Accolade for Jean Marc
At the Annual Village Assembly yesterday (25th May) the Whitchurch Award for 2023 was presented to Jean Marc Grosfort for his much appreciated activities in the village, especially in connection with the Village Hall. Nominations for the annual Whitchurch Award, which is administered by the Whitchurch Society, were invited from all residents and the trophy (in the picture, held by the winner) was presented by parish chairman Jim Donahue.
Jean Marc arrived with his wife Ann in Whitchurch in 2012 after 44 years in the hotel industry. While serving on the village plan committee, he took on the challenge of renovating our village hall to make it the warm, well-equipped and welcoming community centre it now is.
At the Assembly, Whitchurch Society chairman John Bradon paid this tribute:
I’ve worked closely for several years with Jean Marc on the village hall and firstly want to say what a pleasure he is to work with. He really wants things to succeed, is enthusiastic and very generous with his time.
He organised the whole refurbishment: successfully applying for four grants (£6,000 in total). He worked out what was needed - many carefully considered practical items: new notice board, signs, kitchen equipment. Lots of knowledge and care went into it to make maximum use of the limited funds. Accountants from Grant Thornton Reading branch painted the hall (as a CSR activity). The chairs you’re sitting on were bought at the bargain price of £10 each and came from the Ark of God Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. I’m telling you this so you get an idea of the enormous care and effort Jean Marc put in.
Another example is the monthly afternoon teas where everything is done perfectly. Everything is hand-made on the premises by JM’s team; usually a choice of four delicious things. I’d never seen an Opera Cake before. It has about six layers, each of which would be a major challenge to Bake Off contenders. There are flowers on the tables and each event has a seasonal theme.
Jean Marc wanted the hall to be used for meals and this year his wish is coming to fruition. People like working with him. You know he has got your back and will make sure an event goes well.
He helps with the Arts and Crafts show, to which he contributes a couple of excellent paintings each year.
We are very lucky in the village to have someone so competent, generous, good-humoured and helpful. I’m very glad this award recognises that.
A new activity organised by Jean Marc is Friday’s Kitchen, in which amateur cooks from the village prepare a dish of their choice in the new kitchen at the village hall. Videos of the first three of these demonstrations can now be watched via the links at the foot of the Village Hall page.
Date/Time : Friday, 26th May 2023 19:02
The Ferryboat will reopen, but not just yet
Albert, who runs The Waterside in Woodley, is the new landlord at The Ferryboat, which he will run in addition to his present pub. He has discussed his plans for reopening the pub with his new neighbour Geoff Weir.
The Ferryboat will be a traditional British pub and restaurant, Albert says, and not Turkish or Lebanese as rumours may have suggested. He is leasing the pub from Heineken Star Pubs and is keen to get started but needs to wait for two key upgrades to be completed. A new kitchen is to be installed by Star Pubs and a new electricity supply is to be provided by SSE. At present there is no reopening date.
Date/Time : Thursday, 25th May 2023 16:43
Hazell & Jefferies – Public Inquiry next week
Two years ago, roads contractor Hazell & Jefferies applied to vary their operator’s licence to increase the number of heavy goods vehicles in their local operating centres at Goring Heath and Woodcote. This was opposed by many parties, mainly on the grounds of the environmental impact of increased vehicle movements on small rural roads. Now there is to be a Public Inquiry on 23rd May at the Crown Plaza, Reading.
A local resident, Ian Reynolds, has been following the application since the start and has been invited to attend the Inquiry. His comments on the situation can be read here.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 17th May 2023 17:45
Tree mystery solved
It turns out that the young fruit tree neatly planted in the verge of Eastfield Lane a couple of weeks ago was the work of Oxfordshire County Council’s Tree Service. But they had not told anyone in the village about it.
Parish chairman Jim Donahue reports below on a recent conversation with OCC Tree Officer Luke Rowlands, which has provided an explanation:
The tree planted in Eastfield Lane was part of OCC's recently developed Climate Change and Tree Policy commitment to plant more trees in the county. Budget for this was approved in December for the planting of 450 trees. It was decided to plant one tree in each Oxfordshire village in the first phase of the programme. Tree officers came to all villages to find appropriate locations to plant a tree on OCC Highways’ verges.
