Do you dig Greys Court?

Round & About


As part of this month’s Festival of Archaeology, archaeologists from the National Trust and South Oxfordshire Archaeology Group will investigate some of Greys Court’s fascinating buried archaeology. Katy Dunn tells us more…

The known history of Greys Court, between Henley and Rotherfield Greys, stretches back over 900 years, with the earliest known record being the Domesday Book of 1086. The de Grey family constructed the original manor house on the site, and early historic fabric survives, notably the Great Tower and adjacent wall fragments, dating from the 12th-14th centuries.

The archaeologists will examine the evidence of a series of “parch-marks” which are revealed on Greys Court’s oval lawn in particularly dry weather. These hint at a courtyard wall with a possible gatehouse structure. There were also other buildings on the site, now demolished. The team will also be guided by a geophysics survey across the lawn.

National Trust archaeologist Adrian Cox said: “We are hoping to add to our knowledge of the fascinating early history of Greys Court. We have a range of information already, including aerial photographs and the evidence of an 19th-century engraving depicting the site and showing its courtyard walls. We want to better understand the medieval and post-medieval layouts of the manor, so that we can give visitors a more accurate picture of how it looked in the past. We are aiming to give visitors close access to this archaeological research as it unfolds on site.”

The National Trust is proud to support the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) Festival of Archaeology, the UK’s biggest annual celebration of archaeology.

Shannon Hogan, National Archaeologist with the National Trust said “We’re delighted to be working with Council for British Archaeology on the Festival Archaeology at the places we care for. Archaeological experiences and activities offer opportunities for more people to find ways to connect with and learn about their local history and heritage. The Festival of Archaeology helps us deliver more for communities by uniting children and adults alike in a range of heritage activities and events.”

Archaeologists will be working at Greys Court from 15th to 21st July, and will be very happy to speak with visitors and explain the work and there may be opportunities to get involved.

To find more National Trust Festival of Archaeology events, visit Festival of Archaeology 2024 | National Trust

Henley Symphony Orchestra summer concert

Round & About


Enjoy a delightful evening of music in Henley in the company of Greig, Weber & Shostakovich

The beautiful surroundings of St Mary’s Church are the setting for Henley Symphony Orchestra’s summer concert on Saturday, 29th June, 7.30pm.

The concert will be led by guest conductor Jacques Cohen, Principal Conductor of the Royal College of Music Junior Department Symphony Orchestra and Lloyd’s of London Choir.

Emma Johnson is one of the few clarinettists to have established a career as a solo performer, after winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year at the age of 17. She has appeared as soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras, playing all the major clarinet works as well as special commissions.

She will play Grieg Peer Gynt: No.1, Weber Clarinet Concerto No.2 and Shostakovich Symphony No.9.

Greig found it difficult to write the music for Peer Gynt after being asked to do so by Ibsen. Greig himself said the Hall of the Mountain King, now the theme music for Alton Towers, ‘reeked of cowpats’.

Weber’s interest in the clarinet began in 1811, when he met Heinrich Baermann, the greatest clarinettist in Germany, for whom he composed two concertos.

Shostakovich wrote his Ninth Symphony in 1945 after Russia’s defeat of Hitler. It should have been a glorious ode to Stalin and Russia’s heroes, but instead Shostakovich seemed to make fun of the leader.

Tickets, £22 reserved; £20/£18 unreserved; £10 for U16s/students, by phone 07726 459261 or via Contact Henley Symphony Orchestra, Henley-on-Thames

Peppard writer’s inspirational love letter

Round & About


Peppard writer Glenn Bryant has just published his first novel available now in The Bell Bookshop in Henley and Fourbears Books in Caversham

What would you do to survive if you were suddenly arrested in your own home? That’s the question posed by local author Glenn Bryant in his debut novel, Darkness Does Not Come At Once.

Four years ago he began writing inspired by a lifelong interest in the Holocaust and the question: how could ordinary people do something, in the worst sense beyond imagination, so extraordinary? Glenn learnt specifically how people with disabilities were targeted and says he knew he always wanted to write about that in this psychological thriller set on the edge of Berlin, 85 years ago.

