ST HELEN'S PARISH CHURCH
The church tower was rebuilt in 1794. It has a single clock face on the east-facing side with hours displayed in Roman numerals. The clock face erroneously has the nine o'clock marker painted as XI. The eleven o'clock marker is also XI. This mistake gained fame during the Second World War when Germany's English-speaking propaganda broadcaster, William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) promised an air raid on "an airfield near the village whose clock had two elevens". RAF Benson was bombed soon afterwards.
View of St Helen's church tower
from the River Thames
Friends, Eileen Chamberlain and Mary Rowden on wartime firewatch duty on the church tower.
Rev. Field, Vicar 1880-1922
Rev J.R. Pryce, Vicar 1923-33
Rev. George West, Vicar 1933-45
CANON GEORGE HENRY PALMER, VICAR 1949 - 1963
Canon George Palmer was vicar of Benson during the years of austerity following the Second World War and did much to build up community life here. In 1949 he founded the Benson Evergreen Club and he started Benson Sea Scouts and a Men’s Club. He was also Chaplain to RAF Benson.
He took several of the photographs, published on this site.
Canon George Henry Palmer
A LIST OF VICARS OF ST HELEN'S CHURCH
The list is based on the online clergy database, the Parish Register and the Benson history books
2011-2015 John Burrell
The unusual 17th century memorial to Ralph and Jane Quelche in St Helen's Church. Ralph and Jane were proprietors of the Red Lion Inn on the corner of High Street and Mill Lane. This tablet records that they had twice rebuilt the inn at their own expense. A substantial part of this building still exists as a home, but in the twentieth century, a branch of Barclays Bank conducted business here.
Its fine first floor room became a temporary "court" for King Charles I in 1642, during the English Civil War. It was here that the King dictated his letter to the Mayor of Reading, demanding that Caversham bridge should be immediately repaired to allow the passage of royalist army and artillery.
Read further details in Chapter 8 of "The Ditmas History of Benson" by Edith Ditmas, which can be ordered by clicking the button at the foot of this page.
The Bensington Charity
In St Helen's Church, two boards record the names of the
benefactors of the village.
The timber framed house on the left in Brook Street was once a Primitive Methodist Church. In 1879, it was replaced by the Free Church in the High Street.
This photograph from 1962 shows the Independent Chapel in Chapel Lane, which became a Methodist Chapel in 1897, and closed in 1946. In the 1960s, the building was converted to shops.