The effort was fairly rushed to spend the money in a timely manner and plant the trees in the spring planting season. They were unable to contact us due to our details not being up to date in the OCC village contact list. We will ensure our contact details are updated now that we are aware of it.
The tree is a Tibetan Cherry (Prunus serrula). They say they “are looking to reach out to residents who may be interested in taking on some of the aftercare” and they can provide watering cans and information. Luke Rowlands has provided his contact details and that of the Community Tree and Woodland Opportunity Coordinator and Officer, Elle Rawden, who will be able to assist with any interest. I can forward their contact details to interested residents.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 17th May 2023 16:30
Mystery tree in Eastfield Lane
Residents of Eastfield Lane have been scratching their heads about a young tree that has appeared on the grass verge in Eastfield Lane. It arrived about a week ago, professionally planted with timber stakes and a protective wire cage. It is thought to be a plum tree. But it seems that none of the nearest residents knows who planted it, or why.
One theory is that it was ordered for another Eastfield Lane, near Cray’s Pond. Another is that it was surplus to a garden project.
The tree will need watering this summer. The tree’s neighbours are keen to get to the root of the mystery. If any reader can help with information, they are asked to send it by email.
There are two more photos here.
Date/Time : Monday, 08th May 2023 17:37
All set for Party on the Green tomorrow
A team from the Parish Council was at work on the Village Green today, erecting marquees for the Coronation Tea Party, from 2 pm to 5 pm tomorrow (Monday).
There is no entry charge and everybody is welcome from Whitchurch and nearby villages. People are just asked to bring cakes or biscuits.
The Roy Bailey Big Band will be playing, as at the Platinum Jubilee party last year.
Tea will be offered. Beer and Pimm’s will be on sale.
There will be Arts and Crafts activities for children.
Date/Time : Sunday, 07th May 2023 16:47
Peter Dragonetti re-elected (Further update)
In a two horse race, Peter Dragonetti has held on to the Kidmore End & Whitchurch seat on South Oxfordshire District Council, having received more votes yesterday than his challenger Jim Donahue.
Reflecting on the result, Jim Donahue commented this evening:
“At this point it looks like only 1 out of 10 Conservative SODC District Councillors will be re-elected. I have congratulated Peter Dragonetti. l look forward to continuing to work with him from the Parish Council as our District Councillor. Peter is a hard-working and conscientious District Councillor and I know he will continue to look out for the best interests of Whitchurch and South Oxfordshire."
"It was a privilege to meet so many residents from Whitchurch and the rest of the Kidmore End Ward over the course of the past two months of the campaign. I was engaged in dozens of important conversations about people's concerns about the area and found the experience exhilarating, enlightening, and fulfilling.”
Update, 9.30 am Saturday 6th May:
The detailed results of the election have been published by SODC:
- Peter Dragonetti (Green Party) 717 votes, or 62.5% of those voting.
- Jim Donahue (Conservative Party) 430 votes, or 37.5% of those voting.
Further update, 6th May:
Peter Dragonetti commented on the result:
“I am delighted to have been re-elected, and I look forward to continuing to be able to look after Whitchurch and its residents. I will continue to work to give the best protection I can to the countryside of our District and our historic towns and villages, and in particular I will continue to fight for the AONB, while helping to address wider problems such as the lack of affordable housing. I congratulate Jim Donahue on the hard work he put in to his campaign, and look forward to continuing to work with him and Whitchurch Parish Council.”
Date/Time : Friday, 05th May 2023 17:57
Election for District Councillor
Voting takes place in Whitchurch village hall today, Thursday 4th May, to elect the District Councillor to represent our interests on South Oxfordshire District Council. There are two candidates: Peter Dragonetti (Green Party), the holder of the position, and Jim Donahue (Conservative Party), our parish council chairman. The Kidmore End & Whitchurch ward comprises four parishes: Whitchurch on Thames, Goring Heath, Kidmore End and Mapledurham.
