Sandhurst is a small town and civil parish in England of almost 8,000 homes and more than 20,000 inhabitants (2001 Census data). The town is primarily domiciliary in nature with a few light industries. It is in the south eastern corner of the ceremonial Royal County of Berkshire, within the Borough of Bracknell Forest, and is situated 33 miles (53 km) south west of central London, 2.5 miles (4.0 km) north west of Camberley and 6 miles (9.7 km) south of Bracknell.
Sandhurst is known worldwide as the location of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst (often referred to simply as "Sandhurst" or "The RMA"). The Royal Military Academy was established in 1947 on the same site as the Royal Military College built in 1813. (The Royal Military Collage has a longer history in other locations.)
Sandhurst was part of the Sonning Hundred and the Easthampstead Poor Law Union. The parish was located in the Easthampstead Rural District 1894-1974, and since that date in Bracknell administrative district and Bracknell Forest unitary authority.
Saxon and Medieval periods
The name of the village is Anglo-Saxon and originates from the sandy soils and the hurst (a wooded eminence) of the area. In early 14th century records, Sandhurst appears as part of township of Sonning, a large minster parish spreading over much of eastern Berkshire, which later became a hundred when its villages obtained their own churches. These lands belonged to the Bishops of Salisbury. There were two manors in Sandhurst: ‘Hall’ in the grounds of what is now the Royal Military Academy and ‘Sandhurst’ on the site of Sandhurst Lodge. Nothing remains of the original buildings.
Tudor to Georgian periods
In the early modern era, Sandhurst parish was a small farming community on the very edge of Windsor Forest, Sandhurst Walke being an important forest division subject to forest laws. Locals had the right to cut turf, bracken, heather and wood that was primarily cultivated to feed the forest deer. These were hunted by Royal parties from a hunting lodge in the vicinity of Hart's Leap Road. A number of disputes are on record, showing how Sandhurst people sometimes took more resources than was allowed.
Farming has always remained a major part of village life here and some defunct farms are still remembered in the names of housing estates, roads and even a restaurant: Sandhurst Farm, Snaprails, Caves Farm, Ambarrow Farm, College Farm, Rectory Farm, Beech Farm and Rackstraws Farm. In the mid-16th century, William, Lord Sandys, the Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII, owned a supposed manor called 'Buckhurst' in the area between College Town and Central Sandhurst.
Victorian and Modern periods
The railway arrived in 1849 and a number of large country residences were subsequently erected in the area: amongst them, Harts Leap, Forest End, St Helens Upland, The Warren, Longdown Lodge, Ryefield, Snaprails, and Ambarrow Court. Sandhurst Lodge was erected in about 1858 by Robert Gibson and leased to John Walter, of the Times Newspaper, and then Sir William Farrer, solicitor to Queen Victoria and The Duke of Wellington. Perry Hill and The Ceders came later. Only a few remain today. The others have been demolished and land developed.
Such large houses and institutions, including the Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane and Wellington College in nearby Crowthorne, led to a great expansion of the local population as people moved into the area looking for work. Further residential housing was erected for these workers, as well as more schools for their children, more places of worship and other community resources.
St. Michael's Church of England School, Little Sandhurst, was opened in 1862 and other schools followed in quick succession:
Until Sandhurst Comprehensive – now Sandhurst School – was built in 1969 in Owlsmoor, Secondary-age pupils were sent to Edgbarrow School in Crowthorne, Forest Grammar School for boys in Winnersh or Holt School for girls in Wokingham.
From the late 1950s to the 80s, large housing estates have been built creating the conglomerate town of today from the original four villages of College Town, (Central)Sandhurst, Little Sandhurst and Owlsmoor.
Online Historical References
Nineteenth Century Local Administration
English Jurisdictions is a webpage provided by FamilySearch which analyses every ecclesiastical parish in England at the year 1851. It provides, with the aid of outline maps, the date at which parish records and bishops transcripts begin, non-conformist denominations with a chapel within the parish, the names of the jurisdictions in charge: county, civil registration district, probate court, diocese, rural deanery, poor law union, hundred, church province; and links to FamilySearch historical records, FamilySearch Catalog and the FamilySearch Wiki. Two limitations: only England, and at the year 1851.
During the 19th century two bodies, the Poor Law Union and the Sanitary District, had responsibility for governmental functions at a level immediately above that covered by the civil parish. In 1894 these were replace by Rural and Urban Districts. These were elected bodies, responsible for setting local property assessments and taxes as well as for carrying out their specified duties. Thses districts continued in operation until 1974. Urban districts for larger municipalities were called "Municipal Boroughs" and had additional powers and obligations.
Poor Law Unions, established nationally in 1834, combined parishes together for the purpose of providing relief for the needy who had no family support. This led to the building of '"union poorhouses" or "workhouses" funded by all the parishes in the union. The geographical boundaries established for the individual Poor Law Unions were employed again when Registration Districts were formed three years later. In 1875 Sanitary Districts were formed to provide services such as clean water supply, sewage systems, street cleaning, and the clearance of slum housing. These also tended to follow the same geographical boundaries, although there were local alterations caused by changes in population distribution.