Newbury historian Walter Money was born at Donnington Dene, Oxford Road, Donnington in August 1836. He was the son of John and Maria Money, and his brother James H. Money went on to become an important local architect.
As a young man, Walter Money trained as an architect. In 1865 he married Charlotte Ann Butler, and the couple lived for many years at Herborough House in Bartholomew Street. He was there in 18801, still there in 18962, but gone by 19003.
It was while living at Herborough House that he published some of his best-known books, including his monumental History of the ancient Town and Borough of Newbury in the county of Berks, or, more simply, History of Newbury (Parker & Co, Oxford 1887); and The First and Second Battles of Newbury and the Siege of Donnington Castle (W. J. Blacket 1881).
Herborough House was at 122-123 Bartholomew Street, in its later years used by Nias, and then demolished as part of the development of the Kennet Centre.
Walter Money joined the Newbury District Field Club in 1875, and became one of its leading members (Hon. Secretary from 1879 to 1893). He was a churchwarden of St. Nicolas Church. In 1878 he was elected a member of Newbury Town Council and he was a member of Berkshire County Council from 1889 to 1897. He became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (FSA), and was a member of the Berkshire Archaeological Society, and local secretary for the National Trust.
Apart from the books mentioned above, a condensed Popular History of Newbury followed in 1905, along with several more books, a number of booklets, and a long series of articles for newspapers and periodicals, including many for the Newbury Weekly News.
In retirement, he went to live at Shaw Dene. His wife Charlotte died in 1922. He died on October 18, 1926, aged 90, at a nursing home in St. John’s Road. He was buried in the Newtown Road cemetery. In his memory, Newbury Museum (as it was then) was extended with a new building added to the east side of the Cloth Hall.
1. Walter Money letter of Dec 27, 1880 written from Herborough House. In private collection.
2. Cosburn’s Directory of Newbury 1896 p. 314.
3. Cosburn’s Directory of Newbury 1900 p. 314.
John Winchcombe (c.1489-1557) - ‘Jack of Newbury’
“Jack of Newbury” or John Winchcombe II (c.1489-1557) was a leading cloth-producer in the reign of Henry VIII, when woollen cloth was the country’s most important export. For a time, he was the leading figure in England’s leading industry.
The many different cloths produced at the time were dominated by broadcloths and kersies, and current evidence shows Winchcombe producing on an industrial scale: over 6,000 kersey cloths each year in the 1540s. Each cloth was about a yard (0.9m.) wide, and 17-18 yards long. The scale of his production is also indicated by details of the dyeing process. Woad was his most important dye, normally delivered by the cartload. One order survives for 541 cwt, or over 27 tons of woad.
Many people were involved in the production processes, which included spinning and weaving. Fulling took place in local mills and the finished kersies were exported via London to Antwerp, where they were recognised in the 1530s and 1540s as the best of their kind. Although Winchcombe has sometimes been credited with founding England’s first factory, no documentary evidence of a weaving workshop has yet been traced. However, the quantity of cloths produced suggests a workshop of perhaps 30-50 looms.
In the language of the time, he was a “clothier,” organising the production of cloth which was then sold in his name. In the 1530s and 1540s he led a national campaign to persuade Henry VIII to change the law on the making of woollen cloth, heading a group of clothiers from six counties – a campaign which was ultimately successful.
The Newbury area had produced cloth since prehistoric times; and would continue to produce cloth long after Winchcombe’s death. But it was only in his lifetime that Newbury reached national importance in this field. This prominence was real but short-lived.
In Henry VIII’s reign, John Winchcombe combined a role as a cloth-producer with that of one of the county gentry for Berkshire. He was among those present for the reception of Henry VIII’s fourth wife Anne of Cleves, and his personal contacts included Sir Thomas Gresham and the Protector Somerset. He spent over £4,000 on the purchase of property including the manors of Thatcham and Bucklebury, and held a portfolio of other property mainly in and around Newbury. He was a Member of Parliament and a Justice of the Peace.
As one of the county gentry, John Winchcombe led Newbury men to war to fight for Henry VIII, including to the siege of Boulogne in 1544. He was granted a coat of arms, and had his portrait painted in 1550.
His home in Northbrook Street filled the area between Jack Street and Marsh Lane (now mostly occupied by Marks & Spencer, and previously by the Jack Hotel), and here he welcomed the future Protector Somerset. It consisted of timber-framed buildings ranged around courtyards. A fragment of this extensive home survives on the corner of Marsh Lane, complete with carvings and mouldings. Other carvings now at Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire. It is on this surviving part of his house that the blue plaque has been placed.
A fictionalised story of his life, written by a contemporary of Shakespeare, with published in the 1590s. This was “The Pleasant Historie of John Winchcombe, in his younger years called Jack of Newbury…” by Thomas Deloney. Thomas Fuller described Winchcombe in the 17th century as “…the most considerable Clothier (without fancy or fiction) England ever beheld.” Winchcombe has been frequently confused with his father, who died in 1520 and was also a clothier.
David Peacock 2017