments to the great and the good of the many manors in the parish, including an excellent brass to John Estbury (1508), who founded the almshouses outside and fine effigies to Sir Thomas Essex and his wife (1558). There is an arch with Medieval carvings of hunting scenes. The church was much restored in the 19th century and has a chancel roof designed by G. E. Street. The church also boasts a fine three-manual Henry Willis organ.

The most common explanation for the village name is that it was called Lambourn after the lambs which were once dipped in the local river. The spelling has varied considerably over the centuries, such as Lamborne and Lambourne. It was previously called Chipping Lambourn because of its popular market. Its name was fixed as 'Lambourn' in the early 20th century, but even today, towards Soley, three successive signposts at nearby junctions alternate the spelling of Lambourn and Lambourne.

The racing connection began in the 18th century, having spread from nearby Ashdown Parkmarker, where the Earl of Craven held regular race meetings.

Literature

Lambourn is mentioned in the poetry of Hilaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton, as well as Sir John Betjeman who wrote "Upper Lambourne". Some people have suggested that Lambourn is the real life location of 'Marygreen' in Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure.

Notable residents



Local institutions

  • Parish Church of St. Michael and All Angels (CofE)
  • Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church
  • Lambourn Methodist Chapel
  • Estbury's Almshouses (1501)
  • Hardrett's Almshouses (1625)
  • Lambourn Valley Housing Trust is a registered charity, which raises money to provide homes for both retired and working stable staff.


Sport and leisure

  • Lambourn Sports Club (Est 1946): A first class members sports and social facility, with a large function hall.
  • Lambourn Centre with air-conditioned Gym equipped with the latest fitness machines, Sports Hall and Sauna
  • Sports Field with Skatepark
  • Bowls club with bowling green
  • Library
  • Five Pubs
  • Lambourn Allotment Society
  • Lambourn Chimers
  • Lambourn Theatre Group
  • Lambourn Vintage Machinery Society
  • Lambourn WI
  • Lambourn Air Rifle Club
  • Lambourn Carnival with lots of events and a great procession of floats through the village and Horse Show
  • Shefford Young Farmers Club


References



External links




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