Beech Hill is a rural community in the south-east corner of West Berkshire with a population of about 200. Situated on a south facing slope it is surrounded on all four sides by agricultural land. There are a few small businesses in the village, though the larger villages of Mortimer, two miles to the west and Spencers Wood about two miles to the east support Beech Hill with a number of shops, doctors surgeries, pharmacies and libraries. Although being rural there is easy access to the M4, 3 miles away; and to Mortimer Station with frequent trains to Basingstoke and Reading.
It is believed that the village was originally called Beche Hill, after the de la Beche family from Aldworth 12 miles away.
A Bas-Relief designed and built by Roland Joy from material donated by village blacksmith Bill Bailey (both born in the village more than 70 years ago) tells us that Sir Nicolas De La Beche was tutor to The Black Prince at Beaumys Castle, a wooden structure situated near the south-east corner of our village. The name became corrupted to Beech Hill in the 17th - 18th century. Originally part of the parish of Stratfield Mortimer, Beech Hill became a parish in its own right in 1868 with its own Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin.
All that remains of Beaumys Castle is the moat; and details of its history are very sketchy as all the village records were destroyed in a fire 200 years ago!
The inscription on the Bas-Relief gives a brief history of the village and its connection with Beaumys Castle. To see the inscription
click on the picture.
In 2009, conscious of the loss of a large amount of our history two hundred years ago, and the risk of losing a great deal of more recent history, Iris Waite, assisted by other long-time residents of Beech Hill wrote a book entitled Memories of Beech Hill.
Using surviving records and their own memories they covered the history of Beech Hill from the 12th century to the present day with more information on Beaumy's Castle, The Priory, Beech Hill House, Trunkwell House, our two churches, the village school, the Memorial Hall, War-time Beech Hill, and much more.
The book is available from local public libraries or direct from Iris Waite.