"SHAW CUM DONNINGTON, a parish in the hundred of Faircross, county Berks, 1 mile N.E. of Newbury, its post town. The village, which is considerable, is situated on the northern bank of the Lambourn, a branch of the river Kennet, and is wholly agricultural. It was the headquarters of Charles I. when attacked by the Earl of Manchester in 1644. The surface is generally level and the land arable. The soil is clay alternated with gravel and sand. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Oxford, value £474. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, was rebuilt in 1840. The parochial charities produce about £445 per annum, of which £401 goes to Donnington Hospital, founded in 1618. A parochial school was erected in 1843. The manor-house, called Shaw Hall, was built in the reign of Elizabeth, by Doleman, a clothier, and was usually the resting-place of Charles I. when on his route to the W. of England. In the oak wainscot is a perforated place caused by a bullet fired at the king in 1644 while dressing at the window. Here are preserved Cromwell's cloak, and a bed on which Queen Anne is said to have slept. Donnington Castle was formerly the seat of the poet Chaucer. Richard Eyre, Esq., is lord of the manor."
"DONNINGTON, a hamlet in the parish of Shaw cum Donnington, hundred of Faircross, in the county of Berks, 1 mile N. of Newbury. It is situated on the river Kennet, and is joined to Shaw. On the heath are the gateway and remains of a castle, built by the Adderburys, from whom it descended, through the poet Chaucer, the De la Poles, Brandons, and Parkers, to the Hartleys. In the Civil War the castle was garrisoned for Charles I., and withstood two sieges, in the first of which three of its towers were demolished, but was relinquished in 1644, after the second battle of Newbury. The Priory, the Castle, and the Grove, built by Andrews, the historian, are the principal seats. The hospital, called God's House, was originally founded in 1392 of Richard de Adderbury, and rebuilt in 1570, at the petition of the Earl of Nottingham, when its name was changed to Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, for a minister and twelve poor brethren."
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.