Henley-in-Arden has one long High Street, (fn. 1) rather
over ½ mile long, running north and south, along both
sides of which are practically all the older buildings of
the town. Some 45 buildings show visible remains of
the 17th century or earlier, including the church and
Gild Hall, which are nearly midway on the east side
at the turning to Beaudesert. Many other buildings
have 18th-century exteriors, some probably with
earlier remains internally.
The Gild Hall dates from the 15th century. Later
it was used for shops, but was restored in 1915 by
Mr. W. J. Fieldhouse, when the upper hall was
opened out and a great fire-place and chimney-stack
inserted, besides other stacks against the east side. Many
of the timbers were renewed and old timbers were
reset from elsewhere. All the doorways and windows
are modern. The lower story is used for offices, the
upper story has a long chamber of four bays with the
modern wide fire-place at the south end of it and beyond
it a small chamber and the modern staircase. A view
in the Aylesford collection, of 1821, shows the lower
story to have been then chiefly of stone; it is now of
timber-framing, with modern brick infilling, and on
stone foundations. The north end has a jettied gabled
upper story and is all of close-set studding, as are the
east and west sides, but the south end is of square
framing. The three roof-trusses dividing the four 12 ft.
bays of the long upper hall have cambered tie-beams
with curved brackets and stiffeners and on them are
vertical posts to the collar beams, many of them re-used
timbers: partitions below the tie-beams are indicated
by mortices. In a small window at the south end is
reset some 15th-century coloured glass: it includes the
remains of a figure of St. Anthony and a shield of the
arms of John, Lord Dudley (1440–87). In the hall
is a 17th-century long table and other furniture, and
a set of eleven 18 in. pewter dishes inscribed 'Henley
1677', and four 9¾ in. plates.
North of the Gild Hall is a tapering island almost
entirely of 18th-century and later buildings. North
of it, in the roadway, is the medieval market cross with
two well-worn steps, a base, and tapering shaft about
10 ft. high having slight remains of moulded capping.
The head, which fell in 1894, had niches carved with
the Rood, the Trinity, St. Peter, and (?) the Virgin
and Child. (fn. 2)
Opposite it, on the east side of the broadened High
Street, is the Post Office, a stone building of three
stories and of about 1750.
The next house, proceeding northwards, was the old
George Inn, now reconstructed and used as a private
house. The old timbers, probably of the 16th century,
have been re-used in the front. It has a staircase dated
1699 and preserves the old sign of St. George and the
dragon painted on mahogany.
Next to this is a late-17th-century house of two stories
and attics, now two tenements, nos. 115 and 117.
The street-front is of red brick with black headers and
rusticated stone angle-dressings and has a perished
entablature of stone at the eaves of the tiled roof.
About 40 yards farther north is 'The Gables', (fn. 3)
a much altered house of 15th-century origin. The
main part of it is rectangular; the timber-framed-and
gabled end towards the street has a jettied upper story
with a 15th-century moulded bressummer, on curved
brackets and projecting joists, above which the upper
wall is modern. On the south side is a great projecting
chimney-stack of stone, probably 16th-century; inside
the upper story has an ancient stone square fire-place
with a chamfered lintel; the lower fire-place is modern.
The roof, above a later ceiling, appears to be a plain
one of king-post type with braced tie-beams, &c. Against
the north side are two shorter parallel wings, mostly
of modern brickwork, but with some 17th-century
framing and two contemporary windows.
The Three Tuns Inn, next north, has a 17th-century
timber-framed back wing. Next but one northwards is
a succession of eight ancient buildings. The southernmost, of the 16th century, has a jettied and gabled
upper story to its north half, of square timber-framing
supported by curved brackets and projecting joists:
the south half has a modern front but shows ancient
open-timbered ceilings inside. Behind the gabled part
is a chimney-stack of square and diagonal brick shafts.
The next is a long building of four bays with main
story-posts, and close-set studding, and is probably a
somewhat earlier 16th-century house. At the north
end of the front is an original 4½-ft. doorway with
chamfered posts and lintel, now widened by cutting
away its south post. The lower rooms have opentimbered ceilings.
The Blue Bell Inn is a late-15th-century building of
L-shaped plan, the north part of which has a jettied
and gabled upper story to the street, of close-set studding
and with a cambered tie-beam and collar-beam. The
south gable end of the south wing shows close-set
studding inside and a very heavy cambered tie-beam,
the lower room (bar or tap-room) having chamfered
cross-beams in the ceiling. The part with the front
gable end has original wide flat ceiling joists to the
lower story and braced tie-beams and wind-braced
purlins to the roof above. There is a high gateway (for
coaches) north of the gabled wing, having above it an
upper story of close vertical studding, all higher than
the original part and probably of the 17th century.
