The Village Well – Situated on the top of the Chiltern Hills, Fawley does not have a natural water supply such as a Spring or River. Before the 20th century, Villagers collected water from the roof of their home and stored it in a Pond or underground Tank. Around 1900 a Village well was sunk to a depth of 350ft on the Village Green – the Mackenzie Family gifted it to the Village. The Well has been preserved but, by all accounts, was not much used because of the effort involved in hauling the water up such a distance. In Gone Rustic, Cecil Roberts describes an incident during the sinking of the Well: ‘an escapade of the Squire’s daughter. She descended the shaft with some friends and was held to Ransom for a Round of Beer by the Workmen she joined at the Bottom.’
The Green, a historic space with the Village Well on it – the recently restored Victorian well Mechanism is still in place under a pretty little Pergola. The Well is 338ft deep and is inscribed as being built by “RJ & H Wilder, Wallingford, Berks”. The Green was originally bounded on all 3 sides by Tracks, the one to the South East has been grassed over and the main Roads now run along the North & West sides of the Green. There are some Mature Trees on the Green, and the View opens out onto it from the narrow enclosed Lanes.
Walnut Tree Pub, Fawley
Fawley does not appear to have had an inn in the 19th century. However, in the 1861 census, Henry Harman, who had been an Agricultural Labourer, ran a Beer House. In the 1871 census, his Widow is running a Grocer’s shop retailing Beer. Thereafter there is no mention of the sale of beer in that century. Perhaps there was insufficient Trade for a Village of less than 300 inhabitants? Also in 1871 and 1881, Emma Sharpe ran a Grocer and Bakery Shop in Fawley. The baker’s shop appears to have been taken over by Charles Heath in 1891 and was run as a grocer and baker shop in 1901 by his widow Hester Heath. Fawley’s 1st dedicated Inn was, therefore, The Walnut Tree, opened in the 1960’s. It attracted trade from outside the Village with the advent of the growing ownership of Motorcars. As well as serving beers and spirits, The Walnut Tree had a reputation for serving good food. Sadly this Inn is now long closed and overgrows with creepers. The 1950’s Pub in Roundabout Lane closed in 2003 and a subsequent application to convert it into a Private House was rejected. A local Resident has bought the Site, formed a company [The Walnut Tree (Fawley) Ltd] and applied to rebuild and reopen the Pub, a popular move with Local People.
Fawley Green is unusual in that there is no one particular theme running through the Architecture. The buildings are all unique, date from different times, and vary widely in their size and detailing. One or 2 Vernacular Cottages survive, but in the main, the buildings are grander, from the Old Forge which has been extended over the last 200 years, to the elegance of former Rectory – Fawley House
The Green could be said to be the nucleus of the Village, it lies at a junction of Roads leading up from the Thames Valley and from Turville Heath to the North, along the Ridgeline. But in character, the buildings do not immediately give the idea of a nucleated Village Centre such as other Spring Line Villages along the Valley bottoms. Instead, the Houses here are set in large Plots, and quite distant from each other, except for a Terrace of 3 on the West side of the Road. Even these are set back from the Road, and not highly visible. The buildings comprise the Farm, the former Smithy, the Village Hall, and other smaller domestic dwellings. They are roughly aligned around the sides of the Green. The Green has a Well on it, which dates from the Mackenzie era, when the Family gifted it to the Village.
The Rectory-house was built by the Rev John Stevens, Rector of Fawley, in the 18th century. It is beautifully situated with a fine view of the Thames and from it parts of 6 Counties can be seen.
House, formerly Rectory. Mid 18thC, altered and extended 20thC. Brick, moulded wooden eaves Cornice, hipped Old Tile Roof, rebuilt brick Chimneys with panelled sides and 20thC Stone Caps. The original House is a double-pile, of 2-Storeys and an Attic and 3-Bays. Garden Front to SE has original Chequer Brick. 3-pane Sash windows with gauged heads to 1st-Floor; irregular Ground Floor with 20thC rectangular Bay window to the left and tall narrow French Doors to right. Central French doors in rusticated flint surround with moulded Stone cornice. One flat-roofed Dormer with paired barred wooden Casement. To left is a late 18th early 19thC Single-Storey extension of Chequer Brick with 20thC hipped Slate Roof and wooden Cornice, large 4-pane Sash, and bowed projection to Left side. 20thC extensions to Right include a Stone Ionic Colonnade, now infilled with French Doors. Entrance Front rebuilt 20thC in matching style with 3-Bays of 3-pane Sashes and one Dormer. Central panelled door with semi-circular Fanlight and Ionic Stone Porch. Extensions to left link with a 20thC matching block of 3-Bays with central Pedimented Wooden Doorcase.
Fawley House. Formerly the Rectory, this is Grade II Listed. It dates from the mid 18th century and was altered and extended during the 20th century. It was constructed for the incumbent John Stevens, replacing the Parsonage which was turned into a Brewhouse & Stable. The House is of Brick, with a moulded eaves Cornice and a hipped Tile Roof. The original part is a double-pile, of 2-Storeys & Attic, and the South-east (garden elevation) has original Chequer Brickwork and irregular Fenestration, including French Doors in a rusticated flint surround.
