Week 1

31st December 1908

On the 31st December 1908 the Public Hall was opened by the High Bailiff and the Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire. A company was formed in April 1908 for the purpose of building a Working Man's Club to be used for concerts, theatricals, dances and meetings. In addition there was a rifle club, a reading room and a billiard room. During the First World War the hall was converted into a V.A.D. Auxiliary Hospital. After the War it reverted to its former use. In 1947 it was bought by the town and was renamed the Memorial Hall.

(Public Hall & Institute Programme 1909)

Week 2

5th to 10th January 1324

King Edward II and his court stayed at Beaudesert Castle from 5th until 10th January 1324. It is thought the castle was begun around 1100. The first record of the castle was in the market charter granted by Matilda on 2nd March 1141. In 1411 the account roll of the constable of the castle reported that repairs were made to the portico or porch of the hall. John Leland writing in the early 16th Century mentioned that the castle was in ruins.

(Drawing: South Entrance to Henley from J Hannett's The Forest of Arden)

Week 3

15th January 1655

The second reading of the banns of marriage between Roger Jennings and Margaret Lambert took place at the Market Cross, Henley on 15th January 1655. Market Crosses were where many such civic events and proclamations took place. The 15th century Market Cross was originally over 22 feet high and had an elaborate head depicting four reliefs: the Rood, the Trinity, St Peter, and the Virgin and child

(Detail from drawing of the Market Cross by J Basire c.1810)

Week 4

23rd January 1717

Benjamin Beddome was born in the old Manse in Henley on the 23rd January 1717. He became the Baptist minister and prolific hymn writer. He became a Baptist Minister at Bourton on the Water in 1739 and died in 1795. His collection of 830 hymns were published posthumously in 1818.

(The Former Baptist Manse)

Week 5

1st February 1936

A fire destroyed the Baptist Church on 1st February 1936. As early as 1688 the Baptists had established themselves in Henley and a chapel was built in 1822. This was replaced by another chapel built of Wilmcote stone in 1867, a gift of the late G F Muntz of Umberslade. It was this chapel that was destroyed and only the walls were left standing. It was rebuilt on a smaller scale and reopened in September 1937.

(1867 Baptist Church)

Week 6

6th February 1591

The Mill at Henley was granted to Richard Carpenter on 6th February 1591. Originally a mill was granted by Thurstan de Montfort to the monks at Wootton around 1185. It was later known as Parkmill and consisted of a water mill and horse mill with a dwelling house, a garden and meadow and in 1650 was valued at £5 10s per annum. In the 19th Century the present mill was erected on the site of the older mill and it is now used as office space.

(The Old Mill c.1950)

Week 7

10th February 1227

Peter de Montfort Lord of the Manor obtained a Market Charter for the Manor of Beaudesert from King Henry III on 10th February 1227. It allowed a Monday market and a yearly fair at the feast of St Giles which was almost exactly the same as the Charter he was granted for the Manor of Henley on 3rd July 1221.

(Calendar of Charter Rolls, C 53/18)

Week 8

21st February 1776

William Booth son of John Booth of Hall End Farm was baptised in Beaudesert on 21st February 1776. He was arrested for the murder of his brother at Hall End Farm in 1808 but was later acquitted. In 1812 he was arrested and charged for forging coins and notes. He was condemned to death by the Stafford Assizes and hung at the second attempt. The traditional folk song "Twice tried, twice hung, twice buried" by J Raven is based on his life and death.

(William Booth - © Handsworth Historical Society 7/5072)

Week 9

25th February 1845

The first horse-race meeting took place at Henley in Arden's race course on 25th February 1845. Meetings took place every year until 1876 although occasional steeplechases continued on for the next 30 years. The course went round the foot of the Mount so that "every field and fence was distinctly visible, a bird's eye view of the race being obtained from the hill, the spectators moved round the summit as the horses moved round below them".

(Drawing showing cricket & horse-racing near the Mount)

Week 10

2nd March 1141

Empress Matilda granted to Thurstan de Montfort the right to hold a Market on a Sunday within his castle at Beaudesert on 2nd March 1141. This is the first recorded document that mentions Beaudesert castle.