Next north is a lower 17th-century building of
square framing with two front gables and a wide gateway for carts north of it. The lower stories of all these
buildings are altered for shops, &c. The next, nos. 85
and 87, is largely refaced with brick but has a gabled
cross-wing at its north end with a jettied upper story,
all of close-set studding and with a heavy cambered
tie-beam to the gable-head. It is probably of c. 1540.
The next, no. 83, is a low building of modern brick
with a shop and wide gateway but shows ancient
open-timbered ceilings inside.
The next two adjoining buildings are now a private
hotel; the southern is of 17th-century square framing.
The front, of two stories and attics, has two gabled
bays or wings separated by a wide gateway and middle
block. The northern building is a long low structure of
two 10-ft. and three 12-ft. bays, all of close-set studding,
and with a jettied upper story along the whole street
front; it is probably of the early 16th century. Two
chimney-stacks, with wide fire-places, were built
against the back in the 17th century; the northern has
the original pilastered brick shaft above. The lower
ceilings are plastered but show the ancient chamfered
beams. The upper story has partitions incorporating
the original cambered tie-beams, with curved braces
below them and vertical studding below the collar
beams. Some linen-fold and some late-16th-century
panelling is reset in the back lean-to addition.
About 90 yards farther north is a 15th-century house
of the type with jettied upper stories to the front (12 ft.
and 9 ft.), representing the solar and buttery wings,
and a 10½ ft. middle block with curved braces from the
sides of the wings and a timber coving so that the eaves
is in one plane. The framing has close-set studding to
both stories and on the wider northern wing is an
original four-centred doorway to the former screens.
This wing shows the original wide flat ceiling-joists,
but the roof trusses, &c., are hidden by later ceilings.
Adjoining north of the last is a 17th-century building
of square framing, with gabled dormer-windows, and
five other buildings, three to the north and two to the
south, also show some framing of this period.
There are fewer early buildings on the west side of
the street. Opposite the Gild Hall is the White Swan
Hotel, (fn. 4) dating from the late 16th century and partly
refronted in the late 17th century. The middle block
of the front has a wide gateway in its north half with
square timber-framing above, the south half being of
red brick with stone angle dressings and having a twostoried bay window of five sides with old moulded and
channelled stone mullions. North and south are
gabled cross-wings, the northern with close-set studding to the ground story. The upper story and gabled
top story are faced with square framing containing
ornate geometrical panels: the first floor and the gablehead are jettied and have moulded bressummers.
The south wing has a timbered gable-head but the
remainder is of brick and stone. Both wings have
modern bay windows.
Next south is a long building, now shops, having
two gables in the north half of the front and some
square framing of the 17th century. A large house to
the north, now two tenancies, Nos. 94 and 96, has a
modernized main middle block and gabled end crosswings of square framing of the 17th century, originally
jettied in front.
Opposite the market cross is an altered house and
shops showing some old square framing in the gabled
ends. The former Bear Inn, now two tenements, is
mentioned in 1654 as a place where the Justices held
their sessions. (fn. 5) The lower part of the north half (now
called Cromwell House) is of 18th-century brick, but
the third story has two gables of old square timberframing, a late-17th-century heightening of the earlier
timber front, as is shown by the early-17th-century
timbers now exposed inside. There are also chamfered
ceiling beams, &c., and a wide fire-place, above which
are three diagonal square chimney-shafts. Some closeset studding in the back and north side walls may be
relics of a still earlier building. There is a 17th-century
staircase with turned balusters. A two-storied house
farther north has 16th-century close-set studding to the
upper story, of two bays; it was originally jettied and
has a bressummer with the perished remains of carving
and moulding. The tiled roof is steeply pitched and
behind it is a chimney-stack of three diagonal shafts.
A house at the corner of the road to the railway station
has a wing with a jettied gabled upper story and shows
some 17th-century square framing in the north side.
Burman House, about 60 yards to the north, is a late17th-century house with a plastered front divided into
three bays by pilasters and having a stone eaves-cornice.
It has an original staircase from ground to second floor
with plain newels, turned balusters, and moulded
handrails. No. 42 also has some framing in the front,
the lower story with close vertical studding. Near the
north end of the street is a house with two end gables
towards the street: the upper story retains its 17thcentury square framing.
In the street, to the south of the church, some 16
buildings, situated on both sides, have noticeable
remains. The first house, at the corner of the Beaudesert road, is of c. 1700 and has a stuccoed front and
gable-heads with plain copings and ball finials. No. 157
is a low structure of the 17th century, showing old
framing in the north gabled wall and having moulded
ceiling beams; the front is of 18th-century brick.