He explains: “That deeper societal question was my motivation. My inspiration was Juliet, my wife, who has a spinal cord injury and a level of paralysis. We’re so happy together. My novel, at its heart, is simply a love letter to her.”

A “love letter” which on many occasions Juliet was unaware Glenn was writing as he would take to his keyboard first thing in the morning while she was still sleeping.

“Setting out to write a book is a commitment. It’s unavoidable. But… You can commit to it on your terms. I wrote three days a week: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the days I wasn’t working,” he says. “I was most interested in how many words I had written. I was aiming for 1,000 a day. From my document history, I can see I was writing a touch over 10,000 words a month. And in eight months, I had reached 85,000 words and the end of a first draft. Then the hard work starts.”

But having always wanted to write since he was a teenager he wasn’t deterred by rejections and knock backs from publishers and literary agents despite constantly asking himself “is your work ever going to see the light of day?”

Glenn adds: “You’re really on your own, and you feel it, so you have to be your own life coach and therapist too, and pick yourself up from the lows. But once I was through those moments, I pretty much loved the whole experience. I’m at the beginning of my journey as an author.”

And while he has plans for no more at this stage and is 100 per cent focused on this first work, he concedes: “I’m sure I will one day. You just need that gem of an idea to lodge in your head and I will be away, starting all over again with a blank Word document.”

Join Glenn for a relaxed Q&A style talk about the book on Friday 7th June, 7pm-8pm at Fourbears Books, 20 Prospect Street, Caversham. Enjoy free entry and complimentary wine when you get there.

What’s new pussycat (doll)?

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Festival season isn’t far away, and Henley Festival has just announced its line up for 2024

2024 has only just got its feet under the table and we’re already looking forward to basking in the sun, having a few cheeky ones, and having a proper knees-up in a field. That’s right, festival season is looming on the horizon like a glitter-filled, good-time cloud; which is preferable to the rain-filled, dark and pendulous kind that we’re used to. Obviously.

Henley Festival have wasted no time in announcing their headliners for this year’s event, and we have to say, it’s looking impressive already. Opening the festival is Pussycat Doll, Masked Singer panellist and Sunset Boulevard star, Nicole Scherzinger.  

Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart is set to captivate the Floating Stage audience with ‘Dave Stewart’s Eurythmics Songbook’. It’s been a full 41 years since the release of Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), so expect that particular tune to get an airing.

From one icon to another…the Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight will be heading to Henley on the Friday night, and sadly, it will be the final show of her UK Farewell Tour. At least we’ll have the chance to say goodbye to a genuine legend who, along with The Pips recorded some of the greatest music of the 20th Century.

As the sun goes down on Henley Festival’s Friday evening Rylan will be DJing and entertaining the crowd with a trademark larger-than-life performance! It doesn’t feel like 10 years since he lit up the ninth series of The X Factor, but apparently it is. He’s now one of the UK’s most loved broadcasters, and we’re always a bit partial to his appearances on Celebrity Goggle Box.

The House Gospel Choir is exactly what it sounds like: an exhilarating mix of Gospel and House. Worshipping at the altar of dance they find the place where spirituality and the euphoria of the dancefloor come together –  amped up further by a full house band and percussion from the one and only Dezy Bongo, creating an effortless live fusion of the biggest house and gospel tunes that never fails to raise the roof.

Keeping the rave going will be no problem on Saturday evening as Ministry of Sound Ibiza Anthems with Ellie Sax take to the Floating Stage presenting the anthems that have sound-tracked everyone’s most iconic Ibiza moments.

Also confirmed for this year are classical music’s most famous Aston Villa fan Nigel Kennedy and the king of lockdown cover versions Sam Ryder. With some top names gracing the comedy stage (Mark Watson, Sara Pascoe, and Dara Ó Briain) Henley Festival is shaping up to be one of the highlights of the summer.

You can get tickets here.

