Ipsden & Stoke Row Parishes

Ipsden

Until 20thC reorganisation, Ipsden Parish stretched 5½-miles (9-km) from the Thames to Stoke Row in the Chiltern Uplands, straddling Langtree Hundred.  Ecclesiastically it began as a Chapelry of North Stoke, with which it remained linked until 1993; it was increasingly seen as the dominant Partner, however, and by the 17thC was emerging as a ‘Parish’ for both Civil & Religious purposes, a status largely accepted by the 19thC.  Settlement is scattered except at Stoke Row, where a Village grew from earlier clusters of Cottages set haphazardly on the edge of a Common.  Between the 1850s & 1900s it roughly doubled in size to 80-odd houses, and continued to expand, becoming the centre of a new Ecclesiastical Parish in 1849 & of a Civil Parish in 1952.  Elsewhere inhabitants occupied widely-spaced Hamlets & Farmsteads extending from Littlestoke by the Thames to Homer on the Chiltern Scarp, the Medieval Church occupying an isolated position midway between the Hamlet of Hailey & Ipsden ‘Village’, which comprises Ipsden Farm, Ipsden House, the Vicarage House Newtown. From the 1950s small Housing Estates were built nearby around the Village Hall & Post Office, providing an additional focus, although the Parish remains secluded & thinly settled, attracting well-off Incomers.  Ipsden House itself is associated with the Reades,  Lords of Ipsden Manor from the 16thC, and was the birthplace of the Novelist & Playwright Charles Reade (1814–84).

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Formerly listed as Ipsden House including Stables & Dovecote in the Grounds.  
House. Early C18 with mid-18thC front. Red Brick; plain Tile roof; Brick end Stacks. L-shaped Plan. 2-Storeys & Attic; 3-window Range. Central sash Door with wood architrave & flat Hood on curved brackets. Probably early 20thC Bay windows to left & right. 3 No. 12-pane sashes to 1st-Floor.  Parapeted eaves.  3 Dormers with open Pediments to front. Interior: not inspected but likely to be of interest. Subsidiary 2-Storey Wing to left with Gothic windows.

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Ipsden Parish (reorganised in 1952 & 1992) once stretched from the Thames to the Chilterns at Stoke Row.  

Ipsden’s Boundaries seem to have emerged only gradually over the Medieval period, some stretches remaining indistinct into the 19thC. The early core was presumably a 5-Hide Ipsden Estate carved from North Stoke before 1066, which on later evidence may have been concentrated in the 19thC Parish’s Southern part between the River Thames & Kit Lane.  Indentations suggest that its Boundary with Checkendon largely followed Open-field Furlongs, especially below the Scarp.  The rest of the Parish’s early 19thC area (including Bixmoor & Hailey Woods, Homer & Stoke Row) remained attached to North Stoke until much later, becoming gradually separated through piecemeal Grants and creation of Freehold.  Tithe distinctions were muddied since both North Stoke’s & Ipsden’s Tithes were paid to North Stoke as the Mother Church; those from ‘Ipsden’ were separately itemised in 1396, however, when they were already worth more than those from North Stoke, and by the 16th or 17thC Stoke Row, Well Place & Homer & Poors Farm were all regarded as part of Ipsden ‘Parish’ for Ecclesiastical & probably Civil purposes, Stoke Row forming a ‘Liberty’ which extended as far as Ipsden Church.  Even so, ambiguities remained.  Ipsden Village Street and its continuation to Begins Hill were reportedly still viewed as a Civil Boundary for Road-repair purposes c.1800,  while shared Open-fields West of Icknield Way remained ‘greatly intermixed’ until Inclosure in the 1840s, with ‘no actual Boundary between them for a considerable distance’.  Rationalisation in 1847–56 left Ipsden with 3,442 acres between the Thames & Stoke Row’s Eastern edge, the newly defined North Stoke Parish (then only 853 acres) protruding into it from the River in the area of the previously shared Open-fields.  Stoke Row was separated for Church purposes in 1849, and its Liberty, still mentioned in 1863, eventually lapsed.  A detached 15-acre Plot of Thames-side Meadow was transferred from Ipsden to Checkendon in 1883, while more radical changes in 1952 created a new Stoke Row Civil Parish, removed Ipsden’s Thames-side Land, and extended the remaining Parish Southwards as far as Ouseley Barn, leaving it with 2,400 acres. In 1992 its North-western Boundary was moved Northwards to Grim’s Ditch, increasing the area to 2,718 acres (1,100 ha.).  The Ecclesiastical Boundaries were further altered in 1927 & 1993.  The Stoke Row Civil Parish created in 1952 covered 1,730 acres (848 acres from Ipsden and 882 acres from Land formerly in Mongewell & Newnham), and extended as far North as Nuffield, being separated from Ipsden along Timbers Lane, and from Checkendon along Judges Road. In 1992 it lost its North-western part (including English Farm) to Nuffield,  leaving it with 1,500 acres (607 ha.) in 2011.
Stoke North Tithe Map 1848
Ipsden Parish Tithe Map 1848
Stoke South Cum Woodcote Tithe Map 1858

