Knowl Hill Village Association


Knowl Hill - Through the ages...
Pre-History to 2013

A few things...


Ashley, Pudding, Bowsey and Knowl Hills were left as chalk outliers of the Chilterns. After the Ice Age the Thames banks, hills and meadows south of the hills were populated by people engaged in hunting and from the Neolithic time, farming. This is evident from the burial mounds, flint tools and pottery found locally.


The rich clay deposits laid over the chalk by the retreating Ice Age were found in the Canhurst area where the Romano-British people farmed and made pots and tiles.


The first church in the area was established at Hurley in 700 AD and the parish was given to Esgar the keeper of Edward the Confessor’s horses.


William the Conqueror gave the Hundred of Beynhurst, which included Hurley and all the land south to Waltham St Lawrence, to Geoffrey de Mandeville. Beynhurst which includes Knowl Hill was one of the seven ‘Forest Hundreds’ where the King of the day could hunt and claim wood and produce. The Royal Hunt only ceased in 1901 and Knowl Hill is still in the civil parish of Hurley today.


The Manor house of Hurley, ‘La Halle’ was owned by John de Hurley in 1234. In 1299 the Prior of Hurley granted land to Reginald de la Hale and Isobel at Bartlett’s Farm and in the 1300’s Waltham St Lawrence was taken from Beynhurst and given to the Bishop Winchester’s Hundred of Wargrave. In 1327 Reginald de la Hale granted Christina atte Boure a house and land at La Cnolle (Knowl Hill).

Post Medieval

When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries only the Church was left standing at Hurley.  The stone from the priory was used by John Lovelace to build Ladye Place. The Hall (Hall Place) was owned by Andrew Newberry, Sir Richard Mompesson and Henry Alford. In 1609 there were only five houses in Knowl Hill, around the common. In 1657 the first coach service was advertised from London to Bath (Three days) and inns such as the Bird in Hand and the Buccleigh Arms (Seven Stars)  with their smithy and farriers cottages nearby, flourished. Throughout 17 and 18th centuries the Enclosure Acts changed the landscape of strips to fields. There were no disagreements recorded in the parish as the land was owned by Hall Place. 


A Swedish naval officer, Sir Joseph Bancks MP was Lord of the Manor at The Hall in 1690. When he died his son sold the estate to a wealthy London lawyer, William East, who demolished The Hall and built a smaller Georgian manor house, Hall Place. He was created baron in 1766 and died in 1819. Sir Gilbert East inherited Hall Place and died in 1828.


In early Victorian times, Knowl Hill comprises a few cottages around the Common, scattered farms and one public house and farrier. In 1830, ten coaches a day passed through the village. Five years later on this road between Bath and London, there were more than sixty coaches a day and Maidenhead Corporation was gathering the most tolls in the country, at their Thames bridge crossing.

In addition, the clay was being extracted and fired for bricks at Knowl Hill which attracted a labour force which needed housing and services. The area was in the Parish of Hurley with a manor house, where the tithes were paid at Hall Place, Burchetts Green. The Church, School, a bakery and shop for the area were in Hurley, a long walk for people to access daily, so these were set up at Knowl Hill.

The Church was opened in 1841 on land donated by T Wetherhed, a Marlow brewer.  The School and Vicarage were built in 1846. There was also a Methodist Chapel, bakery, village shop and post office and four public houses - the Duke of Buccleugh (Seven Stars), the New Inn, the Royal Oak & Hope Inn - and a terrace of houses which were completed in 1903 for the brick workers.

When Sir Gilbert Clayton East died in 1828, his nephew whose Christian name was East, adjusted his name to ensure the manor inheritance, to East George Clayton East. He also owned Wooley Manor which had been bought by a relative, Augustus Henry East.

East George Clayton East who was created a baronet, was also deputy Lieutenant of the County of Berkshire. He supported the founding of Knowl Hill Church and endowed it with £40 per annum. He became a great friend of its founding Vicar, James Edward Austen Leigh, Jane Austen’s nephew, who lived at Scarletts, Kiln Green. He died in 1851. East George was succeeded by Sir George Frederick Lancelot Clayton East, whose wife Dame Florence Clayton East, survived her husband and son and lived with her daughter, in the Dower House, Hall Place Lane until 1950 when Hall Place was requisitioned during the war.

Dame Florence dedicated the common land of Hurley to the neighbourhood for air and exercise on 4 January 1937.

Knowl Hill Terrace was built between 1890 and 1903.

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