(Beaudesert Castle Model)

Week 11

10th March 1837

William James died at Bodmin on 10th March 1837. William James was a visionary railway engineer born in Henley on 13th June 1771. During his life he was made Land Agent to the Earl of Warwick, Deputy Chairman of the Birmingham & Stratford Canal, and High Bailiff of Henley. "His two most lasting impacts on the countryside are the Stratford Canal and the Moreton tramway."

(William James - W Roffe)

Week 12

20th March 1915

The ecclesiastical parish of Henley joined with that of Beaudesert under the joint patronage of the Bishop of the Diocese and the High Bailiff of Henley on 20th March 1915. Henley was previously under the parish of Wootton Wawen until it was constituted a separate ecclesiastical parish on the 14th May 1914.

(St Johns Church, Henley)

Week 13

27th March 1756

Henrietta, Lady Luxborough died 27th March 1756. She was born 15th July 1699, the daughter of Henry, Viscount St John. An unsuccessful marriage to Robert Knight, later Lord Luxborough, saw her banished to Barrells Hall in Ullenhall. She became a literary hostess to a group of local writers known as "The Coterie" including William Shenstone, William Somerville, Richard Jago and Richard Graves.

(Henrietta Knight, Lady Luxborough)

Week 14

1st April 1643

During the English Civil War, Prince Rupert stayed in Henley over the Easter Weekend (1st & 2nd April) before heading towards Birmingham. His soldiers are said to have pillaged the local area during his stay. On Easter Monday (3rd April) a battle between the Royalist force led by Prince Rupert and a Parliamentary force occurred at Camp Hill, Birmingham.

(Prince Rupert at Birmingham)

Week 15

10th April 1513

On 10th April 1513 Charles Brandon was appointed steward of the manors of Henley, Tanworth & Warwick and master of the hunt in the parks of Henley. Henley had two deer parks created in the 13th Century: The Little Park which surrounded the Castle and the Great Park which lay to the North of the town. Parks were created to keep deer and other animals within the lord's lands for hunting. Both parks were sold off in 1682 for £4357 10s and a detailed map of Henley Park (Little Park) survives from 1695.

(Aerial view of the Mount and the fishpond earthworks c.1950)

Week 16

13th April 2011

After 100 years Henley market closed on the 13th April 2011 to make way for a housing development. Henley in Arden Auction Sales Ltd was wound up in 2008 after cattle sales had ceased but a limited market on a Wednesday and Saturday continued until 2011. A fire ripped through the derelict buildings on the 6th June 2011. The land was also the site of the egg grading station.

(Egg Grading Station, Henley Market)

Week 17

23rd April

St. George's Day is traditionally celebrated on 23rd April. Despite having Roman or Greek origins he is the patron saint of England and his cross forms the national flag. He is immortalised in the legend of St George and the Dragon. In Henley, the George and Dragon Inn stood in the High Street near to the Market Cross until the early 20th century with its painted sign of St George slaying the dragon hanging over the door.

(George and Dragon Inn c.1900)

Week 18

28th April 1884

The Council or Board School in Henley in Arden opened 28th April 1884. Before that date the children either attended the National School, which later continued as the Sunday School, or the British School which was built in 1863. In 1896 the school master was William Bonberry and the school had an average attendance of 180.

(The Old School)

Week 19

4th May 1764

Thomas Wowen Jones, Surgeon-apothecary, was baptised on 4th May 1764 at Wootton Wawen. After his apprenticeship in London, he returned to Warwickshire and took over the practice in Henley. As well as his routine medical activities a main part of his practice was midwifery. His casebook for the years 1791 to 1800 survives and records the 422 deliveries he attended. He later became an important figure in the town becoming High Bailiff in 1840-45, whilst his own son continued to practise medicine. He died in Henley in 1846.

(Thomas W Jones's casebook, WCRO)

Week 20

16th May 1449

The Charter re-affirming all the rights of the lord of the Manor of Henley in Arden was granted to Sir Ralph Boteler on 16th May 1449. This document hangs in the Heritage Centre, on loan from the Guild Hall Trust. The great seal of Henry VI is attached.

