Donnington was a small village located on the northern bank of the River Lambourn just north of Newbury. Historically Donnington was a manor within the parish of Shaw-cum-Donnington. The village has always been under the influence of its larger neighbour and today although the historic core remains it has taken on a largely suburban character.
The manor is recorded in Domesday Book as Deritone, becoming Duninton by 1215.
The manor appears to have been in the ownership of the Adderbury family from the late 13th century. Sir Richard Abberbury fought alongside the Black Prince in the 100 years wars in France, where he had probably made a considerable fortune through looting and the ransoming of aristocratic hostages. He was clearly an important figure in the Royal court as he was appointed guardian of the Prince’s heir and remained in office following Richard II accession to the throne in 1377. Sir Richard applied for and received a licence to crenellate at Donnington from Richard II in AD1386. this probably marks the date for the construction of Donnington castle.
Sir Richard also established a Friary in the village (later to become known as Donnington Priory) in 1376 and founded the Hospital in 1393, which survives as a charitable institution to this day. The current Hospital buildings date to 1602, although a major refurbishment was carried out in 1822.
Donnington became the focus of attention during the English Civil Wars when the castle was held for the Royalists through 3 separate period of siege. The earthworks created for the defences can still be seen today. At the end of the war the Parliamentarians had the bulk of the castle pulled down to prevent its further use. Donnington was also crucial in the 2nd battle of Newbury when the small bridge over the Lambourn was used to allow the Royalist army to retreat under cover of darkness from a poor strategic position.
Donnington Grove developed a country park in the 18th Century. The house is a rare and important example of early Gothic revival dating to 1763. The house and park were sold in 1786 to William Brummell the father of the renowned dandy ‘Beau’ Brummell.