Place:Sutton Courtenay, Berkshire, England

NameSutton Courtenay
Alt namesSudtonesource: Domesday Book (1985) p 37
Sudtunesource: Domesday Book (1985) p 37
Suttonesource: Domesday Book (1985) p 37
Sutton-Courtenaysource: Family History Catalog
Sutton-Courtneysource: Family History Catalog
Caldecottsource: hamlet in parish
TypeParish (ancient), Civil parish
Coordinates51.642°N 1.276°W
Located inBerkshire, England     ( - 1974)
Also located inOxfordshire     (1974 - present)
See alsoOck Hundred, Berkshire, Englandhundred in which it was located
Abingdon Rural, Berkshire, Englandrural district in which Sutton Courtenay was located until 1974
Vale of White Horse, Oxfordshire, Englandadministrative district in which Sutton Courtenay was located after 1974
Contained Places
All Saints Churchyard
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names

Sutton Courtenay is a village and civil parish on the River Thames 2 miles south of Abingdon and 3 miles northwest of Didcot. It was part of Berkshire until the 1974 boundary changes transferred it to Oxfordshire.

Sutton Courtenay was an ancient parish in the Ock Hundred and the Abingdon Poor Law Union. The parish was located in the Abingdon Rural District 1894-1974, and since that date in the Vale of White Horse District of Oxfordshire. A hamlet named Caldecott was in the north of the parish and is now a part of Abingdon.

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Settlement in the parish dates from at least the Neolithic era, when the alluvial plains of the Thames made the area fertile for agriculture. The Romans were present in the village as evidenced by a surviving ceremonial site and road. Excavations have revealed rough Saxon huts of the early stages of Anglo-Saxon colonization, but their most important enduring monument in Sutton was the massive causeway and weirs that separate the millstream from Sutton Pools. The causeway was probably built by Saxon labour. In 2010 the Channel 4 Time Team programme excavated a field in the village and discovered what they then thought was a major Anglo-Saxon royal centre with perhaps the largest great hall ever discovered in Britain.

Written records of Sutton's history began in 688 when King Ine of Wessex endowed the new monastery at Abingdon with the manor of Sutton. In 801, Sutton became a royal vill, with the monastery at Abingdon retaining the church and priest's house. It is believed that this was on the site of the 'Abbey' in Sutton Courtenay. The Domesday Book of 1086 shows that the manor of 'Sudtone' was owned half by the King and farmed mainly by tenants who owed him tribute. There were three mills, of river meadow (probably used for dairy farming) and extensive woodlands where pigs were kept.

Sutton became known as Sutton Courtenay after the Courtenay family took residence at the Manor in the 1170s. Reginald Courtenay became the first Lord of Sutton after he had helped negotiate the path of the future king, Henry II, to the throne. Most historians believe that Matilda, the elder of the two children of Henry I of England, was born in Winchester; however John M. Fletcher argues for the possibility of the royal palace at Sutton (now Sutton Courtenay) in 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 Sutton Courtenay. 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.