Nos. 163 and 165 and 'The White House' (restaurant)
farther south have 17th-century square framing in the
A brick-fronted house, No. 179, has early-17thcentury square framing with a heavy chamfered tiebeam and curved braces in the gabled north wall. A
much altered low building No. 207 is now mostly of
red brick but retains in the front the angle-posts and
large curved braces of a formerly jettied upper story,
perhaps of c. 1500.
Another building, Nos. 227. 229, and 231, also
brick-fronted, has some ancient timbering in the north
gabled end; and No. 255, near the south end of the
east side, has some 16th-century close-set studding.
On the west side, north of the Baptist chapel, is an
unusual type of building now two tenements, Nos. 122
and 124, but perhaps designed for some other purpose.
It is of square plan, about 36 ft., and built of late-16thcentury red brick with a chamfered plinth and a projecting moulded string-course, protected with sloping
tiles, at the first-floor level. It has a pyramidal tiled
roof with a rectangular chimney-stack of thin bricks at
the apex. The windows are mostly plain square openings fitted with modern frames. There appears to
have been a doorway, now walled up, in the south
side. The present doorways, on the east and south, are
Three consecutive buildings, next south of the
chapel, have remains of old framing. The middle
house, No. 130, now named 'The Old White Horse',
is of two stories and attics, the upper story and twin
gabled-heads being of 16th-century close-set studding,
and there are signs of former small square windows
besides the present larger windows.
Farther south, at the north corner of a side street, is
a large building, now divided up, Nos. 148 et seq.
The long main range runs north and south; it is gabled
at the south end. At the north end is a projecting
cross-wing, gabled front and back, and paired with it
and of the same projection in front is another adjoining
its south side. About midway in the south range is a
smaller gabled wing that was probably a porch-wing
originally, and there is another nearly opposite to it
at the back. The two north wings are jettied in front,
the northernmost curved bracket surviving, and are
additionally supported by modern posts below the
overhang. Most of the framing is of close-set studding
of c. 1550, but the upper framing of the second north
wing is much later. The northern of the two bays of
the main block next to this wing is also of square
framing in the upper story. The former porch-wing,
now fitted as a shop, may have been jettied originally;
in the south side-wall of its upper story is a 16thcentury peep-hole of two tiny trefoiled lights.
A long building, known as 'The Yew Trees' from the
five trees in front of it, is of some antiquity (a gabled
wing at the back is probably of the late 15th century)
but has been altered so many times that it is now difficult to trace the original plan. Approximately it has a
main block running north and south with two gabled
wings in front, of the 16th century or early 17th
century, the northern of shallow projection, the southern
flush with the main wall: next north of the last is a
porch-wing of the same period and north of this a
modern wing projects. At the back the main wall has
three gables; the southern of close-set studding to the
third story only, and the other two, which are at a
higher level and of square framing, probably a later
17th-century heightening. Projecting from the north
end of this front is the oldest gabled wing, of two
stories of close vertical studding. The upper room
inside shows the wall-framing and is open nearly to the
apex of the roof. The house has been lengthened to
the south about 18 ft. by a brick addition. Extending
to the north is another range about 40 ft. long: the
lower story is cemented, the upper is of 16th-century
close-set studding and has two gabled half-dormer
windows. This also has a small wing of 17th-century
framing projecting at the back, and above the main roof
is a 17th-century chimney-stack of four diagonal shafts
in a row, across the ridge. The upper story of the porch
wing has two geometrical panels in front; the entrance
is square-headed and the inner entrance has a fine old
nail-studded door. The room to the north of the entrance lobby has a great stone fire-place with a moulded
surround enriched with spiral foliage ornament. The
small room south of the lobby has a plainer stone fireplace dated 1651. The two rooms behind these have now
been thrown into one: it has an early-16th-century
stone fire-place at the south end with moulded jambs
and four-centred arch with carved foliage spandrels.
It has an overmantel of five bays of double curved rib
or vine panelling, and the chamber is lined with linenfold panelling, all of the early 16th century but not all
indigenous. Some of the ceiling beams are chamfered,
some moulded. At the north end of the room is a
17th-century staircase with pierced balusters moulded
to the rake of the stair.
About 100 yards farther south is a cottage of three
tenements, Nos. 172, 174, and 176, of 17th-century
square framing on stone foundations. The timber
walling leans outwards and No. 172 has been refaced
with brick set vertically.
