The title of this blog is actually rather a misnomer for the picturesque village of East Hendred is, in reality, quite close to both London and Oxford. Nestling at the foot of the Berkshire Downs, its charm and ancient houses give it the appearance of a place far from civilisation and today’s frenetic pace of life.
A traditional English village centres around the ‘big house,’ the pub and the church and East Hendred can boast that its manor has been owned by the same family, the Eystons, for over six hundred years. It has three pubs thereby bucking the trend in recent years of the many pub closures elsewhere that often sees the social heart of a community destroyed.
There has been a village shop for very many years for a book published in 1922 (English Country Life & Work by Ernest C. Pulbrook) shows it in a photograph. Today, the shop is still “thriving and well-accustomed” although it is doubtful if it now sells the wooden hay rakes that are lined up outside on the early photo! The building has remained unchanged over the years although the village changed allegiance in 1974 and is now in the county of Oxfordshire. The shop is easily recognisable in my photograph as being at the far end of the row.
The church, dedicated to St Augustine of Canterbury, dates from the late twelfth century although its tower is later, built around 1450.
At the other end of the village is the former Chapel of Jesus of Bethlehem also built around 1450 by Carthusian monks. Now known as Champs Chapel, it houses a small museum dedicated to the history of the village. It is opened and maintained by volunteers.
Despite its historic past, the parish of East Hendred which is crossed by the ancient Ridgeway path (now a National Trail) is also firmly fixed in the modern day for it also houses the Harwell Science and Innovation Centre where the Diamond Syncrotron Facility is located.