News Archive

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

Happy Christmas!

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

Restoration project on the way

The traffic-worn verges of Hardwick Road from the village to the Hardwick estate gates have been under close scrutiny recently as a long-considered improvement scheme moves forward. 

The aim of the project, which was included in the 2019 Village Plan, is to restore the biodiversity of the verges.  The verges would be rebanked and reseeded and, by marking the extent of the many passing places with wooden posts fitted with reflectors, it is hoped to reduce future traffic damage.  The project would involve soil and aggregate movement to provide better drainage, pothole repairs and seeding with grass and wild-flower mix.  John Bradon and Sally Woolhouse of WoTHabs, in consultation with Jon Beale of Oxfordshire Highways, and with support from the Parish Council, have put together documents for the work needed in 22 separate areas along the road. 

At their November meeting the Parish Council agreed to support the project, assuming that financial support is obtained as hoped from the Mend the Gap programme.  The programme is run by Network Rail as a compensation scheme for the visual effect on the Chilterns of the electrification of the railway.  After the work is done, the Parish Council would have responsibility for the maintenance of the proposed 29 marker posts and for their coverage by the council’s public liability policy. 

The WoTHabs team is now working on obtaining quotations and securing funding from Mend the Gap. The project is expected to cost several thousand pounds.

Date/Time : Saturday, 26th November 2022 10:23

Hardwick Road is closed to traffic today (Now re-opened)

A surprise closure to traffic on Hardwick Road is in operation today for repair work by an Openreach broadband contractor on an access manhole in the road near the western Swanston Field junction.  

The Highway Authority granted a permit for Openreach to carry out maintenance work in Hardwick Road during the period 2nd to 23rd November, listing it as ‘Roadworks, delays unlikely, some carriageway incursion’.  Added this morning is information about a closure today from 9.30 am to 3.30 pm. 

Update, 2.30 pm: Road reopened.

Date/Time : Friday, 18th November 2022 11:01

Art & Craft exhibition – register by 9th November

Entries are flowing in for the Art & Craft Exhibition on 12-13th November.  The last date for pre-registering your entry on the exhibition website is Wednesday 9th November. 

This is a special year for two reasons - it is 50 years since the Whitchurch Cup was awarded (the first winner in 1972 was Jim Reed) and there is a special one-off prize for the best in the Adult Art section - a weekend painting course at the Joe Daisy studio in Mapledurham. 

The exhibition is open to residents and ex-residents of Whitchurch-on-Thames, Whitchurch Hill and Goring Heath, plus children at local schools.  For more information go to this page.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 02nd November 2022 10:20

Sue Matthews has died (Funeral details added)

With great sorrow we report that Sue Matthews, who lived in Eastfield Lane, died on Monday 26th October, at the age of 72.  She had suffered declining health for many months, caused by Motor Neurone Disease. She passed away at her home.

Sue was an active member of the Whitchurch community throughout her life and was involved in a wide range of activities.  She was a Church Warden, choir member and bellringer for many years, and was at the first History Society meeting in 1993.  She served on the Parish Council and chaired it for several years prior to 1997.  Older residents will recall her theatrical performances in village productions with The Riparians.  She had appeared in the first Riparians production in 1971.  Only a few years ago she played Mrs Malaprop in Sheridan's The Rivals, with the Basildonians.

Sue's parents, Victor and Jean Yaldren, who were leading lights in the village, lived nearby.  Her husband Alan died some years ago.  She is survived by her son Ben, her daughter Sarah and four grandchildren. 

Vicky Jordan said today: “Sue and I alternated as Chair and Secretary of the History Society for many years, and her knowledge of Whitchurch history is irreplaceable.” 

The photo above shows her in March this year, accompanied by her carer Nataliiya.

Update, 28th October:  The funeral will be held at St Mary's Church on Monday 14th November at 2.00 pm, followed by refreshments in the Village Hall.  The family welcomes all those who wish to pay respects to Sue's memory to join them. 

Date/Time : Wednesday, 26th October 2022 08:43

Have your say about the Manor Road playground

The Parish Council has been considering the funding of various repairs and improvements to the Manor Road playground and is now inviting residents to respond to a questionnaire survey:

“Whitchurch-on-Thames Parish Council is interested in your views on the Manor Road playground.

Substantial repair works are needed to the ‘wet pour’ surfacing underneath the various pieces of equipment and recent surveys show that some of the well-loved equipment is beginning to show signs of wear and corrosion. Whilst necessary repair works will be carried out, this also presents an opportunity to make changes to the playground and provides scope for any improvements our village would like to see.

We would be very grateful if you could spend a couple of minutes filling out the following questionnaire. Answers can either be submitted via the link below or alternatively a hard copy will be distributed through the upcoming village bulletin with further details on where to drop off completed forms.


This survey is anonymous and therefore there will be no use of personal data.

Should there be a majority of opinion from the village to see more than repair of the existing, we would also like to welcome interest from volunteers to join a working group to take forward any improvements. Please inform Jane Yamamoto if you would like to take part, on ."

Date/Time : Tuesday, 25th October 2022 17:23

Wrangle over cricket pavilion delays refurbishment

Ten years ago, the Whitelock family handed over the cricket field to the parish council and the cricket club.  Ambitious plans were then drawn up for a new sports pavilion, but these were abandoned in 2020 when it was decided that sufficient funds were unlikely to be raised. 

Since then, differences of opinion between the Cricket Club and the Parish Council have caused frustration on both sides in deciding how to fund a less costly project, the refurbishment of the existing pavilion.  The Cricket Club wants the Parish Council to contribute £5,000 to an estimated £30,000 project and considers that the buildings are the responsibility of the Club.  The Parish Council takes a different view, believing that the pavilion needs to be their responsibility and that, while keen to support cricket, they are legally unable to give public funds to a body that does not have the necessary constitution to receive them. 

This week, the Parish Council issued a statement: 

“The Parish Council held an extraordinary meeting on 3rd October to review the proposed agreement between the Parish Council and the Cricket Club to govern refurbishment of the pavilion. We have separately taken some informal legal advice that suggests the buildings on the Village Green are legally owned by the Parish Council and not the Cricket Club. This understanding has a number of implications including who is responsible for public liability, insurance, and health and safety checks for these buildings. We are now undertaking a formal legal review to confirm this. Once ownership is confirmed, upgrades to the pavilion and its on-going maintenance should be more straightforward going forward.” 

The minutes of the Parish Council’s Extraordinary Meeting on 3rd October can be read here.

Date/Time : Sunday, 23rd October 2022 11:43

High Street closed for second day running

Thames Water was called out yesterday to deal with leakage into a property from the foul water pipeline that runs down the High Street.  They obtained emergency permission to close the road.  Again today, Friday, the High Street near the Hardwick Road junction will be closed to traffic from 9.30 am to 3 pm.  The street will remain open from Pangbourne to a point just north of Manor Road. 