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English Farm

Landscape – The ancient Parish rose unevenly from c.45M by the River to 198M at Ipsden Heath, before falling gently to 180M at Uxmore Farm and 140M in Woodland on the Checkendon & Rotherfield Border. The steepest inclines are beyond Ipsden ‘Village’ at Warren Hill, Berins Hill & Garsons Hill, along the Chiltern Scarp.  The underlying Geology is Chalk overlain by extensive patches of River Gravel in the West and by Clay-with-Flints in the East, while Ipsden ‘Village’ and the nearby Hamlet of Hailey lie mostly on gravelly Coombe Deposits. Stoke Row occupies a patch of Sand & Gravel which supported Brick & Pottery-making, reflected in abandoned Chalk & Clay workings around its former Brick & Tile Works; additional small chalk and gravel pits are lightly studded across the rest of the Parish.  The Wooded Uplands around Stoke Row contrast with the open, lower-lying ground further West, which with its large fields & few hedges has been characterised as ‘Lifeless Prairies’ conveying a ‘sense of vast space’.  The Hills offer greater variety in their ‘extensive views of boundless & undulating Country’ and provided Local Landowners with plentiful hunting & shooting.  Surviving Common Land at Ipsden Heath, Little Common, and on the Road to Witheridge Hill was Registered under the 1965 Commons Registration Act.  Water supply until the early 20thC was from wells, ponds & rain-water tanks, resulting in shortages in dry conditions: at Stoke Row Edward Anderdon Reade (1807–86) remembered it being fetched from ‘dirty ponds & deserted Claypits’, and passed in times of drought from Cottage to cottage for cooking.  A Public Well was established there in 1863/64 by Ishree Prasad Narayan Singh, the Maharajah of Benares, with whom Reade had forged good relations during Service as a British Commissioner in India. At 368-ft deep,  it took 7-15 mins to wind a full bucket to the surface.

Another Indian Ruler friendly with the Reade’s paid for a 125-ft Well at Ipsden Church in 1865.  From 1905 Mains Water was provided by the Goring & Streatley District Gas & Water Co, and as Houses were gradually connected – in some places not until the 1940s-50s — both Wells fell out of use. Their superstructures survive, that at Stoke Row (with Gilded Elephant & Canopy) maintained by Registered Charity.

Roads & Ferry – A dense network of Roads & Tracks cross the Parish, most of them of Medieval or earlier origin save for some 19thC changes in alignment. Part of a prehistoric or Anglo-Saxon Ridgeway is preserved in the continuation of Timbers Lane through Ipsden Heath, while the pre-Roman Icknield Way follows the Chiltern Scarp West of Ipsden ‘Village’.  A possible Roman Road from Benson to Pangbourne left Icknield Way to pass through the Site of Ipsden Farm and cross ‘The Street’, which may itself have continued Westwards to a Roman Villa on the Boundary with Checkendon; the name, however, may recall only the Village ‘Street’ rather than the Roman Route.  Roads mentioned in the Middle Ages included ‘Tudding Way’ (the present B4009 from Crowmarsh to Goring) and ‘Small Port Way’ (the A4074 from Crowmarsh to Reading), both on the lower ground, while ‘Deneway’ (or ‘Valley Way’) was probably a Woodland Road near Stoke Row.  Several of the Parish’s Settlements grew up at Road intersections, amongst them Ipsden ‘Village’, Hailey & Stoke Row.

