"NEWBURY, a parish, market town, and municipal borough, in the hundred of Faircross, county Berks, 56 miles from London by road, or 53 by the Great Western railway, and 16 from Reading. It is situated on the river Kennet, and the Kennet and Avon canal runs through the town. Newbury was founded on the ruins of the Roman city of Spinae
, and was afterwards called Newbyrig
, or Newtown, and, according to Camden, "Newburn must acknowledge Speen as its mother." The name of Speen is still preserved in the parish next to Newbury. William the Conqueror gave the town to Ernulph de Hesdin, from whom it descended to the Marshalls of Hampstead Marshall, the Bigods, &c., and so to the Craven family, who are still the owners. It returned members to the parliament of 30 Edward I., and sent three deputies to Edward III.'s councils of state." ( more...
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, from Berkshire FHS, and from A Vision of Britain Through Time.