The pipeline runs beneath the middle of the High Street, but no excavation is involved.  A Thames Water supervisor says that a remotely controlled CCTV unit will be sent down the pipeline over a length of 150m  today, followed by cleaning of the pipeline.  The length under treatment is from a point 100m uphill of the art gallery to a point 50m downhill of it.

Date/Time : Friday, 07th October 2022 10:29

Peter Ferguson was in The Queue

Last week Peter Ferguson travelled up to Westminster to pay his respects at the Lying-in-State of the late Queen.  He spent just over 12 hours on the long, slow walk towards Westminster Hall (photo), which gave him plenty of time to contemplate. 

He says: “I had the privilege of paying tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II last Friday 16th September.  The walk lasted 12 hours 20 minutes before we reached the Palace of Westminster.  During the walk I met many lovely people.  We became close friends, sharing personal stories about our lives in our common endeavour to pay homage to a dutiful Queen who reigned for seventy incredible years.  It was a very moving and emotional experience, with many of us holding back tears.  She taught us about servant leadership, displaying courage, compassion, kindness and a steadfast love of her Lord and Saviour.”  

Peter, who lives in Swanston Field, is the Director of a charity in Nigeria, recently renamed The Growing Seed Trust Foundation, which among other things encourages children to play rugby football.  He makes regular visits to the Niger Delta.  Peter played rugby for Henley RFC in the 1960s and later in Nigeria during his Voluntary Service Overseas in the 1970s.  Further on in his career he spent time as a consultant in Lagos and became aware of the limited opportunities for underprivileged children there and in the troubled Niger Delta. 

Peter has written an update especially for us on the progress of his charity. To read it, visit this page.

Date/Time : Thursday, 22nd September 2022 17:36

National Moment of Reflection on Sunday

Many people all around the country will be observing a one minute silence at 8.00 pm on Sunday evening, 18th September.  It has been suggested that we might like to be on our front doorsteps for this, and then join in singing the National Anthem, with musical accompaniment from live TV or radio. 

The Parish Council has decided that this would be an appropriate way to mark the occasion rather than having a special public event. 

The National Moment of Reflection, to mourn the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and reflect on her life and legacy, is on the eve of her funeral. 

Date/Time : Thursday, 15th September 2022 15:09

Peace breaks out over Village Green fence

For several years there has been trouble between players of cricket and football on the village green and the owners of the horses in the adjacent paddock.  Complaints have been made of disturbance to horses and damage to the fence when balls are retrieved from the paddock. The situation reached a peak in June 2020 when the police and the local authority became involved (News archive, 12th June 2020). 

Recently the Parish Council has had a constructive dialogue with Tessa Allen and her husband Chris, in an attempt to reach some agreement on how to mitigate the situation.  Tessa is the daughter of Richard Hazell, owner of the paddock. 

Parish chairman Jim Donahue comments: 

“In the past two months, parish councillor Frances Parkes and I have had ongoing discussions with members of the Hazell family, as well as representatives from the Football Club and Cricket Club, to address concerns over trespassing and the welfare of the horses.  Here are some of the issues and the changes that have been made to address these concerns:

  • The East and West football goals, that have been the main cause of the stray balls and youths trespassing in the paddock, have now been removed.  The backstop net behind the West goal is no longer needed and has also been removed.
  • The North goal remains and there is now a temporary goal that can be positioned when needed at the South end of the football field.  This will be kept securely behind the pavilion and made available to Football Club members and residents requiring it for matches.
  • The changes have been agreed with the Football and Cricket Clubs as well as the owners of the paddock.
  • The re-orientation of the football pitch has significantly reduced the number of balls going into the paddock and helped to de-escalate tensions.  The owners of the paddock seem to be genuinely pleased with the changes and have agreed to work with us to have the fencing improved and returned to a more normal state.
  • The owners have now removed several large ‘Keep Out’ signs that were on the fence and have said they would like to work with us on options to replace and improve both the temporary and permanent fencing between the two fields. 
  • We have been made aware that at least one of the horses is very young and active and should be considered dangerous to anyone approaching it within the paddock.
  • The owners had raised concerns to our MP John Howell and the Thames Valley Police.  Given the recent changes that we have made to reduce the impact of football, I have been able to respond to both with the concrete steps we have taken to address the concern, and they both seem satisfied with this.
  • The Parish Council is discussing some follow-on actions with the owners, including motions that were approved at the September parish council meeting.  One is the installation of a permanent metal sign warning users to avoid trespassing in the paddock, to ensure the message is clear to users of the Village Green.  Another is a contribution to the cost of an improved fence along the entire length of the field, with the aid of a grant from Oxfordshire County Council. 

Alistair Aitcheson has announced his retirement as the representative of the Football Club on the Village Green Working Group.  It is difficult to express the gratitude that the Parish Council has for all that Alistair has done for football in our community over the years.  We are certainly committed to ensuring that his legacy is preserved, and an effective Village Green Working Group will be an essential part of that. 

Councillor Frances Parkes will become the new chairman of the Village Green Working Group.  Alex Hilton will be the new representative of the Football Club on the Working Group.” 

The photograph above shows the West goal and the fence behind it in May 2020.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 13th September 2022 13:56

Village mourns the Queen

The Chairman of the Parish Council made this statement, following the council's meeting yesterday evening: 

The Parish Council is deeply saddened to hear the news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. As we reflect on the passing of the Queen, I am sure that many of us will want to pay tribute to her in our own way. There will be a number of opportunities to do so in the coming days. 

A Book of Condolence has been opened at St Mary’s Church and will be accessible daily from 9am to 6pm for those who wish to pay their respects.  

If residents would like to lay flowers, then please do so by the bench by the church front door. 

A bell will be tolled at St Mary’s Church at noon today, Friday 9th September.  Once for each of the 96 years of the Queen's life.

A service of Prayer and Reflection Remembering her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be held at St. Mary’s at 6.00 pm on Sunday 11th September. 

We understand that the Royal Family will also be offering an e-Book of Condolence on their website at  This e-book of condolences will be available until the day following the day of the funeral. 

Jim Donahue, on behalf of Whitchurch Parish Council

Debbie Leach has provided this photo of the Book of Condolence now available in St Mary's Church, commenting that all are welcome to come and pray, reflect, and write in the Book.

Date/Time : Friday, 09th September 2022 08:20

Eastfield House planning refused, again

The planning saga on the derelict Eastfield House care home, empty since 2016, continues.  Last week the most recent application for planning permission was refused.  The parish council and 21 members of the public had objected.  SODC planning officers objected on grounds of conservation, countryside, drainage, forestry and environmental protection. 

A 23-page report by SODC outlines the planning history, lists 65 objections received and explains the refusal.  It can be found on the SODC planning page P22/S1689/FUL or viewed here

Since 2010, 16 planning submissions have been made, some approved and some refused.  Six refusals have been appealed against, three successfully. 

