Bucklebury was a royal manor owned by Edward The Confesser (reigned 1042-1066). The village and parish church are recorded in the Domesday book of 1086 as 'Borgeldeberie' meaning 'Burghild's' (a woman's name) fortified place or borough'. Henry I granted Bucklebury to the Cluniac Reading Abbey, which retained it until it surrendered all lands to the crown in the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540.
During the second world war much of Bucklebury Common was cleared for the stationing of troops. Some of the concrete paths laid down are still used to this day as bridleways.
In 1995, Carole and Michael Middleton's fledgling business Party Pieces had begun to do so well they decided to sell their first married home on Cock Lane for £158,000 and buy a bigger property in the nearby hamlet of Chapel Row for £250,000. The large detached country house with five bedrooms was set in one-and-a-half-acres of land and was called Oak Acre. Discreetly hidden from view by trees, the house can only by accessed via a private road - a security measure that would serve the family in good stead in the years to come.
Kate chose a blue and cream colour scheme for her room and the family decided to have some of the walls knocked to create an open-plan feel. The move was an exciting one for the entire family who immediately fell in love with their nearest village of Bucklebury and the surrounding area - very similar to their previous home - just ten miles away.
It was a time of change for Kate who moved from St Andrews School (she loved it so much she once said she should like to return to work there as a teacher) to the £22,000 per year all-girls school Downe House. Kate quickly made attempts to make friends and settle into her new school, but encountered a nasty clique of girls who made her time there very unhappy. Former pupil Emma Sayle recalled: "Downe House is a great school but it is a fighting school. She was bullied. It was a huge shock for Kate." After two terms, Mike and Carole moved Kate to Marlborough College where the young teenager was back in her element - making friends and excelling at sports. On weekends, Kate, Pippa and James would play tennis and go for long walks in the countryside.
The family business Party Pieces was operated from converted farm buildings where buyers selected the latest themed tableware, party bags, games and activities. The call centre was based in a 200-year-old barn, the picking room was a converted cow shed, and the huge warehouse (you guessed it) was a converted hay barn stacked with thousands of products ready to be dispatched.
When William and Kate's relationship became public knowledge and media attention began to focus more and more, Bucklebury became a sanctuary for both of them. William forged a strong relationship with the Middleton family, becoming fiercely protective of them and affectionately refers to Mike Middleton as "Dad".
He loved their relaxed family life and spending time at their idyllic country home. Over Carole's Sunday lunches and a glass or two of William's favourite red wine; which Carole always stored in the cellar, the young Prince became a part of the Middleton family. In 2008, he landed a multi-million pound Chinook helicopter in Kate's back garden for just a number of seconds before taking off again; something he was criticised in the press for doing (though I must say, I thought it was a rather romantic gesture).
Local business owners were thrilled to meet the Prince for the first time. Local shop owner Hash Shingadia, a grocer who attended the royal wedding, recalled the first time William came in he inquired about Wall's Vienetta Mint Ice Cream: "Now we make sure it's always stocked for him." He also confirmed Kate loves Haribo sweets - so much so, he sent her a box as a wedding gift.
Walls Vienetta ice cream has always been a popular treat to take with a bottle of wine to dinner.
William and Kate regularly enjoy a quiet drink and a pie at their local The Old Boot Inn. Owner John Haley revealed the couple like to sit at the front of the bar, next to the fireplace. The eighteenth-century building has a contemporary interior and is a quaint pub, where locals can sit back, relax and enjoy a chat.
A number of Bucklebury residents were invited to the royal wedding, though it was a global event watched by people in every corner of the world. William and Kate wanted to see their friends and neighbours sitting in Westminster Abbey. Below we see Kate leaving the Middleton family home in her Audi for the final time before the royal wedding.
Throughout the Cambridges' marriage, they have remained incredibly close to the Middletons and spent quite a lot of time in Bucklebury. On New Year's Eve 2011 the couple were photographed walking the family dogs in the peaceful countryside.
|People UK/Princess Diana Remembered|
The Duke and Duchess chose to spend last Christmas with the Middletons following Kate's hospitalisation for acute morning sickness. It provided an opportunity for Kate to rest and recuperate whilst enjoying a private family Christmas. They attended the annual service at nearby St Mary's Church where they joined locals in singing traditional carols.
Last year, Carole and Mike Middleton made the decision to move from their five-bedroom 'Oak Acre' to a Georgian house known as 'Bucklebury Manor'. Previously owned by banker Morgan Stanley banker Justin Mason and his wife Jill, there was a bidding war for the much sought after property before the Middletons triumphed paying an estimated £4.7 million.
The Grade II listed house features seven bedrooms, five reception rooms, a swimming pool and a tennis court, all set in eighteen acres of land.
|The Steeple Times|
The family kitchen.
|The Steeple Times|
The gardens are simply beautiful.
|Jill Mason Garden Design|
A lovely place to sit outside and enjoy the scenery.
|Jill Mason Garden Design|
The day after the Cambridges left St Mary's hospital with their son they travelled to Bucklebury with a four car convoy and have remained their since. It shows how comfortable and at home William and Kate feel there and it's very telling that they want to share those precious first weeks with Kate's family. I'm of the opinion Mike and Carole purchased Bucklebury Manor partly for security and privacy reasons.
With 18 acres surrounding the house the family have plenty of room to enjoy country living and outdoor activities away from the public eye. Police protection around the property has been "described as a ring of steel". As William prepares to return to Anglesey to resume work as a search and rescue pilot, Kate is expected to remain in Bucklebury with the support of her family around her.
I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever Prince George will spend much of his childhood playing in the grounds of Bucklebury Manor, walking the family dogs, enjoying Carole's lunches and traditional family events such as Christmas and birthdays.
We often hear Kate has been spotted Antique shopping or stopping at the local shop for curry - but we very, very rarely see photos and moving forward this will most certainly continue. The residents of Bucklebury are hugely protective of Kate and want her to continue enjoying the normalcy she always has. The picturesque village seems a wonderful place to live, and a perfect place for the little prince right now :)