Henley-in-Arden

HENLEY-IN-ARDEN, a market-town and chapelry, in the parish of Wootton-Wawen, union of Stratford-upon-Avon, Henley division of the hundred of Barlichway, S. division of the county of Warwick, 10 miles (W. by N.) from Warwick, and 101 (N. W. by W.) from London; containing 1223 inhabitants. This town takes the adjunct by which it is distinguished from other places of the name of Henley, from its situation in the Forest of Arden, a large tract of woodland extending over part of Warwickshire and the adjoining counties. A considerable portion of it was burnt at the battle of Evesham, in the reign of Henry III.; from which injury, however, it had recovered in that of Edward I. Henry VI., in the 27th of his reign, granted to Sir Ralph Boteler, Knt., lord of the manor, a charter reciting and confirming previous charters, under which the place enjoyed numerous privileges now obsolete. The town is pleasantly situated, near the confluence of the rivers Arrow, and Allen or Alne, and consists principally of one spacious street, extending for nearly a mile along the road from London, through Oxford, to Birmingham. The houses are in general neat and well built, but of ancient appearance, occasionally interspersed with handsome modern buildings; the inhabitants are amply supplied with water from pumps and wells. The manufacture of nails, needles, and fishhooks, affords occupation to fifty persons. The market is on Monday; the fairs are on March 25th, for cattle and sheep; the Tuesday in Whitsun-week, a pleasurefair; and October 29th, a large fair for hops. The market-house is a plain building of stone, supported on pillars; and near it is a handsome ancient cross, the shaft of which, of one entire stone, rises from a pedestal, and terminates in a rich canopy. By charter of Henry VI. the government is vested in a high and a low bailiff, appointed at the court of the lord of the manor, when constables and other officers are also chosen. A pettysession is held weekly by the county magistrates.

The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £104; patrons, the Inhabitants; impropriators, the Knight and Phillips families. The chapel, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is a small but elegant structure in the later English style, with a square embattled tower; the west entrance is a highly enriched and beautiful specimen of the later period of that style: the old roof, of ribbed and carved oak, is still preserved in the chancel, and throughout the building traces of a pure design are discernible. There is a place of worship for Baptists. A charity school was founded by the corporation, to whom George Whately, in the 28th of Elizabeth, gave a messuage in trust for that purpose; and it is now supported by the appropriation of part of the funds at their disposal, arising from various benefactions. An hospital was built in the reign of Henry VI., for the relief of the poor and of strangers, and John Carpenter, then Bishop of Worcester, granted an indulgence for three years to all who should contribute towards its support. There was also a guild founded in the chapel by Ralph Boteler. About two miles to the north-west of the town are the Leveridge hills, where is a Roman encampment; and 300 yards to the east is Henley Mount, said to have been thrown up by Cromwell as an exploratory station.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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