The village of Lambourn lying within a fold on the Berkshire Downs has a long history.
The chalk downs around the village contain extensive evidence for prehistoric and Romano-British settlements, agricultural practices and burial activity, including the most extensive and impressive Bronze Age barrow cemetery in the area at Seven Barrows.
The settlement at Lambourn itself appears to have its origins in the Roman period. There have been several finds of artefacts and features of this period from within the area of the modern settlement, although the exact nature of this activity has yet to be established. The location at the head of the Lambourn valley by a good water supply was clearly an attractive one, and recent archaeological investigations close to the centre of the village have revealed evidence for at least 6 early Saxon buildings. These 'sunken-floored buildings' were of a type peculiar to this period and included evidence that one of the structures was dedicated to the production of cloth.
The settlement at Lambourn is mentioned in the wills of the Saxon Kings Alfred the Great (AD 888) and Aethelred (AD 991), giving a strong indication of royal ownership at this time. The location of the church in one corner of an oval enclosure, now demarcated by modern roads, suggest that this royal manor stood in this area. There are several references to Lambourn in Saxon charters and it is likely that the church was a Minster church prior to the Norman Conquest.
The current church is the one of the finest and most complete large Norman churches in the district and might be another indication of the high status of the settlement at this time. A market place was laid out in front of the church, which is home to a surviving medieval market cross. Lambourn clearly prospered, as a new street appears to have been laid out in the medieval period to cater for a growing population. However, its fortunes went into decline in the later medieval period and it suffered a long period of stagnation.
In the 20th century Lambourn’s fortunes were revived when it became one of the largest horse racing training centres in the country. Today the extensive gallops are a key part of the character of the area.
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|Mon 19 Aug 2013 - Sun 1 Sep 2013||Scarecrow Competition for Festival Fortnight|