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22/10/14 @ 1715
Facts About Henley-on-Thames
Some interesting facts about Henley categorised by the Henley location that the fact best relates to.
- Now here we go. Can we now confirm if this is true please? "Assendon" was originally "Assenden". When did the name change and was it deliberately done or just a selling error!?!
- Lord Hunt, the leader of the first successful ascent of Mount Everest lived in Aston in the parish of Remenham and not Remenham village itself as previously stated. Thank you to Graham, one of readers, for this correction.
- On an old map of the area from 1816 there is a farm named Turpin Farm. Now we know highway robbery was quite rife in the area as just down the road we have Pack and Prime Lane but I cannot find anything that says Dick Turpin operated in this area. Yes there are tales but no substantial evidence unless of course you know differently? Of course it might be a coincidence. That name might have been the genuine farmer's name and have no bearing at all. Also seeing that it's a 100 years or thereabouts after Turpin's activity that could well be the case. We will have to dig deeper now!!
- If you watch the movie "A Private Function" you'll see the organ from the old Regal cinema in Henley featured in one of the scenes.
- Out of the many clubs and societies that were present in the 1900s my favourite is the PSA. The "Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Society" met at the assembly rooms in Bell Street.
- We have been informed by a local inhabitant and reader to the site that on removal of the shop sign from the now unfortunately closed Silvers jewellers shop was the name Watts and that it used to be a tailors run by Joshua and Nathaniel Watts. We thank you for that contribution.
- Catholicism was not publicly celebrated in Henley for over 300 years and the fist public mass after this period took place on the feast of All Saints in 1864. It was given by the Revd. Andrew Walshe and is believed to have taken place in Bell Street.
- Bell Street takes its name from the inn.
- The new Henley Regal Cinema celebrated its 10th birthday on 24th February 2007. The opening night featured a bizarre screening of that great Tim Burton film Mars Attacks.
- Michael Palin (Monty Python, Pole to Pole, etc.) used to have roots in Henley. His maternal Grandparents were the landowners of Hernes Estate. Funny that one of our relations was a top herdsman on that same estate. A wonderful valley. If you visit Henley do try and get around to walking through it. Although not as open as when we were growing up with a "giant's foot" to play in. Still a nice place. See our local Henley walk.
- The Lloyds TSB bank along Duke Street used to be the post office which was purpose built in 1895.
- At the foot of the hill where the Henley cemetery is located and at the right turn for Stonor there used to be the Travellers Rest Inn. If you carried on walking up the hill you could take a path called "Pick-Purse" Lane.
- It is said that the dual carriageway at the end of the Fair Mile was the first in the country. If you know this to be true please verify, likewise if not please tell us.
- The trees along the Fair Mile, "Turkey Oaks", were planted in celebration of the Queen's coronation in 1953. I believe they replaced an avenue of Elms?
- There are trees planted in the shape of the Maltese cross on The Mount near Henley.
- Badgemore Lane in Northfield End used to be called Hog Lane.
- The mount, just north west of Henley, is known as Round Head Hill after a skirmish during the English civil war.
- It is written that in the late eighteenth to early nineteenth century there was no finer public entrance to a town anywhere in the kingdom than the Fair Mile in Henley. The Fair Mile then was blessed with elms on either side. Today it is turkey oaks. The first were I believe (please correct me) planted in 1953?
- We know that there is a replica of the Matterhorn but did you know there is/was an actual piece of rock from the mountain itself.
- In May 2008 Olivia Harrison with designer Yvonne Innes won a Silver-Gilt award at the world famous Chelsea Flower Show for their garden entitled "From Life to Life, A Garden for George". Many congratulations!
- Now here's an interesting one from a very reliable source but any confirmation would be nice. On the ceiling of one entrance of the house there is a blown up copy of a cheque made out for a very large amount to the Inland Revenue! True?
- True? George Harrison used to have a nickname for Friar Park; "crakerbox palace". Can anybody verify this please?
- In the 1900s Henley used to draw water from a well in Dean Field Valley. This went down 244 feet and pumped water up to a reservoir in Badgemore that held enough water for 2-3 days.
