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History

Although there are many indications of Stone Age (tumuli), Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman occupation, the history of Baughurst began with the Anglo-Saxon settlement.  The name, probably meaning a hurst (wood) occupied by Beagga (a Saxon) or by badgers, first appeared at this time.  Since then there have been many variations of the name - Bagganhyrst (11th century), Bagehurst (15th century), Baugust (18th century) and Baghurst (19th century).

Wolverton (Ulvretune in 1086) was a royal residence and Eleanor, wife of Henry II, lived at Wolverton House in 1165 whilst the King was in Normandy.

Around 885 AD much of the area was given to the Church at Winchester by King Alfred and Baughurst found itself part of the Manor of Hurstborne Priors (near Andover).  In 1440 it was transferred to the Manor of Manydown near Basingstoke.

During the Civil War Baughurst saw local skirmishes and suffered from plundering.  After this it became one of the biggest and wealthiest Quaker centres in Southern England.  Following a visit in 1657 to Basingstoke by George Fox, the Quaker founder, James Potter of Baughurst went to prison for standing up in Baughurst Church and reading a Friends’ paper which conflicted with established church thinking.  When released, Potter established a Quaker meeting house at Browns Farm (and later at Baughurst House) and soon conducted burials in the garden at Browns Farm.  The Toleration Act of 1689 reduced the importance of Baughurst to the Quakers however; some joined the Anglicans whilst many joined the Methodists John and Charles Wesley and their friend George Whitfield, who lived in Baughurst for some time around 1736. 

Jane Austen, who lived in Steventon (west of Basingstoke) for many years, visited Baughurst Rectory and wrote about it in one of her famous letters to her sister Cassandra.

After the defeat of Napoleon, the Duke of Wellington was granted land around Stratfield Saye and from 1817 to 1943 the Dukes were the principal land owners in Baughurst, the 4th Duke living in Ewhurst House for thirty-four years.

In 1942 an RAF airfield was established on the high ground south of Aldermaston village.  Some of the buildings were within Baughurst and many of the villagers found work there.  The airfield was seconded to the U.S.Air force and was one of the sites where gliders left for France on D-Day.  From 1943 to 1945 one of the hangars sited in Baughurst Plantation was used by Vickers to assemble Spitfire fighter planes, which were then flight-tested at the airfield.

In 1946 a flying school was set up to train ex-RAF pilots to fly with civil airlines and in 1950 the site was taken over for an atomic weapons establishment.  Contractors descended on the site, first converting huts into staff quarters and then constructing about 500 houses on Baughurst Common.

The building of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston brought a significant change to the area and saw the population, which had been static at around 490 people for many years, rise between 1951 and 1970 to some 2,250 people.  By contrast, Wolverton’s population has only risen from 150 to around 225 in three centuries.