The Obelisk, erected in 1785. In the background the
previous town hall replaced 1901.
It was resolved that the Council think it desirable to sanction
the removal of the obelisk and the erection, of the drinking
fountain as near to that site as may be thought desirable by
the Council, subject to the erection of a sufficient number
of lamps by the Phillimore family, and to plans being
submitted and approved by the Council.
The seconder of the motion, Mr Simmons, said......
he entertained no regard for the obelisk, did not know of
any historic tradition attached to it, and no one seemed to
know why it was placed there. A drinking fountain would
be a nice addition and would improve the town.
However Mr Plumbe felt that......
the fountain placed where the obelisk stands would be most
unsuitable. The base of the memorial is about 10ft whereas
the obelisk occupies only a base of about 0ft. It would be
an impossibility for a fast driver from Duke Street to turn
Mr Hews was......
averse to the removal of the obelisk belonging to the town
and putting up a private memorial in its place.
Many councillors aired their opinions, but when it came to a vote
only three members voted against, so the report was carried.
A final attempt to retain the obelisk came another fortnight later,
in December 1884, when
The Mayor read a petition signed by 64 Burgesses of the
town requesting that the obelisk remain where it now stands,
and that another site be found for the memorial in question
however it was felt that the petition was too late, that a decision
must be reached, and the proposal that
the plan as now laid before the Council be accepted
was carried by 7 votes in favour, 3 against and 3 abstentions.
ln January 1885 details of the proposed memorial were laid before
the General Purposes Committee who recommended them for
sanction by the Council. At the same meeting the committee
recommended that the obelisk should be re-erected in Northfield
End at the junction of the Marlow Road and the Fair Mile.
The local paper was silent on the subject for four months until
reporting in May that the old pump and the obelisk had been
removed, the latter to its new location, and that
the basement is being prepared by Cllr Clements for the erection of the
memorial fountain, which
it noted on 20 June rather cryptically,
is a showy but rather delicate-looking structure, and will,
we are afraid, sorely tax lhe patience of Sergt. Fry when the
hoarding is removed.
The hoarding was duly removed on Saturdav 27 June 1885.
but no ceremony of any kind took place. The unsightly lights
completely spoil the appearance of the fountain, which
ought to be at least six feet higher and is, so we hear, really
two feet lower than was shown on the plans approved by
the Corporation, so that any alteration will most probably
have to be made.
The fountain was designed by James Forsyth of Hampstead, and
the four corner lamps by Hodge of Hatton Garden.
The Phillimore family formally offered the Memorial for
acceptance by the Corporation on behalf of the town and also, the
were willing to meet the Corporation in any way. He would suggest that
the Memorial be raised
A month later the Architect, Mr Forsyth, offered the General
Purposes Committee sketches showing the fountain being raised
by 2ft 6ins, and Mr Walter Phillimore wrote that
the family did not hold themselves bound to execute any
alteration other than that shown on the original plan.
The local paper did not report further negotiation, however, a fort-
night later the issue dated 3 October l885 recorded
The hoarding is again being erected around the Memorial
fountain in the Market Place, so that something is probably
about to be done to improve the appearance of our "White
and, in the following week's issue
The workmen have been very busy this week reconstructing
the structure, and it will be raised 2ft 6ins higher than
before, partly by inserting a band of plain white stone above
the granite, and tracery introduced above the arches over
the panels. It is thought that this addition will improve the
appearance of our "Elephant" very much.
Councillors were still not happy with the lamps around the fountain
and proposed that they be removed and, to light the crossroads,
larger lamps be placed at the Duke Street and Bell Street corners
Col Makins M.P. had written offering to pay for some short granite
pillars to protect the Memorial if the Council thought it necessary.
The local paper dated 17 October 1885 recorded
Mr Clements said he thought the time had now arrived when
Mr Phillimore's offer of the Memorial could be wisely
accepted, and he moved the following resolution
"That the Drinking Fountain presented to the Town by Mr
C. B. Phillimore on behalf of his family and friends, in
memory of the late Rector of Henley having been finished
to the satisfaction of the Town Council be now accepted,
and that the thanks of the Council for this useful gift is
hereby given to Mr Phillimore and his family."
The resolution was carried unanimously.
The Phillimore Memorial Fountain shortly after completion with its four lamps.
and only a few years later, without its four lamps.
The Memorial stood at the "Cross" for some 17 years, presumably
becoming increasingly hazardous as the amount of traffic increased.
Perhaps there had been suggestions for its removal in the
intervening years, and perhaps it was the offer of the Coronation
Committee in 1902
to give the balance of the Coronation Fund to the Council
to remove the Phillimore memorial from the Market Place
and erect in its place a lamp pillar light ........
that spurred the Council to take action.
The local paper dated 31 October 1902 recorded the above offer
together with the proposal that the memorial be placed in the small
enclosure at the end of the almshouses, on the west side of the
churchyard. The Mayor had discussed the matter with Sir Walter
Phillimore and took Rev. Phillimore's widow to see the proposed
new site. Sir Walter then wrote..
.......that as they had no power in the matter they could not
really object to the removal. Still the family hoped that the
monument was not going to be shelved and that it would be
well cared for. They did not wish to stand in the way of
public improvements but at the same time they were sorry
if it was necessary for the memorial to be moved, and
suggested that a better place than near the Church would
be in the middle of the Market Place.
The Mayor said he had told Sir Walter that his suggestion
could not be considered for a moment, as if the memorial
was moved there it would impede the traffic. The site near
the Church was an absolutely perfect site..
and was the Council's original preferred site
and the present site was only granted in a grudging manner.