One current uncertainty is that the building is undergoing a pre-assessment for listing by Historic England, following the submission by Laura Lucas of the identity of the architect (News 29th June).  She says that the initial response was negative, but there are errors in their report and a review is awaited. 

In a further complication SODC says that Great Crested Newts may be present, following their discovery in a pond about 300m further east along Eastfield Lane under a separate planning application.  SODC requires an updated ecological survey. 

Whether the latest planning refusal will affect the sale of the property by Majesticare to Urban Village Group (News 28th May) is unclear. 

Date/Time : Monday, 29th August 2022 14:02

Double blessing for the Polish Memorial Garden

Yesterday around eighty people turned out on a sweltering Sunday afternoon to celebrate the formal opening of the Polish Memorial Garden, tucked away at the north end of Manor Road. 

Parish chairman Jim Donahue explained the significance of the event and introduced Mrs Kowal, 95, who cut the ceremonial red and white ribbons.  She was a young adult in the refugee community here in the 1950s and is now its oldest survivor.  She is the grandmother of village resident Katherine Higley. 

Fr. Richard Maniak, priest at the Polish Roman Catholic church in Reading, then blessed and sprinkled holy water on the memorial, which stands on the footprint of the former community chapel.  He was followed by our own Church of England vicar, Rev James Leach, who added his blessing. 

Anna Szczeponek, the only remaining Polish descendant from the Camp still living in Manor Road, spoke about life there.  She has accepted the role of Guardian of the Polish Memorial Garden. 

Sally Woolhouse, who helped to organise the event, explained how the neglected patch of land had been transformed in recent years, originally under the creative eye of Alexa Duckworth-Briggs and WoTHabs, and more recently under the guidance of Charles Cotgreave, with hard work by the Green Team.  The oak cross was made by Matt Duckworth-Briggs.  Recent heritage apple tree planting was arranged by Alastair Dunstan. 

Afterwards, those attending enjoyed refreshments in the village hall, where some vintage photos and a set of recent site photographs were on display.  Around half those attending this very successful event are thought to have been village residents and half members of the Polish community who made a special visit. 

Nick Brazil’s photographs of the event are in the Photo Gallery. 

For more on the refugee community and the memorial garden, see the links on this page. 

Update, 23rd August:  The Henley Standard has published an article on the event. 

Date/Time : Monday, 15th August 2022 18:44

Polish Memorial Garden event on Sunday 14th

A milestone event will take place on Sunday 14th August at 2.30 pm, when the Polish Memorial Garden in Manor Road will finally be officially opened. Six years ago, the responsibility for the management of the site was transferred to Whitchurch Parish Council by SODC, on the understanding that it should be developed into a tranquil green space for the community to enjoy.

Since then, this neglected area has been transformed by the hard work of numerous working parties, to make it a pleasant space to relax and quietly enjoy the meadow area and the little copse, both now increasing in bio-diversity. The most significant part of the project is the raised platform to commemorate the site of the Polish Chapel, demolished in 2014. This was an important place of worship for the Polish community from shortly after the end of the Second World War until 1992.

Do come along, from 2.00 pm, to join in the opening ceremony at 2.30 pm, including the blessing of the cross, and to hear some of the fascinating recollections of the Coombe Park Camp from past residents and their relatives. Refreshments will be served in the Village Hall after the ceremony and some historic photos will be on display there. There will be direction signs from the Village Hall to the Garden, for those who are not sure where this well-kept secret is hidden.

Everyone will be very welcome.  For further information, please contact Anna Szczeponek, the Guardian of the site, on 01189 841234 or email

Here is the poster for the event, which suggests an arrival time of 2.00 pm, for the ceremony at 2.30 pm.

For more about Whitchurch's refugee community and the history of the Coombe Park Camp, go to this page.

Date/Time : Friday, 05th August 2022 17:04

Creatures of the Night

During the last two years, Nature Editor Sally Woolhouse has from time to time posted fascinating articles on aspects of the natural world in Whitchurch, with contributions from others and plenty of photographs.  Topics have included spring birdlife, wildflowers, butterflies, deer, otters and more. 

Now she has created a new article Creatures of the Night, featuring hedgehogs, badgers, bats, moths and glow-worms.   It can be found on our Nature Notes page

She suggests staying up late one night, finding a quiet spot in the garden and seeing what creatures are out and about. 

The photo above, taken by Lorna Woolhouse, shows an Elephant Hawkmoth.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 27th July 2022 17:21

Is the new 20 mph speed limit working?

The new speed limit has now been in operation for two months and some residents are asking whether it is having any effect on traffic speed. 

Some people think that altering a single digit on speed limit signs is not a striking enough change to make drivers notice.  Painting 20 mph roundels on the road at each entrance point to the village has been suggested. 

Parish councillor Diana Smith said today: “We have recently asked OCC to add roundels on the road surface to draw drivers’ attention to the change, but OCC have told us that average speeds in Whitchurch do not justify their spending money on this.  However, the parish council intends to keep the matter under review over the next year.  Installing an electronic speed monitoring sign is another possibility.” 

TAPWG, the working group advising the parish council, has registered the village in the Community Speedwatch scheme.  This involves local volunteers, who receive training that qualifies them to measure vehicle speeds and report transgressors to the police.  Anyone wishing to volunteer is invited to contact Linda Gray at

Date/Time : Tuesday, 26th July 2022 12:47

Sally Trinder has died

With great sadness we report the death of Sally Trinder, a long-time resident of the village.  She had moved from Whitchurch to Bristol two years ago to be nearer to members of her family.  Her husband Stephen died in 2015. 

Sally and Stephen arrived in the village from Purley in 1972, living first at Wellesley House at the top of the High Street and then, from 2007, at The Gables in Eastfield Lane. 

Diana Marriott was told the sad news yesterday by Sally’s brother John Cottrell who lives in Bristol.  Diana says: “Sally died shortly after moving into a hospice, having been suffering from cancer for several months.  She was a good friend to so many people and took part in many local activities.  She worked as a primary school teacher, helped to run a charity shop in Caversham supporting the Duchess of Kent Hospice, sang with the Thames Vale Singers and played tennis and golf.” 

Before reluctantly leaving Whitchurch, she gave a farewell present of a crab apple tree, now growing at the Maze. 

There will be a private funeral service in Bristol, followed later by a service of thanksgiving in Whitchurch, details for which will be announced here. 

The photo above was taken at her farewell party in 2020.  Another photo of Sally, with her dog Toffee, can be seen here.  An appreciation of Stephen's life can be read in our News Archive for 18th June 2015. 

Date/Time : Saturday, 23rd July 2022 21:34

Historic England begins assessment of Eastfield House

Some weeks ago, village resident Laura Lucas came across a document in the Oxfordshire archives that included a vital piece of historic information on Eastfield House: the name of the architect John Thomas Lee who designed it.  Further checking revealed that he had been involved in design of three other large houses, all of which are listed.  Believing that the identity of the architect had not been known to those considering some years ago whether Eastfield House should be listed, she sent her findings to Historic England. 

