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Newbury's oldest house earlier than thought

Dendrochronological analysis pushes date back to 1436

Newbury's oldest house earlier than thought

NEWBURY’s oldest building has been traced back to the medieval period and pre-dates existing records by 40 years.  

Tree-ring dating has traced Bartholomew Manor and the adjoining Manor Cottage, which were constructed at the same time, to around 1436, placing them within the reign of King Henry VI. 

During the medieval period, Bartholomew Manor was the property of Sandleford Priory, which closed in the 15th century and passed into the ownership of St George’s Chapel, Windsor. 

In 1547, the chapel agreed a lease to John Winchcombe II.

On Winchcombe’s death in 1557, he left the lease to his grandson John with a life interest to his son, the clothier Henry Winchcombe.  Tudor documents suggest that Henry made it his home, but he died in 1562.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Bartholomew Manor was occupied by the philanthropist Dr Essex Wynter, who renovated or restored many of the buildings in the Argyle Road area.

The deputy leader of Newbury Town Council, Anthony Pick (Con, St John’s) said: “This is a very exciting development. 

“We are very grateful to the residents of Bartholomew Manor and Manor Cottage for their co-operation and to the members of the council’s heritage working group for taking the tree-ring programme forward to give us such an outstanding result.”

The discovery advances the date of the earliest identified building in Newbury by 40 years. 

The previous earliest known date was 1476, assigned by tree-ring dating in 2013 to 17-18 West Mills.  

Altogether there are total of three Newbury buildings traced back to the medieval period, the third being The Litten in Newtown Road.

Tree-ring dating, or dendro-chronological analysis, is an established technique for dating the exact year that the timbers in a building were felled and incorporated in a building. 

The growth of a tree varies year by year, providing a unique pattern.

Three core samples were taken and compared, and the process has sufficient rigour to assure of its reliability. 

The analysis of Bartholomew Manor and 17-18 West Mills were carried out by Dr Andy Moir of Tree-Ring Services, Micheldean.

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