Town and Countryside in western Berkshire, c.1327-c.1600

Town and Countryside in western Berkshire, c.1327-c.1600

Social and Economic Change

Margaret Yates


Boydell Press



A fresh examination of how society and economy changed at the end of the middle ages, comparing urban and rural experience.
The traditional boundary between the medieval and early modern periods is challenged in this new study of social and economic change that bridges the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It addresses the large historical questions - what changed, when and why - through a detailed case study of western Berkshire and Newbury, integrating the experiences of both town and countryside. Newbury is of particular interest being a rising cloth manufacturing centre that had contacts with London and overseas due to its specialist production of kerseys.
The evidence comes from original documentary research and the data are clearly presented in tables and graphs. It is a book alive with the actions of people, famous men such as the clothier John Winchcombe known as 'Jack of Newbury', but more notably by the hundreds of individuals, such as William Eyston or Isabella Bullford, who acquired property, cultivated their lands, or, in the case of Isabella, managed the mill complex after her husband's death.

MARGARET YATES is Lecturer in History at the University of Reading.


November 2007
3 line illustrations
352 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843833284
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS015000, HIS054000, BUS023000
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Table of Contents

The End of the Middle Ages?
Landscapes, Population and Wealth in Western Berkshire from the Fourteenth to Sixteenth Centuries
Town and Country Relations: Newbury and its Hinterland
Estate Management and Profitability
Tenant Society
Conclusion: The Chronology of Change


A welcome addition to a small but growing range of local studies that examine the period from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. (...) This is a very valuable book that will be of great importance as we try to make sense of the local and short-term complexities and attempt to weld them together into a rich national picture. THE RICARDIAN
A triumphant example of what such regional monographs can achieve and how such a detailed analysis can extend historians' understanding. SOUTHERN HISTORY
A valuable contribution to our understanding of the transition from the medieval to the early modern periods on a regional level. Yates has not only given us a detailed picture of continuity and change in one region but has demonstrated the complexity of the chronology of change and its causation. THE LOCAL HISTORIAN

A fascinating, in-depth study. BERKSHIRE FAMILY HISTORIAN, June 2008