She heard this week that they have deemed Eastfield House eligible to be considered for listing and they are now at the initial assessment phase of the process. 

The property is understood to be in the final stages of sale from Majesticare to Urban Village Group. The buyers are currently awaiting the result of a planning application, which involves many changes to the internal layout of the original building, as reported in our news item last month (28th May). 

The deadline for submitting comments to SODC on the planning application is this Friday, 1st July.  

For detailed information on the life of the architect concerned, see this Note prepared by Laura.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 29th June 2022 14:16

Ferryboat front door shuttered (UPDATED)

Lincoln Eu, who has been trying to keep The Ferryboat running since the death of the leaseholder Graham Dednum in May, has been told he no longer has a job.  The pub was closed earlier this week and fitted with a temporary steel door (photo)

After 11 years working at the pub Lincoln now finds himself in limbo, though as shown in this picture he and his red Mercedes are still in residence. 

The owners of the pub since 2018 have been Heineken Star Pubs & Bars, who continue to use the trading name Punch.  They are believed to be discussing the lease with Graham’s widow and family, prior to appointing a new landlord and arranging for a re-opening.  Meanwhile, they have not posted a notice at the door and the old menus and opening hours remain on display in the High Street. The pub’s website and telephone answering service offer no news of the closure. 

Their website has an Events page, reminding us of Graham’s legacy with photos of Whitchurch’s bands, the NeverNevers and the WoTJammers. 

Update, 7th July

Heineken Star Pubs & Bars, based in Edinburgh, have responded to a village resident’s concern about the current situation, as follows: 

“Our thoughts are with Graham’s family at this difficult time. Graham was very community-focussed and will be sadly missed. As regards the future of The Ferryboat Inn, we are committed to reopening the pub but there are legal and compliance procedures that need to be completed before we can recruit an operator.  The Ferryboat Inn was run as an independent business. We therefore did not employ the staff and are unable to provide any information on staffing. All marketing and local communication is also controlled by those running the previous independent business.”

Date/Time : Sunday, 26th June 2022 14:40

Cross-river action on pedestrian safety

A significant milestone was achieved last week towards improving the safety of pedestrians on the narrow, curved approach road to the toll bridge on the Pangbourne side of the river.  Two Whitchurch councillors, Jim Donahue and Frances Parkes, crossed the river and put forward a motion at a meeting of Pangbourne Parish Council.  The report they presented can be read here

The approach road is owned by the Bridge Company, while West Berkshire Council is the Highways Authority.  Efforts over the last ten or more years to have the hazardous conditions improved have not resulted in any action. 

The Whitchurch motion was approved by Pangbourne Parish Council. A small Cross-River Working Group is now to be set up, with representatives from Pangbourne, Whitchurch and West Berkshire Council. 

Jim Donahue explains that the formal approach to Pangbourne Parish Council follows discussions he initiated with a West Berks councillor and with the Pangbourne & Whitchurch Sustainability group (PAWS).  A West Berks engineer has now re-appraised the 2016 report by Peter Brett Associates.  The aim is to secure support for hiring consultants to develop one of the options studied, which are to widen the road on one side or the other, or to introduce a chicane and local widening.  The alternative concept of a raised footway through the trees has not been ruled out.

Collecting evidence of hazardous conditions is important and any incidents should be reported in detail to Councillor Frances Parkes at or 07867 009 614.  Anyone wishing to get involved in the Cross-River Working Group should also contact Frances. Data will be kept securely and in line with GDPR, as per the privacy statement below: 

Privacy Statement:

By providing details of any incidents on the Whitchurch Bridge Approach Road, you confirm that you are content for Whitchurch Parish Council to process your personal data for the purposes of this survey. If you would like to withdraw your consent at any time, please contact Frances Parkes – Your personal data will be shared only with members of Whitchurch Parish Council. Whitchurch Parish Council will only collect personal data that is necessary for this survey and will take all reasonable steps to ensure the personal data they hold is not incorrect or misleading. Whitchurch Parish Council will keep your personal data until the project is completed, after which it will be destroyed. This will apply to any of your personal data held by individual members. 

Date/Time : Thursday, 23rd June 2022 16:36

Whitchurch football season finishes strongly

On Saturday June 4th on the village green, AFC Whitchurch held its annual club presentation morning.  Club Chairman, Alex Hilton, welcomed parents, players and coaches representing each of the competitive U13, U14, U15 and U18 teams.   Teams split off to their individual team presentations before club friendly showcase games between the U18 vs U15 and U14 vs U13s.

In 2022 AFC Whitchurch had 70+ registered players across the 6 competitive teams (including our newly formed U8s), and another 30 in our Saturday morning Academy for 5-7 year olds.   The club welcomes boys and girls from across the age groups to come and play. For more information contact

The photo above shows some of the players.  To see the full picture click here.

Date/Time : Monday, 06th June 2022 12:28

Jubilee Beacon lighting on Thursday (Updated)

A Jubilee Beacon has been under construction over many weeks on Sandra Parkinson's land, on the hill at Chalkhills in Hardwick Road, with her initiative and guidance, and is now ready to be lit this Thursday evening, 2nd June.  The eight-foot-high structure is the result of much hard work by Sandra, Charles Cotgreave and other members of the Green Team, including Geoff Weir and John Bradon.  See photo

We are all invited to gather at the cricket pavilion on the village green, with a clear view of the beacon, to see it lit at 9.45 pm.   The beacon lighting team up on the hill will be Sandra, Sally & Pete Woolhouse and Charles Cotgreave.  

At 9.35 pm, there will be a bagpipe tribute to Her Majesty the Queen at the pavilion.  Alastair Dunstan has been practising the tune Diu Regnare, which has been specially written for the occasion and will be played all round the country and Commonwealth. 

At 9.45 pm the beacon will be lit, at the same time as around 2000 other beacons around the country. 

All are welcome at the pavilion.  There will not be a bar but drinks or refreshments can be brought along.  The weather forecast is favourable. 

Update, 4th June: There was a good turnout. Photo from village green added, above.  More photos. with captions, in the Gallery.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 31st May 2022 23:33

Jubilee weekend approaches

Nicola Armstrong of the School Parents Association reports: 

The village is really starting to get into the spirit of the Jubilee.  The bunting created by the children at Whitchurch Primary School and Knit & Stitch has gone up.  It would be lovely to see more bunting up around the village too.  Preparations are well underway for the Jubilee Tea Party next Sunday, 5th June, from 2 to 5 pm. 

Just a reminder that if you can bring along a cake to share as a community for the cake table that would be wonderful.  There will be refreshments available and a bar raising money for the school.  There will also be some crafts for the children.  It might also be useful to bring along some chairs or a blanket to sit on.  There will be some shelter but if this glorious weather doesn’t hold you may want to bring something to shelter under.  Look forward to seeing you all at the village green next weekend. 