The first mention of Henley is about 1185, when
Henry de Montfort granted a mill there to the Abbey
of Conches, (fn. 6) the parent house of the Priory of Wootton
Wawen. The vill seems to have developed as the
trading centre for Beaudesert, as in 1220 Peter de
Montfort had a charter for a weekly market at Henley
on Mondays and a yearly fair on the eve and day of
St. Giles's Feast, (fn. 7) but six years later, when he had come
of age, the same market and fair were granted to Peter
as for Beaudesert. (fn. 8) In 1265–6 the fairs brought in £15
and the tolls and escheats 5 marks yearly. (fn. 9) After Peter
de Montfort was slain at the Battle of Evesham in 1265
Henley was burnt down, (fn. 10) perhaps in revenge for the
part he had taken against the king. In 1284 Peter's
son, also Peter, claimed divers liberties held by his
ancestors including right of gallows, assize of bread and
ale, market, and free warren, all of which were
allowed. (fn. 11)
In an extent of John de Montfort's
lands in 1296 Henley is styled a borough,
having then 69 burgesses who paid
£7 18s. 10d. rent, a park and 2 water-mills, pleas and
perquisites of court amounting to £1 18s., held of
Edmund, Baron of Stafford. (fn. 12) The town in 1326 is
stated to consist of a messuage called 'La Parksshepene',
3 water-mills, 300 acres of wood within the Great
Park, £10 5s. rent service from the burgess tenants of
the borough of Henley, with tolls and other liberties. (fn. 13)
As evidence of the continued progress of the town
the 'good men' of Henley on 10 Aug. 1336 (fn. 14) obtained
leave from the king to take market tolls for three years
to pay the cost of paving the streets; two subsequent
renewals of the patent were granted for the same
purpose, namely on 28 Jan. 1343 (fn. 15) for three years,
and on 28 Jan. 1383 (fn. 16) for five years.
An outstanding event in the town's history was the
charter granted by Henry VI on 26 May 1449 to
the then lord, Sir Ralph Boteler. After confirming the
franchises enjoyed by former lords, including view of
frankpledge and a Monday market, it goes on to
confer other privileges: no sheriff or other officer shall
enter into the town or manor to execute anything
therein, and no buyer for the king's household shall
take any goods from Ralph, his heirs, or any tenant of
the same against their will. The tenants shall be quit
of tolls and similar dues throughout the realm. Ralph
shall have two yearly fairs, one on Tuesday in Whitsun
and the two following days, and the other on the day
of St. Luke and the two days following. (fn. 17)
When Edmund Brereton, the king's bailiff of
Henley, presented his accounts in 1487 the rents of
assize of the free tenants amounted to £8 19s. 8d.,
and the perquisites of the court £1 15s. The bailiff
received 2d. a day, and 17s. 10d. was paid to the
steward and other officers and tenants for holding
courts for the good government of the demesne. (fn. 18)
In a valuation made in 1812 fairs were said to be
held on Lady Day, Whitsun Tuesday, and St. Luke;
the tolls produced £15, the charges made being: for
each horse sold 4d., each beast 2d., each sheep 1d.,
standings 6d. to 1s. 6d. each. (fn. 19) These fairs continued
until towards the end of last century but the only
survival now is 'The Mop', a pleasure fair held on
11 October (fn. 20) at which tolls are still collected for
'Standings'. The Monday market is also a thing of the
past, but auction sales of cattle are held fortnightly and
of dairy produce, &c., weekly. Quit rents of varying
sums are still payable by 69 burgesses as in the past and
amount to £4 8s. 2¾d.; cottage rents are due from
4 cottages at Littleworth and amount to 4s.
Although Henley was a seignorial borough with
market and fair it never became an incorporated town
and it occupies a small portion of land within the
lordship of the same name. Its government was by
Court Leet and Court Baron, and the lords have continued to hold their courts here, though sometimes at
long intervals, until the recent extinction of such courts.
The officers of the court are a high bailiff, low bailiff,
constable, ale taster, butter weigher, two brook lookers,
two affearers, a mace bearer, and a town crier. Their
duties are now nominal, except those of the high bailiff,
who takes the lead in all public matters in the town.
