Chantry Lane runs off the Street opposite the estate yard and is still a public right of way. The popular local tale is that this lane originally led to a “chantry” or some sort of chapel that pre-dated the building of St Mark’s church. This is almost certainly a misunderstanding of the term “chantry” which was a monetary endowment to pay for a priest to sing mass for the soul of one departed. (See The Chantry)
One means of endowing chantries was the rent or tithes from land and a map of 1779 shows Chantry Farm, owned by William Toovey and Richard Carter. The farmhouse was directly in front of Englefield House and various small parcels of land were scattered around the parish but the farm yard was where the Timber Yard now is (behind the camera in this picture) and the bulk of the land was clustered around the far end of Chantry Lane. The lane therefore formed the means of communication between the yard and the fields and this is most probably the origin of its name. One of the fields, behind the yard and alongside the old road to Tidmarsh, was called Chantry Field and was the land that originally supported the chantry.
Today the lane ends at the edge of a field just beyond the old bathing pool but a footpath continues through the crop to meet the Pangbourne Road opposite Wickcroft Cottages. However, on a plan of 1822 it is shown as a road joining that from Englefield to Theale at a point where the Lodge Gates now stand. On earlier and later maps the lane is shown exactly as it is today, merely serving to gain access to the enclosed fields.
© 2019 Richard J Smith