hendred museum

Places to Visit

East Hendred has a great variety of places of interest. In fact, it could compete with some ancient English towns by the number of its monuments and relics, historical events and personalities related both to the village history and to the history of Great Britain.

Most famous village buildings are of course Chapel of Jesus of Bethlehem (Champs Chapel) and Hendred House, former Manor of the Arches, owned by the Eyston family since 1443.

Historically interesting are the churches of East Hendred: St.Augustine's and St.Mary's (Roman Catholic).

Other famous sites and buildings include: St.Amand's House, King's Manor site, Church Place and some others.

A map of East Hendred

(Click here to see another map of places of interest)

Mahala Addenbrooke, dedicated local researcher, in her book "East Hendred - A Brief Guide" (1971) describes a number of local buildings of historical importance which we too believe are worth visiting:

"The visitor enters the village by the narrow, winding Allin's Lane, where ghosts are said to walk, or by the straight, wider, White Road, so-called by reason of the chalky white dust which characterised it before building and heavier traffic made tarmac necessary. The White Road swings right and we pass into the main village street and are now in the 'core' of the village, a Conservation area, its ancient dwellings spaced well apart and little marred by modern development.

Beside the War Memorial on our right stands the Mediaeval Chapel of Jesus of Bethlehem, built by the Carthusian monks of Sheen who owned King's Manor after Henry V's edict in 1414 dispossessed foreign religious houses. For many years it lay derelict and in the 18th Century was used as a washhouse and a bakehouse. But in 1901 it was acquired by a member of the Eyston family and it is now partly restored but not in use. The Priest's house is still in use as a dwelling. Across the road the barns of the monks, which bound the Manor, are also equipped for modern living, and King's Barn earned a Civic Trust award.

Further on, to our left, stands a splendid example of Tudor herringbone brickwork, now a house and shop and occupied by one of the three village grocers. A little beyond lies Hendred House, the home for 500 years of the Eyston family, and before that, since before 1166, of the Turberville, Arches and Stowe families, from whom, through the female line, the Eystons are descended. Further notes on Hendred House are to be found in the section on domestic buildings.

At St. Augustine's Church there is a crossroads, and the way straight ahead continues towards the Downs and finally reaches the Ridgeway. We may well pause here and notice on the rising ground to our left the gardens of Hendred House, with the park and the agricultural land farmed by Mr T.M. Eyston stretching towards the Downs. South of Hendred House and the gardens stands the 19th Century St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church and on the slopes to the West of the Newbury Road, the cottages, old and new, of Horn Lane.

Turning to the right past the Parish Church, we pass old cottages, the last of which, now immaculate, is an example of a type of mediaeval building, called 'cruck'. The last building of this row, still containing workshops, also has relics of an older craft, the making of picturesque Berkshire wagons. The wooden body work was made at the timber and carpenters' yard at Cozens Farm, behind Hendred House. There are still a few skilled craftsmen in the village, who learned their skill here and who can tell in detail how to make a wagon or a wheel. At what is now 'Harrison's' the iron 'tyres' were fitted and the wagons or carriages painted.

We face the Victorian School, now no longer used, and then the road turns left uphill past the 18th Century frontage of St. Amand's House. Our road then swings again towards West Hendred and the Furlong path, which joins the two villages.

Had we left the Portway via Allin's Lane — named after a family who lived continuously in the village from 1547 until the late 19th Century — we should have passed on the one side the Manor, once owned by New College, but now commemorated only by the name 'Manor House'. The land on the other side belonged until recently by a title deed of the reign of Edward III to the Cowdery family. Turning left and passing the Plough Inn and its ancient barn, now being restored, we turn right and skirt the little green at the end of Cat Street, where once stood the stocks, and perhaps also the pillory. We pass the Wheatsheaf and soon rejoin the main village street.

