The history of Englefield is that of a village but it is also more than that. The village itself is indeed a rare survival: one of the very few intact estate villages left in the country, functioning much as it always did and providing homes and jobs in the one place. The village, though, was but the hub of a much greater estate that stretches far beyond it, encompassing other surrounding villages. So the history of Englefield has to be the history of a much wider area, of not only the village but also of a wider parish and of other surrounding parishes.
The ancient parishes developed from the manorial system and the manor and parish usually shared the same boundaries. The manor was the principal unit of local administration and justice in rural areas, with the manorial court as its centre of administration, but in the 16th century the Church took over the role of the manorial court.
The first clear view of the parish of Englefield comes in 1762 courtesy of a hand drawn and painted map by Josiah Ballard of the lands of Powlet Wright. The extent of the map is the then parish (the ecclesiastical parish, since civil parishes did not come into existence until the end of the 19th century) and it shows the buildings and roads then in existence. An accompanying book lists the details of land ownership. The image to the left is a copy of this drawn in about 1959 by Gillian Lamperd (now Barton) from the village. An photograph of Ballard's actual map is here.
To the north and west the parish was bounded by the rivers Bourne and Pang more or less as today, but the parish was rather smaller in the south west and east. The south western boundary was then what is today called Bostock Lane but was then called Sulhamstead Lane. To the west of this were the common fields of the parish of Sulhamstead and to the west of them, those of Ufton. Both these parishes extended north of the Bath Road up to the top of Mare Ridge in those days.
In the south the parish of Englefield extended across the Bath Road with a strip of land running along the north bank of the River Kennet and the Holybrook. This part contained two of the common fields: the Puntfield in the east and the Englefield Meadow in the west, with the Fishery between them.
The whole eastern boundary (with the parish of Tilehurst) is somewhat indeterminate on the ground but ran loosely on the line of the modern A340 road, although there is a sort of appendix that juts into the parish of Tilehurst on the eastern edge.
To the south west were the parishes of Sulhamstead Bannister and Ufton Richard which are now confined to the south of the Bath Road but then spread across it all the way to the River Bourne. Each of these two parishes was later combined with others: Sulhamstead Bannister with Sulhamstead Abbotts to create modern Sulhamstead and Ufton Richard with Ufton Robert to create Ufton Nervet.
The hamlet of North Street (then part of Tilehurst, later part of the parish of Theale) and Mare Ridge Farm (in Sulhamstead) very much looked to Englefield village and church as their centre.
The map to the right, courtesy of the West Berkshire Council geographical information system shows that in the modern day the civil parish (outlined in red, with the old parish shaded in blue) has expanded to what might be regarded as its “natural boundaries” and now includes North Street and the former parts of Sulhamstead and Ufton north of the Bath Road. The land south of the Bath Road along the River Kennet is now in Sulhamstead and Theale parishes and the M4 motorway marks the northern boundary today, rather than the River Pang.
There was also a much wider sphere of influence beyond even the boundaries of the modern civil parish, certainly by the time of Richard Fellowes Benyon in the later 19th century. Chiefly to the north west and south and comprising at least parts of the parishes of Bradfield, Sulhamstead, Ufton, Burghfield, Mortimer and many more scattered farms and hamlets. This remains the case today. Around the whole area can be seen the characteristic Englefield Estate cottages similar in design to the new ones built along Englefield Street when the village was remodelled in the 19th century. These satellite villages were very much a part of the bigger estate; their inhabitants took part in regular cricket matches and games tournaments at the Club, and were included in key festivities. Estate employees and tenants moved regularly between the various villages and many marriages took place between people from Englefield and the surrounding villages that were part of the wider estate.