History of Goring and Streatley

GORING AND STREATLEY THOUGH THE CENTURIES

Goring (Garinges), with its former hamlets of Cleeve and Gatehampton, together with Streatley (Strata) have probably been inhabited continuously for about 12,000 years. Human activity at Gatehampton, now south east Goring, can be traced back to c.10,000 BC, when Late Upper Palaeolithic hunters using long-blade and other flint tools probably ambushed migrating animals where they crossed the river at the narrowest and shallowest point in the what is now referred to as the ‘Goring Gap’ (the narrowing of the valley to a gorge-like passage through the chalk hills each side of the river). This is the narrowest part of the whole Thames Valley. The villages' unique location, at the intersection of three of the most ancient routes in Britain (The Thames, The Ridgeway and The Icknield Way), has meant they have been visited by nomadic tribes for many thousands of years. The Ridgeway is claimed to be Europe’s oldest road and Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) people may have travelled along it and through this area to and from ‘europe’ before Britain became an island.

Pre-historic: c.10,000 B.C.  Evidence of Late and Upper Palaeolithic (13,000 – 8,500 B.C.) and Mesolithic (8,500 – 4,250 B.C.) human activity in Goring indicates a probable butchering site at Gatehampton, where flint axes were found. Exhibits are currently in the River & Rowing Museum, Henley. Large migrating animals passed through the Gap, as evidenced by discovery of the two-foot (60cm) wide lower jaw bones, complete with one tooth, of a young mammoth in the river between Goring lock and Gatehampton in 1983. The exhibit is currently on display in an Oxford museum. Going back further, two Ichthyosaurs (Greek for Fish Lizard) vertebrae were found in Goring in the 1980s. These date back to the Cretaceous period, so about 100 million years old, and larger than any specimens held in the London Natural History Museum.

 4,250-2,400 B.C. Evidence to suggest that Neolithic people used the Ridgeway to transport flint axes to northern France.

  • 2,400 – 700 B.C. Evidence of a Bronze Age Cemetery found at Gatehampton. Ring ditches, a Bell Barrow and a Round Barrow have been discovered with numerous artefacts found nearby including, a Bronze Age axle-cap, pottery, bone, flints, axes, long blades and Middle to Late Beaker sherds.
  • 700 B.C. Iron Age tribes were starting to settle in Goring and made their characteristic square fields by ploughing with ards, an early form of plough. Remains of their Iron Age hut circles (roundhouses) can still be seen as cropmarks on aerial photographs near the river at Gatehampton.

1st CENTURY

 43 A.D.  The Romans built a raised causeway at the end of what is now Ferry Lane, Goring. Remains of a Roman villa and farmstead are still being excavated in Goring. Another villa, with an impressive mosaic, was found by Brunel’s railway workmen just across the Thames in the 1840s. Roman coins dated 69 – 96 A.D. found in Goring, along with other artefacts, including 2 brooches and pottery dredged from the river.

7th CENTURY

  • 650 The section of the Thames in the Goring and Streatley area was an ancient boundary dividing Anglo-Saxon Wessex and Mercia (Danelaw). The British Isles were a patchwork of many kingdoms founded from native or immigrant communities and led by powerful chieftains or kings. In their personal feuds and struggles between communities for control and supremacy, a small number of kingdoms became dominant including Mercia and Wessex.
  • 687 Streatley first documented as ‘Strata’, derived from the Latin, meaning ‘road’. Goring is thought to be derived from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Garinges’ (the home of Gara’s people).

8th CENTURY

 757 – 795 Goring was in Mercia under King Offa and Streatley was in Wessex under King Ine.

9th CENTURY

  • 871 King Alfred fought and defeated the Vikings on the Berkshire Downs, somewhere between Streatley and Wantage, in the Battle of Ashdown. Ethelred ruled the Kingdom of Wessex.
  • 878 The Vikings' final assault on the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex was launched from the Reading area. Under Alfred the Great, born at Wantage, the two Kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia effectively became one Kingdom. (Athelstan, King of Wessex, is credited as becoming the ‘First King of all England’ after taking York from the last Viking king, ‘Eric the Bloodaxe’ in 954). Bones of a Saxon warrior, together with his weapons, were recently found in Streatley Churchyard.