Buildings: churches

St Augustine's Church

St. Augustine's Church is the largest and probably the oldest single building in East Hendred. Externally its most striking feature is the solid West Tower in perpendicular style, marked by what are called 'put-log' holes, because the builders put their log scaffolding in them. Inside the tower, the most remarkable feature is the faceless clock, made by John Seymour of Wantage in 1525. It is one of the oldest still working in England and since it was overhauled by Mr. Arthur Harrison in 1961 keeps very good time. It is wound by hand daily, and at nine, twelve and every third hour plays an old hymn tune known as the Angels' Song.

Two of the peal of six bells in the Tower are interesting. One of these, the fourth, is pre-Reformation, and is dedicated to St. Anne. The other, the third, is inscribed "Feare God" and was cast in 1647.

Entering the Church by the Victorian South Porch, one is aware both of the spaciousness of the Nave and the strength of the heavy 13th Century pillars. Their mediaeval stone heads are a good example of rustic carving. The lectern, which is thought to date from the 13th Century, is unique and interesting to antiquarians. It is based on a Crusader's foot, treading on a three-headed dragon. The pulpit, richly carved, was erected at the Restoration, to commemorate King Charles the Martyr, whose head is said to be depicted in one of the front panels. The ceilure, or canopy of honour over the Rood, is noted by Pevsner in his account of the Church in his Buildings of Berkshire. The Chancel is Victorian, except for the piscina in the South wall of the Sanctuary. The whole Church has been put in good repair in the years since 1960.

A rare feature of the Church is the Eyston Chapel, which has always belonged and still belongs to the Roman Catholic Eyston family. It was built as a Chantry in the late 15th Century; during the penal times it was used for burials.

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church dates from 1865 and architecturally is typical of this period and the style of Pugin. It was built by C. Buckler. The Presbytery contains furnishings dating from the same period and appropriately styled.

The Methodist Chapel was built in 1874.

Domestic buildings

Much of the charm of East Hendred derives from the old and varied dwellings. There are believed to be at least ten cruck cottages in the village, a development of the earliest and most primitive method of domestic building, and for this reason comparatively rare. Others with their thatched roofs and timbers date from the 16th and 17th centuries. The fine brickwork of Mr. Wickens' shop has already been noted, and the building may well have been the home of a prosperous cloth merchant. The 18th Century is represented by St. Amand's House, whose facade was added by Thomas Yorke in 1716. This stands on land once part of the endowment of the Chaplain of St. Amand's Chapel. It is likely that the Chaplain's house was also on this site in mediaeval times, and the interior of the house certainly indicates a far older origin than do the 18th Century additions.

Hendred House

Hendred House stands on an ancient site. Its central part, which may have begun near the end of the 12th Century, consists of a Great Hall — a communal living area with a fire in the middle of the floor and a hole in the roof. The blackened rafters of a Great Hall still exist, but are hidden by a lower ceiling of a much later date. The two inner wings may be contemporary with the Chapel, or added later as the house grew and need arose. The taller buildings at the back replaced what was already there, about 1815.

King's Manor hidden behind its high curtilage walls is now one of the most attractive dwellings in the village. It contains some manifestly ancient material, but there is little evidence of its original form. To the monks who first owned it, it was probably a farm and granary, rather than a centre of training and practice of monastic life.

Church Place. Since the Middle Ages there has been a house on this site which belonged to the Church and was used as a Rectory until 1948. The red brick Georgian facade was added by the Rev. Charles Wapshare, probably early in the 19th Century. Parts of an earlier house are situated to the right and left of the main Georgian building."

(Mahala Addenbrooke, "East Hendred - A Brief Guide", 1971)

Historical Tours of East Hendred

If you have a group who would like to walk around this beautiful village hearing about our interesting history, looking at some of our unusual historic remnants or just enjoying the scenery - then please contact us to arrange a guide.

Very reasonable rates.

Telephone 01235 821796


Champs Chapel Museum is accredited by the Arts Council England
©2009 East Hendred Heritage Trust and Champs Chapel Museum, East Hendred, Oxfordshire
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