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Fair Mile Oaks

Fair Mile Oaks - by Janet Pullen, project volunteerIn 1751 Sir Thomas Stapleton, then the Lord of the Manor of Benson, planted an Elm tree avenue in the Fairmile.  They were much admired and quite a feature of the area but after 200 years the avenue had declined.  It was decided to fell the Elms and replace them with Turkey Oaks.  These were planted in 1953 to celebrate the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

It was Elizabeth's sister, Princess Margaret, who helped plant the first of these trees.  She was assisted by the local Scout group and cheered on by many Henley residents.

Two hundred oak trees were planted at a cost of £2 2s each.  More than 50 years later in 2007 191 remain with an average girth of 114cm.

Princess Margaret talking to Jimmy Collins - photo courtesy of Tony Austin

This photo shows Princess Margaret talking to Jimmy Collins, who led the 1st Henley Scouts at the time. The younger leader is John Bowles, who was scout leader from the mid 1950s until the 1990s.

Mr Barnes is presented to Princess Margaret - photo courtesy of Tony Austin

The whole of Henley Grammar School (HGS) was present for the ceremony and the headmaster, Mr. Barnes, was presented to Princess Margaret.

George Butler planted the rest of the trees without ceremony.  His daughter, Janice, remembers her father in this article from the Henley Standard.

The Fair Mile Plaque - photo by Janet Pullen, project volunteer

In 1978 another row of trees was planted to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee.  The Henley Mayor planted 180 Lime trees between the road and coronation oaks.  Did you help?  If so, let us know.

By 2007, 185 Lime trees with an average girth of 130cm, formed the inner avenue.

Jimmy's tree

Jimmy's tree - photo by Janet Pullen, project volunteerThis Red Oak grows by the grave stone to Jimmy, a Marmoset that died on 16th August 1937.

The local press reports that a Miss Jeckyll, a local nursing sister in WWI, had two marmosets which she draped round her neck when shopping in Henley.  Apparently, despite being cute and receiving much attention, they were inclined to bite those who came too close.  See the full story from the Henley Standard here.

Jimmy's plaque - photo by Janet Pullen, project volunteerBernard Levin in Conducted Tour (1984) describes the quotation as an ancient proverb:

"there isn't enough darkness in the world to quench the light of one small candle".

A marmoset

Jimmy is described as "tiny" so he may have been a Pygmy Marmoset, Callithrix pygmae. There is little wonder that he was grumpy at times - he was along way from his home in the Amazon!



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