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Henley Cross

The cross in 1945

Sixty oak trees were planted in the shaped of a cross on a Henley hill side. They are shown in this aerial photograph taken in 1945. The Oxfordshire Way is the public footpath which can be seen running through it. On the bottom left of the photo you can also see the 200 year old Elm Avenue along the Fairmile which was felled and replaced in 1953.

Henley Cross in the snow - photo by Hilary Beck Burridge, project volunteerThis photo of the snowy cross was taken more than 60 years later in January 2007. Special project volunteer Hilary took the photo from the footpath and said:

"The cross is hard to appreciate in full from the ground. A planting scheme is suggested by the straight lines but you would not know it was there unless you knew about it beforehand."

Many theories as to why the cross was planted include:

  • a navigational aid for enemy bombing raids in World War II
  • planted by German PoWs in memory of the crew of a Luftwaffe bomber which crashed there
  • to mark Queen Victoria's Golden or Diamond Jubilee
  • to celebrate associations with Malta (with a Maltese cross)
  • to mark the beginning of the Order of the Victoria Cross or the George Cross

Research by project volunteers have concluded that the most probable is that the 60 trees were planted in the shape of a victoria cross to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 when she celebrated 60 years on the throne.



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