For any queries, contact Nicola at

The Roy Bailey Big Band will be in action on the village green between 2 pm and 4 pm.

Date/Time : Sunday, 29th May 2022 10:18

Eastfield House – new application

The derelict care home Eastfield House, recently sold by Majesticare to specialist developer Urban Village Group of Sutton Coldfield, is once again the subject of a planning application.  This time for a variation of the permission obtained on appeal in 2013, which provided for the partial demolition of the existing building and the construction of a large extension, which would have increased the number of bedrooms from 27 to 43.

The new variations include changes to the internal layout, apparently two more bedrooms, more dormers, a large brick-built 'summer house' in the garden and an additional plant room near the eastern boundary.  The entrance is at the side of the building, the main doorway at the front being redundant.

Consultation runs from 27th May to 1st July.  The plans can be seen on the SODC planning page

Eastfield House has been empty since 2016 when Majesticare closed the care home.  Following various incursions, all the windows were later boarded up against visitors.  A planning application for complete demolition was refused on appeal in 2020.

The Urban Village Group gives a brief description of the project here

Date/Time : Saturday, 28th May 2022 19:27

For this Ukrainian family it is like a fairy tale

The Ukrainian family of three, whose visas took two months to process, have arrived and are living in Swanston Field, Whitchurch, at the home of their host Mrs Judi Green and her family.  They arrived last weekend and the two children are already in school.  Mark Goldenberg, 6, has been at the Whitchurch primary since Tuesday, and his sister Mariia, 13, started at the Langtree School on Thursday.  Their mother Mrs Anna Goldenberg said she was grateful to the Greens and to the British people for welcoming Ukrainians and ensuring their safety.  She said that finally being here was like something out of a fairy tale.  But her husband Oleg remains in Ukraine, helping to provide humanitarian aid on the front line. 

Today’s Henley Standard has a report about the family and how they are settling in.   Read it here

Date/Time : Friday, 27th May 2022 15:52

Gill Williamson wins Whitchurch award

The annual Whitchurch Award was presented to Gill Williamson at the Village Assembly in the Village Hall yesterday.  Nominations were received and counted by the Whitchurch Society and all residents were able to nominate their choice of a person, or a group, who they felt had given exceptional voluntary service to the community. 

Presenting the award, parish chairman Jim Donahue congratulated Gill for being the driving force behind not only the successful Saturday Art Café, now in its sixth year, but also the Crafty Knit & Stitch group.  Asked how much the Art Café had raised for the charities that participate, she said it was around £60,000.  

Gill mentioned that the toll bridge is currently being decorated by a Knit & Stitch team with bunting and with royal portraits by children, as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.  This photo shows Gill, with Damian, and Nicola Armstrong of the Whitchurch Primary School Parents Association, on the bridge this morning. Images on Instagram: @artcafewhitchurch.

Date/Time : Friday, 27th May 2022 14:38

Defibrillator installed at cricket pavilion

A second defibrillator has been installed in the village, this time on the front of the cricket pavilion on the village green.  The first one remains active in the red telephone kiosk at the junction of Manor Road and the High Street. 

Alistair Aitchison reports that the new defibrillator was acquired thanks to the Football Club’s connection with the Football Association and it was installed by members of the Cricket Club.  Located on the front of the cricket pavilion, the defibrillator is registered on the national ambulance network.  The unlock code to the cabinet is available by dialling 999 or 112. 

This picture shows the new defibrillator. This video explains the use of the device.

Date/Time : Friday, 20th May 2022 12:29

Graham Dednum, landlord of The Ferryboat, has died

Sadly, Graham Dednum, a true pillar of our community, who became ill and was taken to hospital on 5th May, is reported to have died on the evening of Monday 16th.  The picture shows him presiding at the popular Christmas Music event that he organised in St Mary’s church for many years.  There are more pictures in the Photo Gallery.   The pub is now closed for the time being.  

Jim Donahue commented on Facebook yesterday: “Like so many others who have known Graham over the years, I am still in a state of shock about the sudden loss of such an important member of our community, without any warning or chance to say goodbye. I don’t think that I can offer the words to provide a proper tribute to him but hope that by sharing these photos, it will at least give everyone a chance to remember him as the wonderful person that he was. Amongst other things, I think that they clearly show his infectious enthusiasm for our community, especially around Christmas.” 

Helen Bowsher added: “I too was so shocked and saddened by the news yesterday. I’ve known Graham for many years. Always had a lovely cheeky warm smile. Had been incredibly supportive to the school and preschool over the years. (Fond memories of quiz nights at the school where he would do a rush order for 20 or so pizzas… always delivered with a smile. Nothing was ever too much trouble). A generous soul that will undoubtedly be missed by both villages. Bless you Graham.” 

Debbie Leach added: “James and I only knew Graham for a short time, but he still made such an impression on us. So welcoming and supportive of St Mary's Church and the community. May he rest in God's peace.”

Date/Time : Wednesday, 18th May 2022 14:05

A warm welcome in La Bouille

Tim Suiter reports on a recent visit to La Bouille: 

Over the May Day bank holiday weekend a group of villagers travelled from Whitchurch to our twinned village of La Bouille in Normandy.  Due to the challenges presented by Covid, rather than the full twinning trip (alternate years either visiting or hosting visitors from France) we were a small contingent on this occasion. The main aim of the trip was to rekindle the relationship in anticipation of a larger group visiting later in the year. 

Seven of us in total in two cars made the journey on the Friday, staying with our French hosts until the Bank Holiday Monday afternoon.  We all had a wonderful time and were as usual wowed by the French’s hosting skills.  In particular we were delighted to see just how dearly the people of La Bouille value the friendship between our villages and how many of them turned out to greet and raise a glass with us (picture). 

We are now planning the main twinning visit for the weekend of 1st and 2nd October (traveling on the Friday and Monday).  We would love to welcome new members on the trip and I have no doubt that anyone joining us will have a good time, receive a warm welcome and make new and lasting friendships. 

To find out more about the twinning association contact Tim Suiter on 07930 490808 or

Date/Time : Wednesday, 18th May 2022 13:01

Lower speed limit comes in

The photo shows the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday 13th May, when the long awaited change of speed limit in the village came into effect.  Seen in the photo from left to right are: Parish Councillor Paul O'Grady, Parish Council Chairman Jim Donahue cutting the ribbon along with Cllr Diana Smith who is Chairman of the Traffic and Parking Working Group (TAPWG), Charles Cotgreave, Oxfordshire County Councillor Kevin Bulmer, TAPWG members David Baty, Rachel Hatcher and Frances Parkes.   Photo by Nick Brazil.  Enlarged version here

Jim Donahue provided these comments: 

The need to reduce speeding in the village is a key issue for the community that was first highlighted in our 2009 Village Plan and again in the 2019 Village Plan. It is only in recent months that a change on OCC highway policy has enabled us to gain approval for this change after over 10 years of requesting it.  We understand that we are one of the first villages where this change has been implemented ahead of the broader initiative to roll our 20mph in the county. We also understand that we are the first village to get the speed limit changed across all streets in the community. 

