Berkshire

The Royal County of Berkshire contains a range of attractions and great days out for all the family – explore the history of Windsor Castle or enjoy the excitement of Legoland or attend one of the sporting venues on offer.

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Berkshire Overview

Welcome to Berkshire

The home county of Berkshire, or the Royal County of Berkshire is a landlocked county surrounded by Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Greater London.

Berkshire has a population of around 900,000 people. The county town is Reading with other large towns at Slough, Bracknell, Maidenhead and Wokingham.

The landscape of Berkshire benefits from the River Thames which forms part of the northern boundary, the Berkshire Downs part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the heavily wooded areas of Bracknell and Windsor Great Park.


History

Berkshire’s location close to London has resulted in it seeing it’s fair share of conflict down the years as the battles for power were waged – numerous castles, some ruins, are scattered across the landscape. Berkshire’s traditional economy has been agricultural based with sheep farming leading to a well developed woollen and clothing industry. The timber trade and malting industries were also significant generators of wealth in the county, the Vale of White Horse and Camden producing great barley crops.

The famous Uffington White Horse landmark passed to Oxfordshire when county boundaries were redrawn in 1974.


Places to Visit in Berkshire

Berkshire has a fantastic choice of great of days out for all the family. Visit the Legoland Resort to experience the thrills of rides and attractions and see the Lego models. Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world is a famous attraction and home to over 900 years of royal history. You can tour a number of the magnificent state apartments, semi state rooms and a climb of 200 steps is rewarded with views across the county. The Living Rainforest at Newbury is great for discovering the plants and animals that live in the rainforest – watch out for the lizards!
Berkshire has a number of important houses, stately homes and glorious gardens open to the public. Highclere House is an imposing mansion with impressive state rooms standing in grounds containing magnificent cedar trees. The house has gained more prominence with the public following the TV series Downton Abbey. Berkshire Downs is home to Ashdown House a 17th century house where inside you can find a grand old staircase – though it is worth checking the opening times before heading off. Outside there are 500 acres of grounds to explore including downland, woodland and parkland. Other houses include Basildon Park, Englefield House, Taplow Court and Shaw House. The gardens at Welford Park are famous for the display of colour in the Snowdrop Woods. Close to Windsor you will find Savill Gardens – 35 acres of colour and Valley Gardens with its display of rhododendrons, azaleas and camelias.

Crossing points and trade along the Thames led to many villages worth exploring like Pangborne.

There is plenty to do from a sporting perspective with Reading Football Club, the River Thames hosting rowing events, Newbury racecourse, ice hockey, rugby union’s London Irish and the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club.

Looking for some retail therapy? Then take a visit to Windsor Royal Shopping Centre on the site of an 1850’s railway station – you can still see Queen Victoria’s royal waiting room, Parkway Shopping Centre at Newbury and the Lexicon at Bracknell.

Berkshire’s famous names include Edward III, Elizabeth Taylor, explorer Ranulph Fiennes, Kate Middleton, Kate Winslett and Dragon’s Den star Peter Jones.

Berkshire has a large range of annual events including The Royal Ascot Festival, Reading Festival, The Royal Berkshire County Show, the Royal Windsor Horse Show and the Newbury Spring Festival.

Berkshire’s famous food includes the Poor Knights of Windsor – a fried bread dish, brawn and spiced beef.


Getting There

The M4 runs through Berkshire linking the county to the M25 and also delivers visitors from the west. The M3, linked via the A33 and M40 are also in close proximity.

The county is well served by train with locations including Newbury and Reading on the South West mainline.

Visitors from further afield can use the Heathrow airport and other major airports given the road network.



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