The polls will be open from 7 am to 10 pm. Don’t forget to take along photo ID identification such as a driving licence or passport.
There is more information on this SODC page.
There is no parish council election in our village as the seven seats on Whitchurch Parish Council are not contested.
(Updated, Thursday 4th May)
Date/Time : Wednesday, 03rd May 2023 16:24
Butterflies, promises and green ribbons
Art in the Community’s latest project, a colourful kaleidoscope of butterflies, is now fluttering across the toll bridge. The theme is Make a promise - see the change - watch the butterflies turn green!
Organiser Gill Williamson explains:
We’ve made a butterfly for every household in Pangbourne and Whitchurch. We would like everyone to make a small promise, something to do with the environment. If enough of us do this, it can make a big change. For each promise made, a green ribbon will be tied to a butterfly. So, over the next two weeks, we hope we see a gradual change as the display becomes greener.
Over 200 local people have been involved in the Butterfly Project, including 150 school children and guides, 30 crafters from Whitchurch Knit & Stitch and more from the Tilehurst knitting group. In line with the aims of the project, everything about the display has been either recycled or donated. Support has also been given by the charity PAWS and by the organisation, RG Spaces.
How can I get my green ribbon?
Click on this link for more information and to make a promise - it’s free! Or pick up a leaflet from the bridge or from Garlands in Pangbourne. Promises can be submitted online, handed in at Garlands or posted in the red box on the bridge.
Already, by 10 am today, 258 members of our community have promised to do something in a greener way and have received their green ribbon. The more promises there are, the greener the butterfly display will become. The display will continue until 14th May. Any queries should be sent to Gill.
There are pictures in the Photo Gallery.
Date/Time : Saturday, 29th April 2023 10:40
Consultation on Walled Garden House plans
The Parish Council has voted to object to the latest proposals for Walled Garden House in the High Street on the basis of the scale of development, the negative impact on the Whitchurch Conservation Area and the potential increased flood risk.
The Council wishes to encourage residents to be aware of these proposals in a prominent setting in the village. Any comments must be received by SODC on their planning page by Saturday 6th May.
A comparison of the size and location of the existing and proposed houses can be seen here.
Figure 4-1 of the Design and Access Statement shows a photomontage comparing the views from the High Street.
Date/Time : Monday, 24th April 2023 11:17
Speedwatch team gets to work
A village Speedwatch team has recently carried out a survey of traffic speeds in the High Street, and were in action again yesterday, this time in Hardwick Road (photo). The team consisted of three volunteer residents, equipped with a handheld speed measuring device. The measurements, together with vehicle descriptions and registration plate details, are passed to Thames Valley Police for action.
The High Street exercise involved checks on 238 vehicles, of which nearly a third of drivers were exceeding the 20mph limit by a margin of at least 4 mph. More details are expected to appear in the next issue of The Whitchurch Bulletin.
Linda Gray, Speedwatch coordinator for the village, says she would welcome more residents coming forward to help in the task of slowing traffic. She can be contacted by email.
Some residents have suggested that there should be large “20” signs painted on the road surface to give drivers a better chance of noticing the new limit. But OCC has said that to justify the expense of doing so it is necessary to first show that the limit is not widely observed. The current monitoring exercise may help the parish council to persuade OCC to release funds for painting such signs, or possibly for installing physical measures.
Date/Time : Monday, 17th April 2023 12:45
Coronation Tea Party on Monday 8th May
Parish council chairman Jim Donahue has issued this invitation for a special Whitchurch event following the Coronation:
I hope you will be able to attend our community event to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III. It will be held on the Village Green on Monday 8th May from 2 pm to 5pm, in a similar format to the successful event held for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee last year. Here are some features of the event:
- The Roy Bailey Big Band will be playing and there will be community tables of tea, cakes, biscuits and other donations.
- There is no charge and everyone is welcome, including visitors from out of town or residents from other villages. We just ask that people consider bringing donations of cakes or biscuits if possible.
- The Church will be organising Arts & Crafts activities for children.
- The School plans to sell Pimm’s and beer.