11th CENTURY

  • 1000 Goring & Streatley in Wessex in the reign of Ethelred the Unready.
  • 1066 When William of Normandy (‘the Conquerer’) killed Harold II at the Battle of Hastings, Streatley was controlled by the Saxon ‘Asgard the Staller’, an official of Edward the Confessor’s Court. Streatley had a church and a mill and the village had fishing rights. Goring was owned by Wigod, the Saxon Thane of Wallingford. Goring also had a mill, but no mention of a church at that point. It is believed that Goring Church was built by The Norman Baron, Robert d’Oilly, a staunch supporter of William the Conquerer. The Norman font still remains in use in the church today. D’Oilly was rewarded for his services with the grant of 60 Manors, including the Manor of Goring and went on to build Oxford Castle. After the Norman Conquest, there were 3 manor Houses in Goring and Gatehampton and one in Streatley.
  • 1086 Going valued at £15 and Streatley at £24 in the Domesday Book.

12th CENTURY

1180 Charter of Confirmation, issued by King Henry II, confirms a grant by his grandfather, Henry I, to the Augustinian Nuns and Church of Goring.

13th CENTURY

  • 1200s Goring Priory, an extension to Goring Church, built when the 36 resident nuns grew out of the available space at the Church.
  • 1290 A Latin-inscribed bell at Going Church was cast, being one of the oldest bells in the country. (Goring’s bell was cast about 200 years before England’s oldest manufacturing company, The Whitechapel Bell Foundry, was established in 1570 and which cast Pennsylvania’s Liberty Bell in 1752 and Big Ben in 1858).

14th CENTURY

1300s Ancient Dovecot built in Streatley on the site of the old Manor.

15th CENTURY

1403 Lord of Gatehampton, John de Shelford, owned two locks, one at Gatehampton (Hartslock) and the other at Runford.

  • 1415 A field near Ferry Lane, Goring, was reputedly used to train the local longbow archers for the Battle of Agincourt.
  • 1400s The oldest lay structure still surviving is thought to have been built in Station Road, Goring (now the barn of the Old Farm House).

16th CENTURY

  • 1530 Another of Goring’s oldest buildings, The Catherine Wheel, incorporating the old smithy, was built. It soon had its own brew.
  • 1536 Goring Priory dissolved by Henry VIII after becoming head of the Church of England.
  • 1580 Flash Lock at Goring kept by William Whystler. (Thought possibly to be a distant relation of the famous English painter, Reginald John [Rex] Whistler).
  • 1580 ‘Earl of Derby’ Flash Lock built at Cleeve.
  • 1588 There may have been a beacon on Streatley Hill to warn of the approach of the threatening Spanish Armada.

17th CENTURY

  • 1673 Streatley House and Streatley Farm built.
  • 1674 ‘Sad and deplorable news from Oxford-sheir and Bark-sheir’ was how sixty people, and a mare, was reported in a London publication (the Little-old-Baily) when a ferry overturned due to the boatman rowing too close to the weir when the passengers were returning to Streatley from the traditional ‘Goring Feast’. This event remains the second largest marine disaster in any inland waterway in the UK. (The largest disaster occurred almost 200 years later in 1865 on the Thames with the loss of 640 lives when the paddle steamer, SS Princess Alice, sunk after it collided with the collier Bywell Castle).
  • 1660s Lych gate (Corpse entrance) erected at the Manor Road entrance of Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, Goring. (Timber framing with Queen-post roof and wind braces).
  • 1600s Tudor Cottage, Manor Road, built.
  • 1600s During the 16th and 17th centuries, the spring at the old Leathern Bottel hostelry was promoted as having ‘medicinal properties’, claiming the water could cure skin diseases, eye complaints and the ‘ache of corns’. Pilgrims and other sufferers came from far and wide to purchase bottles of the famous spring water.
  • 1600s The Swan Hotel at Streatley built. (One of its many owners in the 1970s was the entertainer, Danny La Rue).
  • 1600s Miller of Mansfield built (original part).

