"EAST ILSLEY, (or Market Ilsley), a parish and small market town in the hundred of Compton, county Berks, 11 miles S.W. of Abingdon, and 7 miles S. of Didcot station. Newbury is its post town. It is situated on the chalk downs under Ickleton Street, near the Great Western railway, and is chiefly noted for its sheep fairs. It is a polling and petty sessions town, and has a good trade. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Oxford, value £645, in the patronage of Magdalen College, Oxford. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient structure in the Norman style of architecture, with a Gothic porch and a square embattled tower containing five bells. Here the Wesleyans have a chapel, and there is a National school for both sexes. Miss Vurjan is the lady of the manor. Market days are on alternate Wednesdays from a fortnight before Easter till July, and several fairs are held for the sale of sheep and lambs on Wednesdays from Easter week till November, and one on the 13th October for the hiring of servants and pleasure. The wool fair is in July, and the annual races take place in October.
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.