Events Programme 2014
Historic Pathways Blog
See Walks Calendar
Wellington Residential Event
19/20th October 2015
The Historic Pathways
Project has been running for the past two years and has
resulted in a wonderful compilation of over 20 historic walks,
in the Home Counties, with the maps and information now
available for all members on the Thames Valley Network
Historic Pathways website.
To bring the project to a conclusion we held a two day
residential event, at the celebrated Wellington College, which
was open to all members on the 19th and 20th October, 2015.
We were treated to a full programme of activities which had
been thoughtfully put together to include a variety of talks
as well as a walk, a workshop, a tour of the historic
buildings and the all -important social side comprising of a
splendid dining room, well stocked bar and an evening quiz!
We initially gathered together in the schools impressive
coffee lounge, the V & A, where a wonderful exhibition,
covering the entire project, had been put together. The
attention to detail in the exhibits was outstanding and we
were lucky enough to be able to keep returning to soak up all
the information over coffee/tea (and wonderful cakes!!!) for
the duration of our stay. The exhibition team could feel
justifiably proud, with Chris French and David Hunter really
going that extra mile to make it all come together.
Our main conference area was situated in 'Great School', a
magnificent room at the heart of the College.
Patsy Thornton, our innovative
and motivated chairperson, welcomed all the delegates and got
the conference underway. Mark Stevens, Berkshire Archivist, was
our first speaker and gave everyone a fascinating insight as to
how this particular project had evolved. This was followed by a
variety of our walk leaders giving an overview of either, their
walk, the history or their research.
After an excellent lunch we were lucky enough to be joined by
author, David Stewart, who gave us an engrossing talk about 'The
Diversity of Pathways'. He had travelled from The Lake District
and used his own house as the centre of his talk, looking at the
history of the very many pathways leading from, to and around
We finished the formal part of the first day with 'An
introduction to the exhibition'; this gave everyone a real feel
for the content and ensured that we all could appreciate its
Our evening with old and new friends was only just beginning as
we gathered for a delicious dinner - my, how school dinners have
changed! – a wide and varied choice of beautifully cooked dishes
were set before us to choose from. Then we made for the bar and
predetermined teams for the evening quiz. This ensured that we
were mixed up well and a fun evening was had by all.
Accommodation was provided for those wishing to stay and we were
looked after very well....ok, no locks on the doors!!!!, but
good kitchen facilities, comfortable rooms and it certainly was
not like any boarding amenity we remembered!
Day two started with a hearty breakfast and a choice of morning
activities. Several of our number joined Anne Harrison for a
circular walk from the college, around Ambarrow Court, The
Ridges and Simons Wood. Another group attended a photographic
workshop, run by Chris French, and enjoyed picking up hints on
photographing buildings, composition, background, lighting etc.
and then went out into the grounds to take their own pictures of
the buildings. The remainder joined Mark Lovett for a historical
tour of Wellington College and its buildings; Mark was a
previous head of history at the college and was able to impart a
substantial amount of knowledge.
After another good lunch we listened to members from Reading and
then The Ridgeway who outlined walks, which had contributed to
the project, detailed history and research methods.
The 'Bridges, Fords and Ferries' sub-section then gave us an
informative chat about 'Pathways Across Rivers' and their
findings and by the end of the day we were all positively
bursting with information!
Our final foray was into the new website and a look at the set
up. This was covered well and gave us all something that we
could look at and access when we got home.
Our farewell came all too soon but not before a presentation
and thanks had been made to Patsy Thornton. Of course she was
assisted in many ways by a terrific team who all helped to
make this event the success it undoubtedly was but, over the
course of the previous two years, Patsy had been a remarkable
figurehead and deserved our grateful thanks.
Sally Ballard, Wokingham U3A
Chris French's photos
photos after Chris French's photo workshop
U3A Historic Pathways Ufton Nervet Walk 2nd
a glorious day more like midsummer than early October 21 members
gathered at Ufton Nervet. After looking at the mediaeval
fishponds and moat of the former Ufton Robert manor house (it is
planned that the area will become a wildlife reserve and
fishery) the group continued to Ufton Court. The
entrance to the Court is down an imposing avenue of oak trees,
once a double row, and still an impressive approach to a
substantial Elizabethan manor house. Near the house is a 16th
C tithe barn now used for wedding receptions and other
functions. The house itself still retains some 15th C
features inside and was the home of the Perkyns family until the
early 19th C, after which it was eventually purchased
by the Benyon family of Englefield and today is leased to West
to admire the veteran oak tree, variously dated to c. 1350 or 15th
C, we continued past the mediaeval fish ponds belonging to Ufton
Court. There now appear to be seven although old maps show eight
and even older documents record nine. Fed by a spring at the top
of the lane, carp and perch were the main fish farmed here.
along the lane and passing through Old Farm, we eventually
emerged by Middle Farm and then on to the remains of the chapel
of St John the Baptist at Ufton Green. In mediaeval times when
Ufton Nervet was situated where Ufton Green now is, St John the
Baptist was the parish church. However, in 1434-5 the parishes
were merged following depopulation due to the Black Death and St
Peter’s became the parish church. All now left standing of the
chapel is part of the west wall, covered with an enormous
top-hat of ivy.
through Ufton Green farm, from where there are good views of the
spire of St Peter’s and on to Sulhamstead Bannister, past the
Old School House and the former 17th C Dog and
Partridge pub (which even earlier was a farmhouse). Entering the
burial ground of St Michael’s we paused to look at the south
porch, all that remains of the little church. Dating from 1193,
it was demolished in 1966 although the burial ground is still in
the burial ground is Meales Farm, part of the former manor of
Meales and documented from the 1400s. Today it is mainly 17th
C with 18th C additions and said to be haunted.
few more footpaths took us back the start of the walk. We
enjoyed a warm, sunny day and far-reaching views of the
surrounding countryside for much of the way. The whole area is
steeped in history, with evidence of people living here from
Neolithic times to the Bronze Age, through Roman and Saxon
group of us then stopped for lunch at the Spring Inn.
On photo page scroll down for indexing
U3A Historic Pathways Swallowfield
Walk 9th September 2015
It was a
gloriously sunny day as some 17 of us met at All Saints Church
in Swallowfield. The church team had kindly opened up for us and
offered to set us on our way with coffee, biscuits and use of
the loos! Two of them asked if they could join us on the walk
and soak up some history, which was lovely!
I gave a brief historical overview of the church and we were
able to see the stone coffin of John le Despencer, who had
petitioned Pope Alexander IV in 1256 to have the church built.
We left the church via the churchyard, looking at the graves of
both author Mary Mitford and Lady Constance Russell, the most
famous Lady Russell.
With a combination of footpaths and country lanes we made our
way past a 17thC coaching inn and medieval farms, with most
buildings being grade II listed.
