Lambourn

Lambourn  is a large village in the heart of the western Berkshire Downs bustling with shops and with a couple of popular pubs. After Newmarket it is the largest centre of racehorse training in England and is home to a rehabilitation centre for injured jockeys, an equine hospital, and several leading jockeys and trainers.  As a result, it has been dubbed the "Valley of the Racehorse", and this is displayed on the road signs leading into the village.

The most likely meaning for the name of Lambourn refers to the dipping of lambs in the river. The River Lambourn has its source high in the Downs close to the village and it flows through the village. The River Lambourn is a winterbourne which means its flow is seasonal, i.e. in dry seasons it dries up! There have been many spellings over the centuries for the village name, such as Lamburnan, Lamburna, Lamborne and Lambourne. The spelling was eventually fixed as 'Lambourn' in the early 20th century.

In the centre of the village is Lambourn Minster which was originally a Saxon minster and is thought to date from the reign of King Alfred. Lambourn Minster is dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels. The present building is mostly Norman in origin. The street plan around the church is circular and shows the line of the old enclosure around the building. Circular enclosures are associated with early Celtic churches and possibly former Pagan Celtic Shrines. The dedication of the church to St. Michael who overcame the Devil (ie. Pagan Religion) is though to make this quite likely. 

In front of Lambourn Minster is Market Square where markets have been held from at least the 14th century. The market cross probably dates from the 15th century and was restored in 1899.

Adjoining the churchyard are the prominent almshouses founded by John Isbury in 1502, which were largely rebuilt by the Rev. Henry Hippisley in 1852. The Isbury Almshouses are of red brick with an embattled entrance-tower and a small cloistered courtyard. The houses were further modernized in 1956 to make homes for 8 almsmen. Nearby are  Hardrett's Almshouses, founded by the Roger family,  refounded by Jacob Hardrett in 1625, and then rebuilt in 1827 by the Rev. Henry Hippisley. They have been known in turn as Roger's, Essex', Hardrett's and the Place Almshouses, most of the patrons being owners of Lambourn Place. 

Lambourn Place was a large Tudor mansion situated on the north side of Lambourn church It was owned by Sir Thomas Essex, who died in 1558. Eventually it passed to the Hippisley family who rebuilt it in Victorian times. The house and outbuildings were used as racing stables in the late 1880's by James Humphrey a prominent trainer. It was pulled down in 1938 after falling into decay.

Lambourn is about 18 miles north-west of Newbury, just north of the M4 motorway.

Images of Lambourn:
(Click to view)

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