At Henley, as in some other places, by-laws were
made against the later drama. In 1609 and 1610 it was
laid down by the manor court, 'that neither Master
Bailiff nor any other inhabitant shall license or give
leave to any players to play within the Towenhale
upon pain to forfeit 40s.', (fn. 21) but this order was relaxed,
for in 1615 a company of players visited the town and
other places in the neighbourhood. (fn. 22)
At the Easter Quarter Sessions in 1655 the court
'being informed that usually heretofore there have been
at Henley in Arden severall unlawful meetings of idle
and vain persons about this time of the year for erecting
of May poles and May bushes and for using of Morris
Dances and other heathenish and unlawful customs
the observation whereof tendeth to draw together a
great concourse of loose people . . . do order the same
to be suppressed'. (fn. 23)
During the Civil War Prince Rupert, who was in
charge of the Royalist forces, marched his soldiers
through the town in 1643 on his way to Birmingham
and pillaged the neighbourhood. (fn. 24)
In the early part of the 19th century a number of
trades were carried on at Henley, including the making
of nails, needles, and fish-hooks; (fn. 25) also ropemaking,
tanning, brewing, basket-making, brickmaking, and
flax-dressing. (fn. 26) The coming of the stage coach increased the demand for inn accommodation as there
was a frequent service of coaches passing through
between Birmingham and London. (fn. 27)
In 1563 the number of families was 113, (fn. 28) which had
only increased to 115 by the year 1730. (fn. 29) In 1811 the
population was 1,055 and there were 242 houses; ten
years later the population had increased to 1,249, an
increase probably due to the activity in the nail and
needle industries. By 1861 the number of inhabitants
had fallen to 1,069, its industries having probably been
removed to the larger industrial centres. In 1931 it
As early as 1688 the Baptists established themselves
here, but Nonconformity seems to have made little
headway until the 19th century, for we find that there
were only 52 dissenters in 1821, all of whom were
Baptists. (fn. 30) The present Baptist Chapel was built in
1867 at the cost of Mr. G. F. Muntz of Umberslade. (fn. 31)
The building was burnt out in Feb. 1936, but was
reopened in Sept. 1937.
The hymn-writer Benjamin Beddome, son of a
Baptist minister, was born at Henley on 23 Jan. 1717. (fn. 32)
The Society of Friends held meetings here before 1689.
A Meeting House was built in 1727, (fn. 33) but by 1826
it was being used by the overseers for the poor. (fn. 34)
The Congregationalists established a station in the
town in 1836 which only lasted a few years. (fn. 35) A small
congregation of Primitive Methodists is mentioned as
being in Henley in 1863, (fn. 36) but it died out. The introduction of Wesleyan Methodism into the town dates
from March 1891, when services were first held in an
old building adjoining the site of the present chapel,
built in 1894.
The Council School was opened on 28 April 1884.
Before that date the children attended either the
National School, in a room at the rear of the halftimbered house now used as the Church of England
Sunday School, or the British School, mainly for Nonconformists, which was built in 1863.
It appears that up to 1805 all the private mental
homes in the county were at Henley and Wootton
Wawen. (fn. 37) The only one to survive is that at Henley
which is now known as Glendossill.
A branch line to connect Henley with the main
Great Western Railway line at Rowington was begun
by a private company in 1860, but it was abandoned
for lack of funds. The Great Western Railway Company, however, completed it more than 30 years later
and it was opened on 6 June 1894. During the war of
1914–18 the 'metals' were taken up and the line has
not since been used. In 1908 the present North
Warwickshire line was opened for traffic by the same
company and brought the town into closer touch with
Birmingham and Stratford-on-Avon.
Archer of Umberslade. Azure three broad arrows or with their points downwards.
The Public Hall was built in 1909 at a cost of £1,400.
It was used as a Voluntary Aid
Auxiliary Hospital during the
war of 1914–18. Near-by is the
Police Station, at the rear of
which is a room where Henley
Petty Sessions (fn. 38) are held.
The manor of
with Beaudesert (q.v.)
until the time of the lordship of
the Archers of Umberslade.
From Thomas Archer, who purchased it in 1672, it passed
through his son Andrew (fn. 39) to
his grandson Thomas, who was created Baron Archer
of Umberslade. He was succeeded by his son Andrew,
2nd Lord Archer, who died in 1778 without a son, when
the manor went to his daughters as coheirs. (fn. 40) It was
then held by the husbands of these coheirs, but in 1812
Christopher Musgrave, who had married the second
daughter, the Hon. Anne Elizabeth Archer, is named as
lord. (fn. 41) In 1840 this lady herself is stated to be holding
it, and she was succeeded by her son Capt. Christopher
Musgrave, who was in possession of it in 1850. (fn. 42)
From him Darwin Galton of Claverdon purchased it
in 1873. At his death in 1903 it passed to his widow
Mrs. P. M. E. Galton and descended to Edward
Galton Wheler, his nephew, who sold it to William John
Fieldhouse, C.B.E., J.P., of Anstey Manor in 1914.
Mr. Fieldhouse died in 1928 and left it to his son and
daughter, Ernest Francis Fieldhouse and Olive Nancy
the wife of Major C. W. Barnard, M.C., of Oldberrow,
who now hold it jointly.
In 1608 (fn. 43) the bounds of the manor are defined as
running from 'the Little Parke Corner' to Blackford
Bridge, down the stream to Hobdayes Mille alias
Nethermill (now Blackford Mill), by the Mille Lane
to Stratford road and so by Gallowes slade to Mayoes
Lane (running past May's Wood), up the lane to
Newenton Ponde, to Fulses bridge (over a ditch near
the junction of Oldberrow Road), then northwards
for ½ mile to the Great Park and along its south edge
to a close called Parke Shipton (fn. 44) stile and to the lane
opposite Little Park Corner. There were then 61
free tenants, but only 20 of them held any land, mostly
less than 5 acres, apart from that attached to their
houses; this points to Henley having retained its
original status of a predominantly trading centre.