Strolling down to the river we saw the confluence of the
Whitewater and the Blackwater/Broadwater, then emerging on to
'The Devils Highway', the old Roman Road from London to
Silchester (and on to Bath). Unusually, here we had a Roman ford
either side of us; albeit one was bridged in the 1600’s. As we
ambled along this ancient pathway we could only imagine the
thousands of travellers, traders and drovers who had trod this
way before us.
Leaving the Roman influence, we branched off to take in the
Victorian School, set in a very rural area, with more medieval
farms. And so to the 20thC; we walked through agricultural land,
mainly a thriving herb farm these days, where some, just doing
the morning walk, took a path back to the church. The main party
entered the village from
The Street and arrived at The Crown, where a hearty lunch was
Over lunch we were able to have a look at various historic
photos, and copies of of both Mary Mitford's 'Our Village', and
'Swallowfield and it's Owners' by Constance Russell.
Before going into Swallowfield Park, the main focus of our
afternoon walk, we continued our journey down 'The Street',
stopping at what was the bygone centre of the village, where
roads met, and the main driveway to the old royal residence used
to be. We looked at the original 'Post House' - still with a
coach house at the back, the site of the long gone 'school room
and reading rooms' - where now stands a very well used village
hall, the war memorial - where one man is claimed by two
regiments and another didn't die at all! and The Red Lodge -
which is the only remaining one of three lodges at the different
entrances to the park.
The Park was enclosed by Edward the Confessor in 1343 so the
history is endless! We were able to look at Pitt Bridge - built
by 'Diamond Pitt' in 1722 before wandering down to the house and
around the grounds. Many features are still in good order, the
old (and distinctly palatial!) dovecote, the oldest one handed
clock in the country, a yew walk planted by no less than John
Evelyn, the Talman gate (created by William IV's architect),
what is reputed to be the largest British walled garden, and the
grave of Charles Dickens dog 'Bumble'. However, depending where
your interests lie, some would argue that two sightings of Will
Carling (who lives in Dovecote House) and a fly past by a
Spitfire and Hurricane were extremely exciting afternoon
We took the riverside path back to the church to complete our
circular tour of historic Swallowfield, lots to see with a huge
and varied amount of history attached.
U3A Historic Pathways Shiplake Walk 10th July 2015
|A group of 11 intrepid
explorers (plus Patsy for the first part) went on a walk
from Shiplake Cross, via Lower Shiplake, along a quiet
stretch of the Thames bank and we finished by passing
Shiplake College and Shiplake Church on the way back to
a pub lunch.
We set off from the Memorial Hall, funded by the
Marton family in 1925 to commemorate their son, killed
in the First World War. We walked eastwards down
Memorial Avenue to the main road. Both here and later we
saw vast fields of white poppies, being cultivated for
medicinal purposes. Crossing the busy Wargrave - Henley
road, we went down "New Road" - new in 1900 that is, by
when there were enough houses to warrant a road directly
down to Lower Shiplake.
On reaching Mill Road the main thoroughfare of the
village, we made our way down a narrow footpath. Until
2010 this path had been the subject of an acrimonious
dispute between the Ramblers and an adjacent landowner.
It is now possible to use this right of way, past the
quaint wooden Lashbrooke Chapel (once a store for the
paper mill) and ducking under the railway viaduct we
made our way down to the Thames. Until the coming of the
railway, Lashbrook was very small - once a station was
built at Shiplake, development took off at a great pace
and Lower Shiplake was born. This branch line goes from
Twyford to Henley - the Regatta Line.
riverbank at Lashbrook was where a ferry crossed from
the eastern bank, because 2 miles upstream the owner of
Bolney Court forced boatmen coming down from Henley on
the west bank to cross the river, not allowing them past
his property. The ferries are long gone but the Thames
Path is still forced to skirt Bolney Court (now owned by
a Swiss tycoon) by keeping inland from the riverside.We
enjoyed a quiet walk down the river bank, taking in the
luxury properties opposite - raised sensibly above the
ground, since this is a flood plain. There is also a
marina on the other bank - with many pleasure craft
moored on both banks.
Reaching the point where The George & Dragon
is visible on the Wargrave bank, we saw the steps for
another ferry. This one was vital when Wargrave didn't
have its own railway station - but is used now only
during the Shiplake Regatta. We got a good view from
here of Wargrave Manor, high on the hill opposite. This
is owned by the Sultan of Oman but used only by his
mother and wives. By this time our long curve of
riverbank had taken us back to the the railway line -
time for a group photo.
under the railway again, we entered a strange section of
the path - a right of way along the very end of the
gardens of a row of riverside houses. Up until the
1930's this path was fenced off from the gardens, but
now each garden has a small access gate, which we were
careful to refasten as our queue of inquisitive walkers
had a good look around. At the end of these we joined
the Thames Path as it went down to Shiplake Lock. We
chatted to a few boat owners who were passing through
the lock and then a few yards on came across a lovely
family occasion. A lady and her two daughters were
entertaining her 87 year old mother to drinks and cakes
on a beautifully decorated tea table. We sang "Happy
Birthday" to Dorothy - much to her delight and adding to
her birthday treat.
The path continued past Shiplake House to the boat
houses of Shiplake College. The college was used by the
BBC as a hostel during the war and became a public
boarding school in 1959. Here we climbed the steep path
to the church, where Alfred Lord Tennyson was married..
Just beyond the church
we regained the main road at the Plowden Arms. Half of
us stopped off here and tried the lunchtime menu,
while the rest made the short final stage back to the
start. We were blessed throughout by glorious summer
weather, which also made walking so much easier.
A selection of photos from the walk are here
The invitation to the walk has links to old maps and a
much fuller description
of the places of interest
U3A Historic Pathways Hurst Walk 26th June 2015
a circular walk of about 4miles taken from ‘Rambling for
Pleasure around Reading’ published by East Berkshire
Ramblers’ Association. It was the example used by Mark
Stevens when some of us visited Berkshire Record Office.
The pathways of this walk existed at least 200 years ago;
paved roads, additional road traffic and a few extra
buildings are the main changes. The area that we now know
as Hurst used to be called Whistley, which means ‘marshy
ground’; it was part of the Charlton Hundred in an enclave
of Wiltshire and was one of the possessions of Abingdon
abbey at the time of the Domesday Survey. The name Hurst
was used after 1220 after a visit to Sonning by the Dean
of Salisbury. The scribe used the name ‘Herst’ meaning a
wood. In 1538 Henry VIII gave it to Richard Ward of
Waltham St Lawrence and Colubra his wife. One of the local
industries was osier growing and basket making. The church
is separated from the village. This may be because Hurst
was affected by the Black Death in 1348.