IpsdenVillageRoads
 Ipsden ‘Village’ Roads ran Eastwards to the Uplands at Uxmore & Stoke Row and
Westwards to the Thames

At enclosure in the 1840s-50s several Roads in the West of the Parish were straightened or re-routed, particularly the surviving West-East Road past the Church to Well Place, and that from Littlestoke to Ipsden ‘Village’.  Fewer changes were made in the Upland Woods & old Inclosures, although some Paths were suppressed when Stoke Row’s Commons were Inclosed in 1863.  The parallel Roads up Berins & Garsons Hills (meeting the ancient Ridgeway at Three Corner Common) are still reckoned amongst the steepest in South Oxfordshire, and beyond there Kit (or ‘Kite’) Lane runs to Stoke Row, crossing the ancient Dogmore (or ‘Dock Pond’) Lane to Checkendon.  An unlikely radition claims nearby Judges Road (through Ipsden Wood) as the route taken by Itinerant Justices between OxfordHenley.  A Ferry across the Thames (attached to the Littlestoke House Estate) linked Littlestoke with Cholsey (then Berks.) by 1767 & in 1841 was let with 2 Cottages for £14 a year, rising to £35 by 1845.  In 1892 the Littlestoke House Lessee barred Public access until compelled to restore it by Henley Highway Board.  In the early 20thC, the Ferry was operated by a Gardener at Littlestoke House, but WW1 labour shortages forced its closure and, despite numerous complaints, it was never re-established.

FerrySiteLittlestoke

Carriers, Buses, & Post – Carriers operated from Stoke Row by the 1850s, one (Mary Ann Turner) running weekly Services to Henley & Reading and 2 a week to Wallingford.  Regular Reading Services (some of them via Ipsden ‘Village’) continued into the 1930s, and a Wallingford Service (discontinued by the 1890s) was briefly revived. Motorised Bus Services began in 1919 when British Automobile Traction ran daily to Reading. Later Operators included William Jackman & Son, and in 1939 Kemp’s and the Thames Valley Traction Co ran to Reading from Ipsden & Stoke Row respectively.  Services continued after WW2, but closures followed and in 2019 there were no Buses through Stoke Row, although the Oxford-Reading Bus still stopped near Ipsden ‘Village’.  The Post was delivered to IpsdenStoke Row by the 1840s, respectively through Wallingford & HenleyStoke Row had its own sub-Post Office in the 1850s-60s, followed in the 1890s by one on Main Street which served as a Post, Money-order, and Telegraph Office, Government Annuity & Insurance Office, Post Office Savings Bank & Express Delivery Office.  Before 1974 it moved to Stoke Row Village Store but was replaced in 2017 by a Mobile Service at the Village Hall.  A sub-Post Office at Ipsden opened by 1891, becoming a Telegraph & Express Delivery Office by 1899 and matching Stoke Row’s facilities by 1903.  In 1947 (following the departure of a long-standing Postmistress) it moved from The Street to a Nissen Hut adjoining the Village Hall, replaced in 1960 by a nearby permanent Building which remained open in 2019.