- Henley Brewery is well known but there were 3 other breweries. One of which was called Greys Brewery and was based in Friday Street. It is believed to have dated back to circa 1300 and also supplied mineral water.
- It is said that Henley had the biggest post war council house build in England?
- As many of you will know there used to be many inns in Henley. Of particular note was Broad Gate Inn located up Gravel Hill on the left which was unique as it occupied both sides of the yard with a bridge staircase in-between.
- A windmill used to be located just off Pack and Prime Lane where Ancastle Green estate is now situated.
- Holy Trinity Church was completed and opened in 1848 to a population of around 1000 people and forms the largest parish population of Henley, around 7000+ today.
- Greys Road used to be called Greys Lane.
- Hambleden is the location used in Little Britain for the Welsh town of Llanddewi Brefi.
- Harpsden Court was used in November 2005 as a location for filming of a new Miss Marple movie.
- All that filming for 3 days for James Bond "Quantum of Solace" at Harpsden Court was I believe not used in its release.
- Although not strictly Harpsden there is evidence that the Romans stayed here and mined in the area. Indeed some historians say a silver mine was in place near to Blounts Court.
- In April 2008 Harpsden Court was used as a filming location for the James Bond film "Quantum of Solace" starring Daniel Craig.
- Harpsden Road used to be called Harpsden Lane.
- There is a shop in Harpsden Road (#85 to be precise) that sells all sorts of goods; car parts, bikes and bike spares, tools and much more. Henley's best kept secret perhaps? Well maybe not, but excellent value and service.
- In some books they say that Henley is the oldest town in Oxfordshire dating back to roman times and probably before.
- Hart Street takes its name from the The White Hart Inn.
- The Catherine Wheel hotel (once the St. Kathrine of Henley who the hotel is named after) has one of the oldest foundations in the town but only takes a mention by John Gough in his will dated 1541.
- 10 Hart Street, the site where Henley's Barclays Bank now stands, was previously a very small pub called The Vine. A Mr. Joseph Drake had the pub from 1890-1891. It appears that this was a pub since at least 1844. The pub closed in 1895.
- Now this might not be a fact and it would be nice to see if it is or not so if anyone knows different please let us know. In Henley and I suspect many towns around the country you have half dome bricks built in the corner of a recessed building like those in Hart Street opposite St. Mary's Church and New Street. Now I know in the sixties and may be even up to late seventies they had iron railings on them. I have been told that they were put there to prevent "men" (I assume) from urinating in the corner when they came out of the local pubs. A strange one if it is true!!
- In 1930 Norman Wisdom once applied for a job at a local pub (we think the Angel on the Bridge) where he was promptly told he was too small and was immediately sent packing back to London.
- You may have spotted on Henley Bridge two carved heads on the centre. Both of these works were done by local sculptress Hon Anne Damer. The first which faces up-stream represents Isis and the other facing down-stream represent Thames (Thamesis), symbolising the fabled marriage between the two.
- The five-arch bridge was built in 1786 at a cost of £10,000. I thought it might be easy to convert to today's value but struggling with a figure. Looks to be between £1.5M to £3.0M?
- During the civil war Henley's bridge was damaged beyond repair and a draw bridge was put in its place albeit, on all accounts, short lived. It's not known whether it was the royalist or parliamentary forces who did the damage.
- At this moment in time (November 2009) with the sadness and local disaster that has stuck Cockermouth in the Lake District it is topical to mention part of the history of Henley Bridge which was declared unsafe and dangerous in 1774. So much so that they had a ferry boat put in place and there were at the time bridge watchers who were paid to keep an eye on the situation. This was mainly during floods and indeed it was in these exact situations that the bridge was swept away in this same year. A new bridge was not completed until 1786. A full twelve years after its predecessor's destruction!
- Mary Rand was a gold medalist at the Tokyo XVIII (18th) Olympiad in the long jump competition.
- Not long to wait until we are up and running again with the webcam. Like before you will be able to watch daily life in Henley from a more unusual angle.
- A webcam showing regularly updated images of Market Place from the digitworks office can be viewed on this site. [view webcam]
- It is said that after the Norman conquest in, yes we should all know this, 1066, William I gave Fawley manor to his brother-in-law Walter Gifford. Walte was also a big contributor to the doomsday book which ironically Henley does not get mentioned in but Harpsden does. I think i read somewhere (or heard) that over a third of the land in England is still (to this day) owned by direct descendants of people that William gave it to. That's incredible if true.