The reduced speed limit is especially important in a village like Whitchurch where it is used by so many drivers to access the river crossing every day. Our residents regularly walk over the bridge to shop in Pangbourne and parents and children are encouraged to walk for the school run so pedestrian safety is a real concern.  The village is also popular with local cyclists and walkers on the Thames Path. 

This change is the result of speed surveys and consultation. The 20mph speed limit should be achievable on the High Street where the median speed is already below 25mph. 20mph may be more difficult to achieve at the Hardwick Road entrance to the village as it changes from the national speed limit of 60mph to the 20mph, but this will be monitored and further traffic calming measures could be taken if needed. Speeding on Hardwick Road is a particular concern as that is where parents park for the school run to walk their children the remaining distance.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 18th May 2022 10:55

New Youth Theatre Group

A new theatre group for young people is being set up, which is very good news for the village. It will run on Fridays at the Village Hall.

It’s being run by Lori Taliesin who, as well as acting professionally and holding an Equity card, has taught in local schools including teaching SEN children.

It is hoped that there will be enough support to run three classes each Friday:

  •          Junior (Years 1-3)              3:45 - 4:45pm
  •          Intermediate (Years 4-7)    5:00 -7:00pm
  •          Senior (Years 8-11)            7:00-9:00pm

 The village hall is an ideal location for the classes as it has a proper stage, is fully insured, has a safeguarding policy and is also licenced for performances.

Contact Lori to join the free trial class on Friday 20th May by emailing

Date/Time : Friday, 13th May 2022 13:43

Green Team plants apple trees

Charles Cotgreave, who has helpfully taken over the reins of the Green Team from its creator Alexa Duckworth-Briggs, reports on recent progress: 

Work on the community orchard section of the Polish Church Garden has taken a significant step forward. Members of the Green Team have planted five heritage apple trees; a sixth will be planted in the autumn. The planting layout, the details of the apple varieties and the parentage of the grafts will be published in due course on the Polish Church Garden page of this website.  Other work carried out included this year's first mowing of the grass, and the cutting back of brambles which were growing through the snowberry bushes on the southern boundary.   

The team included the site guardian, Anna Szczeponek, who provided much appreciated refreshments, and local tree expert Alastair Dunstan, who has sourced and grafted the saplings.   Alastair is willing to help with similar plantings for people in the village and can be contacted for advice at  He thanks all those who have already expressed an interest in this work.  

The photo shows Charles Cotgreave with Pete Woolhouse and Alastair Dunstan.  There are more pictures in the Photo Gallery. 

Date/Time : Friday, 29th April 2022 12:06

Eastfield House sold to developer

The derelict care home Eastfield House in Eastfield Lane has been bought by the property development company Urban Village Group, based near Birmingham. On their website they say it will “be developed into a new purpose-built care scheme for senior living, featuring 45 ensuite bedrooms.”  It mentions a figure for construction costs of £3.3 million, which would be for the conversion and extension of the existing 27-bedroom building to a much larger facility, a front view of which is shown on their website and in the picture above. 

The design shown is thought to be the one for which planning permission was obtained by Majesticare in August 2013 on appeal.  It involves the partial demolition of the existing building.  A planning application for complete demolition was refused on appeal in 2020.

Eastfield House has been empty for six years.  After repeated incursions by young people a few years ago, the site security was reviewed and all the windows were boarded up.  Here is a recent photo

Date/Time : Friday, 22nd April 2022 17:46

Plan for Manor Road trees – comments invited

The Parish Council has developed a plan to upgrade the environment of Manor Road by replacing various trees on the left hand side (see picture) with yews, which would create a balance with the existing yews on the opposite side, recreating the original avenue. 

The trees to be replaced include Elm and Ash, both of which have health problems. 

There is more about the plan in this article by Councillor Katherine Higley.  She asks for comments by Friday 6th May, prior to the next Parish Council meeting on 12th May. 

Date/Time : Monday, 18th April 2022 13:34

Ukrainian Nataliia offers help in contacting refugees

Enjoying the sunshine yesterday, Sue Matthews of Eastfield Lane is seen in the picture being escorted along Hardwick Road by Nataliia Kuczynska. 

Nataliia lives in Whitchurch but is from Kyiv in Ukraine.  She has been in Britain for about three years and was the live-in carer for Nigel Grove until he died last November.  Recently she has become the live-in carer for Sue, who has been coping with Motor Neurone Disease. 

Nataliia says that if there are any families in the village who would like to offer accommodation to refugees from her country, she would be happy to help them make contact with suitable people.  She is appalled at what has been happening.  Some of her family have fled to Poland from their homes in Sumy, north-eastern Ukraine, where there has been heavy fighting ever since the invasion began.  She is extremely worried for her friends in Sumy and in Kyiv. 

She would be happy for anyone who would like to discuss the possibility of accommodating refugees to email her, via Sue, at  She is also contacting Becky Galea who recently posted on the Message Board.

Date/Time : Saturday, 26th March 2022 19:16

Village's 20mph limit approved

At a meeting of Oxfordshire County Council yesterday, the proposed 20 mph speed limit for Whitchurch was approved.  This follows the public consultation, in which the comments received were overwhelmingly in favour, as detailed in this report

Jim Donahue, who attended the meeting, welcomed the decision and said that it came after many years of effort by the Parish Council, supported by TAPAG (now TAPWG) and others.  The 20 mph speed limit was listed as a high priority in both the 2009 and 2019 Village Plans. 

The new signs and road markings are expected to be installed later this year.  Every road in the village is included in the new 20 mph zone. 

Meanwhile, for the pedestrian safety project at the Lower Narrows, a problem has arisen in installing the bollards.  OCC staff have detected a buried electrical cable running directly along the proposed line of bollards on the Ferryboat side.  The discovery complicates the work and how it will be solved is not yet clear. 

Date/Time : Friday, 25th March 2022 11:42

Masked men break into Hardwick Road property

At around 11.30 last night a gang of four men broke into Flat 1 on the ground floor of The Mount in Hardwick Road.  The owner, Nick Brazil, was woken from sleep by the sound of his French-windows-style front door being forced open.  He got out of bed to find out what was going on.  He was forced to his knees by one of the men, all of whom wore full face masks, and told to stay there with his head down on the bed and not to move.  The intruders repeatedly asked where the safe was.  Nick told them many times that he did not have a safe.  They searched the flat, damaged his mobile phone, but failed to find anything they wanted. 

After only a few minutes they left.  Nick called the Police who arrived promptly from Henley.  They said they would visit later to check for fingerprints. 