(1449 Charter)

Week 21

21st May 1932

Torrential rain caused flooding down the High Street and Beaudesert Lane on 21st May 1932. Henley, which lies in a valley, has been subject to many severe floods. On 18th June 1872 a horse and cart were washed away near the Bird-in-Hand pub. In December 1899 the water was so deep along the High Street that a man swam in it. There were floods in January 1951, Easter 1998 and on several other occasions. The flooding in late March 1955 were as extensive as those in July 2007.

(Rev A H Webb wading through the flood in Beaudesert Lane, January 1951)

Week 22

28th May 1857

Charles Voysey was born in Yorkshire on 28th May 1857. Charles Francis Annesley Voysey was a prominent architect whose style from 1890 to 1914 was seen by contemporaries as "the epitome of tranquillity, gentleness and elegant kindness". Charles Voysey was commissioned by Miss Knight to build a house in Henley in Arden called Brook End in 1909. The design of the house was characteristically Voysey with whitened exterior walls, low spreading roof and triangular shaped dormer windows.

(Plans for Brook End, 1909)

Week 23

6th June 1894

On Wednesday 6th June 1894 the Kingswood to Henley in Arden Railway line opened to the public. On the opening day the town was decorated with flags and large crowds gathered at the station to greet the first train. Some 800 people travelled on the line during the first day and the High Bailiff Charles Couchman paid for Henley children to travel the line as many had never been on a train before.

(Commemorative medallion)

Week 24

8th June 1875

John Keble Bell (Keble Howard), author and playwright was born 8th June 1875. His father moved to Henley to become the new vicar when John was only a few months old. He grew up in Henley before going to University at Oxford. He wrote many stories and plays under the pseudonym Keble Howard. He died at a nursing home in Bournemouth on 29th March 1928. "Keble Howard was one of the foremost humorous novelists of his time and enjoyed considerable fame."

(Keble Howard)

Week 25

20th June 1726

The first meeting of the Birmingham to Stratford upon Avon Turnpike Trust was held at the Swan Inn, Birmingham on 20th June 1726. This road which passes through Henley was described as 'ruinous and bad', so a Turnpike trust was formed to look after it. At the peak of the great coaching age seven coaches passed through Henley each day. The Turnpike Trust folded in 1872 and Henley's tollhouse was taken down in 1894 in order to make a more convenient approach to the newly built railway station.

(Milestone at Milestone cottage, 185 High Street)

Week 26

25th June 1911

At 12.07 on the morning of the 25th June 1911 an overnight excursion train bound for Bristol crashed at Henley-in-Arden station. A mistake by the signalman meant the express train was directed into the bay where it crashed through the buffer stops and overturned. Fortunately the first passenger carriage was empty, so only eleven minor injuries were recorded. The driver and fireman were thrown from the engine and were badly scolded. The 'Atbara' class engine (no.3382 Mafeking) was scrapped soon after the accident. Despite some infrastructural damage to the line, the service resumed the next day.

(1911 railway accident)

Week 27

1st July 1908

The GWR North Warwickshire Railway Line opened to passengers on 1st July 1908. Contractors C.J. Willis & Sons started constructing the line at Henley in 1906. The station at Henley was the largest on the section with brick buildings on both platforms, each with extensive awnings. A long footbridge incorporated an existing footpath as well as providing access to both platforms. The Signal box at 38ft long and 13ft wide was the largest on the line. In the 1920's there were 12 members of staff working at the station and the goods yard terminus.

(Henley in Arden Station c.1910)

Week 28

12th July 1899

Marie Corelli opened the Bazaar in aid of restoring the church at Beaudesert Park on 12th July 1899. She had moved to Stratford upon Avon earlier in the year, she later lived at Mason Croft (now the Shakespeare Institute) until her death in 1924. Marie Corelli was a popular English novelist who in her final years fought hard to preserve Stratford's 17th Century buildings. She was renowned for being eccentric and would often be seen on the River Avon in a gondola complete with gondolier.

