Henley-on-Klip's History
Chapter 1

Here is a publicity leaflet on Henley-on-Klip, dated 1952
With endless gratitude to Richard Kent ( Great-Great Grandson of Adv. Horace Kent) who paintakingly scanned these old documents

Henley-on-Klip's History Chapter 2

The Story of Horatio 'Horace' Couch Kent. Notes written & submitted by Richard Kent relating to his research through the Kent-family archives about his great-great Grandfather, Adv. Horace Kent , founder of Henley-on-Klip (circa 1904)

Richard Kent (Birmingham, England)

” You may be surprised to find that the name of Henley-on-Klip is held in the highest esteem in one small corner of England. That’s because Horace Kent was my great-great-grandfather, and I grew up hearing tales of Henley-on-Klip from my grandparents and my great-aunt Barbara, who stayed with Horace and his family for several months in 1939. I have also recently inherited a suitcase of family archives, including a large collection of original documents relating to Henley-on-Klip, which belonged to Horace’s eldest son, Percy (my great-grandfather) which I think would be of considerable interest to The Henley Museum . These include a large map of Henley, sent to Percy by Horace in 1931, and coloured in to show which plots of land still belonged to members of the Kent family, and which had already been sold. –  I would be delighted to make copies of all these documents for the museum.

During the Covid lockdown I’ve been digging through these archives, and researching the net, and have written “Horace’s Story”, piecing together the story of Horace’s life, his family, and the founding of Henley-on-Klip, which I thought might be of interest to residents of Henley. There were a few things that surprised me – for example, Horace wasn’t the first in his family to emigrate from England to South Africa – three of his older brothers had emigrated to South Africa before him (and one to Australia!) in the late 1800s. Although being an advocate by profession, he had been actively involved in property development in England for over a decade before emigrating to South Africa. And, despite the history books saying that he named Henley-on-Klip after his “home town” or “birthplace”, Henley-on-Thames, he was actually born in Deptford, South London, and I can’t find any records of him ever having living in Henley-on-Thames!  So I think he might have been a little bit “creative” in his sales patter for Henley-on-Klip! 

 Editor’s note: Richard Kent kindly offered a copy of  his publication “Horace’s Story”  to anyone interested in the history of our quaint village, and we’ll format and post this on these pages in due course. A hard copy will hopefully find its way to the Henley Museum soon.

Henley-on-Klip's History
Who was Adv. Horatio 'Horace' Couch Kent?
Chapter 3

The recent discovery of Horace Kent's Passport by his great-great grandson, Richard Kent, is the unearthing of an historical treasure unlike any other in the history of Henley-on-Klip. Why is Richard's find issued by the Union of South Africa so significant? We now know exactly when Horace Kent and his wife Elizabeth Hearn Braund were born, what they looked like, his uniquely 'crafted' handwriting and his signature. But moreover, it allows us a glimpse into the life of a man whom would have celebrated his 166th birthday this year and considered the founder of our Village.

Henley-on-Klip's History
Chapter 4

The Small Farms Co., Ltd Sales Brochure(issued in 1906) Much thanks and appreciation to Richard Kent ( Great-Great Grandson of Adv. Horace Kent) who painstakingly scanned this rare document

" One has to appreciate the unbridled optimism (most of which one may be forgiven to suspect came from Horace Kent himself), was probably wildly unrealistic such as the prominence of the Regatta Course on the first page of the particulars, and describing Henley-on-Klip as: " The soundest and cheapest Freehold land proposition ever introduced to the South African public" at the top of that same page. Also the Educational Foundation already established for boys and girls (p.5), and the glorious vision on page 11 of an 8-acre Market Square, and plots specifically reserved for a Library, Art Gallery, Museum, Club, Baths, Wash-houses, Coffee Tavern, Working Men's Club, Reading Room, Concert Hall, Theatre, Town Hall, Post Office, Fire Brigade Station, or other institutions to promote the well-being of residents of Henley-on-Klip"
Source: Edited from the original notes by Richard Kent

The Small Farms Co., Ltd Sales Brochure
'Advice to Investors '

Source: Richard Kent (Great-Great Grandson of Adv. Horace Kent)

Henley-on-Klip's History Chapter 5

"Where the streets have historical names"

With immeasurable thanks to Richard Kent ( Great-Great Grandson of Adv. Horatio 'Horace' Couch Kent) for sharing his interest, devoted research, dedication and insight into the history of our Village's rich history.

There are fifty five street names in Henley-on-Klip, plus five that were shown on early maps of the village, and they are probably the most unusual collection of street names anywhere in South Africa. So you might be curious to know where they come from, and I hope to show you (all except one!) Some names, like Oxford, Cambridge and Windsor, clearly come from England, while others like Marlowe and Mapledurham are also clearly English. But why were those particular names chosen? And what about those other names like Ewelme, Speen, Aston, Hearn, Christie, Gordon and Fraser? 

I can shed a bit of light on all of these, because Horace Kent, the founder of Henley-on-Klip was my great-great-grandfather, and I have a collection of his old papers and his original map of the village. I also recognise many of the street names as the names of familiar villages and towns from my childhood growing up in Goring Heath, within 15km of Henley-on-Thames, Goring, Streatley, Cleeve, Shiplake, Caversham, Sonning, Wargrave, Mapledurham, Fawley, and Ewelme. To help you keep track, I’ve highlighted all the places which have streets in Henley-on-Klip named after them by showing their names in blue. The 150km length of the River Thames between London and Oxford and its surrounding area is some of the prettiest countryside in England, and has been called “the cradle of England” with good reason. Many key events in the history of England have happened along its length, and its history goes back thousands of years, with many of the settlements dating back to before Roman times. 

Many of Henley-on-Klip’s street names come from England’s ancient and beautiful towns and villages that lie close to Henley-on-Thames, so may have been chosen for that reason alone. But others are further away, and many pretty villages near Henley aren’t included, so there are clearly some other factors at work, and that’s what Richard Kent has been trying to figure out. 

Could an 1889 bestseller book have been the inspiration behind Henley-on-Klip’s street names?

I have a theory that Horace’s choice of street names in 1904 might well have been influenced by the massive success of the book “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome K. Jerome. It’s a brilliant novel that was published in 1889, only nine years before Horace left England for South Africa, and was an instant best-seller. It’s never been out of print, and is still hugely popular today, recently being voted No.25 on the all-time list of best-loved English novels. It’s based on the real-life experiences of Jerome and two of his friends, who all loved boating, and it describes a hilarious (though fictional) three-week boat trip taken by the three friends and their dog Montmorency along the Thames from Kingston-upon-Thames, near London, to Oxford and back, in a camping skiff (a small rowing boat). This would have been a typical boating holiday at the time, at the height of the 1880s craze in England for boating as a leisure activity.

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (1889)

With very few exceptions, the current street names in Henley-on-Klip are exactly as shown on the earliest maps of the town – the one in the Henley Museum dated 1905, and the one which Richard Kent has, dated 1912, which belonged to Horace. Of the 60 street names shown on these original maps, 40 are the names of towns and villages on or near the exact stretch of river described by Jerome K. Jerome, and 21 of these are actually mentioned by name in Three Men in a Boat. That seems far too many to be just coincidence!