- It's said that the name Fawley for "Fawley Court" comes from an old English word meaning Fallow deer.
- Before Henley Town Football started in 1887 they were preceded by the Friar Park College and were noted as the town club.
- Previous to Henley Town Football Club which started in 1887 was the Friar Park College Club which was then recognised as the town's club.
- Beatrice Lilly (Lady Peel) lived at Peelfold, Mill End. The famous actress spent many years here. Born in Toronto in 1894, she was known to be one of the funniest and spontaneous women of her time; a class act with films and a stage career behind her. Her next door neighbour was also a famous act - Danny La-Ru.
- During the last world war (around 1942) a Wellington bomber crashed with all on board loosing their lives. It happened at Crisp Meadows now Abraham's estate. Mystery still surrounds the event but has that now been told!! If you know please contact us.
- Local Peter Chapman won the News of the World's darts championship (1973-74). Peter Chapman (Bird in Hand, Henley) beat Paul Gosling. Just before it really took off to become a major world compitition with some big money.
- Despite its name, New Street is believed to be over 500 years old and is reputed to be oldest street in Henley. However it is rumoured that there was a roman well found on the edge of Hart Street and Bell Street.
- The Kenton Theatre celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2005 (1805-2005).
- Charles I stayed at the Red Lion Hotel on his journey from London to Oxford in 1632.
Pack and Prime Lane
- Pack and Prime Lane's name is said to come from the days when the London to Oxford coach would stop up by Gravel Hill and "pack and prime" the guns. Apparently in those days highway robbery was rife in the area.
- The college which is set off Paradise Road used to be the Henley Grammar School which was founded in 1605. Not sure when it closed but believe it was the late 70s or early 80s. It is said that Margaret Thacher closed more grammar schools than any other education minister then and to date. So it was possibly during her time?
- The more observant amongst you will have noticed that the United Reformed Church has similarities to Friar Park. No real surprise as the tower was built by Sir Frank Crisp.
- The town used to have two newspapers in the late 19th century; the Henley Advertiser (which I believe was resurrected in the 1970s or 1980s) and the Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard. Could it do with two now?
- The 2007 St. Trinian's movie (released 21st December 2007) was filmed just outside Henley at Park Place. Do you know who the local actor was that starred in the 50s and 60s versions?
- Reorganising my postcards I came across this poem about Henley.
"Low in a vale by woods crowned height o'erhung
Where fir and larch, and beech careless flung,
With silver Thames slow rolling at her feet,
Lies Henley, contemplation's calm retreat."
- It is said that the vicar of Holy Trinity Church, during the latter years of the 19th century, would row the regatta course every day of the year in good or bad weather. He wore a starched white shirt, a parson choker and a tall silk hat. What a great character. Need more of these!! Can you verify this? If so please contact us.
- There was an outdoor swimming pool in Henley along the Wargrave Road called "The Thames"!! It was on land called Solomon's Hatch and was opened to the public from 6am to 8pm but more note worthy to ladies from 11am to 1pm. This would I guess have been around the late 1880s. Those of you old enough (like myself) will remember a fair summer's day at the venue and sometimes swimming across from the prom, risking life to avoid paying!!
- On the River Thames there are 44 locks and 133 weirs. If these were not in place the Environment Agency estimates the depth of water in the summer would only be around 2ft!!
- The Henley Regatta Fireworks for Saturday July 4th 2009 were cancelled at the 11th hour. The following statement was released by the organisers:
"It is with complete disappointment that the Regatta Fireworks will now not be going ahead tomorrow evening. Wokingham Borough Council have retracted their decision to grant temporary closure of the footpath that runs through Dr Crockett's land. With the footpath remaining we are unable to allow the display to go ahead for Health & Safety reasons."
- Swan Upping happens on a fairly regular basis (not sure how often exactly - once a year?). Back in 1895 when Upping returned they showed a total number of 411. Does anyone know the amount today? It is so recorded that back in 1457 that the Mayor of Reading had the privilege of farming the swans. The farm run ran from Reading to Maidenhead.
