Pearls of Newbury – St Nicolas Church

| 29 March 2021
Pearl House

The beautiful church of St Nicolas has a rich history seemingly since Newbury became a town in the middle of the 11th century. The first mention of a church on this site was in a grant of “William King of the English” (William the Conqueror) in 1086. The grant mentions “the patronage of the Church of St Nicolas of Newbury” being given by Ernuif of Hesding to the Abbey. Ernulf, is said to be the original founder of the Church of St Nicolas towards the end of the 11th century.

The only trace of the first church is some of the north porch foundations discovered outside the present building. The building you see today is considerably larger than the Norman structure.

The church was entirely rebuilt, around the years 1509 and 1533. The presence of devices in the stonework, the pomegranate (the apple of Grenada) and the portcullis (which appears on the Tudor royal Escutcheon) suggests the church was built during the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon.

In Thomas Fuller’s ‘History of the Worthies of England’, published in 1663, it is stated: “John Winchcombe, commonly called Jack of Newberry… built the church of Newberry, from the pulpit westward to the tower inclusively, and died about the year 1520”.

At the dissolution of the monasteries all their estates became vested in the Crown. The patronage of the Rectory of Newbury continued in the gift of the Crown except during the period of Cromwell’s Commonwealth. During this period (in 1644), the Church of St Nicolas was used as a prison and a hospital by the Parliamentary Army after the second Battle of Newbury.

In 1854, eighteen years after Berkshire had been transferred from the Diocese of Salisbury to that of Oxford, an Order in Council made over the presentation of the Rectory of Newbury to the Bishop of Oxford, where it remains to this day.

Today ‘St Nic’s’ is involved in a wide range of activities and through its friends and congregation it makes a huge difference to the local community – why not get involved?

Areas that it embraces include:

  • Mental Health
  • Photography
  • The Newbury Spring Festival
  • Theatre Direction
  • Sports Coaching
  • Arts and Music
  • Knitting
  • Book Clubs
  • Youth Work
  • Charity administration and Mentoring
  • Neighbourhood Watch
  • Social provision
  • Uniformed organisations

We know lots of people have been feeling lonely and isolated during these challenging times. We are here to help you and offer advice to see how Pearl House could make a difference for you or a loved one.We take Covid 19 very seriously and offer personal one to one appointments, Zoom calls and are here to have a good chat and discuss things with you on the phone.

Contact us now with your details on 01635 551 229 or email: or visit our web site and register at


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