Henley’s Heritage – Speaker’s House

Speaker’s House in Hart Street current offices of Penny & Sinclair estate agents was where William Lenthall, Speaker of the Long Parliament, was born in 1591.

Lenthall was elected to Parliament in 1639 and chosen as Speaker in 1640.  He was intimately connected with disputes between King Charles 1 and his Parliament and Cromwell is supposed to have paid several visits to him at his house in Hart Street.

Lenthall is best remembered for his defiance of King Charles on 4 January 1642 when the King entered the chamber of the House of Commons, supported by 400 armed men, in an attempt to seize five members whom he accused of treason. When Charles asked Lenthall where the five were, Lenthall famously replied “I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as this House is pleased to direct me.” It was the first time in English history that a speaker of the House of Commons had declared his allegiance to the liberty of parliament rather than the will of the monarch.

In the 18th century it housed the Henley Grammar School, which was founded in 1604.

In the 1930s it was the surgery of Smith, Susman & Staines Read Physicians & Surgeons.

During the 1980s, the building was offices for Perpetual.

In 2004 the building was converted to a Health and Wellbeing Clinic and in 2006 a retail shop for Black Hills Yarns wool shop.

Sotheby’s International estate agents opened their offices in the building in 2012 headed up by Philip Booth who now owns his own estate agency in the town and the building is home to Penny & Sinclair estate agents.

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