Pop up books

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 This year’s Henley Literary Festival kicks off with a trio of exciting pop-up events in February.

 The very first event of the year features Michael Rosen on paperback publication day for Getting Better: Life lessons on going under, getting over it, and getting through it.

From We’re Going on a Bear Hunt to The Boris Letters, as poet, broadcaster, Children’s Laureate and author of over 200 books Michael Rosen has been cheering us up for over 50 years. Over the same time he has grieved the loss of a child, lived with debilitating chronic illness and faced death itself when seriously unwell in hospital. Despite this he has survived and has even learned to find joy in life in the aftermath of tragedy.

Michael comes to Henley on 8th February at 6pm to talk to Dr Rachel Clarke, author of Breathtaking and Your Life in My Hands.

On the same day, Telegraph columnist and best-selling author, Bryony Gordon returns for a special pre-publication event around Mad Woman: How to survive a world that thinks you’re the problem. Eight years on from her ground-breaking Mad Girl, this book is an insightful, fearless and brilliantly witty reflection on the eternal quest for a ‘happy life’, where she reassesses everything she thought she knew about mental health. What if our notion of what makes us happy is the very thing that’s making us sad?

 From burnout and binge eating to menopause, OCD and sobriety, Bryony tackles her personal challenges and demons with her trademark blend of compassion, honesty and humour.

Completing the trio of pop-up events in February is none other than national treasure and broadcaster Lorraine Kelly – joining us to discuss her own career and writing on 20th February at 7.30pm in conversation with Steve Jones. After making her Henley Literary Festival debut last year, hosting the Book Club event, she’s back with her poignant debut novel The Island Swimmer.  

Festival director Harriet Reed Ryan said: “Our 2023 Festival was our best-ever, with record ticket sales, a stellar line up and glowing feedback from our audiences, authors, interviewers and sponsors so we’ve got our work cut out for our 2024 programme, however we’re kicking off this year in style with some great names. These first names for 2024 show Henley is an important literary location, attracting big names to the town to promote their books during publication week and we’re really excited to welcome these names to Henley for our wonderful audiences.”

 Tickets are available here and on 01491 575948 (10am-2pm Monday -Thursday). Visit the website for information on becoming a Friend of the Festival for priority booking and other benefits.

 The 2024 Henley Literary Festival runs from 28th September – 6th October.

River & Rowing Museum Festivities

Round & About


The River & Rowing Museum in Henley has just celebrated its 25th anniversary and will be curating a host of events over the next 12 months. For now, it’s time to focus on more festive pursuits and there’s plenty of fun to be had over the next few weeks.

For those of you who fancy learning a new skill on 14th December there’s a Beaded Decorative Wreath Workshop – there will also be mulled wine, mince pies available.

To book – please email: [email protected]

There’s plenty of family fun too with plenty of activities to keep you occupied on the run up to the big day.

Monday 18th: Gingerbread Decorating* – Decorate gingerbread and a box to take it home. 10.30-11.30

Tuesday 19th: Make a Snowman* – Craft with Maddy. 10.30-11.30

Wednesday 20th: Christmas T-Shirts* – for the while family. 10.30-11.30 and 13.00-14.00

Thursday 21st: Festive Bag Printing* – with Camilla. 10.30-11.30

Friday 22nd: Christmas Decoration Making* – decoration & calendar. 10.30-11.30

*All days include a visit to Father Christmas and a gift!

All children must be accompanied by an adult (18+), free of charge. Activity charge is in addition to museum admission, but you do not need to visit the museum to access the activities. 

Email: [email protected] to book your place. Spaces limited so don’t miss out!

Toad Hall Henley art for sale

Round & About


Landscapes of Fawley Hall, the inspiration for Toad Hall in Wind In The Willows as well as the setting for Henley Royal Regatta are going under the hammer

With the approach of the popular annual rowing event Henley Royal Regatta on the river at Henley (Tuesday, 27th June to Sunday, 2nd July), Chorley’s auctioneers are delighted to present a series of landscapes depicting views of the Thames Valley where the race takes place.