On a fine sunny morning we met in the bowling club car
park and were able to look at the church and almshouses
before the walk. The bowling green is said to have been
laid out for Charles I in 1628. He may have stayed
at what is now the Castle Inn when hunting in Windsor
Forest. WG Grace also played bowls there. The
almshouses were built by William Barker in 1682 as ‘a
hospital for the maintenance of 8 poor persons each at 6
pence per diem for ever’. At one time the top floors were
closed off but they are now being modernised and opened up
again to make the properties larger.
Parts of the Castle Inn date back to the 10th Century
whereas most is 16th century. It belongs to the church and
was formerly called Church House. In the 18th century it
was renamed the Bunch of Grapes and later became the
Castle. The emblem of the bowling club is still a bunch of
There are records of a church in Hurst as far back as 1084
when the villagers found it too difficult to travel to
church in Sonning, particularly when areas near the Loddon
were flooded. One of the church wardens kindly
opened the church for us and we were able to see the
Jacobean pulpit from which Archbishop Laud preached in
1625 and the holder for the 1636 hourglass used to time
sermons. The rood screen dates from Henry VIII’s reign.
There are also monuments to Richard Ward and his
descendants, the Harrisons and Lady Margaret Savile. There
is also the tomb of Richard Biggs who set up a charity to
distribute bread to the poor of the parish and William
Barker who built the almshouses.
Our route took us past church cottages and the old school
house into Orchard Road, across the fields. The marquees
for Hurst Show were being erected ready for the following
We paused at Townsend Pond and were fortunate to see the
resident heron and numerous fish. The pond is fed by a
spring. The position of a road which used to lead into it
could be seen; this enabled horses to be watered and carts
to be washed. Opposite is Pond Cottage, now called
Peacocks; this was a school for ten village children in
the 19th century.
We continued along Hinton Road to the Green Man. This pub
was awarded its first licence in the 1600s. Parts of the
building survived from before the pub opened. It is built
from timbers recycled from decommissioned ships built from
trees from Windsor Forest. It is said that when the kings
hunted deer in the forest, the keepers lunched at the
Green Man and the noted people at Bill Hill House. At one
time the western boundary of Windsor Forest was the River
We headed across the fields passing St Swithin’s Cottage,
some parts of which are 500 years old, along Hogmoor Lane,
across the A321, coming eventually to Whistley Bridge.
Whistley Mill used to be near here. It is mentioned in the
Domesday Survey as being worth 5s and 250 eels. There was
also a fishery worth 300 eels.
We posed for a group photograph here
continued along the banks of the Loddon towards Sandford
were many damsel flies and a few banded demoiselles. On the left is
the site of Whistley Manor. There had been houses here
since mediaeval times. The last one was set in a large
park with an avenue of limes and chestnuts leading to
the house. There were also fish ponds and stables. From
the Loddon there was a cut to a thatched boat house
belonging to the house. It is said that some of the
brick foundations of this inlet still exist, but only a
short ditch remains, bridged over. The house was
demolished in the mid-1800s and the land later used for
gravel extraction. Further on, we crossed the bridge
over the Emm Brook, which joins the Loddon near Sandford
Manor and Sandford Mill are now private houses. They and
the road bridge date from the 1700s. There may have been
a mill on this site from as far back as the Domesday
Survey. During the civil war in the 1640s the mill was
sacked and burned for supplying corn to the Royalists. At one time
there was a toll on the road by the mill as this road
was used by travellers trying to avoid the turnpike at
Loddon Bridge. The mill remained in working order until
the 1950s and was used for milling animal feed.
continued along the footpath between Sandford Lane and
Lavells Lake, where a chiffchaff was visible on a high
branch, then past Hurst Grove, an 18th
century house, now offices. One of its previous owners
was Reginald Palmer, a director of Associated Biscuits
crossed the fields past Hatchgate Farm. The 16th
century farmhouse cottage was the former farmhouse. A
poster in the Green Man advertises the 1928 Hurst
Agricultural Show held at Hatchgate Farm when thousands
of visitors came to see the wrestling tournaments and
the Royal Scots Greys. We continued towards the
almshouses and back to the bowling green. Some of us
went on to the Green Man for lunch.
is a circular walk and can be started at any point.
Copies of the maps are on the Historic Pathways Diary
parking for individual cars is fairly easy. There are
several spaces along Sandford Lane. The car park in
Sandford Lane opposite the entrance to Dinton Pastures
watersports is now pay and display. The paths across the
fields and along the Loddon can be very muddy after
U3A Historic Pathways Barkham Walk 15th May 2015
people gathered at Barkham Church - (thankfully on a dry
day in contrast to the previous occasion!). We
visited the church and walked past the nearby moated site
into the fields of rural Barkham. Much of the land
round here was owned by John Walter III of Bearwood in the
19th century and he altered the line of Edney's Hill lane
and planted a fine avenue of lime trees. He was also
a significant benefactor for Wokingham. Our route
then took us into the Coombes. This area had once
been heath land called Bare Wood. Having passed the
Old Rectory, built by John Walter for the parish, our walk
continued along the edge of Barkham Manor grounds.
Here, as well as some splendid veteran trees in the copse,
we saw a fine Wellingtonia and a 250 year old Oriental
Plane in the garden. The present house dates from
the late 18th century and is now divided into
apartments. The walk concluded along Barkham Street
back to the church.
French and Chris Jones' Photos
TVN Historic Pathways Walk Donnington Castle, Newbury. 8th May
twenty U3a members gathered at Donnington Castle Newbury, for
the 10.30am start of a wonderfully varied walk, led by Newbury
U3a member Kate Donato.
As we climbed the reasonably short hill, up to the impressive
keep and ramparts, we were all struck by the commanding and far
On hand was local historian and Civil War expert Philip Wood,
together with his wife Jane, who were able to detail the action
in and around the castle during those famous Newbury Civil War
The weather was reasonable, which meant that Philip could
explain in detail exactly where the various forces held ridges
and woodlands, where troops advanced and withdrew and where the
battles were subsequently won and lost.
Philip gave us a comprehensive guide to the castle itself and we
were able to envisage exactly how it had looked in those
historic days and what part it had played in the many activities
over that period.
This was an extremely interesting talk from someone who was
really able to bring that Civil War action to life.
Philip and Jane then accompanied us on a 4 mile circular walk.
Kate Donato is highly familiar with the area and had put
together a splendid walk where we were able to see for
ourselves, not only the open ridges and woodland areas, but also
historic sunken paths and the contrasting Snelsmore Common.
We left Donnington Castle far more knowledgeable than we had
arrived but not before Chris French had recorded the occasion
with some outstanding photos which have been linked to this
We all retired to The Castle public house where we had a good
lunch and got on with the serious business of networking!
