If you’re looking for an idyllic, historic market town in the South of England for your next family getaway look no further than Newbury in Berkshire. The town is steeped in history and is surrounded by some of the best countryside, walking trails and cycling routes in the UK.
The town is bordered on three sides by the North Wessex Downs area of outstanding natural beauty and there’s no shortage of amazing things to do and places to visit in Newbury and the surrounding area. The town has a relaxed and vibrant atmosphere and has a range of independent and high street shops as well as restaurants, markets and cultural experiences.
A short trip out of the town puts you in the heart of the English countryside where you can walk and cycle to your heart’s content.
If you’re eying up Newbury for your next family staycation why not consider buying a holiday home at Cherry Bird Country Park. Our homes are state-of-the-art and are the perfect getaway for families that want an easy holiday destination without the hassle of booking flights.
Newbury is a great destination for a week away and in this article we’ve listed the top 6 places to visit in Newbury and the surrounding area.
A brief history of Newbury
The town of Newbury started life in the Dark Ages. It was a Saxon settlement called ‘Ulvritone’ and was located south of the River Kennet. The town’s name was later changed to NewBurgh. Burgh is the old English word for a borough and over time the name morphed into Newbury.
By the 11th century the town contained around 1,500 people and was allowed to hold fairs and markets. Sellers and buyers would flock to Newbury to trade livestock, buy goods and generally have a nice time.
Between the 1400’s and 1600’s Newbury became an important cloth manufacturer but sadly the cloth trade declined as wool became less valuable in the early modern period.
During the English Civil War Newbury was the site of 2 important battles both of which were won by the Parliamentarians. One battle was famously lost by the Royalists when they ran out of gun powder.
In the 18th and 19th centuries Newbury was an important coaching centre. Since it’s right in the middle of Bath and London many private carriages (coaches) spent the night in Newbury. This meant a lot of inns, theatres and pubs sprang up around the city to accommodate the weary travellers.
By the second half of the 18th century Newbury’s main source of income was agriculture due to its close proximity to fertile agricultural land. The increasing amount of goods being produced in the area led to the construction of The Kennet and Avon Canal which is still operational today (and a lovely walk too). The canal was originally used to transport corn but the advent of the railway saw its use as a transport link decline.
Newbury racecourse was built in the 20th century and the town was an important staging ground for UK and US troops in the second world war. Nowadays the town is primarily a tourist hotspot, drawing on over 1000 years of history to delight and entertain visitors.
In this next section of this article we’ll share our top 6 places to visit in Newbury.
6 of the best places to visit in town
There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Newbury. If you decide to stay at Cherry Bird Country Park you’ll be a short drive away from all these great days out.
If you’re looking for a glamorous day out or fancy a bit of a flutter look no further than Newbury Racecourse. The course holds regular races and they’re a great occasion to get dressed up and enjoy some sport.
If you take a short walk out of Newbury (1.5 miles) you come across the impressive Donnington Castle. Built in the 14th century legend has it that both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I both stayed here. It’s a great day trip destination for the whole family and you can have a picnic by the ruins if the weather is nice.
The Corn Exchange is a beautiful Grade II listed building in the center of Newbury. It once, unsurprisingly, housed the city’s corn exchange until the industry went into decline.
It’s now managed by the Corn Exchange Trust, a flagship arts center for the South East. The exchange is now home to 400 theatre seats, an independent cinema and popular bar and kitchen. Perfect for a romantic evening for two or fun for the whole family.
The Watermill Theatre
Not to be outdone on the theatre front The Watermill Theatre was built in 1830 originally as a corn mill, a fullers mill and a fine paper mill. Located 3 miles outside out Newbury town center the mill has been converted into one of the smallest and prettiest professional theatres in the UK. It first opened in 1967 and has been open ever since.
A must see for fans of Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle was the location they filmed the popular series. Tours take place from July to September and there’s a number of one off events that happen throughout the year. Booking in advance is advised.
The Kennet & Avon Canal
Last but not least on our list of places to visit in Newbury is the Kennet & Avon Canal. Built in the 1800s to transport corn, the canal is now a picturesque destination to visit with the family. The canal goes right through the middle of Newbury and stretches from London to Bristol. The canal towpath is great for walks and cycling and is a fun day out for the whole family.
Looking to visit Newbury? Why not get a holiday home there?
Newbury is a beautiful place to visit and we think the best way to enjoy the town is from the comfort of your own holiday home. Our holiday park is just a short drive away from the town and we have holiday homes to buy. If you’re interested in booking a rental or arranging a viewing to purchase a home you can contact us here.