- Please contact our Clerk Jane Yamamoto at email@example.com if you have questions or would like to be involved.
See the event poster.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 12th April 2023 11:22
Two candidates competing in 4th May election
Two candidates are standing for election on Thursday 4th May for the single seat as district councillor representing the Kidmore End & Whitchurch ward:
- Peter Dragonetti, the current district councillor. He was formerly the chairman of Goring Heath Parish Council. He lives in Whitchurch Hill and is Treasurer of Whitchurch Parochial Church Council. More information from SODC here. His affiliation is to the Green Party. (picture, right)
- Jim Donahue, the current chairman of Whitchurch Parish Council. Resident in Whitchurch, he joined the parish council in 2011 and has been chairman since 2018. His affiliation is to the Conservative Party. (picture, left)
The Kidmore End & Whitchurch ward comprises four parishes: Whitchurch on Thames, Goring Heath, Kidmore End and Mapledurham.
Voting on 4th May will take place in Whitchurch village hall between 7 am and 10 pm, for anyone aged 18 or over who is registered to vote. This year, for the first time, photo ID must be shown.
For full information on the election see this SODC page.
There will be no parish council election on 4th May as the seven seats on Whitchurch Parish Council have not been contested.
Date/Time : Thursday, 06th April 2023 15:18
Petition for a Newt survey at Eastfield House
A petition to South Oxfordshire District Council has been launched by Laura Lucas to ask the owners of the derelict Eastfield House, Urban Village Group, to carry out a survey for Great Crested Newts before starting building work at the site. Already, 415 people have signed it.
Laura, who lives nearby, says: “Great Crested Newts are Britain’s most protected amphibian and have been found at the far end of Eastfield Lane and are known to have been seen at the Walled Garden Pond at the High Street too. They migrate between a network of ponds for breeding, but actually spend most of their life on land between the ponds in their network, and find sites more attractive when the grass hasn’t been mowed regularly (Eastfield House gardens have had no maintenance for over 6 years).”
The request to SODC and the owners is for a comprehensive newt survey now, or else a delay to the start of construction by three months from the planned date this month, to be clear of the breeding season.
There is more on the petition website.
Jim Kerevan, who lives next door to the derelict care home, said he had not seen any newts, but he hoped the owners would get on with the building work as soon as possible. Eastfield Lane has been blighted for many years by the abandonment of its largest building, he said, and it had become a magnet for youths trying to break in.
Update, 17th March:
A senior planning officer at SODC has written to our District Councillor Peter Dragonetti on this subject, explaining that in her opinion there is no justification for insisting on a Newt survey – text here.
Laura Lucas has responded to this.
Date/Time : Thursday, 16th March 2023 15:43
Incident at Hartslock
On Saturday afternoon at around 4.30 pm a stream of two ambulances, a fire engine and several police vans crossed the bridge from Pangbourne and came up the High Street with sirens blaring. They are understood to have turned left along the Hartslock Bridleway and driven as far as the Hartley steps. From the Berkshire side of the river a fire boat is reported to have approached the location, which is across the river from the Beale Wildlife Park. Ambulances were also seen at Shooter's Hill, Pangbourne.
The suggestion has been made that a pleasure cruiser was in trouble but there has been no confirmation.
Update, Monday 13th March, 9 am: there were unconfirmed reports this morning that the emergency services were trying to reach the site of a tragic accident involving a young person, a rope swing and a falling tree in Hartslock Wood, near the concrete bunker on the river side of the Thames Path.
Date/Time : Sunday, 12th March 2023 11:35
Refreshing the Whitchurch web
Regular readers will know that there is a wealth of information on the pages of this website, which the editorial team does its best to keep up to date. New material is often posted - here are some recent additions:
- Ever wondered why Old Barn Cottages are so called? An article, with a painting, about the lost High Street barn can be found on the About the Village page.
- Fancy having a go at fly fishing this year? An expert in the village offers taster sessions. Find him on the Sports page.
- Want to help look after the village? A new edition of the Green Team newsletter has just appeared on the Green Team page.
