HISTORIC PATHWAYS - REMENHAM
Notes to accompany a walk from Henley-on-Thames through Remenham and Aston
Sources: maps of 1761 and 1897 (Berkshire Record Office); Berkshire Family History Society; internet
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
Fawley Court and Phyllis Court on opposite bank
Berkshire Map 23 Remenham surveyed 1874 – 6, revised 1897 shows:
From Henley: Red Lion Hotel and Angel Hotel
Towpath along Berkshire bank
Footpath cutting corner towards Remenham
Remenham Lodge on right
Footpath continues from Remenham, skirting edge of wood to Aston
In 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
NB On 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.
THE 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.
ST. 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.
HAMBLEDEN MILL AND LOCK
This impressive 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.
E&OE P. A. Thornton 12.03.2013