18th CENTURY

  • 1701 Jethro Tull, a local agriculturist from Basildon near Streatley, refined the seed drill that transformed agricultural practice and increased crop yields. Recognised as ‘The Father of the English Agrarian Revolution’.
  • 1711 Goring Alms Houses built and Endowed by Richard Lybb (for the maintenance for ’Four Poor old Men’. Bridge cottages also built.
  • 1720 (1700 – 1732) The John Barleycorn Public House, Manor Road built with Wey Cottage.
  • 1750 (1733 – 1766) Bridge Cottages, Goring High Street, built.
  • 1787 Pound locks replaced the flash lock at Goring and Cleeve
  • 1788 The Goring Free Church was founded (by Lady Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon). William Wilkins was the Minister from 1797 – 1801.
  • 1788 Enclosure Act abolished the Strip system of cultivation and the ‘Field’ system was established. Apart from the social impact, some of the local roads are now straighter. (To the East of Goring the Enclosures were delayed until 1812 when the early road pattern had been set, as evidenced by some very winding roads between Crays Pond toward Mapledurham).
  • 1789 Foundation stone laid of Goring Free Church (Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion), which opened in 1793.
  • 19th CENTURY
  • 1805 Flint cottages in Goring High Street built (or rebuilt).
  • 1806 Napper’s shop and cottage built. (The 1806 inscribed stone on the wall may have been to mark an extension to the older original building). Originally a pork butchers shop.
  • 1818 Charitable Foundation in Streatley established by Jethro Tull, the local agriculturist of seed drill fame, was funded with £2 a year with 5 shillings to provide books for the education of 4 children. (Well before the 1876 legislation which established the principle that all children should receive elementary education).
  • 1822 Founding of the ‘Articles of Agreement of the Whitchurch, Basildon and Streatley Association’ by landowners of the three Parishes to pursue and apprehend persons guilty of Felonies, Thefts and Misdemeanours. William Stone of Streatley House and Church Farm was an original signatory. Annual General Meetings were held in The Bull at Streatley. Rewards paid by the Association ranged from 10 guineas for arson down to 10 shillings and six pence for theft of turnips or carrots.
  • 1830 Streatley larger and more important than Goring due to the Harwell and Streatley Trust’s gate at Streatley on the turnpike road. The post house was The Bull Inn, at Streatley.
  • 1830 Moses Saunders established a business at the Swan Boathouse specialising in repair and construction of weirs and locks on the Thames. Later the firm turned to boat building and was split in 1890. One grandson, Arthur, remained boatbuilding at the Swan, while another Samuel took over Goring Wharf, opposite the Swan. Samuel Saunders had a showroom in what is now Goring Delivery Office. Samuel’s company went on to grow into the world-famous Saunders Roe company, of flying boat, Hovercraft and aircraft fame.
  • 1835 Goring Brewery established.
  • 1837 First toll bridge built to join Goring and Streatley to replace the ferry.
  • 1840 Railway station and the river bridge at Gatehampton built for the Great Western Railway by their chief engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
  • 1848 A Streatley school, erected by subscription, was in operation.
  • 1850 Goring & South Stoke British School built in Goring High Street. (Non-Conformist, founded by the British and Foreign School Society and built with subscriptions.)
  • 1855 Goring School built with voluntary contributions in Station Road. (Now the Information Office and Community Centre.)
  • 1871 Goring & Streatley Golf Club founded
  • 1872 Streatley Parochial School erected. (Ninety pupils attended)
  • 1876 Goring Cricket Club Founded
  • 1878 Temperance Hall built (across the road from The Catherine Wheel pub). Now Goring Library
  • 1878 Goring covered about 4,610 acres (twice the current area) and extended about 4.7 miles from the village centre to Nuney Green, near Cane End, and included Goring Heath, according to the Tithe map of that date
  • 1880 Goring and Streatley and Thames Valley Water Company started, with a bore hole in Cleeve
  • 1887 The first Goring & Streatley Regatta held
  • 1887 Goring Working Man’s Club built in the High Street (for ‘the amusement and instruction of the village working men’)
  • 1888 Her Majesty’s Inspector’s report on Goring School read ‘On the whole, this is a fair rural school. A firmer disciple in needed’
  • 1889 Gas Works opened in Cleeve
  • 1892 The old brick railway bridge was blown up and replaced by a new iron girder one. In the same year, Great Western Railway changed from broad gauge to standard gauge lines and the number of lines doubled
  • 1893 Oscar Wilde started to write his famous play The Ideal Husband while living in Goring with Lord Alfred Douglas. The character Lord Goring was named after the village and he was known to have attended Goring Regatta during his stay here
  • 1893 To mark its centenary, a new Goring Free Church building was constructed, in which the present congregation still meets
  • 1895 Goring Mill (then Goring Electric Light and Power Co Ltd) reputedly the first communal electric power supply, sold electricity locally and then extended the supply to Streatley in 1908, or thereabouts, when the company was sold
  • 1897 Catholic Church was built in Ferry Lane and designed by architect William Ravenscroft. Prior to this, catholic services were held in chapel converted from a bedroom within the original ‘Boat House,’ owned by William Hallett, across from Goring Lock. (A later thatched version of which burned down in 2018, but now rebuilt). Hallett’s home ‘Streatley View’ in Cleeve Road was also designed by architect Ravenscroft and renamed ‘Rest Harrow’ in 1926.
  • 1899 Goring Village Hall started to be built. Completed 1900