- The enterprises in Whitchurch are many and varied. Recently arriving on the Businesses page are Glamping at Bozedown, Sadhama Wellbeing at Hardwick and Bijou Holistic Therapies in Eastfield Lane.
Regular postings, for those who like to keep up to date, include:
- The latest monthly Minutes, on the Parish Council page.
- The latest Whitchurch Bulletin, also on the Parish Council page.
- The latest Parish Magazine, on the Church page, in colour.
Any topic can be found quickly by using the Search Engine at the foot of our front page. It goes through the back numbers of the above three and through all the past news items, in fact through the entire website including the photo archive.
Our thanks to the many residents who help make our village website a lively and up-to-date place.
Richard Wingfield, News Editor
Hilary Jensen, Page Editor
Pam Scott, Events Editor
Date/Time : Wednesday, 01st March 2023 16:36
Butterflies are coming to the Bridge
Following the much enjoyed ‘yarn bombing’ of Whitchurch Bridge several years ago, this year’s project from Art in the Community returns to the bridge, this time with a special theme. The idea is to encourage us to take a small step towards protecting our environment and counteracting climate change.
A leaflet The Butterfly Effect explains it. We are invited to choose a small change to make in our lives. For each promise made, a green ribbon will be added to a colourful display of butterflies on the bridge.
Gill Williamson says:
We need some help! Do you have any spare wool?
In early May we’ll be covering the bridge in butterflies made by Crafty Knit & Stitch from upcycled materials, and we are running out of wool. If you have any left-over wool, we would be delighted to put it to good use – just leave it in the box in the porch of Rosemead, Eastfield Lane.
If you would like to join in making butterflies, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or come along to Crafty Knit & Stitch at the Old Rectory Stables from 2pm to 4pm or from 7pm to 9pm on alternate Thursdays. The next dates are 2nd, 16th and 30th March.
Date/Time : Monday, 20th February 2023 11:09
Police detain two youths
Following an attempt to break into Eastfield House last Monday, and the disappearance of two bikes from Swanston Field shortly afterwards, two youths were spotted at the empty care home again on Wednesday. Once again, today Saturday, the pair returned to their favourite derelict property, oblivious to police interest since their first visit and also to the fact that their bike-riding photos are on the village website**. This time, a phone call from a resident to the Thames Valley Police resulted in their being detained at 1.30 pm as they walked back across the toll bridge to Pangbourne (picture).
The Police will no doubt be asking where the bikes are, so there is perhaps some hope for Laura Lucas and John Barker that they will see their property returned.
Date/Time : Saturday, 18th February 2023 13:59
Alison Michael, former Parish Clerk
The Michael family are very sad to announce the passing of Alison Michael on 2nd February 2023, aged 81, peacefully at home. Alison loved living in Whitchurch, she was a former Parish Clerk and actively involved in village life with her husband, Bob, until he sadly died in 2014. They moved into their house in Swanston Field in 1990. Alison and Bob’s children will be holding a celebration of their lives in Whitchurch in the summer and would love to bring friends together then to remember them.
Friends are also very welcome to come to Alison’s funeral, which will be held at West Berkshire Crematorium on Wednesday 1st March at 2pm. Webcast available, please email Isobel.email@example.com to access. All welcome to join the family afterwards at The Angel in Woolhampton from 3-6pm. Alison loved blue so please do wear some blue if you would like and as her funeral will be on St David’s Day, add a daffodil, particularly for our Welsh family and friends.
Donations, if desired, to the British Heart Foundation or for those who prefer small and local, to Whitchurch on Thames Pre-School.
Isobel Michael (daughter)
For more on Alison and Bob's life and to see some family photographs, visit their British Heart Foundation page, using the link above.
Date/Time : Sunday, 12th February 2023 11:52
Work on Eastfield House to start this Spring
The sale by Ross Healthcare of the derelict care home Eastfield House to Urban Village Group was completed in December. This week David Choules, project director for the redevelopment, contacted parish chairman Jim Donahue to say that his team are now preparing for the construction project to enlarge the building from 27 to 45 ensuite bedrooms. The building has been empty since 2016.
The work will be done under planning application P11/S0126, which was turned down by SODC but then approved on appeal nearly ten years ago, in August 2013.