Nick’s dog Harold, confused by the number of visitors, had jumped on to the bed to be near his threatened owner. 

This afternoon Nick, 76, understandably shaken, said he had lived in the flat for 28 years and this was the first time he had had any trouble.  He thought it was a case of mistaken identity. 

Date/Time : Thursday, 24th March 2022 17:58

Airband work cuts off internet (Update - Repair completed)

Many residents of Hardwick Road lost their internet connection at around 11 am today when the Airband contractor pulling a new fibre cable through a BT duct accidentally damaged the BT system.  The internet was still cut at 6.30 pm when the following apology was received from the Airband project manager by two residents who had complained, Adrian Dixon and Jim Donahue: 

“I have been informed that you have experienced issues with your internet connection that may have been caused by the works being carried out by our contractor. 

As part of our network we utilise Openreach(BT) infrastructure and on this section we had a blockage within the underground duct which has been cleared and we have then rod and roped the section to pull the Airband cable through and this may have caused some damaged to the BT cables or dislodged something within the BT joint. 

Firstly, I can only apologise for the disruption this has caused.  The normal process for this is the BT customers who have been affected would log the issue with BT and they would send an engineer out to see what has caused the problem and fix it.  I don’t know what BT’s lead times are on this or how long this will take to fix.  If the situation arises that traffic management is required our road closure is in place tomorrow if BT need to use this. 

I will investigate why this has happened and either Clive or myself will let you know our findings, but sometimes these issues are unavoidable. 

Again, apologies for all the inconvenience caused. 


Mark Watts, Project Manager, Airband

Airband Community Internet Ltd, 105 Pointon Way, Droitwich Spa, WR9 0LW "

Update, 18th March, 9.45 am:  Laura Lucas reports that BT have informed her that they have investigated the damage to their underground broadband cable and that they will carry out the repair by the end of Friday 22nd March. This leaves many residents inconvenienced for several more days. Staff of Airband contractor Sitec are this morning looking at the next stage, using a detector to find BT’s duct chambers further east along Hardwick Road. They said that new customers would receive a fibre connection to their property, which could replace the present copper one from the top of the distribution pole. 

Update, 18th March, 11.30 am: Better news - BT are at work fixing the damaged cable and they expect to complete the task this afternoon. There are 100 pairs of copper wires in the cable, all to be reconnected.  There are some photos in the Gallery. 

Update, 18th March, 2.45 pm: The Airband manager reports that the repair is complete, the internet is reconnected and the road is now open again.

Date/Time : Thursday, 17th March 2022 18:37

Thames meadow walkers confined by new fence (UPDATE)

On the approach from Pangbourne meadow to Mapledurham lock, the environment of the popular Thames Path has been badly affected by the recent installation of a long, straight, timber-and-barbed-wire fence, close to the riverbank.  Walkers using the National Trail are now confined to a narrow strip, seen in the picture, less than two metres wide in places. 

A Petition has been started to have the fence moved further back from the river.  Those wishing to sign it should visit this webpage

Walkers have pointed out that the narrowness of the path will lead to muddier conditions after rain, and that there is a greater hazard for walkers, especially those with children and dogs.  This is particularly so when the river rises and the current is strong.  The fence and its location are seen as an oppressive change to a much-loved natural scene. 

The petition requests the owner of Home Farm to provide a width for walkers at least as generous as that provided by the neighbouring Spring Farm.

Update, 21st March: The Thames Path Manager in OCC is on the case. Eric Hartley has been informed that:  "We are aware of the new fence and we are working closely with West Berkshire Council who are the enforcement authority.  West Berkshire Council are in communication with the landowner and they are also aware of the concerns.  We will continue to monitor the situation and work with West Berkshire Council to improve the situation."

Date/Time : Wednesday, 16th March 2022 10:07

Installation of bollards postponed

The Parish Council advised: (but see below....)

To help improve the pedestrian safety of the Lower Narrows, bollards are being installed along the road by The Ferryboat on Tuesday 15th March.  Bollards will be on both sides of the road to protect villagers walking on the path – but it will narrow the road to only one car's width.

This may affect traffic patterns, certainly in the short term, so please proceed with caution when approaching the lower narrows….and enjoy walking along the newly protected path! 

The 15th March happens to coincide with the middle day of the three day closure of Hardwick Road for broadband roadworks.

Update, Monday 14th March:  OCC decided at a site meeting this morning that more investigation is needed of the locations of underground services before excavation work for bollards can begin.  There will be a further site meeting on 22nd March before a revised date for installation is decided.  How the work will be done in the narrow road with traffic passing is not clear as no notice of traffic lights or temporary road closure appears to have been given. 

Date/Time : Friday, 11th March 2022 14:55

Hardwick Road closure - extension to Friday

Contractors for Airband Community Internet Ltd will replace two damaged GPO chamber covers in Hardwick Road during a three day road closure later this month.  The road will be closed between the High Street and the nearer of the two Swanston Field junctions, from Monday 14th to Wednesday 16th March, between 8 am and 5 pm. 

Airband, based in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, have written to affected householders, explaining that full fibre broadband is coming to the area, thanks to an award of £6.3m from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development in 2018 to OCC’s project ‘Businesses in Rural Oxfordshire’.  

The official roadworks notice and a diversion map can be seen here.  For three days, residents of Swanston Field and most of Hardwick Road who are driving to Pangbourne will need to go the long way round via Path Hill, Goring Heath, Whitchurch Hill and down the High Street.

An Airband representative has suggested to us that any local resident interested in being connected to the new service, with speeds up to 900 Mbps, should visit the Airband website and enter their postcode to see the options and the costs.  Alternatively, call them on 01905 676 121.

Update, 16th March:  The closure duration has been extended by two days to include Thursday 17th and Friday 18th.  So far the traffic management team seems to have kept the road open for most of the time. 

Date/Time : Tuesday, 01st March 2022 14:22

Public forum held on traffic and parking

There was a modest turnout for the public forum on Thursday in The Old Stables of the Traffic and Parking Working Group (TAPWG).  Three members of the public attended the gathering in person and there were four on Zoom.  Five members of the Group were present to answer questions and the forum was extended to more than an hour, prior to the Group’s monthly meeting. 

TAPWG chair Diana Smith said afterwards that the forum had provided a useful interaction with residents.  The Group will now continue to develop a range of options to be presented to the Parish Council later in the year.  Monthly meetings of the Group will continue, the minutes being posted on the Traffic and Parking page of this website.  The Parish Council will then discuss with Oxfordshire County Council their preferred option, which will replace the one to which OCC gave their unofficial approval in 2019 before opposition from a number of residents caused a reappraisal, followed by a fresh start.

Date/Time : Sunday, 27th February 2022 10:16

New map of Whitchurch and its surrounds

Candida Kennedy, who grew up in Whitchurch, has enjoyed spending some of her lockdown time painting an imaginative map of the village and neighbouring communities. 