- On 2nd July 1976 the temperature reached 92°F at the local annual regatta where, ("Tsk! Whatever next?") because of the heat, the gentlemen were allowed to remove their jackets but of course not their ties in the Stewards' Enclosure. Read the blog posting for 2nd July 2008.
Saint Andrews Road
- You can "pot hole" in Henley. Just try St. Andrews Road for starters!!
Summer 2007 Update: You can no longer as holes have now been covered in lovely new tarmac.
Saint Mary's Church
- Bell ringing practice sessions take place in Saint Mary's Church every Monday evening at 19:00.
- Dusty Springfield is buried in St. Mary's churchyard.
- The Free Henley Grammar School (now no more) was for many years in a building next to the Red Lion Hotel. Purchased by the governors. On 26th November 1602 Augustine Knappe (Knappe Close off King James Way now named) gave £200* for the purchase of land to found and appoint a Free Grammar School. *£38,700.00 using the retail price index at 2012?
- In the churchyard of St. Mary's there are several interesting tombs. One of the most notable being of Richard Jennings, a local of Henley (Badgemore) who was renowned as "Master Builder" of St. Paul's Cathedral under Sir Christopher Wren.
- 7th May 2008: On temperature charts Henley looked to be the hottest place at 26.2°C which was unusual. Henley is normally a degree or so below the warmest places.
- The Great Western Railway Company was able to run a branch line from Twyford in 1847 but it was another 10 years before the line became active. Prior to this a four horse coach ran daily from the Red Lion Hotel to Twyford from Henley and back again.
- Great news for the town. The visit of the Queen and Prince Philip on Monday 25th June to South East England, Henley-on-Thames.
- The original town hall was moved to Crazies Hill in 1898.
- Boris Johnson was the local MP but is now the Mayor of London.
- Henley was the first town in England to adopt the Atkin patent (no not the diet) for purifying and softening of water. Shame it's not done now.
- At the 1991 census Henley-on-Thames' population was 10,558.
- Stocks still existed outside the town hall in 1861. Some say that we should bring them back!
- The population of Henley and the surrounding area in 1891 was a total of 5288 comprising of 3103 in the municipal borough and 2185 in the parish of Rotherfield Greys.
- Have I got news for you!! Boris Johnson has been voted by his party to run for London Mayor against big KL.
- The most popular explanation for where Henley gets its name is that it comes from "hen" meaning "old" and "ley" meaning "place". However, there are some historians who have slightly different ideas.
- The population of Henley in 1801 was 2,948.
- We all know that the former Beatle George Harrison lived in Henley for many years but you might not know this. When a second charter was obtained in 1722, in September of that year the former warden of the town became the first mayor and his name was George Harrison.
- Now this is an interesting one, well maybe not that interesting. We believe that there is one road in Henley that does not have a footpath on either side. Can you tell us where it is or indeed do you know others?
- Prior to 1526/7 the mayors of Henley were called the wardens of the town or keepers of the guild.
- There is a place in South Africa called Henley-on-Klip. This was apparently named by a Horace Kent. He was born in our town in the mid-1800s and moved to South Africa where he named the village after his birth town.
- Hottest ever day in Henley recorded? (to be confirmed); 34.9 °C (96 °F) on 19th July 2006 @ 16:45. Still some way to go to beat 1976's 14 consecutive days of above 30 °C.
- Henley-on-Thames is "twinned" with 2 towns; Falaise in France (since 1973) and Leichlingen, Germany (since 1979).
- In 2006 the population of Henley was 11,008.
- Turville is the location used as Dibley in the BBC television series "The Vicar of Dibley".
- In 2004 Valley Road School was awarded the prestigious Activemark Gold Award and in May 2005 was also awarded the Artsmark Silver Award.
- Where Valley Road meets Elizabeth Road and on into Nicholas Road is known as Hunters Ride.
- Under the main Trinity School building buried in the foundations are exercise books of a pupil at the time; a young lady. We know her name. Do any of you recall this and can you recall her name? This would have been around the mid-1960s.
- The stained glass windows of Sacred Heart Church in Henley were stored up at where Gainsborough now is in crates. It's also stated that the church was built around them.