Sunday, 16 May 2021

Oddities at house called Lych Gate

ANNE and Tony Brown have responded to my request for information about the lych gate at the house of the same name in Peppard Lane, Henley, featured in Hidden Henley two weeks ago.

The couple, who live in Henley, contacted their friends Dave and Ann Cook, who used to live at the house but are now in Bath.

Dave replied as follows: “We owned Lych Gate from 1969 to about 1977. Tom Watts-Watts built the house for himself and subsequently sold it to the Hume-Humphries from whom we bought it.

“Successors of the original Hume-Humphries then rebought it and made all the later expansions and alterations to it, always leaving the lych gate there.

“Watts-Watts was a great scavenger and Heath-Robinson type fellow and made the ‘garage’ into a glass-sided affair because he could get permission for a garage but not a greenhouse — happy compromise.

“No two windows were the same size as I remember when I reglazed it. We think he had bought the lych gate from an old church and it amused him to utilise it.

“When we lived there, the old Tom Watts-Watts lived in the block of flats across the road and kept an eye on everything that went on, particularly when we were having the extension done.

“He accused the builders of making the roof too flat, so they walked up and down the roof, bending their knees at one end so that he was happy with the gradient.”

Dave added that as the house was built just after the war, when building materials were hard to come by, his scavenging skills came to the fore and some of the timbers in the house were from an old ship (possibly the Mauritania).

“I bet the Hume-Humphries would know,” say the Browns. “It would be fun to find out more about the house and gate.”

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