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West Ilsley is a small pretty village set in a hollow beneath the nearby Ridgeway path in the northern hills of the Berkshire Downs. The Ridgeway path follows the top of the Downs from Overton Hill near Avebury in Wiltshire to the Thames at Streatley. Opposite the village pub there is a cricket field with a clubhouse, and also an attractive duck pond.

The name of the village will be familiar to those with an interest in horse racing as the village is home to two racing stables and nearby slopes are used as training gallops.


Location map:

 

There are various views on the origin of the name Ilsley. It could be "a woodland clearing of a man called Hild" (Dictionary of English Place Names) or it could be derived from Hilde-Laege meaning "Place of Conflict" (David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History).  What is known for sure however is that in AD871 the Battle of Ashdown took place nearby when the Danish armies were defeated by Prince Alfred.

In 1711 John Morland, a local farmer and land owner, started brewing beer in West Ilsley. He opened a public house in nearby West Hagbourne where he owned land, and eventually the Morland Brewery company became established in Abingdon. More recently the company was taken over by Greene King and the site of Morlands brewery is now a housing estate. The Morland name has been retained by Greene King in a couple of popular brands of Morlands beer.

The attractive little village church is All Saints Church which has origins from the 12th century and is set in a pretty churchyard.

West Ilsley is just off the A34 about half way between Abingdon and Newbury.

Images of West Ilsley:
(Click to view)

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West Ilsley