News

Traffic and Parking survey published

The results of the Traffic and Parking survey conducted in the village last September have been collated and analysed by members of the Traffic and Parking Working Group (TAPWG).  178 residents took part, responding to 12 questions.  The results can be seen in the Report of Findings

The Group is now working on options to present to the Parish Council.  TAPWG is holding a Public Forum in the Old Stables, from 8.00 to 8.30 pm on Thursday 24th February, at which the findings of the survey and the potential proposals can be discussed.  Residents are welcome to attend to ask questions or to share views.  Please wear a mask in the building. 

Date/Time : Monday, 17th January 2022 17:50

Swansong for Gill at tomorrow’s Art Café (Updated)

The Saturday Art Café has been running successfully for more than six years and has become a much appreciated part of village life.  It was set up in November 2015 by Gill Williamson, with help from Yvonne Kerevan, Sue Matthews and the late Pam Wilkinson.  Together with charity and local community group fundraisers, the Art Café has raised a remarkable total of over £60,000.  Many congratulations are due to all of them. 

Gill has decided that the time has come for her to move on.  She says: 

From the beginning of February, Geoff Weir will be taking over the bookings for the Art Café.  The contact details are  OldStablesBookings@BTinternet.com. 

As a swan song, I’m running this week’s Art Café in honour of Pam Wilkinson.  Pam’s family has kindly donated a much loved print of the collage ‘Mill Pond at Whitchurch-on-Thames’ by Chris Scoby-Smith** for silent auction - all proceeds from the coffee morning and the auction will go to Sue Ryder. 

I’ve enjoyed my time at the Art Café immensely and I look forward to visiting from time to time for delicious cakes and chatter.”

**Chris and the collage can be seen here.

Update, 17th January:  Gill reports that the Art Café will be sending £300 to Sue Ryder as a result of this event, in honour of Pam Wilkinson. 

Date/Time : Friday, 14th January 2022 18:01

Help rediscover Whitchurch’s overgrown memorials

Sally Woolhouse, Secretary of the Friends of St Mary’s and St John’s, brings us up to date on forthcoming activities and invites us to come along: 

If your New Year resolutions include getting more outdoor exercise and contributing more time to our local community, read on!! 

Our two churchyards, at St Mary’s and St John’s, are both important historic green spaces and part of our Whitchurch Parish heritage.  The Friends of St Mary’s and St John’s organise regular working parties at them both and everyone is invited to come along and lend a hand at the two forthcoming sessions, at St Mary’s on Sat 15th January from 10am and at St John’s on Sat 22nd January from 10am. Dig out your saws, loppers, secateurs and rakes, put on your working clothes and gardening gloves and join us at one or both sessions – it is always sociable and very satisfying. 

At St Mary’s, we are now making a concerted effort to clear the thicket at the south side (round the ‘back’) of the church. There are some very interesting and historic gravestones and memorials which have been completely overgrown for some years. The plan is to totally clear the laurel, brambles and ivy before the bird nesting season starts again. The Thames Path runs diagonally across this ancient churchyard. Hence there are many walkers passing through daily and it is important that we display our pride in this historic space. 

At St John’s, there is a similar challenge – the ‘brambly’ hedge adjoining the village green has encroached over some of the old grave plots and the aim is to reveal these again and to give them back the respect they deserve. This is of course our active burial ground and has many regular visitors to relatives’ resting places. 

If you have never visited these very special places in the heart of our community, now is the chance to discover them for the first time. 

Finally, the AGM of The Friends is being held on Saturday 29th January at 3pm in The Old Stables on the High Street, Whitchurch. Everyone is most welcome to attend and to hear about recent achievements and plans for 2022. Of course, only members of the charity, will be permitted to vote. 

If you just turn up to any of the above three events you will be most welcome. For any queries, please contact me, Sally Woolhouse, on 0118 984 4365 or email whitchurchfriends@gmail.com.

Date/Time : Monday, 10th January 2022 13:00

Whitchurch to have 20mph speed limit

A 20mph limit for Whitchurch has finally been agreed by Oxfordshire County Council (OCC), subject only to the results of a four-week public consultation in January/February.  The limit will apply to the High Street, Hardwick Road, Eastfield Lane and Manor Road.  New signage has been approved for the three village approaches.  There is no requirement for road humps or chicanes. The cost will be met by OCC. 

For more details, see this article by Jim Donahue, which explains how Whitchurch is at the front of the queue after a change in policy by OCC. 