Fawley Court, the nearby country estate also includes the famous Temple Island, where the world-renowned race begins each year and was the inspiration for Toad Hall in the much-loved 1908 children’s book Wind in the Willows by British novelist Kenneth Grahame.

The three landscapes in pen, ink and watercolour show Fawley Court in all its glory surrounded by the charming countryside around Henley and is a celebration of the area, which now pertains to the excitement of the rowing races taking part along its riverside. Fawley Court was originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1684 and was then remodelled for Sambrooke Freeman (1721-82), of the prominent Freeman family, for whom Fawley Court was the ancestral home. (Freeman was a member of Parliament for Pontefract in Yorkshire from 1754–61 and Bridport in Dorset from 1768–74).

The remodelling was done by English architect James Wyatt in the 1770s in the Neoclassical style and extensive landscaping and garden redesign was carried out by English landscape architect Capability Brown (1715-83) in the 1760s. Freeman also commissioned Wyatt to design and build the aforementioned temple for the island on the Thames, positioned in full view of the house, now known by all rowers and Henley locals as “Temple Island” and a landmark for the start of the race each year. Fawley Court passed to Sambrooke’s nephew, Strickland Freeman in 1782. It then passed down through the Strickland family of Apperley Court to the current owner.

As well as inspiring the home of Toad of Toad Hall in The Wind in the Willows, Fawley was requisitioned (along with Bletchley Park) as a decoding centre during the Second World War. In 1953 it was bought by the Marian Fathers, a Polish clerical congregation to be used as a boarding school, which became a hub for the local Polish community. It is now privately owned.

The works were created by British landowner, artist and garden designer Coplestone Warre Bampfylde (1720-1791), who is known for capriccio landscape painting and portraits. His work was regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Society of Artists. He was well known for his design, sketches and paintings of his family’s Hestercombe estate, which are now listed Grade 1 on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. He also painted several views of the Stourhead estate and gardens. His stunning works champion the English countryside depicting sweeping landscapes of natural beauty in various parts of the country with very accurate and scenic detailing.

The three landscapes will be offered  as one lot (Lot 271) in Chorley’s upcoming sale of Old Masters, British and European Art on Tuesday 27th June. Visit Chorley’s Auctioneers(

Clay, Cloth and Wood in Henley

Karen Neville


An exciting exhibition showcasing the varied works of four talented artists runs at Henley’s Old Fire Station Gallery from April 7th to 17th

Clay, Cloth and Wood: WORKS is an exciting exhibition showcasing the varied works of four talented artists covering ceramics, textile pictures and sculptural wood.

This exhibition runs from 11am to 7pm each day for 10 days, from Friday 7th April to Tuesday 17th April. It’s free and you are welcome to view the show at Henley’s Old Fire Station Gallery, just up from the Town Hall.

Henley resident Margaret Wainwright (Billson) has coordinated this exhibition which brings together the work of four friends, all highly experienced and gifted in their respective creativities. Their varied artworks are complementary and deliver a satisfyingly coherent show that will please many interests.

What can you expect?

Two of the exhibitors – Margaret Wainwright and Andrea Smith – are experienced potters whose passion for working with clay goes back decades. Based in Henley, they now share use of a kiln and studio where they exchange ideas and are mutually supportive. Will they ever apply to be on the TV series Pottery Throwdown? Ask them when you visit!

This TV series has no doubt fuelled growth of interest in handmade pottery and art ceramics, reflected in works appearing more in art galleries. Part of the attraction is the variety of form, texture and design and the uniqueness of hand-built wares, as is evident with these practitioners.

Margaret Wainwright’s hand-built pieces are textured, tactile and decorative. Robust, incised sculptural forms take inspiration from ancient rocky outcrops of granite. Other rounded vessels hold your attention with a Zen-like quality. Enigmatic forms hold interest from every angle. Margaret prefers matt finishes, with decoration coming from applied oxides, creative mark-making and use of a variety of clays. Pieces range in scale from palm-sized to large ‘statement pieces’.