Sally Ballard, Wokingham U3a
U3A Historic Pathways Walk 7th May 2015
On 7th May Ridgeway U3A hosted two walks in the Chilterns.
We were greeted in the morning at the Fox and Hounds,
Christmas Common by Susie Berry and after the morning’s
walk enjoyed an excellent lunch at this historic pub.
Having been suitably fed and watered, a group of some 16
people set off for the afternoon’s walk. The leaden skies
of earlier had given way to spring sunshine as we made our
way to the ancient drove road of Hollandridge Lane, part
of the centuries-old trade route from Worcester to Henley
and London. The lane became progressively more sunken, a
typical ‘hollow way’ and we were treated to a dazzling
display of bluebells for part of the way. The greens of
the freshly emerged leaves of the oak trees were a
delight, as was the constant birdsong throughout the walk
which at times was almost deafening.
due course we arrived at Hollandridge Farm where we were
met by Susie Berry and Anne Dunn. Anne talked about
the farmhouse, which is mentioned in records as far back
as 1387 and again in 1389 when one William Harlyngrugge
left the farm to his grandson. With the farm there are
some very fine barns, the oldest of which was built in the
18th c. and our leader, Tom, produced some very
interesting drawings of the timber structures.
We then took our leave of Susie and Anne and made our way
back to the Fox and Hounds via a different route,
mainly through woodland. Along the way were lots of spring
flowers, including cowslips and wild strawberry and a few
A truly delightful walk, and our thanks go to the walks
leader, Tom Bindolf, who was clearly very knowledgeable
about the whole area, and to Susie Berry for masterminding
a most enjoyable day.
Link to Chris French's
Windsor Great Park Walk: 8thApril
good crowd of our members met in the Cranbourne Car Park for
another enjoyable guided walk in The Great Park with
After a rather hazardous crossing of the
road we entered the Park through Cranbourne Gate. Bill
told us about Forrest Lodge to the right of Cranbourne
Gate. It was built between 1772 and 1782 to a design by
Thomas Sandby for John Deacon the then Groom of Bedchamber to
the 2nd Duke of Cumberland. Well laid out
gardens were protected by a Ha Ha, a sunken hedge or fence
designed to keep animals out from the garden but allow an
uninterrupted view from within garden and house.
then walked past the Village and the York Club, centre of Park
employees’ entertainment. There are also Playing fields, a
bowling green and a golf course. Bill explained to us
about the trees donated from various countries celebrating the
Queen’s Coronation which are opposite the York Club. We
walked up past the Queen Elizabeth‘s Statue on a point
overlooking Queen Anne’s Ride and on across Duke’s Ride where
the Queen changes from car to carriage for Ascot Races and then
past very pretty cottages and the Royal School.
turned left past Chaplains Lodge and crossed down to the right,
along grassy “lawns” laid out for the grazing of the deer.
From here we saw the back of the Copper Horse which stands at
the top of the Long Walk. We were glad to hear that the
myth about the Sculptor is not true. He did not commit
suicide because he did ‘t put stirrups on the statue.
George the 3rd rides on the Statue as a Roman and they had
not invented stirrups in Roman times. The Sculptor went on
to produce more works after this statue.
continued a lovely grassy walk back to Cranbourne Gate. The walk
was followed by a relaxed lunch at The Old Hatchet Inn.
French's beautiful photos here
24 walkers and a dog(?)
Historic Pathways - A walk round
Broadmoor, Berkshire : 31th October 2014
On the last day of October I had
offered to do a third tour of Broadmoor, a walk I had first taken
last October and repeated this March. I was not expecting a
great turnout, but I got first one offer, then another three and
then another two. Four more turned up on the day so I had nine to
accompany me (the first lady unfortunately had not been well
enough to come).
We took roughly the same
route as before, a diamond shape, but we made a few detours for
a change. Along the first leg we continued further into the
nature reserve area of Owlsmoor Bog - luckily in the wettest
place boardwalks are provided. On the second leg, past Broadmoor
Farm we again stopped to view the work of extending and
replacing many of the hospital buildings. Great earthworks
and terraces are now visible: I’m sure by next spring the
buildings will start to appear.
We came back west along the
Devil’s Highway as before, but on nearing the hospital we took a
different route to end up directly outside the new reception
block, which hides the well-known stone arched gateway, now
hidden behind many high walls.
We passed the almost
deserted cemetery and down the road close to the walls. As
in March, a final detour took us close to the walls on the west
side, where great views of the concentric rings of
“fortifications” can be seen.
Time for the group photo !!
We then continued as
before, past original workers’ cottages and back through
This time we tried the
Wellington Hotel for a lunch snack and seven people enjoyed
continuing swapping tales and putting the world to rights.
had asked people to bring reasonable weather - we were blessed
with one of the nicest days of the autumn.
Great Park Walk 15th October2014
October we had a splendid walk in Windsor Great
Park. Bill Cathcart, retired Park Superintendant,
was our guide in the woodland area around Cranbourne
Gate. We learned about the pollarding of old oaks
which have helped to keep them into centuries of
growth, many around 400 years old. We were
very impressed to see “The Offas’s Oak” named after King
Offas which is around 1300 years old! This old oak
is assisted in its maturity by supports to some of its
huge branches. When we went round it we could see
how it is hollow inside. We also saw The
“Conqueror’s Oak”, just as old, hollow and
well supported. Fantastic to see the age of these
trees. (What history they have seen through all
was most interesting to learn that hidden within the
woods there are still avenues of trees which were
planted to make it possible for Queen Anne to follow the
Deer Hunts in her carriage. Queen Anne did not
ride but still wanted to hunt. More avenues of
trees were planted around Queen Victoria’s time
for access to Cranbourne Lodge in the area of Cranbourne
Park. Queen Victoria also enjoyed the
hunting. We stopped to look at the
Cranbourne Tower, the last remaining part of Cranbourne
Lodge in a clearing in the woods. The Tower is
walk and Mr. Cathcart’s talk was fascinating. He
has kindly promised to take us for another walk during
next spring. This time possibly around Bears
Rails. Look out for the date to be supplied later.
Wallingford Walk 29th
Wallingford, one of the oldest and was once one of the
most important towns in England, vying with Winchester
for supremacy. It was founded by King Alfred in the
late 9th century as a burh
or fortified town, part of a series of defences
against the Danes. There has probably been a ford here
since prehistoric times, and Neolithic and Bronze Age
flints can be found in the surrounding fields. There
is evidence for Roman activity in the western suburbs,
when the ford may have linked the two Roman roads that
run each side of the Thames.
its heyday in the 10th to 13th centuries, when
Wallingford Castle was reputedly the largest in
the land, the town entered a serious decline.
