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Author explores the links between Henley and Marlow
THE Sacred Heart Parish in Henley has a long and complex history that links it with the town of Marlow. One Henley resident has decided to research and record the Parish’s fascinating tale.
Charles Whittaker, 69, lives down the road from the Sacred Heart Parish with his wife and has a keen interest in the Parish’s history and its Pugin link.
Edward Welby Pugin was a famous architect and completed more than 100 Catholic churches.
Charles said: "We had some work done on the Church and the Heritage Lottery fund gave us a grant, and one of the requirements of the grant was that we wrote a history. I had done some research on the Pugin connection before and so when the Parish Priest was looking for someone, I was the obvious choice."
The Parish began work in 1844 however wasn’t built in its current form until 1936.
The East Wall and altar, designed by EW Pugin, were originally part of a chapel belonging to Scott Murray, who lived in Danesfield House, Marlow.
This Chapel was knocked down by the Hudson Family, who bought Danesfield House in 1896.
Charles told us how "a wall of Scott Murray’s chapel was saved brick by brick, pane of glass by pane of glass and then restored into the Sacred Heart Parish, nearly 30 years later. It is remarkable of piece of history."
Researching such a history was not an easy task and Charles had to visit different locations and read through various documents, books and newspapers to find the information he needed.
Charles said: "I visited the History Centre in Oxford, the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies in Aylesbury, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Birmingham Museum. The original documents at the time were quite difficult and time consuming to use but the internet helps a lot. I wouldn’t have liked to do it without the internet."
"It really helped to have access to documents from mid 1800’s online. Newspapers are online as well which made it easier though still time-consuming as when you typed in Scott Murray you would get a couple 100 articles as a result."
A keen writer, Charles has had short stories and poetry printed in anthologies however this is his first book. When asked if a second was on its way he said: "Yes but I will be going back to fiction. I am a member of Reading Writers and I have a diploma in Creative Writing and so that it what I shall do with my retirement time."
Sacred Heart Parish, Henley-on-Thames: a Pugin Legacy is available for £10 from the Parish website: http://www.sacredhearthenley.co.uk/
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