20th CENTURY

  • 1902 First river bridge rebuilt
  • 1906 The Morrell family own most of Streatley
  • 1923 Second river bridge completed and was free from toll (a replica of the original bridge)
  • 1925 Clock on Goring Village Hall installed
  • 1926 Streatley Mill burned down
  • 1936 Goring Fire Station opened in Icknield Road
  • 1939 Mrs Morrrell died and her estate, most of Streatley, was broken up
  • 1939 Goring Brewery closed down
  • 1900s During the early 1900s, Goring became a very fashionable place to live and now famous people lived here including Air Chief Marshall of the RAF, Sir Arthur (Bomber) Harris and Admiral Sir William Harwood, victor of the Battle of the River Plate
  • 1939 Goring & Streatley welcomed various evacuated organisations at the beginning of the war and the Blitz, including: The Royal Veterinary College (from Potters Bar, staying until 1958), The Royal School for Deaf & Dumb (from Margate), The Alexandra Orphanage, The Belgian Air Force Command, London schools from West Ham and Ealing and Czech refugees amongst many others
  • 1940 One stick of bombs fell on Goring, killing one person.
  • 1952 Boundary changes significantly reduced the parish of Goring to about half its area from 4,610 acres in 1878 to its current 2,374 acres. (This was as a result of Goring Heath becoming a separate parish which now includes Whitchurch Hill and the hamlets of Crays Pond, Penny Royal, Path Hill, Cold Harbour and Collins End)
  • 1955 Mains sewerage came to Goring (having been considered since 1898)
  • 1956 Small housing estates started to be built in Goring increasing the population to double the size it was at the beginning of the century
  • 1964 Several very old black and white timber framed cottages demolished to build ‘a modern Arcade’
  • 1979 Goring became twinned with Bellême, Normandy. (After 1066, both Goring and Streatley came under the control of Norman Lords. (Robert of Bellême, made Earl of Salisbury, whilst having considerable estates in Normandy, had no known direct connection with our villages)
  • 1995 Current (second) river bridge strengthened and refurbished
  • 1998 Goring won the ‘Best Kept Village’ in Oxfordshire and was a finalist in the National competition
  • 1999 On 31 December, Goring & Streatley celebrated the eve of the new Millennium with street parties and other activities during day and night. A special Millennium book was later published to record those events and also the many other activities which took part throughout the year

21st CENTURY

  •  2000 Millennium Time Capsule buried under Goring Village Hall. It contains a number of contemporary items of interest for future generations to discover, including The Goring & Streatley Millennium Book, the Electoral Roll and various other objects
  • 2006 The old 1892 iron railway bridge demolished on Christmas Day 2006 and the new steel one opened for traffic on 1 March 2007
  • 2009 Goring won ‘Oxfordshire Village of the Year’ and went on to win ‘South of England Village of the Year’ as a finalist in the National competition
  • 2012 The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Goring & Streatley (eight events over 3 - 4 June) included the country’s longest street party. Around 4,500 people had lunch (in the rain) with a continuous line of tables covering the kilometre from the railway bridge in Goring across the county boundary to the traffic lights crossroads in Streatley. 500 souvenir book & video sets of all the celebrations were produced for sale to document the occasion for posterity
  • 2014 The inaugural Goring & Streatley Festival took place from 27 June - 6 July, which was the official legacy project of the 2012 Queens’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The arts festival was later renamed ‘The Gap Festival’ in 2016
  • 2019 Goring-on-Thames in Bloom won the national Britain in Bloom competition in the SmallTown category and Goring became ‘Best Small Town in the UK 2019’.

© Ron Bridle 2021. This Timeline was originally compiled in 1992 for Goring’s Visitors' wall maps. Genie would like to thank The Goring & Streatley Local History Society for their original research of some of the above information.

NB: This information is published by Genie News (www.genienews.org). Whilst every effort has been made by volunteers to ensure the accuracy of this information, the publisher does not accept any responsibility or liability for the consequences of any errors or omissions. Contact Ron Bridle: news@genienews.org