The Black Death in 1349 carried off one-third of
the population and the opening of Abingdon
Bridge in 1415 diverted trade away from the
1439 there were only 44 houses left. Many had decayed
and fallen down, and gravel quarrying (which is not a
recent phenomenon) in the town centre in the 16th to
18th centuries removed many of the earlier features.
The town picked up again in the 17th century – the
Town Hall was built in 1670 – and most of the older
buildings you can see are 18th century, but it never
recovered its former glory.
Much of Alfred’s Saxon street grid still survives.
We’ll follow some of these streets to the south-east
corner of the town, where we’ll pick up the line of
the ramparts and follow them round to explore the
Castle earthworks and return to the town along the
river (c.2 miles).
Description of Walk
Historic Pathways Silchester Walk 9th August 2014
August 9th 2014 marked the last week of the excavations at
Silchester, and this day was chosen for a walk round the
Roman walls and a visit to the Open Day. Silchester Roman
town has been the site for excavations from time to time
since the 19th century. It is one of only three or four
towns which have remained untouched since the end of the
Roman period in Britain and is the focus of seven roads
radiating out to London, Winchester, Salisbury,
Cirencester etc. Reading University has been excavating in
Insula IX for 18 years and has now reached the natural
layer where there is no more archaeology.
The group of U3A members began by
walking anti-clockwise around the walls, which stand
several metres high in places and form an impressive
monument as they completely encircle the town. We visited
Silchester church, sited over a former temple near the
east gate, where welcome coffee and tea were available.
Our next stop was in the Amphitheatre where we ate picnic
lunches perched on the edge of the seating banks. Again,
this is an impressive monument. Once the circuit of the
walls was completed we joined the people enjoying the Open
Day. Site tours were on offer together with demonstrations
of archaeological investigation and a display of some of
the most interesting finds.
Pathways St Birinus Pilgrimage from Churn Knob, Blewbury
Dorchester, 6th July. The chance of doing a 12 mile
walk with like minded U3A members starting at Churn
Knob Blewbury ending at Dorchester Abbey and stopping
en route for lunch in the Red Lion at
Brightwell-cum-Sotwell was too good to miss, so I made
sure I didn’t. I had
never heard of St Birinus until I read the flyer about
the walk which said Saint Birinus came to Wessex in
635 and having baptised King Cynegils became Bishop of
Dorchester. He was largely responsible for bringing
Christianity to this area and founding many of our
James Pratt our leader gave a short talk about
St Birinus and the Pilgramage route before we set off
at a cracking pace. Linda
Francis, (who had produced the map we were using) was
our back marker
James was wearing shorts I kept the legs of my
trousers unzipped so I too was in shorts.
James however must be hardy and immune to
nettles – he trampled through without a care whilst
the rest of us trod carefully.
At the first convenient opportunity I zipped
them on again.
It was a lovely
sunny day – spectacular views – red kites – good
company - no need for a “stick to beat us” on our way
as the carrot at the end of the walk was the cream tea
– scones freshly baked that day by Susie Berry and
served in the Abbey Guest House Upper Room beside the
Abbey followed by an enjoyable and informative talk
with slides giving in-depth information about St
Birinus Pilgrimage walk. The
Abbey also held a special service that Sunday
& Biddy's photos
Pathways Walk - Steventon
15th May 2014
and charming old buildings
French's photos https://www.dropbox.com/sh/wb5ih3rs2sb4fy7/AAASP3Qrsyc5UNZKyIaeVPb7a
Pathways Walk - Finchampstead repeated 16th April 2014
Historic Pathways Project walk led by Richard and Biddy
Wombwell around the Finchampstead area on Wednesday
April 16th proved to be very popular.
The bright, sunny Spring weather and lure of the choice
of a pub lunch at the Queens Oak at the end no doubt
played their part!
the day we had 48 walkers and 5 dogs who all seemed to
enjoy the event. The 3.5 mile circular walk took
us from the green near St James church along a variety
of ancient footpaths and past features of interest
which Richard enlightened us about en route.
Following thorough research we
produced informative hand-outs which were eagerly
acquired by many members of the group and Patsy
Thornton notified everyone about how to access the
programme of future walks using the link on the TVN
Walk 27th March in Reading went very well this
morning. Dennis had 14 people, plus me for a very
short part of the walk. Most of the walkers were
Reading members, two were from Wokingham.
It was chilly
first thing, but the sun came out and it was pleasant
for the walk.
ended up at the church in Castle Street, where they were
met by Peter Trout (Mary's husband) who gave a short
talk about the church. Everyone I spoke to
had had a very enjoyable morning.
Historic Pathways - A walk
round Broadmoor, Berkshire : 14th March 2014
This was the first repeat walk, in
2014, of one of the Historic Pathways walks held in 2013. (I
will not describe the route again in detail, but concentrate on
what was different this time round).
In October we had 6 walkers (plus
me): this time we had 16 - and gained a good contingent from
Bracknell. Two walkers had even done the walk before and were
happy to take the medicine again!
We were blessed with much kinder weather than before and enough
time had elaspsed since the heaviest rains to make the route
quite reasonable. There was one soggy patch but it was easily
While taking the second section, heading north past Broadmoor
Farm, we met several sheep who were not following the rules: one
lamb had to be helped over a fence to rejoin its mother - a
couple more sheep decided the footpath was also their right of
Two walkers left the route at
Broadmoor Farm and took a short cut to the west, to a point
where we would join them later - a good way to enjoy part of the
route if the whole way was going to be too much.
When we got to the new access road
from the by-pass into the east side of the hospital area, we
found it is now complete. An intiguing bridge-like structure
across the new road was thought to be for "bat navigation". Many
bats living in disused buildings have been given temporary homes
in nearby trees and new "bat boxes" will be built in the attics
of some new buildings.
As before, we stopped on reaching
the Roman Road for the group photo. This time, with the wonders
of Photoshop, the photo below shows all of us.
With more eyes looking for things
of interest we saw, as we reached the main hospital buildings,
an angel in the grass below us on the left - facing the main
entrance and on the right there was an almost deserted cemetary.
As we turned south, past the main entrance we took a slightly
different route from before, keeping close to the walls to get a
good view of the disused gardens area of the enclosure and also
views across the valley to where we had walked earlier. We then
met up with the couple taking the short cut and all continued
back to the carpark, through Wildmoor Heath.
My earlier description of
the walk contains links to photographs and a map of the route.
