Janet Hurst of the Goring Gap Local History Society spoke to the Henley Archaeological and Historical Group on 5 March about the evolution of Goring and Streatley over the last couple of millennia.
Goring and Streatley are located where the banks were firm and the waters of the Thames shallow enough to allow the river to be forded in a stretch where the riverside was generally marshy. The Icknield Way crossed the Thames at this point and in time the settlements developed in the two Anglosaxon kingdoms of Wessex (Streatley) and Mercia (Goring).
The river itself was an important transport route – although not as navigable as at Henley – for goods such as grain, timber, coal and building materials. It was also a valuable energy source for powering grain mills at Goring, Cleeve and Streatley and a fulling mill at Gatehampton.
The river was crossed by ferry until the bridge was built in 1837, which transformed communication between the two villages and connected Goring to the turnpike road between Reading and Oxford, running through Streatley. The railway came to Goring in 1840 greatly improving longer-range connections.
Goring, in particular, developed rapidly in the later 19th and 20th centuries. Many large houses were built, especially in the 1890s, attracting prosperous new residents. The population of Goring almost doubled between 1871 and 1911, from 930 to 1785 people. The growth of the village accelerated, helped by the introduction of mains drainage in the 1950s, and the new mansions of the previous century were demolished to make way for newer developments.
Next month’s talk will be on 2nd April by Jenny Knight and Kaye Gough of the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading who will give a presentation about the Museum and a talk about the infamous Swing Riots of the 1830s.