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Brightwell will be 1,161 years old on Wednesday and a special celebratory ringing of the St Agatha's Church bells will mark the occasion.  It is hoped this will become an annual event on the 22nd April to mark the founding of our parish.

Our charter was granted on Easter Day, 22nd April 854 AD in a great ceremony at Winchester Cathedral. King Aethelwulf granted 30 hides of land known as Brightwell to Archbishop Swithun.

It is likely that until this time, the land was part of a larger estate possibly including Cholsey. The Brightwell estate of 854 AD included all of Sotwell and Mackney and more-than-likely also included the land that was to become Clapcot, Shillingford Hill and Wallingford (which at this time had not yet been founded). Ever since our parish has been getting smaller as Wallingford slowly expands, annexing Brightwell lands.

Later charters in the tenth century partitioned the Brightwell estate into different ownership areas creating Sotwell, Clapcot and Wallingford and defined the boundaries - many of which can still be followed today.

The 854 AD charter that founded Brightwell was probably defined by the River Thames to the north and east with Shillings Brook and the Kibble Ditch to the west. This ditch still defines our western boundary and can be traced from The River Thames, up alongside Wittenham Wood, towards Wittenham Turn, up to Sires Hill and down to Mackney. It may be a much older land division that dates back to ancient times. To the south, the parish boundary was the middle of the great swamp that stretched around Mackney Island towards the Mortens and Cholsey.

Last year's beating of the bounds ceremony (pictured) was a reminder of the parish boundaries. It will be repeated on Rogation Sunday in 2016.

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