The Henley Society was formed in 1968 as a protest group against a proposal to build a large housing development near the town. In 1999 it became a member of the Civic Trust and was renamed “The Henley and Beaudesert Civic Society”. It was later decided that the Civic Society membership was too expensive and that the money would be put to better use as donations towards town projects and local organisations; in 2007 it was agreed to drop the word “Civic” and the Society became simply “The Henley and Beaudesert Society”.
Over the past 40 years the Society has continued to take an active part in the town’s heritage. It played an important role in organising the “Time Team” TV programme on the Mount, and the Town Appraisal was initiated by the Society in 1988. Supported by the Joint Parish Council, the Society launched a project to prepare a Design Statement in April 2000. This was adopted by the Stratford District Council, and subsequently the Parish Plan was drawn up and published in July 2004.
The Society has a history of supporting local events and concerns of the town, such as the Heritage Centre, the Guild Hall Trust, the Henley Arts Festival, Henley in Bloom, the restoration work on the historical milestone in the High Street and most recently the provision of the information board for the refurbished market cross.
There have been several successful protest campaigns, including a two year drive to get the garish One Stop sign changed, resulting in a more suitable replacement in January 2007. Petitions have also been raised against the number of houses planned for the development of the market site, and the ugly CCTV pole by St John’s Church.
The Society is a vibrant organisation which celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a guided visit to the Lord Leycester Hospital, followed by a dinner in the great hall.
In the past few years, the Society has been involved in organising historical walks, stimulating talks, interesting outings and social events.