Sunday was a beautiful day, and I had a note in my diary to join Martin’s walk.
Martin explained he was not a trained guide or historian, but a photographer. I believe everyone there, thought otherwise, as he proved an excellent speaker and guide, even waiting for people to catch up with him before he explained something en route.
Here then is the start of the tour – as I remember it – I did not take any notes. If anyone can elaborate or correct me on anything please tell me and I will amend this post. Thank you. You can comment below this blog post please.
The first gem was the fact that Henley has got toilets on the level all over town now. There used to be an underground toilet in the Town Hall, below is where it was. Note the wooden door frame on the side of the town hall below!
Under the door, next to the off-licence, there is an entrance to Lovibond brewery, Note the rails in the pavement there, these would have been used by a brewery (larger than Lovibonds) to move out heavy barrels in days of old!
Patisserie Valerie used to be the Prince of Wales pub – it has featured in this blog at some time as well. On the right at the top is a Henley emblem, in the middle lightning, and on the right the Prince of Wales emblem. Martin asked if anyone knew what the lighting signified. Someone suggested that it could represent the stormy relationship the prince has with his many mistresses!
Martin explained that there used to be a row of shops where the flower beds are in Falaise/Market Square. These however were demolished when the bridge was built.
Zizzi used to be a pub, but I cannot remember the name of it.
Magoos is a long thin building and was one used for braiding ropes .
Some unusual views of the Speakers House in Hart Street I took. Another long thin building used for meetings by the Speaker of the Houses of Parliament.
By the wall near to the church house wall is a flying buttress. A totally new term for me. It was suggested it may have been intended to stop cows that were being herded from getting stuck in corners, or to stop men coming out of pubs urinating there!
Never noticed this before, but the Red Lion has a window that was blocked in to avoid window tax. Someone has painted a window on the blocked up window now – you can see it plainly but it has to be pointed out – it can easily be missed.
Whilst we walked to the next spot of interest in the talk, I managed to drink in the Sunday morning activity on the river. Henley is a lovely town, always something happening.
We passed the Little White Hart pub that still bears the name in stone above the door. The boat room was where rowers used to congregate for beers etc.
A lovely red car turned the corner -i have attempted to blank out the number plate
Martin led us at the slipway at the end of New Street and explained that this has always been a public slipway for boats for anyone licenced to use the river. There used to be a sunken boat near to this slipway, and wildfowl used to perch on it, and you could wade out to it in low water. This had a Stuart and Turner, local engineering company engine in it. It sunk and the owner claimed it could easily be repaired and sail again. Mysteriously no one attempted to salvage it. There is no trace of this now – what happened to it?
What is now Harrington’s used to be the boathouse for the Rowing Club. People use to use the Little White Hart nearby as a watering hole after and before races.
Church Avenue is a cut through to the Church!
This is where the Red Cross pub was – now the only sign of it is a door renamed the Red Cross Cottage (New Street)
The owner of the house, second in on the left was accused by the council of building his house 9 inches out from the original building line. He moved his front door from one side to the other, and this somehow got him off this charge. (I may not have understood this fact properly!)
Martin pointed to a plaque on a building in New Street. It was a Lloyds fire plaque that said your building had fire insurance. It is thought that the fire brigade would not tackle a fire without this plaque on it?
In Bell Street near to the Halifax is another flying buttress!
The Bull pub is the oldest building in town. I was not aware that the front is not that old, it was added in the 1930s, covering up the original frontage of the building. I was also amazed to hear that quite a few buildings in Henley have had their original frontage modernised in this way. A real pity, but better than where I used to live where they demolished old manor houses and other buildings not cared for, or that were too expensive to preserve.
The assembly rooms in Bell Street – well that is what I think we were told the white building below was. I have looked back into a lot of my local history collection of books etc and cannot place it tonight!
The walk and ended where it started off, on the Town Hall steps. Thanks to Martin for such an interesting talk. Remember he has an exhibition of his photos of Henley on Thames this coming weekend and Monday of next week. Admission free!