Letcombe Bassett
(Vale of White Horse)

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Letcombe Bassett

Letcombe Bassett is a pretty little village, arranged above a steep-sided valley that is the source of the Letcombe Brook. In the springtime roadside verges in the village are pretty with snowdrops and daffodils. Although not on the high downs, when approaching Letcombe Bassett from Childrey about three miles to the north, it is apparent that this is a proper downland village. It is a quiet village as traffic has no reason to pass through unless it has a purpose to come to the village.

Location map:

Approaching from Letcombe Regis, a mile and a half to the north-east, the road follows the route of the Letcombe Brook, but at a higher level. As the road enters the village it drops to cross the brook at the watercress beds where the old ford is still clearly visible. A bench has thoughtfully been provided here to enable visitors to relax and admire the peaceful scene. Watercress was once a thriving industry as local springs provide the pure water it needs for successful cultivation. Bassett Cress was sold as far away as Covent Garden.

The origins of the village name probably meant that it was a valley of a man called Leoda. However an alternative theory is that "Ledecumbe", comes from the "lede in the combe" - "the brook in the valley", whilst a perhaps more imaginative theory is that onlookers of a nearby battle between Alfred and the Danes shouted "Let it come, Let it come!" as the blood poured down the hillside and into the river. In 1158 "Bassett" was added to the name from the name of Richard Basset, who then owned the manor, to identify it from the nearby possessions of the Crown.

On the south edge of the village opposite the racing stables is the attractive little parish church of St Michael and All Angels which has a 12th century chancel and nave. The tower dates from the 13th century and the most recent parts of the church date from the 19th century when it was restored.

About half a mile to the south east of the village is Letcombe Castle, a Ridgeway hill fort which is also known as Segsbury Camp.

Letcombe Basset is about two miles south-west of Wantage.

Images of Letcombe Bassett:
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