The church of ST. JOHN THE
BAPTIST consists of an undivided chancel and nave (about 74 ft. by 21½ ft.) with
a north aisle and vestry, a tower west of the aisle,
and a porch west of the nave. The main body of the
church is probably of about 1450 and the aisle somewhat later in the same century. The tower is earlier
than the aisle and probably also than the nave, as it is
not placed symmetrically with either and encroaches
on both with its buttresses. The church was restored
The east window is of five cinquefoil lights and
vertical tracery with moulded labels and head-stops.
In the north wall is a four-centred doorway with shafted
moulded jambs and head. West of it is the north
arcade of four bays: it has tall octagonal pillars with
plain bases and moulded capitals. The arches are of
depressed four-centred form with moulded labels that
have head-stops of men and women with varied headdresses. There is no west respond, as the arcade abuts
the tower archway and the arch is carried on a corbel
carved as a winged monster. In the south wall are
five three-light windows, in keeping with the east
window. The labels have head-stops, each with a different kind of tall head-dress; one has a mitre, another is
double-horned. The walls are of squared rubble with
a moulded plinth. Between the south windows are
buttresses with moulded offsets to the two stages.
The entrance is in the west wall and has moulded
jambs and four-centred arch with a crocketed moulded
label with king and queen head-stops. The window
above is of four lights and tracery like the others.
The north aisle (fn. 45) has an east and two north windows
each of three ogee-headed lights and vertical tracery in
a four-centred head; the internal labels have grotesque
reptilian stops rather like those in the clearstory at St.
Peter's, Wootton Wawen. The north doorway, which
has been set inside out, has mouldings like those of the
west and vestry doorways. The aisle walls are of rubble
and have a plinth of different mould from that of the
The gabled roof of the main part is in five bays,
divided by trusses with braced cambered tie-beams and
queen-posts with curved braces under a collar-beam.
The side-purlins have curved wind-braces forming
four-centred arches. The trusses are carried on stone
corbels carved as angels with shields. The aisle has a
lean-to roof of four bays, divided by main crossbeams with curved braces under their lower ends
carried on plain stone corbels.
The tower is of two stages, built of ashlar externally
and rubble internally. It has diagonal buttresses, the
eastern two projecting into the nave and aisle: the
parapet is embattled. At the south-west angle is a
stair-vice with a pointed doorway. The archway
towards the nave is of two chamfered orders, the inner
with moulded capitals; the head is two-centred. The
west window is of two trefoiled pointed lights and a
quatrefoil of late-14th-or early-15th-century form in a
four-centred head. The next story has a single trefoiled light, over which the string-course is lifted, in
each of the three outer walls, and the bell-chamber has
in each wall a transomed window of two cinquefoiled
lights and tracery in a four-centred main head with a
label and carved stops.
The west porch, against the south side of the tower,
has an entrance like the inner west doorway, but with
beast or monster stops to the label. The south face is
divided into six panels with trefoiled heads, of which
the two middle bays form a two-light window. At the
south-west angle is a diagonal buttress, and the parapet
is embattled. It has a flat roof of ancient timbers.
The font is octagonal with a shallow bowl of the
17th or 18th century, plain stem, and chamfered base.
It has a flat lid with a turned middle post.
The pulpit is of the early 16th century; it has six
sides of a duo-decagonal plan. Each side has a panelled
traceried head formed by a pair of trefoiled pointed
arches with rosette cusp-points and springing from a
middle carved corbel, and a pair of quatrefoiled circles.
Below, each panel is carved in relief with a linenfold
pattern. The moulded oak top-rail and the stone base
The oldest mural monument is to Simon Kempson
(son of William Kempson of Hillborough) 1719, aged
77, and Margaret (Betham) his wife, 1699.
The memorial of the 1914–18 war is a brass plate.
In the tower are the painted Royal Arms of the
There are six bells, rehung in 1910.
The plate includes a large plain cup given in 1732;
a paten given in 1792; and a flagon, probably of the
Restoration period. (fn. 46)
The registers begin in 1679 and are almost confined
to baptisms; there being no burial ground at Henley,
only a few burials in the chapel itself are recorded, and
no marriages until 1864, except for a few in the first
volume, covering 1679–1766, and in the single year
Although a felon is said in 1262 to
have taken sanctuary in the church of
Henley, (fn. 47) it is almost certain that this
refers to Beaudesert, as there is no other reference to a
church here until 1367, when it is recorded that a
chapel had been built at the cost of the inhabitants
because of the distance and foulness of the ways in
winter between the village and the parish church of
Wootton Wawen. (fn. 48) In 1369 William Fifhide was
licensed to alienate in mortmain three messuages in
Henley for the support of a chaplain to celebrate in a
chapel which he intended to build there, (fn. 49) presumably
as part of the new parish chapel. No trace of these
buildings remains, except perhaps the tower, the body
of the present church being a century later in date.
