Berkshire place names around the world

PUBLISHED: 11:05 17 February 2016 | UPDATED: 15:54 01 March 2016

Fort Edward, the oldest remaining blockhouse or fort in North America, built 1750 in Windsor Nova Scotia. Photo Teresa Alexander-Arab,

Fort Edward, the oldest remaining blockhouse or fort in North America, built 1750 in Windsor Nova Scotia. Photo Teresa Alexander-Arab,


Many of us know our official twin towns, but how about the ‘cousins’, some thousands of miles away? Sue Bromley’s been on a tour of the planet

Windsor, Canada

It’s not that surprising that a trip to Windsor could take you right round Earth, there are several dozen of them. Add in New Windsor, or the likes of East or West Windsor, and you could probably reach 100.

But we’re going to start with Windsor in Nova Scotia, Canada, the birthplace of ice hockey, and with a population of about 3,800, around a sixth of the number of our Windsorians. Summer is pretty pleasant, but this is a snowy place for half the year – three foot in a month isn’t unknown, and the record low is -32C, -26.5F.

Windsor was founded in 1764 by The New England Planters, who came north after the forced expulsion of the Arcadians, French settlers made to move to Britain’s American colonies or France itself. Many died on the journey. One of the first things the Planters did was to launch an Agricultural Fair, still going today and so the longest running such fair on the American continent.

Having a harbour, Windsor flourished, but in 1970 a flood control causeway on the River Avon cut it off from shipping and five years ago a major local employer, the gypsum mines, closed with the loss of hundreds of jobs.

A very pleasant detached five bed house here with traditional deck seems a snip at around £113,000.

There are two other Windsors in Canada. The most notable is the country’s southernmost city, which looks across the river to Detroit in the US. This Windsor has a population of some 276,000 and a mainly French heritage. Originally it was called Sandwich but was later named in honour of the Berkshire town.

It’s the Canadian city with the highest number of days including severe thunderstorms and lightning, and is prone to tornados. Automobile manufacturing is a major employer, as is Caesars Windsor, a large casino complex that draws in tourists.

There is also a Windsor in Quebec, named in 1914 after our town, where pulp and paper are the main products.

Windsor to Windsor (Nova Scotia): 2,867 miles

Windsor, US

We could spend months here as there are at least 25 Windsors and some states have more than one. Let’s warm up with a visit to Windsor, California, named in 1855 by English emigrant Hiram Lewis, a Pony Express rider who for some reason decided it reminded him of the land around Windsor Castle.

Windsor grew to the stage whereby a USAAF air base operated there in the Second World War and a German prisoners of war camp was built. The current population is around 26,000, so it’s similar in size to our one.

An elegant, well equipped three bed detached home in a gated community here costs around £520,000, while a 3.5 acre lot to build your own home near a creek is priced at just over the million mark.

Other US Windsors include one ranked as ‘The Best City to Live in Colorado’; Maine’s Windsor, formerly known as Malta; and Windsor in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. But our favourite has to be Windsor, Connecticut, the first permanent settlement in the state. It was here that the events which inspired the Joseph Kesselring stage play and Frank Capra movie Arsenic and Old Lace took place. Some 60 men died in a nursing home between 1907 and 1917. Most were discovered to be victims of arsenic poisoning. Home proprietor Amy Archer-Gilligan escaped the death sentence. She pleaded not guilty through insanity but was jailed for life.

Windsor to Windsor (California): 5,315 miles

Windsor, Australia

Lots of choice here, but our focus is on Windsor, New South Wales, just 30 miles from Sydney and at the foot of The Blue Mountains. Today just 1,800 people live in this town alongside the Hawkesbury River, but this is where you’ll discover many of Australia’s oldest surviving ‘European’ buildings. We like it that Windsor has the country’s oldest pub, the Macquarie Arms from 1815, where convicts used to be chained up in its cellar (the town’s church wasn’t completed until two years later!).

A huge, detached four bed house in need of a bit of renovation comes in at around £250,000, while brand new and luxurious commuter style two bed apartments with air con cost about £240,000.

Other Windsors include a suburb of Melbourne, a shire and town in Queensland named in Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Year, and a small town in the northern Adelaide Plains, South Australia.

Windsor to Windsor (NSW): 10,562 miles

Newbury, US

Newbury is a popular name for towns and villages in New England. You’ll find them in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Elsewhere in the US there are Newburys in Ohio (a township of some 5,500 people) and even a small community in Wabaunsee County, Kansas.

But we’re going to concentrate on the one in Massachusetts, which was first settled back in 1635. The new arrivals jumped out of the Atlantic after crossing from England and chose the name in honour of the Berkshire town.