Historic Pathways – a
walk around Winkfield – November 25th 2013
We had a good turnout of
20 walkers - 16 from Bracknell U3A and 4 from other TVN
The weather was
reasonably kind being rather overcast and cold, but dry. The
walk totalled about 3.5 miles and was led by David Fisher
(Bracknell U3A). Properties seen early on the route
Lambrook School -
the house which later became Lambrook School was built by
William BUDD in 1853. In 1860 a Robert
BURNSIDE who had a tutorial business in London purchased
Lambrook and it then became a school which continues
today. Opposite the school is Grove Lodge - this
substantial house has been occupied by many distinguished people
including Lieutenant General Sir Henry KING 1776-1839, an Indian
Army Officer and Member of Parliament for Sligo, and In the late
1880’s it was the home of the Admiral of the Fleet, the Hon Sir
Henry Keppel. During the Second World War it became the
home of the 9 year old King Faisal of Iraq and his mother.
We then arrived at
Maiden’s Green. Rocque’s map of 1761 shows Maiden’s Green
clearly populated around the crossroads and buildings that
remain today include the house at Bailey’s Garage
and the White Cottage. The early years of the house
at Bailey’s Garage in the 18thC are a mystery.
However Kelly’s Directory names three ‘saddlers’ who occupied
the house – Henry Caley (1854), Robert Poole (1883-1895) and
George Bailey (1907). By 1931 George Bailey’s trade had
become ‘saddler and motor engineer’. The site remains a
garage to this day. The White Cottage (now
Winkfield House) - was built in the 1860’s, and it had become
the local store by 1877 (Richard Phipps – grocer).
the 1930’s Kelly’s records the shop being a grocers,
drapers and post office. It ceased being a post
office in the 1970’s and more recently has been used as
a tack shop. We
visited the church of St Mary the Virgin which
has seen many alterations over the years with the nave
dating from the 13th century. One unusual feature is the
columns supporting the Elizabethan roof, they are oak with
one bearing a carving of a Tudor rose and the date
1592. Opposite the church is the White Hart pub
- formerly a Court Leet House which was a Manorial Court
and dealt with petty offences. It stood on the old
coaching route. In 1815 Eliza Agar, a widow, was the
.Our walk the continued
south passing the site of Ascot Place which occupies a
400 acre site. It was originally a Medieval Manor House
owned by a Henry Bataille a forester of the Bailiwick of Ascot
in 1339. In 1726 it was bought by Andrew Lindegren who
built a new house, “Ascot Place” in 1772. Between 1773 and
1783 a grotto (Grade 1 Listed) was constructed. In 1787 it
was bought by Daniel Agace, a Huguenot Silk Merchant. In the
1860s it was owned by Rt.Hon. William Lidderdale, Governor of
the Bank of England, followed by Sir William Farmer in the
1890s who became Sherriff of the City of London and High
Sherriff of Berkshire. In 1907 it was owned by Sir Harry
Livesey, a racing driver. It is now owned by the ruler of
Abu Dhabi (£18 million in 1989).
Pathways - a walk round Barkham - November 8th 2013
around part of the old parish of Barkham started by the church
in light rain with eight walkers. We visited the church
of St James, built to replace an earlier church in the 1870s,
and the tombs of its most eminent rectors, David Davies and
Peter Ditchfield near the porch. Passing the site of the
moated medieval manor, where the water filled moat is still a
substantial feature, we crossed fields towards Edneys Hill
Farm, by which time the rain had stopped and sun cold be
seen. An avenue of lime trees along a track in private
land marked a roadway created by John Walter III, owner of The
Times, between his residence at Bearwood and Wellington School
where his sons were educated. Some of these fine trees
are still standing, and on our walk we saw several other
veteran trees. These are trees which have a girth of at
least 3 metres, and local people have been measuring and
recording them over the past few years. The results can
be seen at
http://www.wdvta.org.uk/. John Walter owned much of the land
hereabout and his influence is seen in the line of Edneys Hill
Lane, which was straightened to remove an awkward
We walked on
to The Coombes, an area of woodland once part of Windsor
Forest and used as common land by the parish. Passing
through the wood we came to Old Barkham Rectory. This is
a fine Victorian mansion, also built for the parish by John
Walter in the 1880s at a cost of £3000. We next passed
the back of Barkham Manor. The present house was built
in the late 18th century and has been much altered since, but
it is a fine building, listed Grade 2. There are ponds
in the grounds, which may once have been fish ponds, and a
large plane tree thought to be several hundred years
came down before our last visit was to the Bull Inn which now
incorporates the adjacent forge in its dining room.
Here, wet as we were, we were welcomed for a pleasant lunch,
before completing the walk along Barkham Street back to the
cars. The walk is three miles and takes about 1½
kindly took some photos on the walk, and these may be seen at:
will also find the route map. Notes on the history can
be found at:
walk round Broadmoor, Berkshire : 18th October 2013
the Uffington walk, the weather forecast wasn’t
promising but six hardy (local) walkers turned up at the
car park near Crowthorne, for the fourth Historic
Pathways walk, round (the outside of !) Broadmoor.
I started by talking
briefly about the rise of Crowthorne from an
insignificant hamlet in the mid-19th century to a
bustling village – triggered by the choice of the
isolated area for both Wellington College and for the
"Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum" – opened (or
closed!) a couple of miles apart and within a few years
of each other on either side of 1850. A map of 1830
shows only a crossroads of forest rides at 'Crow Thorn',
where the village now stands. These two buildings
required staff, tradesmen and suppliers in ever
increasing numbers. Helped by the new station, built
specifically for the college, people flocked from far
and wide to join the new prosperous opportunities.
Our car park was also buzzing - with dogs and
their walkers - but things quietened down once we were on
our way. We skirted the Wildmoor Nature Reserve,
apparently used for exercises by the Canadians during the
war but seemingly having recovered well, and we headed
east for about a mile. Much of this was along part
of the 60 mile long Three Castles Path from Windsor to
Winchester, via the halfway point of Odiham. King
John used this on his regular commuting trips. We then
headed north and got our first views of Broadmoor on the
hill to the west. It's only from the east that you
can fully appreciate the size of the sprawling compound,
with its concentric set of retaining walls.
As we reached the halfway point the quiet route was
disrupted by a major construction project. A new
road is being built from the main Bracknell/Frimley road
to the east, straight across our path, towards the
hospital. Initially this will be used by
construction traffic – the hospital will soon have a major
redevelopment – and then become the main access
route. At present all traffic has to go via the
centre of the village.
We next skirted the small ponds at Butter Bottom and
climbed the gentle slopes of Butter Hill, to meet a Roman
Road. It's known as "The Devil's Highway" because
originally the locals couldn't comprehend who else could
have built such a wide straight road through the forest.
Here we took the obligatory group photo!
westwards we went along the wide sandy track towards the
main hospital buildings. We turned south, past the main
entrance and a number of ancillary buildings outside the
walls and down a hill past a number of similar small
semis, obviously built originally for the hospital staff
or workers. Once back in the woods, we turned westwards
again and made our way back to the car park.