Population – In 1086 Ipsden’s 2 Manors together (comprising only part of the later Parish) contained at least 21 Tenant Households, roughly evenly divided between them and containing perhaps 90–100 people in all. By 1279 there were 38 Households (21 on Ipsden Basset Manor & on Ipsden Huntercombe), suggesting relatively strong population growth, while additional North Stoke Manor Tenants included Laurence Basset, whose 4-Yardland Holding (probably at Stoke Row) was divided among 9 of his own Tenants.  In the early 14thC Ipsden, Stoke Row & North Stoke were taxed together, the total number assessed rising from 29 in 1306 to 32 in 1316, then falling to 22 by 1327.  Despite that fall the 1377 Poll Tax (with later returns) suggests that both Ipsden and North Stoke remained relatively populous into the 16thC and in 1524/5 Tenants of the reunited Ipsden Manor (excluding Stoke Row) included 19 Taxpayers, rising to 29 by 1544.  From 1560 to 1640 Baptisms outnumbered Burials by around 2 to 1, and in 1662 Hearth Tax was assessed on 16 Households at Ipsden & 22 at Stoke Row, 127 adults being reported in the Parish as a whole in 1676.  In the 1730s-50s there were thought to be 60 houses, and in 1801 there were 95 accommodating a Population of 476.  Ipsden & Stoke Row (with their respective outliers) remained roughly equal in size until the 1860s, numbers at Ipsden rising from 226 in 52 houses in 1811 to 339 (in 67 houses) by 1861, and those at Stoke Row from 255 (in 52 houses) to 284 (65 houses). Thereafter Stoke Row reached a 19thC peak of 438 & 90 houses in 1891, while Ipsden suffered a modest decline to 316 in 60 houses. A Stoke Row Boarding School accommodating 38 people in 1881 accounted for a small part of the increase.  Numbers across the whole Parish fell during the early 20thC, but recovered to 794 (in 209 houses) by 1931 and to 1,352 (425 houses) 20-yrs later.  Following the Parish’s reorganisation Ipsden’s Population changed little, rising from 314 in 96 houses in 1961 to 325 people in 130 houses in 2011Stoke Row’s Population reached 655 in 230 houses before levelling off, and in 2011 stood at 651 people in 255 houses.

Settlement – Prehistoric, Roman & Anglo-Saxon Settlement
Palaeolithic Stone Tools found on Gravels near Hailey suggest activity by small groups of hunter-gatherers, with later finds implying exploitation through to the Bronze Age.  Finds at Stoke Row include a Mesolithic Flint Tool & Neolithic Axe, while 2 Bronze-Age Round Barrows on the Thames Floodplain are associated with similar Monuments in North Stoke, and maybe the ‘Berwes’ amidst the Open-fields mentioned in 1297Gold Iron-Age Coins found at Hailey & Berins Hill point to later activity, although the extent of Iron-Age Settlement on the Chiltern Scarp is uncertain.  Roman Coins from Ipsden & Stoke Row suggest a significant Roman presence though not necessarily permanent Settlement: the only known occupation Site is a probable Villa near the Thames on the Checkendon Boundary, from which Fields at Hailey & Well Place (thinly scattered with Roman Pottery) may have been worked.  A Roman Pottery Kiln may have been established at Stoke Row on the Site of a 17th or 18thC successor, but the evidence is ambiguous, while a Well adjoining an undated Inhumation at Berins Hill, traditionally considered as Roman, may actually be Medieval.  The development of Anglo-Saxon Settlement in the Parish is unclear. By the 10thC neighbouring North Stoke may have been emerging as an Estate centre, although the 11thC populations of Ipsden & Bispesdone Manors could have lived at least partly in the Uplands, Ipsden meaning ‘Ippe’s’ or ‘Upland Valley’, and Bispesdone ‘Bishop’s Hill’.  Other Old English place-names suggest widespread exploitation of resources if not necessarily Settlement, amongst them Berncote (Beorna’s Cottage), Bixmoor (Box-tree Slope), Garsons (Grassy Enclosure), Hailey (Hay Leah), Homer or Holemere (Hollow Pool) & Uxmore (possibly Ox Pool).  The name Berins Hill derives probably from Byrgen (‘Burial Place’ or Tumulus), referencing an undated Burial found nearby.  Settlement was presumably dispersed as later, but no occupation Sites are known, and 2 9thC Silver Strap-ends inlaid with Gold, found near the Ridgeway at Ipsden Heath, may have belonged to Travellers.