The picture above shows part of it.  To see the whole map, scroll down the menu on the left and go to the Contact page, on which it is the fifth map listed.  For readers who would like to obtain their own copy, a link to her website is provided. 

Candida is a professional illustrator who lives in Wallingford.  She is the granddaughter of Whitchurch doctor Tony Spafford whose surgery was at Whiteways in Hardwick Road.  The Spaffords lived in the village from 1947 until 2009.  She says: “As well as being the village doctor, he captained the newly revived cricket club for many years and was a regular in The Greyhound.  Over four generations we have made many friends in the village… and frankly love the place!”

Date/Time : Sunday, 13th February 2022 11:55

New signs on bridleway name the Hartley Steps

Ten years ago, a double stepway was created to make a steep section of the Hartslock Bridleway safer for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, after a series of accidents.  The story has been told on this page of how retired safety officer Eric Hartley badgered the local authority for two years until something was done.  When a successful design for the steps was finally in place, a competition was held at the 2012 Whitchurch Fête to name them, resulting in ‘The Hartley Steps’. 

On Tuesday this week, following a request to Oxfordshire County Council last year by parish chairman Jim Donahue, warning signs were installed on each approach to the steps.   The work was done by volunteers working under the supervision of Lucy Duerdoth of OCC’s National Trails Volunteer Project Office.  The special wording requested by Jim was agreed by her office, which oversees the Thames Path.  The sign reads: “Hartley Steps – Cyclists proceed with caution - Slow down for walkers - Thank you". 

This photo page shows the new sign at the top of the steps, together with Eric receiving the Whitchurch Award in 2019 for his services to the community, awarded particularly for his work over many years on behalf of local walkers.  Maps and descriptions for Eric’s walks are on this page

This an important year for Eric and his wife Betty.  On 9th January they celebrated his 90th birthday at home in Swanston Field with two of their three children and their families.  On 16th March they are planning a party for their 65th wedding anniversary; and on 2nd July it is Betty’s turn to enjoy her 90th birthday.  

Eric says he is delighted that his efforts on behalf of the bridleway users have been recognised.

Date/Time : Friday, 11th February 2022 11:20

Hempen farm at Path Hill welcomes asylum seekers

Hempen is a farm founded in 2016 near the Whitchurch parish boundary at Path Hill, on the Hardwick estate.  Run as a not-for-profit workers’ cooperative, it is based on growing hemp which is used to make various Cannabidiol (CBD) products such as balms, creams and oils.  Recently it has been recognised as a place of sanctuary for refugees, who are encouraged by volunteers to grow their own food, spend time in nature and meet people. 

On 25th January, the Reading group City of Sanctuary presented a Garden of Sanctuary award to Hempen (picture) for its project 'Growing Solidarity'. 

There is more information in a Henley Standard article published yesterday.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 08th February 2022 10:40

Have your say on Whitchurch’s 20 mph limit

Oxfordshire County Council has today (3rd February) begun a four week formal consultation on Whitchurch’s proposed 20 mph speed limit. 

This is the opportunity for us to say whether we support the proposal, or to ask questions about it, before the closing date of 4th March. 

The Survey form, together with other documents, can be found on this OCC webpage.  Those responding are asked to register their name before filling in the form. 

The map above shows the roads affected – which is every road in the village, from 50m above the upper narrows down to the toll bridge, and along Hardwick Road to the village entrance.  Manor Road and Eastfield Lane are included.  The main hill above the village would remain at 40 mph.  The toll bridge and its approaches already have a 20 mph limit, as does Pangbourne. 

An article by parish chairman Jim Donahue on the traffic speed survey of last November, and on the current speed limit proposals, appeared with our news item of 22nd December, and can be read here.

Date/Time : Thursday, 03rd February 2022 17:10

River Thames frontage goes on sale

Two parcels of land are being offered for sale at the far end of Eastfield Lane.  One of 2.7 acres, just south of the school, includes an existing bungalow with planning permission for an extension.  The other, of 1.2 acres, includes a considerable length of river frontage.  Pangbourne estate agents Strutt & Parker are suggesting a price of £1.9 million.  There are further details and a map here

Thanks to Sarah Hanfrey for drawing attention to this. The agents call it “an exciting opportunity to acquire a building plot within the highly sought-after village of Whitchurch on Thames.”

Date/Time : Monday, 31st January 2022 10:55

New activities in Whitchurch

Two new classes have just started up in our superbly refurbished village hall, taking advantage of its new booking system. 

Recently opened is Bloom Baby – a weekly mother and baby group which provides babies with music and plenty of activities and, of course, gives mothers the chance to meet other mothers. The first sessions have been so successful that a second Monday morning slot is now being run. Information and booking details from Sara Jackson, the organiser, can be found on this website or @bloomreadingnorth on Facebook and Instagram. 

Also new is Whit Fit Bootcamp  a brand new 45 minute community exercise class for mixed fitness abilities. Run by Personal Trainer Hannah Dunbar (pictured above), these fun and challenging classes will be at 9:05am every Wednesday and 9:15am every Friday during term time. If you want to improve your fitness, strength and flexibility, in a fun and welcoming setting, then please contact Hannah directly to book your place in the class by email or 07971 116 704.  First session is free.  

Afternoon Teas continue to be held on the second Thursday of the month. They run from 2.30 to 5 pm and the next one is on 10th February. We will be baking in the village hall using the new catering equipment bought with help from a National Lottery Grant.  Jean Marc Grosfort is keen to get more people involved in the baking but, while he is recovering from his recent successful back operation, we will be restricted in what we can do.  Get well soon, Jean Marc!  See the latest poster here.

Hatha Yoga on Tuesday evenings, Tap Dancing and Camera Club on Wednesdays, and Bridge Club on alternate Wednesday afternoons, all continue to be popular. 

With the new online booking system for the hall, it’s easy to see exactly what is happening at any time by simply checking on the Booking Calendar.

Date/Time : Thursday, 27th January 2022 15:45

Car transporter blocks the High Street

Traffic was held up for about twenty minutes this evening when a car transporter arrived at the toll bridge, heading towards Pangbourne, at around 4.40 pm.  The toll collector advised the driver to continue across the bridge and turn on the other side where there’s space, but he refused.  Fortunately for everyone involved, an operative from Hazell & Jefferies with experience in HGVs and traffic management happened to be passing by.  He was able to guide the driver, who had limited English, back to The Ferryboat and help him with the challenging task of turning the truck round using the pub's car park.  There were only inches to spare - here is a larger picture.

Date/Time : Monday, 24th January 2022 18:29

Traffic and Parking survey published (Updated: Zoom link added)

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. 

Update, 3rd February:

Alternatively, you may join the forum on Zoom from 8 pm using the following link. You may also submit questions for the group to consider by contacting Diana Smith by email at: 

The Zoom link will be: 

Meeting ID: 913 1037 6802.   Passcode: VT?4p@

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 

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

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