(Poster for the Church Bazaar 1899)

Week 29

14th July 1780

Dr. Thomas James Philip Burman was baptised in Henley on 14th July 1780. He ran a mental asylum, founded by his father in 1797, in what was later known as Burman house (50 high Street). After Dr. Burman's death in 1840 it was eventually acquired by Dr Agar and all the patients were transferred to Glendossill House in 1882. All the private mental asylums in the county were at Henley and Wootton in 1805. Other asylums included Samuel Brown's establishment at the Stone House where patients, shackled and confined in the basement, were visible from the outside.

(Burman House c.1950s)

Week 30

26th July 1990

The title of Lord of the Manor of Henley in Arden was auctioned at Stationers Hall, London on 26th July 1990. It was the last lot of the day and required a separate catalogue because of the interest. In the end it was sold for £85,000 to Joseph Hardy of Pennsylvania. At the time it was written: "He has expressed great delight in being associated with the Town and appears extremely enthusiastic about becoming involved in some of the local events." He was extremely generous to Henley, supporting many events and causes in the town.

(Joseph Hardy)

Week 31

1st August

Lammas Day was celebrated on 1st August. On this day the hay crop in certain meadows had been harvested and these fields were then open to be grazed as common land until the Spring. Mention of this practice is recorded in the Court rolls where it states "they shall not keep any sheep in the fields except their own ground… until the first load of corn be carried". Often the location of these lands survive through field names. Lammas Meadow in Henley was recorded as being located close to the brook and road towards Redditch.

( Thatching a haystack at Buckley Green Farm, 1905)

Week 32

4th August 1265

On the morning of Tuesday 4th August 1265, Simon de Montfort Earl of Leicester was killed in battle near Evesham. Prince Edward (later King Edward I) defeated the outnumbered Baronial forces in what was an unusually savage battle in which many knights were killed. Peter de Montfort (Lord of the Manor) was a close friend and supporter of the Earl of Leicester. He was a long standing leader of the baronial cause and died fighting alongside his namesake at the Battle of Evesham.

(Seal of Peter de Montfort)

Week 33

11th August 1909

Hilda Horsley was born on 11th August 1909, she married Jim Horsley in 1930 and they lived at the Gas works, in Beaudesert Lane. The Gas works were situated where Alne Close is today and began supplying gas in 1864. With the cost of replacing the original apparatus becoming prohibitive, the Henley in Arden Gas, Coal and Coke Company was taken over by the Solihull Gas Company in 1948. The site closed in 1952 and the gas-holders were dismantled in May 1953. Jim Horsley had worked at the Gas works for some 24 years when it closed.

(Worker Jim Styles in front of the Gas Retort c.1900)

Week 34

22nd August 1661

The lease of a tenement called the Guildhall was granted by the Crown to John Launder on 22nd August 1661. The 15th Century Guild Hall was built by the Guild of the Holy Trinity and St John, a social and religious order that rendered mutual assistance and engaged in works of charity. The Guild was dissolved in 1545 and its assets and lands were confiscated by the Crown. For many years the property was in a poor state and was used as a butcher's shop. It was bought and restored by William Fieldhouse in 1915 and is now maintained by the Guild Hall Trust.

(The Guild Hall)

Week 35

26th August 1903

On the 26th August 1903 The Courthouse in Henley was opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire. Petty sessions were courts of summary jurisdiction held by two or more J.P.s or magistrates for trying lesser offences. Prior to 1903 the magistrates of the Henley Petty Sessional Division sat at the White Swan. The Courthouse, which was situated behind the Police Station, was used by magistrates until 1974. It temporarily reopened for a year in April 1979 for Crown Court hearings due to a shortage of court space in Birmingham.

(An ink stand from the Courthouse)

Week 36

6th September 2000

The Millennium Wall Hanging co-ordinated by the Women's Institute was finished and displayed on the 6th September 2000. The squares were designed and created by members of local organisations. The W.I. obtained a grant from the Millennium Festival Awards for All scheme for the cost of completing the work and producing a commemorative album. The album and wall hanging are both displayed in the Heritage Centre.