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Stoke Row – Richard Davis Map 1797

Medieval & Later Settlement – remained dispersed, probably comprising widely-spaced clusters of houses grouped around Junctions, Greens & Ponds.  Settlement in the Uplands was extended by piecemeal clearance of Woodland: Andrew at Wood was one of several Tenants holding Assarts in 1279, while the 13thC byname ‘at Breche’ implies Colonisation of newly cleared Land.  Other 13thC bynames point to Settlement around the later Berncote Lodge and nearby Scot’s Common, around Garsons Lane and the adjoining Heycroft & Wichelo Woods, at the isolated Homer Farm, and possibly near Well Place, while additional Farmsteads existed at Uxmore and (probably) Stoke Row.  Despite that dispersed pattern, the byname ‘at Townsend’ and the Field name ‘Beneath-Town’ imply that some Houses lay nearby, with others occupying individual Closes on Settlement edges.

StMary'sChurch

The 12thC Chapel occupies an isolated position midway between Ipsden ‘Village’ and the Hamlet at Hailey, and though their Medieval extent is unclear was presumably intended to serve both.  At Ipsden ‘Village’ (with its adjacent Pond) and Well Place, funnel-shaped Enclosures may have facilitated Livestock movement from Farmyard to Pasture & back again, while at Hailey the focus was probably a small Green covering 4 acres in 1848.   On its Eastern edge stands the Hamlet’s earliest surviving House (the 16thC Stone Farm), which St John’s College, Oxford, bought in 1580.  Stoke Row, so-called by the 1430s from its association with North Stoke Manor, grew up on the edge of a wide Common still covering 60 acres in 1848, while further common-edge Settlement developed at NuthatchScot’s CommonHomer adjoined the extensive Ipsden Heath.

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Ipsden & Hailey – Richard Davis Map 1797

By the mid-19thC around half the Parish’s 130-odd houses lay West of Ipsden Heath and the Ridgeway, loosely grouped around Ipsden ‘Village’, Well Place & Hailey, with smaller Outliers at Homer, Garsons, & Littlestoke. The rest were concentrated at Stoke Row, already coalescing around its Independent Chapel, the Cherry Tree Inn, and (from 1864) its new communal Well, though with significant outliers at Nuthatch, Scot’s Common & UxmoreStoke Row remained the main Focus of Development, driven largely by speculative Local Builders whose ‘substantial Houses – rising up in all directions’ were contrasted in 1872 with the Hamlet’s older Cottages, ‘scattered around a melancholy Common’.  New buildings by the 1870s included Ishree Terrace & the Hope Pub on Main Street, followed 2-decades later by the earliest semi-detached Cottages on School Lane.  Small-scale private development in the early 20thC was supplemented in the 1920s by 12 Council Houses on School Lane, 6 on Kit Lane & 6 at Nuthatch, while extensive Building from the 1940s saw infilling on Main Street and construction of short cul-de-sacs leading off it: Church View in the 1950s, Alma Green, Benares Grove & Cherry Tree Close in the 1960s, and Well View in the 1990s.  Development outside the Tree Close in the 1960s, and Well View in the 1990s.  Development outside the Village was lighter, although from 1948 to 1961 a WW2 Military Camp established in Woodland at Covert Common housed Polish refugees.  19thC development at Ipsden ‘Village’ was probably limited by the Lords of Ipsden Manor, who until the 20thC owned almost all the Housing Stock, including 17thC Cottages at Ipsden Farm & at Newtown (so-called by the 18thC).  Additions on other Landholdings included a Nonconformist Chapel built on the Crowmarsh-Woodcote Road in 1882, and converted before 1915 into a Village Hall, providing a focus for the later Council Houses at Fir Close: their completion in 1953/4 coincided with the provision of Mains Electricity, and in the 1970s the Estate was extended by considerable private development, becoming the largest concentration of housing outside Stoke Row.  Smaller scale Settlement continued at Berins Hill, Garsons, Hailey, Homer, Littlestoke & Well Place, while a few new isolated dwellings were built at Handsmooth & elsewhere.