The weather report, as usual, was overly pessimistic and
we enjoyed dry and quite bright conditions all the way.
The blackberry season was almost over but the fungi were
flourishing. We conscientiously avoided picking any,
even the pretty ones with red caps.
Patsy had recommended the Crooked Billet, halfway back
to Wokingham, and three of us had the time and
inclination to have a very good lunch there - a good
ending I thought to the morning's walk. The distance was
measured at 4.2 miles - we did it in just under 2 hours.
of the route are available as a slide show
to tempt those who couldn't make it on the day.
also including link to the U3A
section of my web, because on there you'll
see in section 6 - the last - a note about documentation
related to this walk. There are links to the pre-walk
documents which I gave out and, should you want to do it
at a later time, or tell someone else about it, there's
a map and notes on the exact twists and turns of the
Pathways Shillingford Study Day, 25th September 2013
photos covering some of the morning presentations
and some of the Walk to Wittenham Clumps. Open up a thumbnail
and the navigation is below the pictures.
Pathways walk - Barkham, near Wokingham, Friday 8th November
The walk, of about 3 miles, will take in
Barkham village and the surrounding landscape of fields and
woods. The parish is mentioned in the Domesday book,
although traces of settlement date back into the Iron Age, and
it has remained a small rural parish ever since on the fringe of
the market town of Wokingham.
Meet in Barkham Village Hall car park
near Barkham Church (Grid Ref: SU 784 664). Lunch
(optional) will be at the 'Bulll at Barkham' which we will pass
10 minutes before the end of the walk.
Uffington Walk – 31st July 2013
The weather wasn’t
promising but eleven doughty souls from (only!) three U3As met
to undertake the third Historic Pathways walk. The day began
with a visit to the Tom Brown’s School Museum, where Thomas
Hughes, author of “Tom Brown’s Schooldays”, began his own
education. We are doubly indebted to Sharon Smith, the curator,
as she not only opened up especially for us – the museum is
normally only open at the weekend – but she also gave us a very
informative talk on the building’s history and the great variety
of exhibits contained therein.
then went to church – St Mary’s, known because of its size and
Early English splendour as “the Cathedral of the Vale. We
learned of the Saunders family, one of whom set up the endowment
for the school, of the missing steeple and clock face, and of
the links to John Betjeman and Denis Thatcher
As we began our circular
walk so the rain began, but fortunately it didn’t last long –
just time in fact for the doubters to don waterproofs. The paths
of the Parish Trail took us across the middle of fields, with
the Uffington White Horse clearly visible in the distance, by
babbling streams, over some decidedly dodgy stiles and
eventually into the lovely village of Woolstone, with its 17th
century oak-beamed and thatched White Horse Inn. There was no
planned stop here as the intention was to visit another church.
All Saints is a tiny early Norman church which provided a
fascinating contrast to St Marys. It should be said that one of
the group chose to sample the delights of the pub instead,
thinking that it was the lunch stop, despite hearing the lunch
order being telephoned through five minutes earlier!
The final part of the
morning walk took us along a newer path through some recently
created woodland and eventually to the road into Uffington. We
took this instead of the planned route as we could then pass
John Betjeman’s blue-plaqued former residence and arrive at The
Fox and Hound in time for a lunch that was enjoyed by one and
In the afternoon a smaller
group of six drove to the NT Car Park on White Horse Hill and
undertook a shorter two mile circular walk that included a
section of the Ridgeway, an examination of the Iron Age
Uffington Castle and a close up view of the White Horse. This
was a great way to end a good day. My thanks to all those who
came along, but particularly to Chris French who took a number
of splendid photographs that can be seen at
26 walkers from Wokingham,
Reading and Bracknell U3A’s joined our 3.5 mile circuit which
included some of the older pathways around the village of Finchampstead.
walker was first handed a sheet containing:
outline of the Route overlaid on the relevant
section of O S Explorer sheet 159
table with the Key Waypoints, Pathways and
Definitive Paths Numbers
a written synopsis of the Relevant Features of
latter being enhanced during relevant stops along the way.
the walk most of the walkers stopped to enjoy a delicious lunch
and well-earned drink at one of these historic features - The
Queens Oak pub!
and Richard Wombwell (Wokingham U3A)
The Finchampstead Walkers
Rowant walkers 17th
Historic Pathways Walk - Finchampstead July 29th
Richard and I are intending to start our 3.5 mile circular walk
in the Finchampstead area on Monday July 29th
departing at 10.30am. Grid Reference SU 793 638 (OS
Landranger sheet 175)
A map of the route is attached below. The route is
highlighted in yellow and the numbers in square boxes are the
definitive path numbers.
The walk will commence from the village green by St James Church
and finish at the nearby Queens Oak pub taking in some of the
history of the area en route. An information sheet
identifying the main historical features of the walk will be
provided on the day.
you wish to lunch at the pub at the end please let Biddy know as
she will reserve tables and you may then be permitted to park in
the small pub car park subject to available space.
Alternatively parking is possible around the village
green. Car sharing to restrict the number of cars to find
a parking place would be helpful.
post code for the Queens Oak is RG40 4LS for sat nav settings
Pathways – Uffington, Oxfordshire
0118 989 4859
Richard’s mobile 07938 573 160
This walk, planned as part of
the TVN Historic Pathways Project, will take place on Wednesday
31st July. The walk will be led by Ian Clarkson who
would like as many U3A members as possible to join him for a
stroll through a thousand years of history.
The route, based on the
Uffington Parish Trail, will include tracks used before the Romans
came, and will take us to a “cathedral” with links to John
Betjeman and Dennis Thatcher, a Museum where Tom Brown’s
schooldays began, one of the oldest pubs in England and a chalk
and clunch Norman church. The morning walk is a flat 4 miles
with 5 or 6 stiles, and will take us to the Fox & Hounds in
Uffington in time for lunch. In the afternoon there is the option,
for the energetic, to visit Uffington Castle and The White Horse –
another 2 miles.
The starting time is 10:30 am,
from the car park at The Thomas Hughes Memorial Hall
(SU306894). If you would like more information or want to
reserve a place on the walk please contact Ian Clarkson on 01793
782836 or at email@example.com
Aston Rowant Discovery Trail
- some scenes you might see along the walk
darkness into light
HENLEY HISTORICAL WALK See here
14th March 2013
circular walk from the River and Rowing Museum Henley on Thames.
5miles, includes 2 hills and about 4 stiles.
Numbers refer to points on the attached map
the Museum along the towpath towards Shiplake.
the definitive footpaths were being introduced there was some
opposition by the Thames Conservancy to this path becoming a
right of way. They wished to keep it as a ‘towing path’ under
their ownership, but it was reasonably turned down, as the
number of boats that still had to be towed in 20Century was very
1.Looking to the left across the river the turrets of Park Place
can be seen. This was built by General Conway in the 18C and the
Prince Regent and numerous important people visited it. His
daughter a lady called Anne Daymer was a painter and sculptor
and she designed the stone plaques that adorn Henley
Bridge Currently it is owned by a Russian Oligarch about
whom little is known.
