Lecture Details and Reviews

The People of St Mary's

4th February, 2014 Elizabeth Hazeldine
Elizabeth Hazeldine has studied local and ancient history for many years and is in the process of building up an archive of the life stories of local people, who have left their mark on Henley, including amongst others:
  • John Longland: Henry VIII's Confessor
  • Dame Elziabeth Periam: who founded her own Charity School in the Chantry House
  • Richard Jennings: who was involved in the building of St. Paul's Cathedral
  • Mary Blandy: a notorious convicted murderess

Her talk will be based on these life stories.


Reviewed by Valerie on 4th February, 2014

In her talk, Elizabeth highlighted some of the individuals who in the past had significantly influenced Henley and the church.

For instance, John Elmes in the 15th century ran barges into London, making so much money that he bought local estates, e.g. Bolney, the size of which was shown on plans which she brought along. John Elmes built the Chantry House as merchant's storage, with its three levels facing the River. Having died in 1460, he paid for a chantry in the church, now the St Laurence's prayer room, with bequests for masses to be said and also for charity.

John Longland was born in 1473 and became Bishop of Lincoln to Henry VIII during his divorce. St Mary's church tower was built in memory of his parents and he also founded the Longland almshouses.

Then came Dame Elizabeth Perriam, who lived at Greenlands in 1517. After the deaths of her three husbands, she set up an educational establishment for poor boys of the town in the Chantry House. Her splendid monument in the church was originally near the font, now near the altar.

Next came Richard Jennings, a Henley child of a bargeman, who attended the Perriam School and eventually became a journeyman carpenter. This led him to London, where he became master carpenter at St Paul's cathedral, in particular the domed roof. However, he was accused of abusing funds and so returned to Henley. He restored Lady Perriam's memorial in grateful thanks for his education. His own memorial can be seen in the church.

Mary Blandy's story is well known. She was educated but either naïve or cunning in respect of her love for Cranston, who she met at Paradise House. Her father was poisoned because of his opposition to the match and she was hanged at Oxford Gaol.

Local land owners mentioned were the Freemans and Mackenzies at Fawley Court, TW Morrell, who built Rotherfield Court, and the subsequent purchaser, WT Makins, who made money from the Gas & Lighting Company. He paid for Westlake to restore the windows in the church.

Sir Frank Crisp, a London lawyer, built Friar Park and was well loved for his philanthropy in the town. His gravestone in Henley Cemetery has recently been restored by the Town Council as a mark of respect.

Lastly, Elizabeth referred to her list of hundreds of local plague victims in Henley.

Ruth Gibson thanked the speaker for successfully placing Henley people into their houses, historically speaking.

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