The Built Character – Ipsden & Stoke Row’s older Buildings are chiefly of 16th to 18thC date, and feature the Timber Framing, Brick, Flint, & Clay Tile typical of the area, with occasional use of Thatch.  Most are former Farmhouses, Farm buildings & workers’ Cottages, and as originally built were modest in size & style: in 1662 nearly 40% of Dwellings were Taxed on only one Hearth and nearly 45% on 2 or 3, while only 2 houses (with 7 & 10 Hearths) were substantially larger.  Rising prosperity prompted extensive rebuilding in the 17th & 18thCs, affecting Farm as well as Domestic Buildings.  Stoke Row’s 19th & early-20thC expansion initially involved small-scale speculative building using local Brick & Tile, producing individually designed terraced, detached & semi-detached houses. Those increasingly gave way to uniform housing using standardised materials, prompting Lionel Brett’s tart description in 1965 of ‘a straggle of Smallholdings among cherry trees [&] cheap infill … complete with bungalowpia, wirescape, and a brutal Sawmill in a devastated Wood’.  The Village’s core became a Conservation Area in 199320thC work elsewhere in the Parish included several high-status Houses designed or remodelled by established Architects.

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Stone Farmhouse formerly Hailey Farm House.
Farmhouse, now house. 16thC with Wing to rear of 1677, 20thC alterations and extensions.  Timber-frame with Brick Infill; plain Tile Roof; Brick Ridge Stack to right of centre.  Probably Hall House Plan.  2-Storeys; 3-window Range. Plank Door to left of centre with open Timber-frame Porch with Gabled plain Tile Roof.  Irregular fenestration of Casements except horizontal Sash to 1st-Floor right.  Queen-post Roof Truss to left hand return.   Cross-Wing to rear; Flint with Brick Dressings; 2-Storeys; single-window Range . Massive brick end Stack dated 1677 in Flint in the Brickwork.
Interior: not inspected. 20thC Extension to right.
Amongst older Dwellings, Stone (formerly Hailey) Farm was built probably in the 16thC, incorporating a Central Hall to which a cross-Wing was added in 1677.  The 2-Storeyed North Front (Roofed in plain Tile) is Timber-framed with Brick infill and lit by small, irregularly set Casements.  The Timbers of a Queen-strut Roof are visible in the Eastern Gable, to the rear of which is the Brick-&-Flint cross-Wing, its date worked into the fabric of the massive end-Stack.  Other houses with 16thC fabric include Garsons Farm, also partly Timber-framed and with an asymmetric Entrance Front suggesting later rebuilding.  The left-hand side is 1½-Storeyed with a sweeping Plain-Tile Roof, while to the right a massive end-Stack set into the Front wall looms over a 2-Storeyed twin-Gabled Cross-Wing.  Timber-framing continued into the 17th & 18thCs particularly in smaller houses, often on a Brick or Flint Base and with Brick infill. Examples include 9–10 Newtown, Headlams, Berins Hill Cottage & Keepers (formerly Garsons) Cottage (all West of the Ridgeway), together with The Oak & Wisteria Cottage at Stoke Row.  Larger, more prestigious houses were more often fronted in Red & Grey Brick: in Flemish Bond at the Upland Church Farm & Old Farm, and in varied patterns at the more modest Bodgers, Clayhill & Red Cow House (all at Stoke Row). High-quality workmanship including stop-chamfered Beams survives at Church Farm and at Ipsden’s Old Post House, where a 17thC dwelling was encased in Red & Grey Brick in 1777, the date worked into one of the Bricks.  Its dentil eaves cornice reflects the classical influence and is repeated at Bodgers and at Littlestoke’s Ferry Cottage, whose Red-&-Grey Brickwork incorporates the date 1759.  High-quality late 17thC houses of Brick & Flint include the imposing Homer House whose 6-Bayed symmetrical South Front has prominent end-Stacks & 3-Gabled Attic Dormers.