The results of the public consultation next month are expected to be strongly positive, in line with the wishes of residents expressed in both the 2009 and 2019 Village Plans. 

Separately, the installation of bollards on both sides of the lower narrows is expected to go ahead early in the new year.  Discussions are continuing within the Traffic & Parking Working Group (TAPWG) towards creating a pedestrian crossing for the High Street near The Greyhound.  TAPWG is also making progress towards parking control measures.  See the minutes of their latest meeting.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 22nd December 2021 16:43

Happy Christmas!

The Whitchurch Web team wishes you a very Happy Christmas.

We hope you’ve enjoyed visiting the village website this year.  We have a Christmas card for you to open. Thanks to photographer Dave Olinski for his stunning snowy image. 

We would like to thank the many people who have sent in news, photos and messages through the year and we wish all our readers a happy 2022.  

Richard, Hilary, Pam and Phil

Date/Time : Sunday, 19th December 2021 10:39

‘Lockdown’ passes through Whitchurch

Goring resident Glenn Tonner, 33, kept himself busy during lockdown by making a foldable boat from salvaged materials. Yesterday the former Merchant Navy officer paused as he reached Whitchurch bridge, on the first of four rowing days en route to London, raising money for charity. 

Thanks to Jane MacCaw for this information.  She chatted with him from the bridge pavement above and decided to contribute to the charity. 

More details here.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 14th December 2021 09:23

Poppy Appeal raises over £2,600 for British Legion

Gill Williamson and Diana Marriott report an excellent result from the 2021 Poppy Appeal.  The team of 10 house-to-house collectors** received £1,164 (despite the current difficulty of a cashless environment); the village’s two pubs collected £178 between them; the Art Café contributed £267 (which was then kindly doubled by the Reading-based company Secure Cloud Plus); and the sale of poppies, hand-made through the year by members of Claire Maslen’s Knit & Stitch team, contributed a remarkable £806; making up a grand total of £2,682 from Whitchurch.

** Jane MacCaw, Diana Marriott, Jenny Gordon, Jane Yamamoto, Mike Scott, Julie Huntington, Diana Wingfield, Sally Woolhouse, Mark Weedon and Geraint George.

Date/Time : Monday, 06th December 2021 16:22

Fallen tree blocks road

A tree fell across a road earlier today, blocking traffic between Whitchurch Hill and Goring Heath. Photo forwarded by Jane Yamamoto, who was alerted and reported it to the authorities at around 1 pm.

Date/Time : Friday, 26th November 2021 17:17

The Exhibition can now be seen online

The 2021 Art & Craft Exhibition in the Village Hall closed yesterday after giving interest and pleasure to many visitors over the weekend.  But that is not the end of it.  Many of the exhibits can now be conveniently viewed at home in the Online Exhibition, presented again after its creation last year when there was no physical exhibition.  If you missed this year’s show, or you would like to enjoy some of the works again, click on the link above.  The online exhibition will be open until 5th December. 

The flavour of the art and craft work can also be appreciated in the Photo Gallery. 

The winner in the Adult Art category was Andrew Clarence, a first-time exhibitor, for a remarkable still life of lemons. 

The painting of a Kitten, seen above, was entered by Lucy Birkett. 

The Chairman’s Cup was awarded to Alison Livesey for her Halloween Spooky Tree knitwear. 

Among other craft items, an ingenious pendulum clock made in Meccano around 40 years ago by Geoff Weir attracted attention.  

The exhibition organiser, Sally Woolhouse, has provided a List of 2021 Prize Winners

Date/Time : Monday, 22nd November 2021 18:36

Don’t miss the Exhibition!

The Art & Craft 2021 Exhibition opened in the Village Hall this morning, displaying a wonderful collection of paintings, craft works and photos entered by Whitchurch residents and school children.  The exhibition will be open again tomorrow, Sunday, from 10 am to 4 pm.  After that there is an opportunity to see many of the works online. 

The lion’s head above, painted by Jean Marc Grosfort, is on display. 

The top prize for art has been awarded to Andrew Clarence, a first-time exhibitor, for a remarkable still life of lemons. 

Among many craft items, an ingenious pendulum clock made in Meccano many years ago by Geoff Weir has attracted attention. 

There is no formal prize-giving ceremony this year but prize winners in all the categories, for adults and children, will be notified.

Here is the List of Prize Winners for this year.   

Date/Time : Saturday, 20th November 2021 15:50

A reminder for next weekend’s Art & Craft Exhibition

If you are entering an exhibit, you need to register online this year.  The deadline is this Wednesday, 17th November.  Many entries have already been registered. 

