Purley on Thames or simply Purley, is a village and civil parish in Berkshire, England. It forms part of the Reading urban area, but remains outside of the borough, in West Berkshire unitary authority. Purley is situated about 3 mi (4.8km) north-west of Reading, 2 miles (3.2 km) east of Pangbourne, and 24 miles (39 km) east of Oxford. In mediaeval times the parish had three manors, Purley Magna centred around where the church is today, Purley Parva centred on Westbury Farm and Purley La Hyde centred on what is now Sulham Home Farm and Purley Hall.
Purley has been settled since at least Saxon times. The original settlements were based on Purley Magna (to the east), Purley Parva (to the north-west) and Purley La Hyde (to the west). Ownership of these manors changed several times over successive centuries but the parish remained almost entirely agricultural until development began in the 20th century, with a population of 150–200. Since then it has grown to 4,232 (2001 Census) and around 5,300 people today.
It has associations with several well-known families, for instance the Huscarles, Siffrevasts, Carews, St John's and the Hydes and, through its connections with the Carews and Huscarles, gave its name to the much better known Purley in Surrey. Part of Purley Parva was donated to Reading Abbey in the 1190s and, after the Reformation, came into the hands of the Earls of Shannon with connections to the Boyles (of Boyle's law fame). Relatives of Lord Lister settled in the parish in the 1920s with Major Hugh Lister winning the Military Cross in World War II as a combatant priest.
A timbered Elizabethan Manor house was constructed in the 1540s, to be replaced by a brick house in 1740. This was demolished around 1800 to be replaced by the Purley Park Mansion designed by Wyatt in 1800 and located on the brow of the hill to be well away from flooding. At the same time most of the eastern part of the parish was emparked; a new road (New Hill) constructed to provide access to the residual village and the Turnpike Highway diverted to the south. The Mansion House has now been converted to flats.
Purley Hall was built around 1608 to replace the manor house of Purley La Hyde and was home to personages such as Warren Hastings, Lady Baden-Powell (as a child) and Thomas Hawes (of South Sea Bubble fame)
When the Purley Park Mansion was built, the farm was moved further west and was home to the South Berks Hunt for many years. Its Master of fox hounds, Cecil Aldin, ran a Remount Depot there in World War I, employing his friend and fellow artist, Alfred Munnings as a horse doctor. After World War II the property was sold to Messrs G Percy Trentham who used it as the head offices for their civil engineering business. In the 1990s this too was redeveloped and the barn which had originally been adjacent to the church, donated to the Parish Council as a community facility.