Place:Great Shefford, Berkshire, England

NameGreat Shefford
Alt namesSifordsource: Domesday Book (1985) p 36
West Sheffordsource: Family History Library Catalog and 19th century gazetteers (alt name)
Shefford Woodlandssource: hamlet in parish
TypeParish (ancient), Civil parish
Coordinates51.475°N 1.448°W
Located inBerkshire, England
See alsoKintbury Eagle Hundred, Berkshire, Englandhundred in which it was located
Hungerford Rural, Berkshire, Englandrural district in which it was located 1894-1934
Newbury District, Berkshire, Englandadministrative district in which the parish was located 1974-1998
West Berkshire District, Berkshire, Englandadministrative district and unitary authority in which the parish has been located since 1998
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

A Vision of Britain through Time provides the following description of Great Shefford from John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales of 1870-72:

"SHEFFORD (West or Great), a village and a parish in Hungerford [registration] district, Berks. The village stands on the river Lambourn, 5½ miles N by W of Kintbury [railway] station, and 5½ NE by N of Hungerford; and has a post-office, of the name of Great [Shefford]], under Hungerford. The parish contains also the hamlet of Shefford-Woodlands, which likewise has a post-office under Hungerford. Acres: 2,196. Real property: £3,806. Popualtion: 538. Houses: 123. The manor and most of the land belong to the Marquis of Downshire. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Oxford. Value: £856. Patron: Brasenose College, Oxford. The church is ancient but good; and has a round Norman tower, with octagonal perpendicular upper story. There are chapels for Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists, a parochial school, and charities £12."
the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

The 2001 UK census recorded a parish population of 896, and that of 2011, 937. The area of the modern parish is 13.6 km2 (5.3 sq mi).

The Church of England parish church of Saint Mary is one of two existing round-tower churches in Berkshire. The other one is at St Gregory's parish church at nearbyWelford. The church of Saint Stephen at Shefford Woodlands is a former Methodist chapel that was consecrated as part of St Mary's Church of England parish in 1911.

The modern civil parish includes the historical parish of Little or East Shefford, a much-lessened small neighbourhood downstream. [After inspecting other sources (GENUKI, A Vision of Britain through Time), it would appear that this merger took place since 1974.] The parish also includes the village of Shefford Woodlands, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) southwest of Great Shefford near the M4 junction 14.

end of Wikipedia contribution

Great Shefford was originally an ancient parish in the Kintbury Eagle Hundred. Between 1894 and 1974 it was located in Hungerford Rural District. In the nationwide reorganization of local government of 1974, it became part of the non-metropolitan Newbury District. In 1998 the Newbury District was replaced by the unitary authority of West Berkshire.

Research Tips


  • GENUKI's collection of maps for Berkshire. For basic reference are the two online maps Berkshire Parishes (highly recommended) and Berkshire Poor Law Union areas. These locate the individual parishes and indicate the urban and rural districts to which each belonged. There are many other maps listed, some covering specific parts of the county.
  • Wikipedia's outline map of the unitary authorities, shown on many of their Berkshire pages, shows how the new divisions of government relate to the former districts. It has to be remembered that the county was reshaped in 1974 with the urban and rural districts of Abingdon and Faringdon and part of Wantage going to Oxfordshire, and the Borough of Slough (with Eton) coming in from Buckinghamshire. Every attempt is being made to indicate here in WeRelate the civil parishes, towns and villages for which these transfers occurred. Currently there are maps to be found on place pages that deal with civil parishes that transferred from Buckinghamshire into Berkshire. It is planned to provide maps within WeRelate for places that transferred from Berkshire to Oxfordshire--a much wider geographical area.
  • The extensive collection provided by Genmaps is provided free of charge online (currently offline, March 2016).
  • The Ordnance Survey has produced an up-to-date map of the boundaries of all the post-1974 districts throughout the country. This also shows the electoral constituency boundaries which are destined to change before 2020.

Online Historical References

  • Berkshire Record Office. The Berkshire Record Office [BRO] was established in 1948 to locate and preserve records relating to the county of Berkshire and its people, and anyone who is interested in the county's past. As well as original documents, catalogues and indexes, there is a library at the Record Office.
  • Berkshire Family History Society Research Centre. "The Berks FHS Centre can help you - wherever your ancestors came from. There is a Research Centre Library open to all."
  • West Berkshire Museum, Newbury, is housed in a building with an interesting past, but is currently closed for redevelopment. No information on their collections.
  • The GENUKI provision for Berkshire has been updated more recently than that for some of the other counties. A member of the Berkshire Family History Society is credited with this revision.
  • The FamilySearch Wiki on Berkshire explains the jurisdictions relating to civil affairs, parishes and probate (wills and testaments) for each parish in the county and also outlines when these jurisdictions were in existence. Alterations required to cover the post-1974 period have not been carried out for every parish concerned.
  • Brett Langston's list of Registration Districts in Berkshire will lead to specific parishes with dates.
  • Local History Online is a compilation of websites from Berkshire local history clubs, societies and associations.
  • The Berkshire section of The Victoria History of the Counties of England, in four volumes, is provided by British History Online. Volumes 3 and 4 provide an extensive history of the county, parish by parish, up to the end of the 19th century. There are local maps illustrating the text. Manors and their owners are discussed. Parishes are arranged in their original "hundreds"; the hundred for each placename in the Berkshire section of WeRelate will eventually be available.

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.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Great Shefford. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.