Owing to the current concerns over Covid it has been decided to cancel the prize-giving ceremony this year.  But prizes will still be awarded. 

The exhibition will be in the Village Hall on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st November and afterwards online.  Don’t miss it! 

For more information see the latest notice from the organiser, Sally Woolhouse. 

The picture shows some of the entries in the 2019 exhibition.

Date/Time : Saturday, 13th November 2021 15:16

Otter seen fishing at Whitchurch bridge

Reports of otters visiting Whitchurch have sometimes been based merely on the evidence of spraint (droppings) near the river, but on Tuesday Nick Plumridge spotted an otter with a freshly caught fish and managed to film it as it swam below the toll bridge.  See his short video here.

Date/Time : Friday, 12th November 2021 15:17

Another parked car damaged in the High Street

At around 7 pm on Sunday evening a crashing sound alerted nearby residents, who discovered that a Mercedes being driven down the hill had hit a car that was legitimately parked in the layby, facing the same direction.  Both cars were damaged and undriveable.  An ambulance came within half an hour and the driver of the Mercedes was taken to hospital, though she was reported to be suffering only from shock.  The Mercedes was towed away for repairs. 

The layby was demarcated with a white line last year, and a broken length of the line indicates where parking is permitted. 

A speed limit change from 30 mph to 20 mph may be introduced by Oxfordshire County Council before long.  Whitchurch is on the initial list of villages that have expressed interest.  Currently OCC staff are carrying out a traffic speed survey in both the High Street and Hardwick Road, using double sensors placed across the road.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 09th November 2021 16:23

PAWS event in Pangbourne (UPDATE: Video added)

On Saturday morning the Pangbourne and Whitchurch Sustainability Group (PAWS) took part in the Global Day of Action outside Garlands in Pangbourne.  Heather Thorne introduced Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, who spoke about progress at the COP26 event in Glasgow and the chances of obtaining sufficient change in our way of life. 

Prayers were said and a two-minute silent Vigil was called for at 12 noon, while the traffic flowed nearby.  Visitors were encouraged to write their thoughts on a paper leaf and pin it to a message board, and also to sign a petition.  Photographs of these will be sent to Alok Sharma and John Howell. 

Sir Brian, who has been involved with PAWS from the beginning, was Chairman of the UK Climate Committee and a member of the UN IPCC team that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Pangbourne’s MP Alok Sharma is the COP 26 President.  

There are more pictures in the Photo Gallery.

Update, 9th November:  A video of Sir Brian Hoskins's comments on progress at the COP26 event in Glasgow has been added.  To watch it go to this page.

Date/Time : Monday, 08th November 2021 11:20

“So, what can we do?” asks PAWS

The Pangbourne and Whitchurch Sustainability Group (PAWS) has taken the opportunity of the COP26 conference in Glasgow to suggest how we, in our two villages, can make changes in our daily lives that will contribute to reducing carbon emissions. 

The attached article from the latest edition of the Pangbourne Magazine presents a list of ideas and resources, including local information.

PAWS says: “We can all be climate warriors, leading politicians by example.”

Date/Time : Wednesday, 03rd November 2021 15:45

Details announced for Art and Craft show next month

This year’s Art and Craft Exhibition will be ‘live’ in the Village Hall on 20th/21st November and will also be available to view online.  All ages are invited to submit their artwork. 

The exhibition website, specially developed by IT expert Adrian Dixon of Hardwick Road, is now online.  It gives all the information needed for entering exhibits and the link to it can be found at the foot of this page.  

The photo above shows 'Fireworks Night' by Eliza Kemp, an entry in the 9-11 years category last year. 

Date/Time : Friday, 08th October 2021 16:53

Brown bin collection days changed again

The latest advice from SODC on brown bins indicates that on Thursday 7th October only two of our village roads will have a brown bin collection: Hartslock Bridleway and an unknown portion** of the High Street.  All remaining Whitchurch roads are now scheduled to have their brown bins collected two weeks later, on Thursday 21st October. 

This information comes from the SODC webpage that explains the changes in garden waste collection from 4th October.  It follows the temporary suspension of the service in early August caused by the shortage of HGV drivers.

