The Horn (or Horne, the two seem to be interchangeable) family were very long established in Englefield and it is possible (though unconfirmed) that they go back to Alwin Horn who had the manor of Englefield from King Edward prior to 1066 and in that year, it is said, went with King Harold first to Stamford Bridge and then to Hastings where he met his end.
The Horns were certainly a fixture in Englefield and North Street by the seventeenth century when Richard and Robert acquired various pieces of land between 1660 and 1684. It is said that Peter Horn, Richard Horn, William Horn and John Horn fought for the King at the Battle of Reading in 1643. Richard and John also afterwards fought in the first Battle of Newbury and Richard and John were also at the second Battle of Newbury in 1644 under Prince Rupert and in 1645 at Naseby, where John was killed.
Peter Horn was a clothier in Reading and there was a shop in Broad Street in the 1950s and 60s. Richard Horn was a mercer and had a shop in Englefield.
In 1677 Robert Horne, a Yeoman of North Street, was elected as Churchwarden at Englefield and together with fellow warden William Kent presented in 1679 a set of church plate engraved with their initials. These men also collected the sum of £3-18-10 from the parishioners in 1678 towards the gilding of the new St Paul’s after the Great Fire. In later years his grandson, John Horn, was also a churchwarden between 1717 and 1721.
John Horne, the son of churchwarden John, who died in 1759 left property in North Street, six acres in Theale, two properties in Englefield known respectively as the New House and Knapps, a piece of land known as Bucklesmore in Englefield and a house and land in Tilehurst known as Bunce’s between his sons John, William and Thomas. His brother, also Thomas, appears to have owned a house and land in Englefield at that time as well. During the Enclosures John and William acquired further pieces of land in compensation for the loss of their holdings in the common fields. John Horn died in 1813 and his wife Elizabeth in 1812 and they both have substantial gravestones in the favoured area of the parish churchyard just to the right of the church door. All these lands were sold to Richard Benyon in about 1819 and from then on the Hornes became tenants, working on the Englefield Estate but the Horn ownership is still evident today in Horn’s Copse. The 1844 record of tenants show 5 separate Horne households in Englefield.
By the Second World War the only person with the Horne name left in Englefield was Henry Horne at 39 Chalkpit Cottages but many of the girls born to Horne parents had married local men so a number of other well-known local families had Horne ancestry. These included the Cox, Parsons and Vince families and their descendants. Another such were the Winchcombs, among them Miss Bertha Winchcomb, whose mother was Mary Elizabeth Horne.
The last people to live in the village having been born as Hornes were sisters Emily Smith and Ethel Parsons, daughters of William George Horne and Fanny Pusey from Bradfield. They lived first in the old Wimbleton's Cottages then in number 7 the Street and finally just across the road in number 10. Ethel married George Parsons, a carpenter on the estate, in 1910 and they lived first in Tidmarsh. He died in 1933 and Ethel then lived at number 19 in Englefield Street with their children, where she died in 1982. Emily went out to service in Henley where she met and married William Percy Smith, at the time a furniture salesman. He became a farmworker and they moved around various places but when William Percy enlisted in 1915 Emily returned with their four children to live with her widowed mother at number 10. When William Percy came home in 1919 they lived first at Rose Cottage in North Street then at Thatcham. William Percy died in 1925 and Emily and the children (now five of them) returned again to number 10. Emily remained there as a widow for the next 56 years until her death in 1981.
© 2019 Richard J Smith