20th Century Goring
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20th Century Goring

Including Streatley-on-Thames
and the surrounding district

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Goring and Streatley 1000 to 2000 AD - a brief history of the second millennium

This brief history of Goring, which has been extracted form the Millennium Brochure (shown right) produced by Ron Bridle in April 2000.

Millennium Brochure_tnIn 1000 AD Goring and Streatley were in Wessex, part of the English kingdom created by Alfred the Great. The king at that time was Ethelred the Unready. By 1066 when England passed into French hands following the Norman Conquest, Goring was under the control of Wigod, Thane of Wallingford. The Lord of Streatley was Asgard the Staller, an officer of the court of Edward the Confessor.

When Edward died without a male heir, there were several claimants to the throne. Among them were Edward's brother-in-law, Harold Goodwinson and William of Normandy, who based his claim on an earlier royal marriage and to whom, according to the Bayeux Tapestry, Edward had promised the throne. Harold assumed kingship but was defeated by William at the battle of Hastings. Goring then passed to the Norman knight, Robert D'Oilley, who married Wigod's daughter. Streatley passed to Guy de Mandeville. In 1086, the Domesday Book valued Goring at 15 and Streatley at 24.

At this time, there was already a church at Streatley. D'Oilley established the church at Goring. Over the years, several different Norman families became Lords of both villages, one of whom established the Augustinian Priory of Goring. The nuns were given the rights of the ferry to Streatley and to Streatley mill. Rural life during these times was no doubt hard for the villagers. Strip cultivation was the method of agriculture and apart from the Lords, most residents were quite poor. From 1395 to 1400 the Black Death took its toll, killing about thirty percent of the local residents. The Ridgeway and the Thames were major routes through the villages and there were many arguments over the mill streams and fishing rights. It is quite probable that villagers may have trained as archers in Goring and fought at Agincourt.

In 1536 Goring Priory was dissolved after Henry VIII became head of the Church of England after breaking with Rome. In 1588 there may have been a beacon on Streatley hill to warn of the approach of the threatening Spanish Armada. As the villages expanded, larger houses began to be built and some of the original flint cottages were extended and altered. The well documented event of 1674 describes the 'sad and deplorable news' of the drowning of sixty people and one mare in the flash lock at Goring.

Flash locks were eventually replaced by pound locks at Goring and Cleeve in 1787.

Towards the end of the 18th century, the old agricultural methods gave way to the enclosures and the strip method died out. In 1830 Streatley was larger and more important than Goring due to its turnpike road and post house, the Bull Inn. In 1837 a toll bridge was built over the river and in 1840 the Great Western Railway built a station at Goring. The line was doubled in 1892 and it was after this that Goring became larger and more important than Streatley. Both villages now started to become fashionable with large houses being built and well known personalities taking up residence. Life became more prosperous here and Goring and Streatley Regatta was established in 1887. Around this time also, golf and cricket clubs were founded and amateur theatricals were much in vogue. This was the time when the river was being used widely for leisure pursuits and Sam Saunders (later of Saunders-Roe) built expensive steam launches for the ever increasing population. In 1923 a new bridge was built over the river and the crossing was freed from toll. Streatley mill burned down in 1926, and the important Streatley estate of the Morrell family was split up and sold after Mrs Morrell's death in 1939.

Electric light, powered by Goring mill, had been an early amenity and, by now the villages had gas and a good water system. Mains drainage arrived in 1955 and expansion was considerable, particularly in Goring where there was more room. Twenty two housing estates of various sizes have been built in Goring since 1950 together with other small ones in Streatley. Many of the splendid larger houses have now been pulled down and Goring High Street is much changed. Since 1900 the population has doubled. Good train services to Oxford, Reading and London, together with the easy access to the M4 and M40 motorways have encouraged commuters to take up residence in these still rural villages in order to travel to work in surrounding cities and further afield. Two new schools have been built as well as a medical centre and fire station and the bridge, weirs and locks have been modernised.

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