Thatcham is a town in the ceremonial county of Berkshire.It is located 3 miles (5km) east of Newbury and 15 miles (24km) west of Reading. It covers about 8.75 sq miles (22.7km²) and has a population of about 26,300 (2017).
It lies on the River Kennet, the Kennet & Avon Canal, the A4 trunk route, and the course of a Roman road.
The area has evidence of occupation dating from prehistoric times, and is claimed as being one of the oldest (if not the oldest) continuously inhabitated place in Britain. The well preserved Mesolithic settlement dating from 7,700BC have been found in its vicinity. There is also evidence of Bronze and Iron Age settlements and of a Roman town.
The name may have been derived from a Saxon Chief called Tace who established a village in around 500. The settlement was call Taceham - ham meaning village in Saxon. One other possibility is it came from the Saxon word thaec (thatch). Wherever it came from the name Taceham persisted until after the Norman conquest in 1066 before going through a number of minor changes until the current one was adopted in the 16th Century
The town had a period of great prosperity around 1304 when the chapel of St Thomas the Martyr on the A4, now called the Old Blue Coat school, was constructed. At this time the population was larger than Newbury but declined as a result of the Black Death which decimated the area in 1348.
There is a Norman parish St Mary's Church which was largely reconstructed in 1857. This is believed to be built on the same site as an earlier Saxon church. It was previously known as St Lukes.
In 1121 King Henry 1st founded the great Abbey of Reading and endowed it with many gifts of land, including the Manor of Thatcham. At the same time Thatcham Hundred ceased to exist, the western party being transfered to Farcross Hundred, and the remainder to the Hundred of Reading.
In 1141 Thatcham Church, previously the proprty of the Diocese of Salisbury, was granted to Reading Abbey by the Empress Mathilda, who at the same time confirmed her fathers gift to the Manor to the Abbey.
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