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Berkshire (/ˈbɑːrkʃɪər, -ʃər/ (listen) BARK-shər, -⁠sheer; in the 17th century sometimes spelt phonetically as Barkeshire; abbreviated Berks.) is a historic county in South East England. One of the home counties, Berkshire was recognised by Queen Elizabeth II as the Royal County of Berkshire in 1957 because of the presence of Windsor Castle, and letters patent were issued in 1974. Berkshire is a county of historic origin, a ceremonial county and a non-metropolitan county without a county council. The county town is Reading.

The River Thames formed the historic northern boundary, from Buscot in the west to Old Windsor in the east. The historic county, therefore, includes territory that is now administered by the Vale of White Horse and parts of South Oxfordshire in Oxfordshire, but excludes Caversham, Slough and five less populous settlements in the east of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. All the changes mentioned, apart from the change to Caversham, took place in 1974. The towns of Abingdon, Didcot, Faringdon, Wallingford and Wantage were transferred to Oxfordshire, the six places joining came from Buckinghamshire. Berkshire County Council was the main local government of most areas from 1889 to 1998 and was based in Reading, the county town which had its own County Borough administration (1888–1974).

Since 1998, Berkshire has been governed by the six unitary authorities of Bracknell Forest, Reading, Slough, West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead and Wokingham. The ceremonial county borders Oxfordshire (to the north), Buckinghamshire (to the north-east), Greater London (to the east), Surrey (to the south-east), Wiltshire (to the west) and Hampshire (to the south). No part of the county is more than 8.5 miles (13.7 km) from the M4 motorway. (Full article...)

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Berkshire
Berkshire

The First Battle of Newbury was a battle of the First English Civil War that was fought on 20 September 1643 between a Royalist army, under the personal command of King Charles, and a Parliamentarian force led by the Earl of Essex. Following a year of Royalist successes in which they took Banbury, Oxford and Reading without conflict before storming Bristol, the Parliamentarians were left without an effective army in the west of England. When Charles laid siege to Gloucester, Parliament was forced to muster a force under Essex with which to beat Charles' forces off. After a long march, Essex surprised the Royalists and forced them away from Gloucester before beginning a retreat to London. Charles rallied his forces and pursued Essex, overtaking the Parliamentarian army at Newbury and forcing them to march past the Royalist force to continue their retreat.

Essex reacted by making a surprise attack on the Royalist lines at dawn, capturing several pieces of high ground and leaving Charles on the back foot. A series of Royalist attacks led to a large number of casualties and the slow retreat of Essex's force, which was driven from the central hill and almost encircled; Essex succeeded in rallying his infantry, however, and pushed forward in a counter-attack. The slowing of this counter-attack in the face of the Royalist cavalry forced Essex to send for reinforcements, who, while marching to him, were attacked and forced to retreat. This left a hole in the Parliamentarian line, dividing the army into two wings through which the Royalists hoped to pass, splitting the Parliamentarians and allowing Charles's troops to encircle and defeat the enemy. In line with this, the Royalists moved forward to press the attack, but were forced to halt by the London Trained Bands. With night falling, the battle ended, and both exhausted armies disengaged. The next morning, low on ammunition, the Royalists were forced to allow Essex to pass and continue his retreat to London.

Reasons for the Royalist failure to defeat the Parliamentarians include shortage of ammunition, the relative lack of professionalism of their soldiers and the tactics of Essex, who compensated "for his much lamented paucity of cavalry by tactical ingenuity and firepower", countering Rupert's cavalry by driving them off with mass infantry formations. Although the numbers of casualties were relatively small (1,300 Royalists and 1,200 Parliamentarians), historians who have studied the battle consider it to be one of the most crucial of the First English Civil War, marking the high point of the Royalist advance and leading to the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant, which brought the Scottish Covenanters into the war on the side of Parliament and led to the eventual victory of the Parliamentarian cause. (Full article...)

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Hoult at the 2019 WonderCon
Hoult at the 2019 WonderCon

Nicholas Caradoc Hoult (born 7 December 1989) is an English actor. His body of work includes supporting work in big-budget mainstream productions and starring roles in independent projects in both the American and the British film industries. He has been nominated for awards such as a British Academy Film Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Born and raised in Wokingham, Berkshire, Hoult was drawn to acting from a young age and appeared in local theatre productions as a child. He made his screen debut at age seven in the 1996 film Intimate Relations, and appeared in several television programmes between 1998 and 2001. Hoult's breakthrough role came when he played Marcus Brewer in the 2002 comedy-drama film About a Boy, for which he was nominated for the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Young Performer. He achieved wider recognition and praise for his performance as Tony Stonem in the E4 teen comedy-drama series Skins (2007–2008). His transition to adult roles began with the 2009 drama film A Single Man, for which he earned a BAFTA Rising Star Award nomination, and the fantasy film Clash of the Titans (2010). He was cast as the mutant Hank McCoy in Matthew Vaughn's 2011 superhero film X-Men: First Class, a role he reprised in later instalments of the series.

In 2013, Hoult played the lead title role in the fantasy adaptation Jack the Giant Slayer and starred as a zombie in romantic comedy Warm Bodies. Following a supporting role in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Hoult starred in a number of independent films before portraying various real-life figures such as Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford in the historical black comedy The Favourite (2018), writer J. R. R. Tolkien in Tolkien (2019), and Peter III in the Hulu comedy-drama series The Great (2020–present). In 2021, he appeared in the survival thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead.

Outside of film, Hoult voiced Elliot in Lionhead Studios' 2010 action role-playing game Fable III, appeared in the 2009 West End play New Boy, and is involved in philanthropy, supporting such charitable organisations as Teenage Cancer Trust and Christian Aid. (Full article...)

Topics

History: Battle of Reading (871)  • Battle of Reading (1688)  • First Battle of Newbury  • Second Battle of Newbury  • Siege of Reading
Geography: River Thames  • Swinley Forest  • The Ridgeway  • Walbury Hill  • Windsor Great Park
Towns: Ascot  • Bracknell  • Crowthorne  • Earley  • Eton  • Hungerford  • Maidenhead  • Newbury  • Reading  • Sandhurst  • Slough  • Thatcham  • Windsor  • Wokingham  • Woodley
Politics: Parliamentary constituencies  • Parliamentary representation
Culture: Henley Royal Regatta  • Museum of English Rural Life  • Reading festival  • Windsor Castle

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