Local paper 7 November 1902
Sir, Cannot our Town Council leave our only drinking fountain alone,
or have they only just discovered that we are in the dark at that particular
spot? Why not put a lamp at the top of the fountain........
The Council then had to convince the Charity Trustees that the
relocation was a good idea. As a large proportion of the Trustees
were also members or ex-members of the Council this was not too
onerous. At the meeting of the Charity Trustees on 28 November
1902 the Mayor, as a Trustee, reported the Coronation Committee's
offer and the Town Council's wishes on the matter
that the Phillimore Memorial be moved from the Market
Place to some other and more suitable place, as it
constitutes a danger to traffic in its present position (He)
spoke of lhe advantages which would arise.. (the site) was
really the most appropriate site which possibly could be
The Rector said he would be sorry to see the Memorial
moved.from its present position, but of course that was a
matter the Town Council had within their province. (He
read) the latter portion of a letter which Sir Walter
Phillimore had asked him to lay before the Trustees
"I learn now that the matter comes before your next
Trustees' meeting. This puts Mrs Phillimore and myself in
a great dfficutty. To put the Memorial in the Almhouse
site, railed off and shut up, would be an outrage
(N.B- There used to be a railing around the church from the corner
of Longlands to the remaining portion of railing along the road's
If, as the Mayor thinks, the Trustees can, and will, throw
the spot open, it is a different matter But we still do not
like the position, and the more we think of it the less we
like it. What we should desire, if possible, would be that
the Town Council should have the opportunity to reconsider
the matter and especially our proposal of moving the
fountain IN the Market place. We do not like REMOVAL
FROM the Market Place. If it must be removed, we are not
sure that the Churchyard site (if legally practicable), or
even Northfield End, would not be sites as good."
The Rector added that he thought the fact of the fountain
being so near to the Churchyard would constitute an
attraction to the children, who would, perhaps, be the cause
of a nuisance.
The Trustees voted by 5 votes to 3 to grant
the use of the land between the parish Church and Dr
Smith's house (Longlands) for the purpose of the erection
of the fountain .......... the conditions being that the Council
pay a quit rent of 2s. 6d. per year carry out all the necessary
work in connection with the removal and re-erection of the
memorial, make good the drainage, and that the railing be
moved in order to give complete access to the fountain.
The charity trustees were not in a position to sell the land,
or to give it.
The Council agreed, after it had been pointed out
........that the Covenant, or Agreement which the Charity
Trustees stipulated the Corporation should enter into, was
not legally binding
The following week's paper predictably carried letters opposing
Sir ...I learn with great surprise and regret that the Town
Council have resolved to remove the fountain erected in memory of
the late Rector the Rev. Greville Phillimore, to
a situation which is both unsuitable and inconvenient. The
removal of the memorial will not only deprive Hart Street of
one of its most picturesque features, but will also cause
pain to those who erected it. I am informed, tho I trust
incorrectly, that the Town Council intend to place upon the
site which is now occupied by the Memorial - a lamp post.
I sincerely trust that the inhabitants of Henley will
(before it is too late) bring "pressure to bear", and thus prevent
the accomplishment of so ill-advised and unfortunate a project.
Sir I see ...... Is it too late to protest against this step?
waive for a moment the question of the propriety and good sense of the
proposed change, In the present day memories
are short and those who erect a Memorial must apparently
be prepared to see it removed in the course of a few vears.
But is the change needful? I have driven about the town
constantly for the last 20 years and have never found the
memorial in the way; or heard others complain of it as an
obstruction; and if the light in the Market Place is insufficient
let double lamps be erected ...
None the less by the end of December 1902 an agreement was
drawn up and signed between the Town Council and the Charity
Trustees relating to the siting of the Memorial on the Trustees'
land adjoining the almshouses, to which the Corporation Seal was
In the first months of 1903 the Council invited tenders for
New enclosure for Drinking Fountain
and having received two estimates, accepted that of Messrs Rogers
Bros. at £9-12s-0d as being the lowest
and (they) accepted Mr Barton's tender of £27-10s-2d
for removing and refixing the Memorial
and the surveyor has been instructed to get his work in hand
Henley Standard 1 May 1903 reports
The work of removing the Phillimore Memorial from the
Market Place to its new home close to the Parish Church
is now in hand, and the tedious operation of taking the
Fountain to pieces has throughout the week been watched
with interest by not a few people, many of whom doubtlessly
feel a pang of regret that the fine structure should be
relegated to the comparative obscurity ofthe enclosed space
in Hart Street. the work is in the hands of Mr Barton........
Henley Standard 15 May 1903
Sir, I am sorry to see the removal of such a familiar
landmark as the Phillimore Memorial, and sincerely wish
the Corporation could have seen their way to have removed
the loafers and tramps who have congregated round it
instead. Their number is on the increase, and now we shall
be able to see them by night as well as by day .....
The following week the paper commented
Now that the Memorial Fountain has been removed...... it
is seen, sentimental considerations out of the question, that
a great improvement is affected. The centre of the junction
of the four thoroughfares being now quite clear, traffic is
greatly accelerated, and, in the opinion of many, the best
improvement to be effected would be in the way of letting
matters stay as they are. In other words it is felt that a
centre lamp is not absolutely necessary and that its room is
more valuable than its light will be ....
This debate as to whether it was desirable to place a street light
where the Memorial had been was still in progress in October 1903.
Photographs appear to suggest that the site was left empty for
some time, but at later dates, between the two World Wars and
post-Second World War, several types of street light with various
notices and finger-posts were placed at the approximate spot.
In its current (2012) position between the church and almshouses