Pangbourne Village – Population circa 3500
Pangbourne owes its existence to its location on a strategic crossing point of the River Thames. The Thames has been an important route way for human communities for many thousands of year and Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) and Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) flint tools have been recovered from the river in the Pangbourne area.
Evidence of permanent settlement was found in the 19th century when workers building the railway discovered an extensive Roman period cemetery. Taking this into consideration with the knowledge that the Roman road from Silchester to Dorchester ran through Pangbourne Parish could give weight to any argument suggesting that there was an early Roman/Briton settlement here.
What we do know is that Paega one of Penga’s Saxon chiefs, with his following decided to settle here, hence the name Pangbourne (‘Paega’s People’s Stream’). The place is first recorded in a grant of land here from the Bishop of Leicester to Bertwulf, the King of Mercia (the Midlands) in AD 844. The monarch is prominently depicted on the village sign.
Other points of interest
Shooters’ Hill is supposed to have been named, when the pursuers of a dangerous highwayman, who could not follow their prey over the border into Oxfordshire, shot at him from the top of the hill! More likely, however, is the idea that there was an artillery station positioned upon it during the Civil War to guard the Thames crossing. Cannon balls were dug up there when the Great Western Railway was built.
Church Cottage, originally the old Smithy, was the one time home of Kenneth Grahame. He died here in 1932 and his funeral was conducted in the adjoining church, though he is buried in Oxford. Grahame did not write Wind in the Willows in Pangbourne but the rolling River Thames here is said to have been the inspiration for E. H. Shepherd’s beautiful illustrations.
The Swan public house. Jerome K Jerome’s three men (not to mention the dog) started their river trip from Kingston, went up to Oxford and then returned to the Swan at Pangbourne, and, after two days of rain, ended their trip there.
Patrick Malahide. Born Patrick Gerald Duggan in Thames Avenue has made many television and film appearances, including a nine-year stint as Detective Sergeant Albert “Cheerful Charlie” Chisholm in the popular TV series Minder.