(Detail of the Wall Hanging)

Week 37

9th-11th September 2001

An archaeological dig took place on the Mount (Beaudesert Castle) from the 9th to 11th September 2001. Channel 4's 'Time Team' was supported by Warwickshire Archaeology and had permission from Historic England since the site is a scheduled ancient monument. Over the course of the three day dig. wall foundations and structures were found underground along with many finds and it gave new insights into the life of the castle.

(Channel 4's 'Time Team')

Week 38

19th September 1932

On the 19th September 1932, Tudor Dairies (152 High Street Henley in Arden) was sold to Harry & Arthur Fathers by William G. Hewins. The original premises consisted of a small shop, dwelling house and backyard. Mrs Hewins' handcart for delivering milk was a regular sight before 1932. The cart is part of the collection at the Heritage Centre. By the mid 1930's Tudor Dairies had become famous for making and selling ice cream.

(Tudor Dairies, 152 High Street c.1937)

Week 39

27th September 1917

Dr William E. Nelson, High Bailiff was presented with his OBE by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 27th September 1917 for his service as Commandant of the VAD Hospital in Henley. He was born in 1871 the eldest son of the Rev William Nelson who ran a preparatory school in Feckenham. The school moved to Arden House, Henley in 1876. He studied medicine at St Thomas' hospital London and bought the medical practice at Greengates in the high Street. He was High Bailiff from 1910 to 1922 before being made Honorary Burgess in 1923.

(Dr W. E. Nelson)

Week 40

1st October 1715

Richard Jago was born at the old Parsonage house, Beaudesert on the 1st October 1715. After being educated at Solihull school and University College Oxford he was made vicar of Snitterfield. It was Jago's poetry that gained him is recognition. He wrote several elegies including 'The Blackbirds' and composed 'The Roundelay' for David Garrick's Shakespeare Jubilee in 1769. His greatest and longest work was 'Edgehill' written in 1767. He died on the 8th May 1781 at Snitterfield.

(The Old Parsonage House, Beaudesert)

Week 41

11th October

Henley in Arden's 'Mop' fair was traditionally held on the 11th October each year. Fairs were granted by Royal Charter from the 12th century onwards. They usually lasted several days around a particular Saint's Day. Mop fairs were hiring fairs where servants were formerly hired for the year. More recently they continue in some places as a fun fair.

(Henley Mop Fair 1920's)

Week 42

15th October 1937

Tudor Dairies Ltd won the Facchino Silver Challenge Cup in October 1937. Brothers Harry & Arthur Fathers bought Tudor Dairies in 1932 and they experimented in making Ice cream in 1934. In 1937 the Ice cream won the Facchino Silver Challenge Cup for the best Ice cream in the country. Soon after the number of visitors at weekends were so great a policeman was employed to control the crowds.

(Harry & Arthur Fathers with the Facchino Cup)

Week 43

22nd October 1955

On the 22nd October 1955 the Church Hall in Beaudesert Lane was opened by Rt. Rev N W Newnham Davis, Assistant Bishop of Coventry. The building was designed by Mr W Neville Hawkes and on the 20th November 1954 a commemorative foundation stone was laid by the Lord Bishop of Coventry. The existing Parish Room was incorporated into the new building which was to be used by the Sunday School and all Church organisations. The hall continues to serve the community to this day.

(Ink drawing of the Church Hall, Beaudesert Lane)

Week 44

28th October 1928

On 28th October 1928 Lord of the Manor William John Fieldhouse died. He was born in Newport, Shropshire in 1857. His principal activities were with St Stephen's Wheel Works and Griffin Foundry in Birmingham. William was a great benefactor: he established several charities; donated generously to Stratford Hospital; and restored a number of old buildings in Henley including the Guild Hall and the Yew Trees. William Fieldhouse left the title of Lord of the Manor jointly to his son Ernest Fieldhouse and his daughter Mrs Nancy Barnard.

(William J Fieldhouse CBE, FSA, JP)

Week 45

5th November 1605

The Gunpowder Plot was a failed attempt to blow up the King and Parliament on 5th November 1605. The main instigator was Robert Catesby who was born in the hamlet of Bushwood just 3 miles North of Henley. The Catesby family were lords of Lapworth and held land in Henley and Beaudesert as documented in a rental of Margaret Catesby in 1446. Margaret, the widow of John Catesby, was the co-heir of William de Montfort, grandson of the last lord of Beaudesert Peter de Montfort.

