Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Hidden Henley

SHARP-EYED readers may have noticed that there has been some renovation work on the ornamental folly

SHARP-EYED readers may have noticed that there has been some renovation work on the ornamental folly on Temple Island by the Henley Royal Regatta start line.

With the regatta taking place this week, it seemed appropriate to revisit the tale of the temple’s missing statue — and update it.

The story goes that the figure went missing one night during a regatta in the early Fifties when an Irish crew that had been knocked out of the competition attempted to carry it by boat to the judge’s box at the finish line so the stewards would see it the next day.

Unfortunately, the statue was much heavier than they thought and it plunged into the water while the men loaded it on to a punt.

It was only discovered years later when workmen dredging the bank of the island found it — minus an arm.



However, my colleague Amanda Gosby has now unearthed an article from the Henley Standard of July 14, 1950 which throws more light on the incident.

It says the statue was of “an undraped woman holding another woman’s head in an outstretched hand, the origin of which is obscure”.

Back then the island had a resident, a 91-year-old woman called Mrs Meheux, who did not hear the statue being taken, so it was concluded that the theft must have been happened during the noisy fireworks on the Saturday night.

The report says the figure was recovered from the river but had broken in two and the head held in the outstretched hand had been found in a field off Reading Road.



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