IpsdenOldPosthouse

Old Post House. 17thC, encased 1777, dated on Brick to Ground Floor left.  Grey Brick with Red Brick dressings; plain Tile Hipped Roof.  Lobby entry Plan. Single-Storey & Attic; 2-window Range.  Three 12-pane 20thC replacement Casements.  2 segmental-headed ½-Dormers with 12-pane 20thC replacement Casements. 20thC Door to right return. Dentil Cornice to eaves.  Ridge Stacks to left & right returns.  Original Fireplaces to Ground Floor right.   Chamfered Spine Beams with Ogee end stops to Ground Floor right.

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Several Agricultural Buildings date from the 18thC, among them a gigantic L-shaped Barn at Ipsden Farm which, with its 24-Bays & 5 Entrance Porches, is reputedly the longest in England, forming part of a large-scale Courtyard layout and implying considerable investment in grain production.  A 2nd Barn adjoins the Farmhouse, and nearby is a Timber-framed Square Granary on Staddle Stones, with Brick infill and a pyramidal plain-tile Roof.  Grove Barn is of Red Brick on a Flint Base, with a half-hipped Roof and central Midstrey (Projecting Porch), while other examples include an Aisled Barn with twin Midstreys at Poors Farm, another adjoining Stoke Row Farm, and 2 Timber-framed and Weatherboarded Barns (since converted to residential use) at Well Place.  Several Farm buildings (though now mostly tiled) were formerly Thatched, along with workers’ Cottages at Ipsden Farm & Newtown.

PoorsFarmBarnPoors Farm Barn. Probably early 18thC. Red Brick; plain tile half-hipped Roof with Lead ridges. 6-bay Aisled Barn. Midstreys to left & right of centre with hipped Roofs on wood brackets & plank Doors. Blocked ventilation Slits. Curved principal Roof.

The Parish’s most unusual Structure is the covering of the Maharajah’s Well at Stoke Row, built in Indian Style in 1864 to designs by Edward Anderdon Reade, and Approved by the Maharajah of Benares as Benefactor.  A painted metal Dome is supported by 8 Cast-iron Columns linked by spear-headed Railings in Octagonal formation, the whole resting on a circular Red-brick Base and topped by a Finial in the shape of a Gilded Spear. A Gilded Elephant surmounts the Winding Mechanism built by the Wallingford Engineers & Ironfounders R J & H Wilder, while a tiny Octagonal Cottage for the Well-Warden stands nearby, single-Storeyed and of Red Brick, with a central Octagonal Stack protruding from a ribbed plain-tile Roof. The Well’s opening stimulated the Village’s expansion, most new houses in the late 19th and early-20thCs using local Brick & Tile to standard designs.  A few, however, were on a grander scale, the surviving Chiltern House (designed by the Reading Architects Cooper & Howell in 1904) featuring canted Bay windows flanking a central Doorway, whose hipped Porch Roof extends over the left-hand (Drawing Room) Bay.  From the 1910s the Reading Architects C B Willcocks & J R Greenaway worked extensively in the Parish, employed by the Reade’s at Newtown, Dogmore End, & Scot’s Farm, and by Henley Rural District Council at School Lane in Stoke Row.  On a more lavish scale, in 1916 a grand Stone-built Dwelling designed by F L Pearson of London replaced a former Sanatorium at Hailey House, incorporating shaped Gables, twisted Stone Stacks, mullioned Bow & Oriel windows, and a curved Portico, while an unnamed Pupil of Sir Edward Lutyens designed a white-rendered, 7-Bayed House erected at Handsmooth in 1935, featuring Hipped Slate Roofs and projecting Central Bays.  Ambitious Plans to remodel & extend Hailey House were drawn up by Sir Basil Spence’s Practice from 1972, but remained largely unfulfilled; Handsmooth, however, was controversially replaced in 2012-16 by a sleek Modernist House designed by the American Architect Richard Meier for the Actor Rowan Atkinson, its Main Range (beneath a Flat roof) featuring white-plastered Stone, Steel, & Glass.  Money Spent.

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Handsmooth House before Demolition