Flint, used on a grand scale, particularly on the new Frontage to Fawley House, where it has been used creatively and combined with Portland Stone. The 20th-century Entrance Front was re-fronted in 1989 in a Grand Baroque Style by the renowned Architect Quinlan Terry. It has coursed knapped flint Blind Arcading between Portland Stone Pilasters, Tuscan to the Lower Storey, and Ionic to the Upper, a central Pediment and exuberant Classical detailing. The House sits within large Landscaped gardens with views to the Thames. There are various outbuildings and 2 Cottages within the Grounds.
A replacement Rectory (by Hugh Vaux MA ARIBA) was built in 1956 to the South with neo-Georgian stylistic details, including a semi-circular Bay on the main Frontage. Of red brick, it enjoys far reaching views across Farmland and sits within a well-treed plot. It is now known as Rectory Place.
To the North lies the semi-detached Green Farm Cottage and Marlings. Green Farm Cottage is an attractive Vernacular Cottage of flint, with exposed Timber-framing on the Gable end. It originally housed Farm Workers, tied to Fawley Green Farm, which used to stand adjacent in various Architectural forms until 1999 when the modern Airdlair House was built. By the early part of the 20th century, Green Farm Cottage was inhabited by the Village Washerwoman – the Wash House remains in the Garden. At some stage an Upper floor was introduced to the Cottage and a number of eaves level Dormers inserted. In 1976 the thatch caught fire, and the Roof was rebuilt in Tile. At the same time the Agricultural Building attached to Green Farm Cottage was replaced with the traditionally styled dwelling that stands today – Marlings. The Buildings are partly hidden behind traditional Beech Hedging and the Roofline makes a pleasing contribution to the north side of the Green.
To the West lies 16, 17 & 18 Fawley Green, a row of Estate Cottages dating from 1885, No.18 was once the Post Office. Of red brick, they have an unusual wide flint Stringcourse at Upper Floor level, and a Terracotta monogrammed date Plaque. Two half hipped end Gables face the Roadside; between are 2 gabled 1st-Floor windows, all with decorative Bargeboards.
The Village Forge
The Fawley village’s censuses in the 19th century show that Henry F Charlton, and subsequently his son Henry, were the Village Blacksmiths until 1881. In 1891 and 1901 the Blacksmith was Mark Harman. In the 20th Century, the Smithy or Forge was operated only part-time as demand for the service diminished. In the 1930s the Author Cecil Roberts became friendly with the Octogenarian Harman at the Smithy. He bought the Blacksmith’s House and Forge at Auction. The Blacksmith’s Workshop still exists, but is now a Retail Outlet for Fawley Vineyard.
The Old Forge is an attractive L-Plan Building which probably dates in part from the 17th century – it has been altered and extended since, and is now a domestic Residence. Certainly the rear Wing is much later than the Original building. It is separated from the Green by a flint wall, above which can be seen a myriad of Roofslopes, Gables and Chimneys. Within the curtilage of the Old Forge, the building which was previously The Smithy sits hard by the Green and has also been converted to domestic use – all that is visible of this is the tiled Roof. Also within the same plot a grouping of garage blocks of traditional design and materials, and beyond these, Grace’s Cottage, a modest Cottage built in an attractive traditional style. This is not clearly visible from outside the Site. To the front of the latter buildings sits the Village Hall – a timber Single-Storey building, of black stained Weatherboard, which dates from the early 20th century. It remains in public use.
Chiltern Cottage: The plot on which this stands appears to have been in domestic use for a number of years, and there is a house shown on the 1883 OS plan. Again this was once a small Vernacular Cottage, the Ground Floor front elevation is almost entirely of flint. Within the building there is evidence of Timber-framing, with lath and plaster infill, suggesting a pre-18th century core. The building has been extended and is now of 5-Bays with Dormer windows to the Road elevation. The Southern Gable is rendered, the Northern one of Brick and Flint.
Round House Farm, a Cottage opposite, and Crockmore Farm date from the 17th century, and retain a good many original features, but have been considerably altered and added to. Throughout the 19th century mainly Farm Labourers inhabited Fawley. One Farm that employed several families of workers was Round House Farm. In common with many of the Village’s Cottages and Crockmore Farm, it dates back to the 17th century. With wheat and barley as the main crops grown in the area, it is possible that the Round Tower was originally a Drying House for the grain. This would have been transported to the Mills in Henley-on-Thames.
The 20th century Artist John Piper (1903-1992) lived and worked at Fawley Bottom Farm. In those days, half a Century ago, the names of John & Myfanwy Piper rang out much more resoundingly than they do today. He was one of the best-known Artists & Designers in the Country; she, a noted Author & Opera Librettist. He is perhaps best known for his Stained Glass Baptistery window in Coventry Cathedral. John Piper was also an abstract Painter, painted many stately homes, a Photographer and Author. Locally he produced the designs for stained glass memorial windows in Pishill Church, St Mary’s Fawley, St Mary’s, Turville and St Bartholomew’s Nettlebed. He also helped to restore the 2 windows from Fawley Court.