Henley's chief feature is its main street, one of the best known in England. It originated as Feldon Street, the main road out of the Forest of Arden. It is a fine example of a medieval 'street' village. Its rich diversity of architecture - red brick, black and white half timber and plaster - blends together as no single building is so big as to upset the scale of the whole or to dwarf the people. The street runs north/ south but variations in its width and slight curves give the visitor a number of pleasant views. To walk along the High Street is to see English townscape at its best.
Start at the Heritage Centre and walk South, on the west side of the High Street stands the Yew Trees, one of the finest old houses in Henley. Altered many times is has the work of 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. Turn round and walk north towards the town centre.
Opposite the White Swan, a restored 16th century coaching inn, is the church of St John's and the Guildhall. The Church of St John the Baptist dates from the 15th century. The chancel and nave have been dated to about 1460 but the tower is possibly earlier. The Perpendicular church has a light and airy interior with a fine timber roof. The pulpit is early 16th century whereas the stalls and woodwork are modern.
(1) The Heritage Centre
(3) The White Swan
(2) The Yew Trees
Next door is the 15th century Guildhall, restored in 1915. Its collection of civic relics includes furniture, pewter plate (1677), maces, manorial rolls and the 1449 charter that granted privileges to Henley. The Guildhall and its walled garden can be viewed on application to the custodian at the Guild Cottage.
(4) St John's and the Guild Hall
(5) Market Cross & Stone House
(6) The Gables
Beaudesert Lane leads to St Nicholas' church and the Mount. Continue north. On the east side of the street, stands the Stone House, c. 1750,
In the centre of town is the old market place where the remains of the 15th century Market Cross stand. The cross, one of the few still existing in Warwickshire, is composed of local stone but only the raised base of 3 steps and the shaft are left.
Further north are grouped a number of half-timbered buildings, including The Gables (15th century), The Three Tuns (17th century) and The Blue Bell with its high gateway, also dating from the 15th century, and almost at the most northern extent of the town, The Black Swan.
The Site of Beaudesert Castle at the end of Beaudesert Lane is a short, but worthwhile climb. Towards the end of the 11th century Thurstan de Montfort built a castle which stood on a hill which is known locally as the 'Mount'. This was a fortified Norman castle built of wood and stone and probably built on the site of an ancient British fortified camp.
The Norman church of St Nicholas dates from the same period, also probably built by Thurstan de Montfort. It is noted for its beautiful Norman arches. The nave has been extensively restored but the east window is virtually original.
The Henley-in-Arden Civic Society and the Court Leet
Drawings by Keith Ford
(7) The Black Swan (8) The Mount As imagined by KF
(9) St Nicholas
Six Walks around Henley-in-Arden
Compiled by Wootton Wawen Footpaths Group. Leaflets available from Heritage Centre, High Street, Henley-in-Arden. Further information from Secretary, Denis Keyte Tel: 01564 792872
First Monday in the month
From Henley-in-Arden (meeting Prince Harry Road, Car Park outside Medical Centre). Further information from Mrs Kate Yarwood Tel: 01564 794079
A wide variety of walks to suit all - from 2.5 to 12 miles