Most of the main building, including the distinctive façade, will remain, while parts are demolished and major extensions are built, more than doubling the footprint. The picture shown here is from the developer’s website.
Urban Village Group, based in Sutton Coldfield, aims to start the £3.3 million building project in March or April this year and to open the new facility by the end of 2024. It will be renamed Cedar Lodge Care Home in line with Urban Village’s other care home projects which include The Oaks in Birmingham, The Maples in Telford and The Rowan in Wigan.
In coming weeks, the company plans to undertake bat surveys and newt inspections and to develop tree root protection plans. Skips will be delivered to the site and clearing out, inside and outside the building, is expected to begin.
The planning history of the site was summarized in a Henley Standard article of 2019, after an application was refused for complete demolition of the building.
Laura Lucas, who lives near Eastfield House, says she understands that surveys for great crested newts can only be carried out between mid-March and June, and questions whether such an early start is feasible. She also points out that the building is currently being considered for heritage listing, and that the application included incorrect information on the architectural status of parts of the building.
Date/Time : Friday, 03rd February 2023 13:50
High Street will be closed for several days (Now re-opened)
British Gas contractor SGN worked through last night to repair a gas leak under the High Street between The Little House and Manor Cottage. The hole is now (8 am Thursday) protected by barriers and there are Road Closed signs. A few vehicles are being allowed through. The street is open from the bridge to just north of Manor Road. A diversion via Goring is operating.
Update, 2.30 pm Thursday: On the one.network website there is now a notification that the road closure may need to continue for up to a week, until 1st February. It seems that there may be several gas leaks. On the road surface there are now extensive paint markings for investigations or repairs.
Update, 4 pm Friday: Investigation, ventilation and repair work has progressed today and will continue tomorrow Saturday. An SGN operative explained today that several houses with cellars are affected as leaked gas has travelled underground over several weeks to a considerable distance away from the principal leak in the gas main, which was repaired yesterday. He said that excavation work is now needed near White Hart Cottage, further up the road towards the picture gallery, where cars are usually parked. He could not predict when the road would be reopened to traffic. Asked how the public was reacting to the road closure, he said that the local residents were all polite and helpful, some offering cups of tea, whereas many drivers trying to pass through had made their frustration very clear.
Update, 1 pm Saturday: SGN say they have not discovered any more leaks. The road will remain closed to traffic until after the holes are filled in early next week.
Update, 4 pm Sunday: SGN are still investigating traces of residual gas detected under the footpath near White Hart Cottage and Primrose Cottage. Probing and testing is continuing, and it is possible that a new excavation will be needed to reach the gas main under the middle of the road in this area, if it is concluded that it has a leak.
Update, 11 am Monday 30th: The first two holes are being backfilled and surfaced this morning. The road remains closed to traffic. Several smaller holes have been dug in the footpath outside the two cottages but these do not block the road. Separately, under an earlier notification, Thames Water have today introduced one way traffic lights further up the High Street, near the Hartslock Bridleway junction, for work today and tomorrow. Later (3 pm): SGN now think it is unlikely that they will find any more gas leaks. It seems possible that the road will be reopened to traffic tomorrow morning. Later still (5 pm Monday): the road has REOPENED to traffic. That just leaves the Thames Water traffic lights further up the hill, which are likely to cause some delays.
Date/Time : Thursday, 26th January 2023 14:43
New: Friday Kitchen at the Village Hall
Our superbly refurbished village hall now offers excellent cooking facilities. Watch this brand new 6-minute video to see Whitchurch’s own resident hotelier and expert chef Jean Marc Grosfort in the village hall kitchen, preparing and cooking a delicious one-pot dish.
If that inspires you, here is a challenge from Jean Marc. He would like another resident of the village to come forward with their choice of a tasty one-pot dish and to make it in the village hall kitchen. Nick Brazil, who made the video above, will be on hand again. If you are interested in taking up Jean Marc's challenge, please let him know on 07881 312233 or send him an email.
Here is a poster.
