"PURLEY, a parish in the hundred of Theale, county Berks, 4 miles N.W. of Reading, its post town. The village, which is of small extent, is situated on the Thames and near the line of the Great Western railway. It is chiefly agricultural. The greater portion of the land is arable, with some pasture and woodland. The tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £300, and the glebe comprises 48 acres. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Oxford, value £281. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is situated about a mile distant from the village."
From The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland(1868). Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003.
Other descriptions can be found from other periods in various trade directories covering Berkshire from the early 19th century onwards and from A Vision of Britain Through Time.