East Hendred Whistlestop Tour
East Hendred is one of several small villages nestling below the northern slopes of the Downs, within the North Wessex (Berskshire) Downs region.
The Parish boundary crosses the ancient Ridgeway, and trading route that was first used in Anglo-Saxon times, and passes close to the burial mound of the Saxon King Cwichelm. North of East Hendred, not far from the village of Steventon, it joins the village of West Hendred on the west Flowing east, the boundary nudges up against the lands of Chilton and Harwell, not far from a number of international scientific centres.
Within the border of East Hendred are two churchs: St Augustine’s, a late 12th century construction with its famous faceless clock, and the Roman Catholic St Mary’s. Weary travellers are spoilt for choice – the village is home to three public houses.
Deep in the roots of history, in a time before the reing of King Henry VIII, the town was an important centre of commerce; wool and cloth trading made the town prosperous for the likes of the Ilsley brothers who lived in a property that once stood behind St. Augustine’s church.
The history of Hendred House, Manor of the Arches, reach ever further back into the mists of time. Historical documents show the building stood even before 1256, when the Pope granted permission for the construction of the private chapel, St Amand’s. A second chapel, the little Chapel of Jesus of Bethlehem was built in the 15th Century by Carthusian monks of Sheen.
Over 100 years ago, James Edmund Vincent said, “East Hendred is a village of no ordinary attraction”. And the statement rings true today. There are few villages in the UK that are home to such a vast array of monuments, listed and historical buildings.
East Hendred Museum
Champs Chapel Museum of East Hendred
Dating back nearlly 600 years, the Champs Chapel, built by Carthusian monks in 1453, is a true treasure trove of village history. Within the collection are pictures, documents, books and photographs that transport viewers through a myriad of bygone eras. Sadly, or mayb fortuately, most of the artefacts can only be viewed on computer.
Separately housed is the 19th century village fire engine.
Open on Sunday afternoons (April to September) from 2.30pm to 4.30pm and every first Sunday of the month (October to March) from 2.30pm to 3.30pm.
Admission – Free, but all donations are most welcome as the upkeep of the museum is largely reliant on the goodwill of visitors.
The Museum is very small and is run purely by volunteers most of whom are at least 60 years old. One of the team is in his mid-80s (that’s true dedication).