In contrast, Andrea Smith’s domestic ware is skilfully thrown on the wheel and comprises bowls, plates and mugs. Her pottery is fired twice: an initial biscuit firing for the glazed decorations to be applied, followed by another firing at even higher temperatures. Her brushwork decoration is simple and tasteful. Each piece of tableware – dishwasher safe – works on its own or as part of a set. For gardens, Andrea makes hand-built bird baths.

Karen Higgs, from Watlington, makes expressive artworks – pictures and wall-hangings, using recycled textiles and thread. This medium has a subtle 3-D quality; and light catching the materials at differing angles highlights nuances in colours and textures of materials. It’s painterly, with portraits, landscapes, figurative and abstract subject matter, all superbly rendered as a montage of carefully selected fabrics, overlays and sewing threads.

Wood carver and turner John Heley has created sculptures, bowls and platters originating from trees sourced from well-managed woods and recreational parkland. John is a ‘man of the land’, living and working on a farm, his workshop a rustic outbuilding. Each piece starts at his sawmill, timbers sawn, stacked and seasoned over time – in readiness for working.

Like most craft workers with wood, John has a deep affinity and respect for trees, appreciating their varied qualities which dictate what he makes. His unique pieces highlight specific qualities of different woods, the grain and burrs, and the sense of history inherent in ancient trees.

The exhibitors are, in part, aiming to raise money for charities (the relief fund for the Turkish/Syrian earthquake & for Cancer Research) by donating some proceeds from sales and holding a prize raffle. Contributions are optional.

Do stop by at the Old Fire Station Gallery during the 10 days of this interesting free exhibition. The artists look forward to meeting visitors and chatting.

The exhibition has an Invitation only private viewing on Saturday 8th from 2pm onwards and is closed for public viewing at this time. Otherwise, you are very welcome to visit at the times shown.

The Art of the Album Cover

Karen Neville


Henley-based art publisher Hypergallery welcomes browsers and buyers to an exhibition of signed, limited-edition prints by music’s most extraordinary visual artists

A collection of exquisite limited edition prints and affordable works by a collection of talented artists who have worked with some of the most iconic musicians from the 20th Century will be on display at Hypergallery in Henley from November 26th.

Celebrating the Golden Years of rock music through the album cover art that put a face on it, visitors can view pieces featuring David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, T.Rex, Peter Gabriel, 10cc, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Beatles, Elton John, Genesis, Donovan, The Hollies, Cream, Pentangle.

The featured artists exhibiting include:

Vincent McEvoy was the art director of Polydor in the 1970s. As such, he had unique access to some of the biggest names in Rock, including The Who, Bob Marley and Eric Clapton. In recent years he has rekindled his passion for silkscreens, producing powerful pop-artworks based on some of the wonderful and iconic memorabilia that he accumulated throughout his career.

Karl Ferris is the man behind some of the most recognisable images of Jimi Hendrix. The originator of psychedelic and infrared photography worked closely with Hendrix on his image, styling and of course the photographs. With subjects including Cream, The Hollies, The Beatles and Donovan, Ferris was right at the epicentre of the psychedelic revolution.

Terry Pastor is a graphic artist who has worked for clients all across the world, creating iconic imagery with masterful flourishes of his airbrush. Pastor is best known for two images that jump-started the career of a young David Bowie, Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust. He has revisited and ‘remastered‘ his original source material in the creation of his stunningly sympathetic editions.

Barry Godber was a friend of King Crimson lyricist Peter Sinfield and a regular visitor to the group‘s rehearsal room in the basement of the Fulham Palace Road Cafe. Using watercolours, Godber gazed into a shaving mirror and constructed one of the most fearful self-portraits ever to grace a record sleeve.

Hipgnosis created some of the most innovative and surreal record cover art of the 1960s, 70s and 80s for the biggest bands and musicians of the era including Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and 10cc. For fifteen years Hipgnosis (Storm Thorgerson, Aubrey Powell and Peter Christopherson) thrived as one of the best known photo design companies and latterly movie makers, creating timeless rock iconography.