The chapel remained subordinate to Wootton, but was
so closely identified with the gild (see below) that it
was seized into the king's hands in 1546. The
inhabitants, however, successfully pleaded to be
allowed to retain it. (fn. 50) During the Commonwealth, in
1658, a grant of £30 was made for the maintenance of
a minister at Henley. (fn. 51)
Henley became a separate ecclesiastical parish in
1914. The inhabitants had long had the appointment
of their minister, (fn. 52) but when Henley living was united
with Beaudesert (in Crown patronage) in 1915 the
combined benefice was put under the joint patronage
of the Bishop of Coventry and the High Bailiff of
Henley. (fn. 53)
It seems likely that the religious activity of 1367–9
may have been connected with the founding of the
important GILD, though the first known reference to
this is in 1408, when John Brome of Lapworth and
Margery his wife granted the reversion of lands in
Henley and Studley to 'the Gild of the Holy Trinity,
St. John the Evangelist and St. John the Baptist'. (fn. 54) In
1428 the Pope granted an indult to choose confessors
to the brethren and sisters of this confraternity, (fn. 55) and
in 1434 John Stokes, then Master of the Gild, was one
of those from whom the knights of the shire were commissioned to receive the oath. (fn. 56) The commissioners
in 1546–7 (fn. 57) stated that the gild was founded by
Ralph Boteler (fn. 58) for four priests to sing divine service
within a chapel of St. John the Baptist and to pray for the
founders' souls, and that he gave thereunto lands and
possessions of the yearly value of £27 16s. 3d. These
rentals were received from properties at Henley,
Beaudesert, Wootton Wawen, Lapworth, Tanworth,
Beoley, Warwick, Preston Bagot, Claverdon, Ullenhall,
and Whitley. There were then three priests, of whom
John Whately was paid £5 10s., and the other two
£5 each, yearly; also an organist, who received
£2 a year and a dwelling with a garden. A sum of
13s. 4d. was spent on obits and alms to the poor. The
confiscated property was disposed of piecemeal, (fn. 59) 'the
Gilde' (presumably the Gild Hall) being subsequently
bought by 'Mr. More, a Bedfordshire man'. (fn. 60) In
1623 the Gild Hall is described as a building of 5 bays,
with a kitchen and a barn, then converted into a tan
house of 4 bays, and a garden of ¼ of an acre, extending
to 'Belsore' brook. All of which was in the tenure of
Wm. Smyth, tanner, and of the yearly value of 10s. (fn. 61)
A 15th-century seal (fn. 62) showing the Trinity in a
canopied niche, with St. John the Evangelist and St.
John the Baptist in smaller niches on either side, seems
to belong to the gild, though the legend—sigillum
burgen[sium?] de henleye—identifies it with the
borough. As the borough was not incorporated it is
probable that the burgesses acted in a corporate capacity
through the gild.
George Whateley's Charity. By
deed dated 28 Sept. 1586 George
Whateley granted to trustees a messuage (now the Church of England Sunday School)
in Henley, and rents of 20s. from land in Ullenhall
and of 10s. from a house in Evesham, half of the
annual income to go to a schoolmaster in Henley
and the other half to the poor of the town. The house
in Evesham was bought under a bequest in Richard
Whateley's will, of 28 Nov. 1603. The property, now
represented by investments, produces an income of
£34 10s. 10d.
John Whateley's Charity. In 1581 John Whateley
left a house and garden in Henley for the 'neediest
inhabitants' of the town. The property was sold in
1930 and the proceeds invested, producing £3 8s.
Thomas Wheatley's Charity. The origin of this
charity is unknown. The endowment consists of a
rent charge of £2 formerly received from the Mayor of
Coventry out of certain rents receivable by him and
distributed to four poor men of Henley. The charge
is now paid by the Trustees of the Coventry Charities.
John Heming in 1620 gave four tenements for the
use of the poor. The property was sold in 1924 and
the proceeds invested, producing £10 11s. 10d.
John Randall in 1626 granted to trustees a yearly
charge of 20s. issuing out of Lankford Meadow and
Godson Close, Preston Bagot, to provide two gowns
yearly for two poor widows of Henley.
Oliver Dalton by will dated 31 Aug. 1636 gave to
the minister and churchwardens an annuity of 20s.
issuing out of Ivy House, Packwood, to be distributed
among 20 poor people of Henley.