**Update, 6th October:  The question of which parts of the High Street will have brown bins collected tomorrow has been clarified by SODC in response to queries by Geoff Weir.  Only two areas will be collected tomorrow in addition to the Hartslock bridleway:  Old Barn Cottages and St Mary’s House.  All other High Street properties will have their brown bins collected, together with all other areas of the village, two weeks later on 21st October.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 29th September 2021 16:14

Art & Craft Exhibition returning to village hall

This year’s Art & Craft Exhibition, back in the village hall, will take place over the weekend of 21st - 22nd November.  Ambitiously, this year it will be a combined live and online show, with the option of viewing entries on exhibition webpages like those developed last year when it was entirely online. 

A new category ‘Christmas Card’ is being added this year, open to all age groups.  The winning entry will be adopted for the Whitchurch Society’s 2022 Christmas card.  Laura Lucas, chairman of the Society, says the plan is to offer Christmas cards for sale to raise money towards a small project in the village such as a new bench. 

The theme for the Joyce Voysey prize, open to all age groups and in any medium, is ‘New Beginnings’. 

Sally Woolhouse and Adrian Dixon are currently finalising the exhibition rules, timetable and webpages.  The full details will be posted on this website in the next week or so.

The picture above shows some of the photos entered in the 2019 exhibition. 

Date/Time : Friday, 24th September 2021 12:26

High Street traffic trial on 7th October

Parish council chairman Jim Donahue said today: 

“Oxfordshire County Council will be conducting a traffic trial at the lower narrows in the High Street on Thursday 7th October.  The intention of the trial is to understand the impact of introducing a priority Give Way system from South to North instead of the current two-way Give Way system.  The goal would be to improve pedestrian safety by making the right of way clearer to drivers, in order to avoid the situation where two cars go down the narrows at the same time, causing one car to mount the pavement, which does not have a raised kerb." 

"We expect this trial will be run all day by OCC, with members of the Traffic and Parking Working Group (TAPWG) observing the situation from about 11:30am.  We are expecting a longer trial to follow once this initial trial is completed.” 

Date/Time : Saturday, 18th September 2021 15:55

Questionnaire on traffic and parking

The Traffic and Parking Working Group (TAPWG) of the Parish Council is conducting a new village-wide survey this month. This is your chance to influence options which will be put to the Parish Council in its quest to improve parking and traffic in our village. One hard copy of the questionnaire will be delivered to each household in the coming week or so. However, if you would like to complete it online, you can do so at bit.ly/3mMK0DH . 

The closing date for submitting written or online responses is 30th September 2021.  

In order to make the best sense of the data, respondents are being asked to supply their name and address. All data will be processed securely as per GDPR. Separate names are requested from multiple respondents from one household. 

For any queries, parish councillor Diana Smith can be contacted at cllrsmith.whitchurchonthames@gmail.com or 07818 782 384.  

Date/Time : Saturday, 04th September 2021 11:49

Break-in at Pangbourne Co-op

In the early hours of this morning the Co-op store in Pangbourne was broken into.  According to the Reading Chronicle, the thieves smashed a window and took boxes of cigarettes.  The incident was reported to police at around 3 am. 

This morning the store was closed while police investigated.   

Date/Time : Thursday, 02nd September 2021 18:34

Dogs menace walkers on bridleway

Two fierce bulldogs, resident at a property on the Hartslock bridleway near the derelict horse manège, have been causing a nuisance to passing walkers and their dogs.  There have been four incidents recently resulting in complaints and the police have spoken with the owner.  If others have had a similar uncomfortable experience, they should report it to the police on 101. 

The picture shows two bulldogs, painted by Henry Wilkinson.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 01st September 2021 19:53

The Friends announce their first post-lockdown event

The Friends of St Mary’s and St John’s are holding a wine tasting and cheese evening on Saturday 9th October in Goring Heath Parish Hall, a fundraising event to help maintain the church buildings and churchyards.  Find out how to buy tickets here.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 01st September 2021 15:03

Afternoon Tea returns to the Village Hall

To celebrate the reopening of our beautifully refurbished Village Hall, Jean Marc Grosfort has announced that Afternoon Tea will be served, with home-made cakes, on Thursday 2nd September.  All welcome.  No charge, but donations to charity.   Here is the poster

We now have a redesigned Village Hall webpage and related pages, including new photographs specially taken to show the hall arranged for different uses.  The members of the management committee are listed and details of the many renovations that have transformed the hall are given on this page.  

Date/Time : Wednesday, 25th August 2021 19:59

Project will enable fish to reach Whitchurch

On the riverbank at Mapledurham the Environment Agency is building a a fish pass that will allow migrating fish to swim up the Thames beyond their current limit.  The £400,000 project includes a river intake (photo) on the Berkshire side of the river upstream of Mapledurham weir, which will divert water along a newly-created meandering stream across the floodplain.  This leads to a small existing stream which flows parallel to the Thames and joins it downstream of the weir.  

