Henley-on-Thames Archaeological and Historical Group
Lecture Details and Reviews
Annual General Meeting and in house talks
3rd December, 2013Members Annual General Meeting, wine and mince pies, short talks by members.
Reviewed by Valerie on 6th December, 2013
After a break for Christmas mince pies and wine, we heard from in-house speakers about their various interests and research.
Ruth Gibson first of all, in connection with the Neighbourhood Plan which is under way,
outlined the area for development at Highlands Farm. There is a designated Site of Scientific
Interest where palaeolithic flints were found, an example of which she showed us, courtesy of
Val Moon. Building into adjacent fields might affect future finds and in any case, they are
in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as opposed to the existing central brownfield site.
This was for information to be borne in mind when commenting, as was the Chairman's reference
to the Mill Lane development proposed in the town centre, the cars from that development not
likely to make so much impact on Henley traffic, particularly Greys Road.
Ruth then went on to show some more historic roofs discovered in Henley, eg at 73 Bell Street,
where a new roof had been built over the existing l5th century beams. Also at the Catherine Wheel
at 7-9 Hart Street, which had incorporated the adjoining property in the l920s. There again a
shallow roofline was evident.
Vicky Jordan from Whitchurch had been researching the Libbe Powyss family when she
realised the connection with Jane Austen via her cousin, Edwin Cooper. He was Rector of Harpsden
church, where Cassandra Austen was baptised. Jane Austen is thought perhaps to have based
Mr Collins on Edwin Cooper.
John Whiting referred to a local publication in his study of the Henley Branch Railway,
which reached Henley in l857 from Twyford via four 7ft l in gauge lines (Mr Brunel's preferred width).
This enabled goods trade for London to be restored, although until later in the century there had to
be trans-shipment at Twyford on to the normal gauge. At its traffic peak Henley received 37,000
visitors to the Regatta by train.
Henley station was cut back in 1975 to its present location. allowing development of the frontage.
All that remains of the original station is the canopy.
Mary Hooper>, having told us last year about Victorian funeral arrangements,
particularly Waterloo to Brookwood, is now researching World War I VAD nurses. Her story will
feature a young domestic servant called, appropriately, Poppy, who goes to the war after training
at the Van Netley hospital, Southampton. The book will be published later next year.