(Catesby coat of arms)

Week 46

8th - 14th November

On the evening of the second Wednesday in November, the Steward will summon members of the Court, the Court's Jurors, burgesses and members of the public to attend the Court Leet's Annual Meeting in the Guild Hall. Reports from the various officers of the Court and the annual elections for the Court officers will be held. In Medieval times the Court Leet dealt with the transfer of land, the customs of the manor, petty nuisances, crimes & trading offences. Today the Court is mainly ceremonial; maintaining the traditions & history of the town.

(Court Leet AGM 2008)

Week 47

20th November 1979

The actor Philip Garston-Jones died on the 20th November 1979 at Birmingham General Hospital. He was born 22nd May 1912 in Wolverhampton and for many years worked at the BBC producing radio programmes such as 'Workers Playtime' and 'Music Hall'. He left the BBC in 1952 to become a freelance entertainer and later joined the radio series 'The Archers' as the character Jack Woolley. He lived in Henley for some 25 years, his involvement in the town included being on the Court Leet for 5 years and Chairman of the Henley Society.

(Philip Garston-Jones)

Week 48

28th November 1914

The Public Hall opened as a V. A. D. Auxiliary Hospital on 28th November 1914 until 5th April 1919. The Hospital started with 22 beds, and ended in 1919 with 82 beds (52 being at Henley-in-Arden and 30 at Wootton Hall). It treated 1576 patients of which only 2 died. The hospital also contained an Open Air Ward, the first of its kind to be introduced. Dr. W. E. Nelson OBE was the commandant and medical officer, Mrs. Nelson was the assistant commandant.

(Henley-in-Arden Red Cross V. A. D. Hospital)

Week 49

1st December 1952

On the 1st December 1952 Thomas Richard Perkins died at his home in Wolverhampton. He was the pharmacist in Henley from 1896 to 1945. He was actively involved in the town being a lay preacher at the Methodist Church and a trustee of the Henley Charities amongst other things. He also had an avid interest in Railways and wrote numerous articles. In 1932 he completed the unique task of travelling over the whole railway system of the British Isles, some 22,000 miles. "No one had done so before, with the curtailment of services, no one will ever do so again."

(Mr T. R. Perkins)

Week 50

9th December 1939

The first large scale A.R.P. exercises were carried out in Henley on Saturday 9th December 1939. All the services in the town combined in demonstrating how they would deal with an emergency. Difficult problems were tackled during the two hour test as the enemy was assumed to be passing over the town in relays, dropping bombs. Events came in quick succession and despite the wind and rain interested people gathered at each scene. All the operations were followed closely by the Hon. A E Parker (Chief Warden for the County).

(Henley's Home Guard 1942)

Week 51

18th December 1859

Harry Hawkes was born on 18th December 1859. Despite originally wanting to be an auctioneer, he carried on his father's business as a butcher at 116 High Street. He had a great interest in horses and served in the Warwickshire Yeomanry for 12 years. Through the years he was High Bailiff, a J.P., a bell-ringer, a member of the School Managers Board, Hospital Committee, Charities Committee, Fire Brigade and Horse Show Committee. In 1949 he was given the 'freedom' of Henley by becoming an Honorary Burgess. He died in the same house on the High Street that he lived his entire life on 14th June 1952 aged 92.

(Harry Hawkes (far right), The original White Swan Bowling Green in 1891)

Week 52

25th December 1672

John Doughty, Prebendary of Westminster Abbey, died aged 75 on 25th December 1672. He was rector for Beaudesert from 1636 until he was removed by Parliament in 1646 because of his Royalist sympathies. St Nicholas Church, Beaudesert is a Norman church thought to be built in the 12th century. The church has been remodelled several times over the years including the addition of a tower in the 15th century. The timber-framed lychgate at the entrance to the churchyard was added in 1898.

(St Nicholas Church, Beaudesert)

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