Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Henley Archaeological & Historical Group

WE have had two of our most fascinating talks on totally different topics.

WE have had two of our most fascinating talks on totally different topics.

Derek Toms’s account of Philip II of Macedonia was an absolute eye-opener regarding classical history while Mark Stevens’s talk on Broadmoor had sounded a very gloomy subject but turned out to be equally illuminating with regard to Victorian values.

At times life at Broadmoor sounded almost like a Butlin’s holiday camp but with very tall walls!

I am pleased to say that most lectures have been superb but there have sometimes been problems when people at the back of the room were unable to hear.

The town hall system is too heavy but fortunately Tony Clark has provided the answer with a joint share. Our thanks to him and hopefully this will solve the problem.



Two of our outings have taken place. The first was a walk around Wallingford when the rain was so torrential all day that only four people turned up.

In future members will have to pay when signing up as we cannot afford to use group funds to make up the shortfall for the guide.

Incidentally, the walk continued with the protection of umbrellas and was very worthwhile.

The second was a visit to Nether Winchendon on June 8 when, by contrast, the weather was beautiful.

A group of 23, comprising members as well as others from invited groups in Henley, enjoyed a visit to the house, which is on the banks of the River Thame.

We were fortunate to be given a guided tour of some of the ground floor rooms by the owner, Robert Spencer Bernard.

The house, which is documented from the middle of the 12th century, is Grade I listed and was originally   timber-framed but at the end of the 18th century was embellished in the fashionable Strawberry Hill Gothick style with rendered walls.

The work entailed crenellating the house with battlements, altering the roof pitch and adding a portico to the west front.

The house has some fine family portraits of the owner’s forbears since the beginning of the 17th century and good English furniture and china spanning the 17th to 19th centuries. There was a fine Flemish tapestry depicting Henry VIII with Sir John Russell who had been installed as a Knight of the Garter in 1539.

The dining room was added by Sir John Daunce in about 1530 and he proved to be the last tenant of the Abbot of Notley.

The original lease, dated 1528, was on display. This beautiful room has fine oak linen fold panelling and a carved oak frieze, commissioned by Sir John and displaying his portrait and initials.

Subsequently, the panelling was painted white to celebrate the restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660.

In 1559 the Manor of Nether Winchendon was bought from the Russells and conveyed as part of a marriage settlement to the Tyringham family. The last of the Tyringhams, Jane Beresford, left the clock from the house to the local Church of St Nicholas in 1771.

After a very informative tour of the house and the history of its occupants over the last 450 years, the group made its way through the extensive gardens to the nearby St Nicholas Church.

This contains many memorials to those whose portraits hang in the house as well as some fine Georgian box pews and a Jacobean font dated 1613. The group moved on to Long Crendon while part of it had a brief walking tour with Ruth Gibson, visiting some of the medieval cruck houses, for which the village is well known.

The highlight was the refurbishment of an earth-built cottage, where the layers of witchert were revealed once the hard render had been removed from the walls.

Others visited the National Trust-owned Court House and the church. The Court House dates from the 15th century and there was an exhibition on the history of the village and its lace and needle-making cottage industries. For those with sufficient energy left, the museum at Thame beckoned as the last stop for the day.

The next lectures season starts on October 4. Margaret Simons will speak on “Looking after the masses: healthcare and housing in early 20th century Berkshire”.

Dr Simons is an adult education tutor teaching history classes for Oxford University’s department of continuing education, the Workers’ Educational Association and Bracknell and Wokingham College.

On November 1, John Leighfield will give a talk called “From Gough to Google: The development of printed maps in Henley”.

Mr Leighfield read classics at Exeter College, Oxford, and pursued a distinguished

career in IT. He is a director of Getmapping, a UK supplier of aerial mapping photography services.

All lectures are held at King’s Arms Barn, off King’s Road car park at 7.45pm. All welcome, members free, non-members £3.



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