The early days saw mills providing most of the income, helped by the arrival of the railway, and by Victorian times Newbury’s Plum Island was a tourism lure. There was some excitement when silver was found in a field, but it ran out by 1925. Today Newbury is considered to be a fine example of antique architecture and is still a tourist destination surrounded by nature reserves.

An impressive detached colonial style three bed detached home close to the historical centre and built in 1850 costs around £650,000, although the average price for a property is about £340,000.

Newbury to Newbury (MA): 3,231 miles

Ascot, Australia

Guess what? Ascot in Brisbane, Queensland, is known for its beautiful homes… and two racecourses, Eagle Farm and Doomben. With a population of over 5,000, it’s about half the size of our Ascot.

Convicts cleared the land in the 19th century and Eagle Farm Racecourse opened in 1863. The Second World War saw the arrival of the US Fleet and General Douglas MacArthur. By 1941 the military had taken over Eagle Farm and it became known as Camp Ascot.

An enchanting four bed home close to the racecourse will set you back around £540,000, while a brand new five bed home in the historic area is likely to go for more than a million. There is also an Ascot Vale suburb in Melbourne and an agricultural Ascot village in Queensland.

Ascot to Ascot (Brisbane): 10,302 miles

The Sunnings, South Africa

Sunninghill suburb of Johannesburg is an up and coming area popular with young professionals. Secure town houses have been built in recent years as a mix of commercial and residential developments grow up next to the eight-lane freeway. Around 11,260 people live here, similar to the number residing in the Berkshire version, even though the two neighbourhoods are markedly different.

A gated and round-the-clock guarded two bed apartment with CCTV and use of a clubhouse and pool in the trendiest part of Sunninghill costs just over £60,000.

Sunningdale, near to both a golf club and the city centre, is popular with families. Here a four bed home with a pool and domestic quarters will set you back around £140,000. There is also a Sunninghill district in Cape Town.

Sunninghill to Sunninghill: 8,156 miles

Sandhurst, South Africa

Now this is where you will find some of the country’s wealthiest people. It’s home to Oxford Avenue, Johannesberg’s most exclusive street. Homes are generally set in huge grounds and all entrances to the suburb are gated with high levels of security. A four bed house here could easily cost £1.3m.

Sandhurst to Sandhurst: 8,167 miles

Maidenhead, US

Some people always get the wrong end of the stick. You’ll see what we mean with this explanation of why Maidenhead in New Jersey is now called Lawrenceville. The town was founded in 1697, named after its Berkshire ‘cousin’. The name derives from the Anglo Saxon word ‘Maidenhythe’, meaning ‘new wharf’.

But then along came the pastor of the first Presbyterian church there, who saw a connection with virginity and led a campaign to change its name. His petition announced: ‘ must be the wish of every good citizen... to be relieved of the necessity of using a term which may offend the delicacy of modesty, or disturb the feelings of seriousness, or excite the sneers of the willing.’

And so Maidenhead was renamed after a naval hero, Captain James Lawrence. These days it’s very much a commuter town, popular with those who work in education and the corporate world. A four bed brick-front colonial style home here will cost you just under £300,000.

Maidenhead to Maidenhead: 3,488 miles

Reading, US

There are a dozen Readings in the States and we’re heading to the Kansas one, which certainly has a story to tell. In 2011 a rare 150 miles an hour tornado hit the town, killing one resident and destroying half its 110 homes and the majority of businesses. But in just over a year the townspeople rebuilt their lives, helped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A large, modern five bed home in the area will cost you about £210,000… and you get the surrounding 11.5 acres for that.

Reading to Reading: 4,399 miles 

Mortimer, South Africa

As you’ll see, many of the Mortimers have bitten the dust. The one we’re visiting in South Africa’s Eastern Cape may be a rather dry place but is surrounded by game and nature reserves, including the Mountain Zebra National Park.

Mortimer is north of Port Elizabeth and the nearest decent-sized town is called Cradock. For around £84,000 here you’ll get an impressive six bedroom house with pool and staff quarters and, being South Africa, it comes with video intercom access and remote security gate. A farm with 700 acres will set you back £1.3m.

Mortimer to Mortimer: 6,017 miles

Hungerford, US

We’re heading back to Texas for our last stop. The town of 650 or so people is in Wharton County, known in the 1860s for having the state’s highest population of slaves; of the 3,380 people there some 80% were enslaved.

Today you can buy 45 acres of country tract with a lake, wooded areas and wildlife including deer and hog for under £340,000, while £104,000 will get you a three bed brick-built home with whirlpool tub.

Hungerford to Hungerford: 4,848 miles


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