Date/Time : Tuesday, 24th January 2023 16:05
High level work in St Mary’s church
St Mary’s church looks the same as usual from the outside. But inside, a forest of scaffolding now supports three raised timber floors that enable a maintenance team to access every part of the ceiling of the nave, high above the pews.
Church warden Paul Witcher explains:
“Repainting and plasterwork repairs have been needed for many years and are now underway, together with a close-up inspection of the entire ceiling and some minor work on the lighting. The Friends of the Churches, the Whitchurch charity generously supported by many village residents, has allocated £7,000 towards the cost of this vital maintenance project, while the Parochial Church Council will be digging into its funds for the remaining £13,000 or so.
This project is an essential step in keeping our historic church building in a serviceable condition. Maintenance is not cheap but the work over the next few weeks should not need to be repeated for many years. The next major project at St Mary’s is expected to be refurbishment of the shingle cladding on the church spire. Any contributions towards the future of our churches would be most gratefully received.”
For more pictures, see the Photo Gallery.
For more on the activities of The Friends, and to find out how to become a member of the charity, or to make a one-off contribution, go to this page.
Date/Time : Wednesday, 11th January 2023 16:04
King Charles sends thanks to Whitchurch
A message addressed to “The Residents of Whitchurch-on-Thames and Members of Whitchurch-on-Thames Parish Council” has been received from the King.
The note reads: “It was so very kind of you to send me such a wonderfully generous message following the death of my beloved mother. Your most thoughtful words are enormously comforting, and I cannot tell you how deeply they are appreciated at this time of immense sorrow. Charles R.”
Here is an enlarged version of the photo above, taken by Parish Council chairman Jim Donahue, of the contents of the parcel he received by post this week, with the note ready-framed alongside an early picture of Charles and his mother.
King Charles’ note of appreciation is in response to a letter of condolence, shown below, sent by the chairman of the Parish Council last September in accordance with the recommended protocol:
To: The Private Secretary to His Majesty The King, Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA
As we mourn the sad news that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has died, the thoughts of the residents of Whitchurch-on-Thames are with the Royal Family as they grieve for their Mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother. The Queen demonstrated extraordinary dedication and commitment to duty throughout her reign and did so with a graceful strength and admirable determination. She ruled throughout decades of change, from the dark post war years through to the new horizons of the 21st century providing essential continuity for the nation. This is a period of public grief when people who do not know each other come together to mourn a national figure who has been consistent throughout our lives and for whom we have collective affection despite not knowing her personally.
Please pass the condolences of the Whitchurch-on-Thames Parish Council to HM King. A Book of Condolence has been opened and will be retained St Mary the Virgin Church in Whitchurch-on-Thames.
Cllr Jim Donahue
Chairman of Parish Council
Date/Time : Thursday, 05th January 2023 17:31
Toll barrier receives unexpected New Year knock
Police were called to the toll bridge at around 3 pm on Saturday (New Year’s Eve) after a northbound driver, approaching the toll booth from Pangbourne and swerving on to the wrong side of the road, drove into and uprooted the pillar supporting the barrier arm. The car stopped just short of a southbound car waiting at the booth. The driver was arrested and it is understood that she refused a breathalyser test. The incident is expected to have been recorded on the Bridge Company’s CCTV system.
Date/Time : Monday, 02nd January 2023 15:14
Parking plan for High Street approved
The Parish Council has passed a motion to proceed with a Residents Parking and Pedestrian Safety Plan.
The Traffic and Parking Working Group (TAPWG), working with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) Highways Department, developed four options based on the findings from the village-wide survey carried out in September 2021.
The objectives for TAPWG were to secure dedicated parking spots on the High Street for residents and to ensure clear visibility for pedestrians crossing the High Street near the Greyhound, especially for parents and children on the school run. The plan would have additional benefits in terms of reduced congestion and pollution.
Read the full announcement by the Parish Council, which includes maps showing where 19 residents-only parking bays would be located and outlines the next steps. These are expected to lead to a consultation run by OCC, who will write to all High Street residents, before OCC takes the final decision on proceeding.