Lady Fullwood's Charity. According to the Parliamentary returns of 1786 Lady Fullwood gave a rentcharge of 17s. 9d. for the poor of Henley, but the date
and particulars of the gift are not known. The charge
is made up of small yearly payments from property in
Henley and Tanworth and is regularly received.
William Chambers by deed dated 23 March 1641 (–2)
granted a yearly rent of 6s. 8d. out of a cottage in
Henley adjoining the Swan upon trust to pay the rent
to 20 poor widows. The charge is now paid out of
premises called Burman House.
Foulke Bellers by will dated 15 Sept. 1633 gave a
yearly sum of 12s. to 10 poor widows of Henley
payable out of several houses in Evesham. Of this
sum, later reduced to 10s., part is represented by
£10 Consols, producing 5s. annually; the remaining
5s. is now paid out of No. 66 High Street, Evesham.
Barbara Ingram by will dated 4 July 1698 gave a
yearly rent-charge of 12s. out of a cottage at Ullenhall
to be distributed in bread to the poor of Henley and
John Hemming by will dated 28 Feb. 1683 (–4)
gave the yearly sum of 40s. charged on his house at
Beaudesert, for setting poor children to school.
Edmund Fullwood in 1702 conveyed to trustees
4 acres called Little Whistons, in Tanworth, for the
poor of Henley. Part of the land was taken by the
Stratford-on-Avon Canal Company for a yearly rent
of 7s. 8d. and the remainder was sold in 1927, and the
proceeds invested produce £5 0s. 2d. annually.
Christopher Baker by will dated 21 March 1716(–7)
devised three tenements in Henley to trustees to pay
20s. yearly to the parson of Henley, 5s. to be expended
in good and pious books to be given to poor children,
and the remainder to the poor. The property was sold
in 1917 and the income amounts to £4. 7s. 6d.
Unknown Donor's Charity. The endowment of
this charity consists of a house in High Street, Henley,
let at £5, and a rent-charge of 10s. issuing out of a close
called Woad or Wad Close. (fn. 63)
Joseph William by will dated 8 May 1796 gave to
the chapelwardens £50, the interest to be applied for
the poor of Henley, one moiety in money and the other
in bread. The legacy is now represented by £50
Simon Kempson in 1674 granted a yearly rent of
10s. out of land called Tenter Close for the benefit of
the inhabitants of Henley.
The above-mentioned charities are now regulated
by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 8 July
1879 (as varied by a further scheme of 3 Feb. 1911)
under the title of the Henley-in-Arden General
Charities. The schemes appoint a body of 10 trustees
and provide for the application of the income of the
charities amounting to about £75 per annum; viz.
after the payment of costs and of £1 5s. to the vicar
of Henley out of the Baker Charity and 18s. to the
churchwardens out of the Fullwood Charity, one
moiety of the income to be applied to educational
purposes and the remaining moiety to poor persons
resident in Henley.
William Randoll by will dated 11 April 1642 gave
a legacy with which land was bought in Alveston,
Tiddington, and Hampton, the rent of which was
applied in setting out poor children as apprentices.
The land was sold in 1924 and the endowment now
produces £77 3s. annually. The charity is administered with the General Charities, any surplus after
apprenticing children being applied to educational
Edwin Lancaster by will dated 2 Feb. 1922 gave to
the trustees of Randoll's Charity a legacy amounting
to £1,618 8s. 3d., producing £57 9s. 8d. in dividends,
which are applied for the relief of the poor.
Hopkins' Charity. Daniel Morris Hopkins by will
proved 12 Aug. 1880 gave £250, for the benefit of the
poor. The annual income of £10 3s. is distributed to
poor widows by the trustees of the General Charities.
William John Fieldhouse by will proved 5 Feb.
1929 gave to the vicar and churchwardens £500, the
interest to be distributed in bread and meat to poor
aged persons. The interest, amounting to £23 7s. 8d.,
is so distributed.
Harriet Radburn by will proved 2 June 1908 gave
£200 to the Baptist Church, Henley-in-Arden, the
interest to be paid to the deacons for the support of
the pastor of the church. The interest now amounts
to £6 7s. 4d.
Frederick Johnson by will proved 7 Dec. 1903
bequeathed an estate amounting to £1,753; and of this
£953 0s. 10d. was expended in the erection of almshouses and the balance was invested to produce an
endowment of £30 17s. 2d. annually.
The Rev. Devereux Wilson of Oldberrow by will
of 19 May 1725 gave certain rent-charges for the
support of a charity school to be erected in Henley and
for the augmentation of the grammar school 'at present
erected in Henley'. This charity is now represented
by stock producing £5 4s. 6d., all of which is paid
through the rector towards the work of the Sunday