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Pangbourne is a large village on the River Thames at the foot of the Berkshire Downs at a bend in the river. The River Pang joins the Thames at Pangbourne and flows unobtrusively through the centre of the village.

Pangbourne is at an important road junction of the A329 Oxford to Reading road and the A340, which links Pangbourne to the A4 near Theale. It is a bustling village full of character, popular with tourists, and has shops, pubs, hotels and cafes, and a station on the main railway line from London to the West Country and Wales. Stretching back from the village centre there are extensive residential areas.

Opposite Pangbourne on the Oxfordshire side of the Thames is Whitchurch-on-Thames, and the two villages are linked by a toll bridge which has recently been rebuilt. Originally there was a ferry and this was followed by a series of wooden bridges.


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The parish church in Pangbourne is dedicated to St. James the Less, one of only 26 churches in the country dedicated to this saint. The building was largely rebuilt in the 19th Century although the large brick tower was built in the 18th century. As well as the CoE parish church Pangbourne has a Roman Catholic church, St. Bernadette's.

Kenneth Grahame, author of The Wind in the Willows, retired to Church Cottage in Pangbourne. He died there in 1932. E. H. Shepherd's famous illustrations of his book are said to have been inspired by the Thameside landscape there. Church Cottage was originally the old Smithy and in the garden there is the old village lock-up.  

One of the pubs in Pangbourne is The Swan, a beautiful 17th century listed building beside the Thames which is referred to in Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat.

Shooters Hill, which runs beside the Thames towards Oxford is supposed to have been named in the 18th century when pursuers of a dangerous highwayman shot at him from the top of the hill because they could not follow him over the border into Oxfordshire! However cannon balls were dug up there when the Great Western Railway, which passes through the village, was built so it is thought more likely that there was an artillery station positioned on the hill during the Civil War and the name originated from that.

In Shooters Hill, overlooking the Thames, are seven Gothic-style houses known as the "Seven Deadly Sins". They were built in 1896 by the shop magnate D.H. Evans. There are alternatie theories about the name "seven deadly sins". One is that they were built by D H Evans to house his mistresses, but another is that they were in fact built to house seven lady friends of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII).

At the north-west of the village further along Shooters Hill is wildlife gardens Beale Park.

To the south of the village are two large manor houses, Maidenhatch and Bere Court. Tradition says that Hugh Cook, the last Abbot of Reading, was hiding in a secret chamber at Bere Court when he was taken prisoner.

Nearby is Pangbourne College, which was founded in 1917 by Sir Thomas Lane Devitt and his son as The Nautical College, Pangbourne, on the site of an old folly tower connected with Bere Court. They wished to train boys for the Royal and Merchant Navies and the boys wore the uniform of the RNR Officer Cadets. In 1969, with the merchant fleet shrinking rapidly and many boys by then choosing university as a first step beyond school, it shed much of the nautical training in favour of a more traditional academic focus and was re-established as a Charity and renamed Pangbourne College. Elements of Pangbourne's naval heritage still exist today with students, both boys and girls, wearing Royal Naval uniforms and certain ceremonial traditions

The Roman road from Silchester to Dorchester-on-Thames runs through Pangbourne parish. Signs of Roman occupation have been uncovered on Shooters' Hill, including many gold and silver coins and a number of skeletons. Further south, at Maidenhatch, a Roman Villa was excavated prior to the building of the M4 in 1970.

Pangbourne is at the junction of the A329 and the A340 and is about four miles north-west of Reading.

Images of Pangbourne:
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Pangbourne