Date/Time : Monday, 19th December 2022 18:06
The Whitchurch Web team wishes you a very Happy Christmas. We hope you’ve enjoyed visiting the village website during the year. Thanks to the many people who have provided news, events, photos, messages, responses and updated material for the pages.
We have a Christmas card for you to open – with a remarkable image made by Dave Olinski of the tower known as Wilder’s Folly, which is near Sulham, south of Pangbourne.
Dave explains how he created the picture: “It took about 85 images to capture the stars, which were then blended, using special software to show the trails. I had to use an app to find the pole star and position myself so that it was as close as possible to centre over the folly, because the pole star is the centre of the rotation. Then I shot three separate exposures for the folly, using a torch to light-paint either side and then to backlight myself standing in the opening. Then I blended those three exposures together with the star trails. It was a reasonable amount of work, but I was quite pleased with the result.”
The orange glow that can be seen in the background comes from the direction of Pangbourne/Whitchurch. The romantic story of Reverend Henry Wilder and his brick tower of 1769 is mentioned here.
Date/Time : Sunday, 18th December 2022 09:35
Water leak creates ice hazard in Hardwick Road
A Thames Water leak occurred today at a construction site on Hardwick Road between Swanston Field and Muddy Lane. A pool of water formed along the edge of the road and on the pavement. In the sub-zero temperature this has turned into ice, creating dangerous conditions especially for pedestrians, who will need to take care.
Update, 10 am Tuesday 13th: A stream of mains water has been flowing throughout the night and continues this morning. The flow emerges from a valve chamber connecting to a house that is currently being extended. A visit by Thames Water is awaited.
Update, 10 am Wednesday 14th: Thames Water visited yesterday and replaced a valve. The pools of water have drained away.
Date/Time : Monday, 12th December 2022 22:49
A day out to watch the football
Outside the Royal Oak public house at the top of Whitchurch High Street, football enthusiasts pose for the camera before they set off to Wembley by charabanc. The date is not certain but it is probably about 100 years ago. Eleanor Sugrue recently received this and some other photos showing the pub before it became Wellesley House. She lives there now and they were recently sent to her by the family of the late Sally Trinder, who used to live there. See the images in our gallery of historic photos, together with Stephen Trinder’s 1976 sketch of the house.
Date/Time : Sunday, 11th December 2022 15:38
Uncertain future for horses at Hardwick
The Rose family, owners of the Hardwick estate, have been developing their plans for the estate’s transition to a community-led charity.
In an article that appeared in the Autumn 2022 edition of the Whitchurch Bulletin, the Hardwick Estate manager Miriam Rose explained:
“Our work developing a vision for the Estate over the last few years made it very clear that addressing the food security crisis by producing quality organic food and other products, was at the core of Hardwick's ethos. This crisis was illustrated during the pandemic when supermarket shelves were empty and the Tolhurst Organic veg shed had queues of customers, and even had to ration produce! As a result, we are now in the slow process of transitioning our extensive areas of horse grazing over to agriculture over the coming years. The fields currently used as a livery business at Hardwick Stud are the best quality for agriculture on the Estate, and the only soil similar enough to the walled garden for more horticulture or soft fruit production. Therefore, the difficult decision has been made to convert this area, after two years notice, back into a farm growing produce for local needs. The horses and all those who work with them will be very much missed but we hope that the wider community will also appreciate the need for this change.”
Asked whether this means that all the horses will disappear from the Stud Farm and from the fields, Miriam commented:
“We may well end up with one or two horses remaining in the Stud Farm building and upper fields in future. We would love to find a farmer who has the skills to incorporate some working horses into their operation, but that is to be seen. When the current livery tenancy expires in 2024, the entire area will be converted to vegetable growing and maybe some sheep grazing. The horses elsewhere on the Estate, which are in fields let directly to grazing tenants by the Estate Office, are also being phased out over time and will be replaced with other types of agriculture: orchards, sheep, dairy and other enterprises suitable to the soil and vegetation.
We really welcome the input of local people and will be doing extensive consultations about Hardwick's land and buildings as we move forwards over the coming years.”
Date/Time : Friday, 09th December 2022 16:19