Bolney Court. The present house was built in the mid
19C but it was once a mediaeval village and in Domesday there
were 10 dwellings and a church and a Manor there. The land all
round was cultivated very early and carved stone implements were
found indicating that farming went on in prehistoric times,
predating the village. The modern field boundaries seem to
have existed for several thousand years. The village
disappeared but various houses were built on the site. One
recorded owner was the Hon John Theophilus Rawdon (1756-1808)
who was ‘a soldier and a gentleman’, losing a leg at the battle
of Brandywine in America in 1777. He became a member of
Parliament for Launceston and supported the Whigs (He opposed
the abolition of the slave trade).It seems unlikely that he ever
visited his constituency.
Although being a member for 12 years he apparently never spoke
The path turns inland on a track leading from Bolney Court to
the farm at Upper Bolney. This too is a very old road connecting
the pasture and arable land higher up with water meadows by the
river. The map notes kilnpits on the left,( a likely
source of brick for Bolney Court?) Today it crosses the
Henley to Twyford Railway line that brought wealth and visitors
to Henley in mid 19C.
track rises steadily to 80m at Upper Bolney. The farm here has a
lovely warm red brick Mediaeval listed barn – now modernised.(
local kilnpits bricks?). The walk now turns right
across several fields (stiles here) to emerge on the Henley Golf
course. From here is a lovely view across the Harpsden valley
and a descent, before coming to Drawback Hill – origin unknown
to the author – did you drawback to take a breath before
tackling the hill?
At the top the route joins a path becoming a metalled road and
then a track. This is a very old road that was part of the
parish of Rotherfield Peppard which extended down the hill to
the river where there was a mill. Most of the parishes like
Peppard had access to the river down long thin strips of land.
And three parishes adjoined Henley – Rotherfield Peppard,
Rotherfield Greys and Harpsden . Crosing the Reading Road you
enter Mill Lane and at the end was the site of the old mill and
originally there was a ‘flash lock’ which controlled the river ,
enabling boats to shoot down the river towards London, but it
was a hard pull to drag boats upstream.
Follow the path left to return to the start.
Kendal at Henley Historic Pathways Launch at River & Rowing
on the Henley Study Day looking at the slipway at the end
of Ferry Lane, in Aston, where the ferry used to take
travellers from the Berkshire bank of the Thames, to the
Notes to accompany a walk from
Henley-on-Thames through Remenham and Aston. Photos are above
Sources: maps of 1761 and 1897
(Berkshire Record Office); Berkshire Family History Society;
HENLEY BRIDGE: Built in
1786, this is a stone road bridge with 5 elliptical arches.
It was built by the Oxford mason, John Townsend, at a cost of
£10,000, to replace a timber structure which was carried away in
the great flood of 1774. There may have been an even earlier
stone bridge, suggested by stone arches on both sides of the
river. Some historians believe that this ancient stone
bridge was used by the Romans when pursuing the Britons in 43 AD.
REMENHAM is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning
either “the home of the Raven” or “the home of the Remi” a Celtic
tribe that roamed and hunted in the area. It is mentioned in
the Domesday Book and in the charters of Westminster Abbey, dated
1075. Evidence has been found of Roman occupation, and of a
thriving Saxon community.
The John Rogers’ map of 1761 (2 inches
to the mile) shows:
Remenham as a small hamlet/Church marked as +/6
small houses/Lane from Remenham to Aston
4 houses in Aston/Hambleden Lock/Fawley
Court and Phyllis Court on opposite bank
Berkshire Map 23 Remenham surveyed 1874
– 6, revised 1897 shows:
Red Lion Hotel and Angel Hotel/Towpath along Berkshire bank
corner towards Remenham/Remenham Lodge on right
from Remenham, skirting edge of wood to Aston
Remenham: large buildings of Remenham farm, rectory
and school and St. Nicholas’ church
Chalk and gravel
pits and a pound. Many houses have pumps
In Aston: Aston
and Culham farms and the Flower Pot Hotel
Lane from Aston
to river, with ferry from the end of the lane
this map, the tow path along the Berkshire bank stops at Aston,
crosses the river from the slipway there, and continues on the
Oxfordshire bank to Henley
Also on this
map, on the river, is written at Aston and at Henley “Union and
R.D.By”. I do not know what this denotes.
FLOWER POT INN, ASTON
This popular public
house and hotel has been here for at least 120 years, and is
now the headquarters of the clay-pigeon club. The trees
which border the lane towards the river are a favourite roosting
and nesting site for red kites.
Aston was the
landing stage for the ferry across the Thames from
Hambleden. It was here, during the Civil War, that
Parliamentarians and Royalists fought a bitter battle.
Recently, remains of iron cannon were found under the crest of the
hill by Culham Court. In 1785 Aston ferry was a rope ferry
controlled from Hambleden Lock.
NICHOLAS CHURCH, REMENHAM
This church stands
just off the river, and was built on the site of a previous Norman
church. It has an unusual semi-circular apse.
One of the windows dates to 1320, the tower is late 15th
century. Inside the church there are two brasses of note,
one to Thomas Maryet, a headless soldier, dated 1591, the other to
John Newman, a rector of the church in the days of Charles I who
died in 1622.
There was once a
flourishing village around the old church, but almost the entire
village was wiped out by the plague about 1664. The whole of
the Clutterbuck family and their servants were killed by it.
There was a school whose roll fluctuated between 50 and 70 pupils
between 1870 and the beginning of WW2 . In 1939 scholars
from Wix Lane School in London were evacuated to this school, and
the extra pupils were housed in the Parish Hall. In 1966,
with numbers falling, it was decided to close the school. In
the last few decades, Remenham has been deprived also of its shops
and its post office, and most recently of its rectory also.
It now shares a rector with St. Mary’s Church, Henley.
MILL AND LOCK
mill, mentioned in the Domesday Book as paying a rent of £1 a
year, was described by Alison Uttley in the twentieth
century as “the most beautiful place in the whole length of the
long Thames Valley”. It has now been converted into
flats. There was a flash lock with a winch at the site in
1338. Hambleden pound lock was built between 1770 and 1777,
a brick house for the lock keeper being constructed at the latter
date. It appears that the flash lock remained in use.
The lock was completely rebuilt in 1870 because of its poor
condition, and in 1884 new weirs were built, and a walkway, to
re-open the ancient right of way. The most recent
rebuild was in 1994.
A. Thornton 12.03.2013
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