The following extract is taken from an 1852 Directory of Oxfordshire
This parish lies on the banks of the Thames, and contains 3,120 acres, of the rateable value of £3,727. The amount of assessed property is £4,308; and the population 1831 was 515; and in 1841, 565 souls. The principal proprietors are Henry Baskerville, Esq., (lord of the manors of Crowsley, Shiplake, and Lashbrook); G. C. Cherry, Esq.; and Joseph Phillimore, Esq.
Beneath the ancient manor house of Shiplake, not far distant from the vicarage, was a spacious crypt with a groined roof, and two separate aisles or avenues distinctly marked. This house was pulled down about fifty years since, for the value of the materials, and the stone work of the crypt, columns, capitals and all, was disposed of as common rubbish.
At the bottom of a pond on Binfield Heath (a large tract of common land) in this parish, have been found many oak trees, quite firm and sound, but dyed very black. Several of these were discovered in the 17th century, and many likewise were found about fifty years since. This timber is supposed to have been thrown into the pond or dyke in which it was found by the earliest class of agriculturalists, merely for the purpose of clearing the ground intended for tillage. Dr Plot supposes the black dye to have been produced by a “vitriolic humour in the earth, which joining with oak, the parent of a sort of galls, might reasonably enough produce such an effect”. Here is also a curious natural land drain, called Swallows, into which the waters of the land-flood flow and disappear.
The Village of Shiplake is small, the houses of the inhabitants are scattered over the parish, which is nearly seven miles in length, but very narrow. It is situate about 3 miles south of Henley. This neighbourhood is one of the most agreeably diversified sport in this part of the country.
Crowsley Park, or as it is termed in ancient writings Crouchley Park, is the seat of Henry Baskerville, Esq. This estate belonged to the Aldsworth family. The park contains about 160 acres, and it is well stocked with deer, and finely wooded. The mansion is a brick building, with an embattled parapet and square towers, erected about the time of James II. It was purchased by the present owner in 1845, and has since been much improved. Crowsley is distant 3 miles W. of the parish church; 3 S. of Henley; and 5 N. of Reading.
Shiplake House is the residence of Joseph Phillimore, Esq. LLD, chancellor of the diocese, regius professor of civil law in the university of Oxford; and advocate to the queen in her office of admiralty. It is seated on a fine acclivity near the river, and not far from the church. The south front of the house was erected by the present owner about 20 years ago. The views from this place are magnificent.
Holme Wood on Shiplake-hill, is the seat of the dowager lady Stanley, of Alderley. The mansion from its elevated position, commands extensive and picturesque views of the vale of Reading, and the more distant parts of Berkshire.
The Church, which is situated on an eminence, bordering on the Thames; is a Gothic structure, consisting of naïve, side aisles, chancel, south porch and tower. It contains seven stained glass windows, which were brought from the descretated church of the abbey, of St Bertin, at St Omer. These windows were given to the late incumbent by a friend. The church was restored at a cost of about £1,000, about 20 years ago. The tower has an embattled parapet, and is profusely covered with ivy. The south aisle, is the oldest part of the edifice, and was probably the original church. There are some memorials in the church of the Blundens and Plowdens, both of which families, formerly possessed considerable property in the neighbourhood; also a monument to the marchioness of Antrim, and to her eldest son, the viscount Dunlace; and a plain marble tablet to the memory of the Rev J Grainger, a vicar of this parish, and author of the “Biographical History of England”. Mr Grainger was seized with apoplexy, while standing at the communion table in the face of his congregation; he breathed for some short time after he was carried home but never spoke again. The living is a discharged vicarage, in the deanery of Henley, rated in the king’s books at £7 1s. The crown, and the dean and canons of Windsor, alternately present to the vicarage, and the present incumbent is the Rev Drummond Rawnsley. The tithes were commuted in 1840: the vicarial for a rent-charge of £147; and the rectorial for £650 3s 5d.
The Vicarage House situate a little west of the church, from the natural beauties of the situation, is one of the most desirable residences in the county.
The National School, erected in 1847, is supported in the usual manner. There are six cottages with gardens, and a small piece of land in this parish, the rents of which are applied to the repairs of the church. It is not known when, or by whom this property was given.