There are two more photos here

The work is scheduled to be completed this year. The Environment Agency says that trees and other plants will be provided along the banks of the new channel, which is designed to help all water dependent wildlife to migrate around the weir. 

However, the next obstacle upstream is the Whitchurch weir, which has no fish pass.  Migrating fish will not be assisted there in continuing their journey further upstream.  So, as well as benefitting wildlife, it seems that the project is good news for the many people who fish from the riverbank on the Pangbourne meadow.

Date/Time : Thursday, 19th August 2021 19:10

Tree Quiz and Tree Fest

Two events have been announced by PAWS (Pangbourne and Whitchurch Sustainability Group) as we approach the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November.

Sally Woolhouse gives us the details: 

Tree Quiz, starting today 

To get everyone looking at our local treescape, PAWS have created a Tree Quiz as a summer holiday activity. There will be prizes for the best entries in three age groups (under 8, 8-11 and 12-15 years) but anyone can have a go and enjoy the challenge.  You simply walk around the villages of Whitchurch and Pangbourne, finding and identifying 12 different types of trees. 

Here is the TREE QUIZ for downloading.  Alternatively, you can pick one up from Garlands Organic in Pangbourne.  The closing date is 11th September.  Good luck! 

Tree Fest, in October 

PAWS are also planning a Tree Fest – a series of events to raise our communities’ awareness of the important COP26 conference. 

It is becoming very evident every day that climate change is a major concern and a priority for action today.  One action that we can take as individuals is to protect our existing trees and to plant new ones.  We have many wonderful trees in our villages that were planted years ago.  It is essential that we keep them safe as they absorb carbon dioxide and keep it locked in the ground.  Also, as newly-planted trees grow, they too will absorb carbon dioxide. 

Details of Tree Fest events will appear on this website.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 10th August 2021 10:40

Planning for The Queen’s Jubilee

Plans have been announced for celebrating The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year, which centre on an extended bank holiday weekend from 2nd to 5th June.  Full details are on the royal website

One of the events is The Big Jubilee Lunch to be held across the country on Sunday 5th June.  Our participation in Whitchurch is a possibility that the Parish Council will be considering at their next meeting on 9th September. 

Parish chairman Jim Donahue said today:  "The Parish Council has decided to postpone the community celebration on the Village Green we had hoped to have in September due to continued uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic situation. 

We have also been made aware that the government will be encouraging local celebrations the weekend of 2-5 June to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee and will aim to have something at that time. 

We are also pleased to see other community activities such as Art Cafe starting up again and look forward to seeing other community activities being held in person as people feel comfortable." 

The Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Sir Tim Stevenson, has recently written to all communities in the county, commenting on plans for tree planting, beacon lighting and the Big Lunch.  His letter can be read here.

Date/Time : Sunday, 08th August 2021 14:23

Eastfield House is for sale

Majesticare, the owner of the derelict care home Eastfield House, has put the property on the market with London agents Christie & Co.  The property is described as a Care Development Opportunity, with planning consent for a new 45 bed care home in a “highly affluent and picturesque location”. 

The planning consent referred to is for Application P11/S0126 made in April 2012, which was initially refused but granted on Appeal in August 2013, involving partial demolition of the existing building.  The agents state that the application “has been commenced and confirmed in writing by the local Planning Authority as extant”.

Christie & Co currently advertise 240 care homes for sale around the country.  In a report of December 2017 they cast doubt on the financial viability of the proposed development of Eastfield House. 

Date/Time : Friday, 30th July 2021 10:57

The Greyhound has new owners

The family-owned company Oak Taverns of Thame, Oxfordshire, has completed its purchase of The Greyhound from Punch Taverns. 

Company director Simon Collinson said yesterday: “We have appointed Jason Walls, an experienced local Licensee, to operate the pub.  Over the next couple of weeks, we will be doing some minor refurbishment works to get the pub open for as much of the summer as possible.” 

Last Saturday evening, landlord Mark Lovett pulled his final pints before closing the pub.  He was presented with gifts by regulars who expressed their warm appreciation of all his hard work in maintaining the place as a central feature of Whitchurch life. 

When the pub re-opens in mid-August, it will be a Free House for the first time in living memory, offering beer from national and local breweries and from Oak Taverns' own micro-breweries in Oxfordshire. 

There is more information about Oak Taverns on its website.  

Date/Time : Saturday, 24th July 2021 18:33