Alan Aldridge created imaginative designs and intoxicating colour-rich images that captured the dreams and hallucinations of a generation; in The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics, on album covers for The Who, Cream and Elton John, and on the notorious Chelsea Girls poster for Andy Warhol.

Richard Evans began his rock’n’roll career as a shoe designer in the early 70s, putting multi-coloured platforms under the feet of Elton John, Roxy Music and The Osmonds. It was at this time that he met Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgerson and later worked at Hipgnosis with them as their graphic designer for several years. Eventually, he set up his own design studio, working with many big names in the music industry. Since 1976 he has worked closely with The Who, designing tour visuals, merchandise and, of course, album covers.

Sir Peter Blake was elected RA in 1981, awarded a CBE in 1983, and was knighted in 2002. His seminal art for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is probably the world’s best-known album cover, but Peter’s connections with pop music led to many other ventures in album packaging, including The Who, Live Aid, Paul Weller, Oasis, Ian Dury, Eric Clapton and Brian Wilson.

Exhibition details:

Dates: 26th Nov 2022 – 23rd Dec 2022

Open: 11am-2pm by appointment

Location: Hypergallery, 47 Market Place, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 2AA

Admission: free

If you would like to visit, just drop Hypergallery a line at [email protected] or call on 01491 637021 to ensure someone will be at the gallery to welcome you.

Bjorn Again

Round & About


Bjorn Again are set to shine at the black-tie cultural extravaganza that is Henley Festival on the banks of the River Thames, between 10th & 14th July

One of this year’s headline act started out with a pub gig in Melbourne which had an audience of 350, from just a chalkboard outside the pub that day in 1988.

Scripted and choreographed as a tongue-in-cheek satirical parody of ABBA, the show rapidly achieved cult status. Having been acknowledged by Bjorn Ulvaeus as being the show which single-handedly initiated the ABBA revival in the late 1980s early 1990s, the Bjorn Again show is hailed as the most popular and successful show of its type. Now, just over 30 years later Rod Stephen, who founded the group brings Bjorn Again to the Henley Festival.

Growing up in Australia, who was the first band Rod remembers following and seeing live? “I was probably more into the rock scene than music like Abba,” he says. “The main group who I liked at the time started off as a New Zealand group Split Enz (you probably know them better as Crowded House); it was not just their musicality and vocals, but also, they opened my eyes to the theatricality of pop music. I remember seeing them once live and the entire stage looked like a front room, the keyboard player was playing with a standard lamp behind him.”

So, how did the idea of an ABBA parody band come about? “It was 1988, and none of the groups I had been in amounted to anything. I felt like doing something different and thought of a parody band. I had three choices, Queen, The Beatles or Abba, growing up in the 1970s I had the flared trousers so picked Abba. I got together a group of musicians and we spent months rehearsing and watching videos of Abba, then came our first gig. It was at a pub in Melbourne, and the only publicity was on the chalk board outside, “Abba tribute band here tonight”. We had 350 people in, they couldn’t hold any more! We were invited back the next month, and before we knew it, we were performing quite a few nights of the week in either Melbourne or Sydney and the media picked up on us.”

Is this your first time in the Thames Valley, or indeed floating! “I think it is the first time we have appeared at the Henley Festival, and we’ve performed on floating stages though I hope it doesn’t put us too far from the audience. We did make an appearance just up the Thames at the Reading Festival in 1992. I had this call from my agent to say we were needed to play the Reading Festival, and I said needed, why? Apparently, it was one of the late Kurt Cobain’s requests that we open for Nirvana. It was a great gig and that night we really rocked the Abba hits. To this day, I can still remember the cheers of the crowds.

What can the crowds at the Henley Festival look forward to? “All the great well-known Abba hits and some of the others they can sing along to. With Bjorn Again in authentic costumes, hopefully we can get everyone dancing in the aisles.”

Henley Festival

Bjorn Again are on the floating stage on Saturday, 13th July; visit the website