Hampden is an attractive Thames-side village with several beautiful old thathed cottages.
Unfortunately I haven't been able to ascertain the origin
of the village's name, but 'Clifton' must be derived from
the buff or cliff overlooking the Thames with the Church
of St. Michael & All Angels perched on top and 'Hampden'
may be from the name of a one-time owner of the Manor.
In 1885 Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames said of Clifton
Hampden, 'Clifton Hampden, this picturesque little
village, is situated at the foot of a bold bluff, which
rises abruptly from the somewhat flat country around.
The cliff is surmounted by the church and vicarage, and
is clothed with luxuriant trees down to the water's edge.
The village, a pretty collection of old-fashioned cottages,
all of which are bright with flowers ...' This description
could have been written today. The old fashioned cottages
are still there, many of them listed, and the whole makes
for a very attractive scene well worth a visit.
original settlement would have occurred here because the
river was fordable in summer. Now Clifton Hampden Bridge
spans the Thames. This is an attractive brick bridge with
six elegant arches and is said to resemble the medieval
bridge at Albi south of Nantes in France. The bridge was
built in C1864 by Sir Gilbert Scott for Henry Hucks Gibbs,
who at that time was Lord of the Manor, and replaced the
ford and a ferry. Triangular recesses over the piers provide
safety for pedestrians as they cross the bridge. The bridge
used to be a toll bridge and the toll-house still stands
on the former Berkshire side of the river.
Gilbert Scott is also
responsible for the Church of
St. Michael & All Angels and Clifton Hampden Manor, both
of which were also built for Henry Hucks Gibbs. The
Church of St. Michael & All Angels has C13 origins but
was rebuilt and restored in 1843-4 by Scott. The chancel
was refitted 1864, also probably by Scott.
The Plough Inn in the centre of the village is C17 with
late C18 additions to the rear. On the other side of the
river by the bridge is the village's other public house, The
Barley Mow. This is a cruck framed building dating back
to 1352. In 1975 the building was gutted by fire, but
it was totally restored in 1977. Later, in 1997, The Barley
Mow was rebuilt and rethatched.
The village and The Barley Mow were featured in Jerome
K. Jerome's book Three Men in a Boat, and in the book
Jerome K. Jerome describes Clifton Hampden as 'a wonderfully
pretty village, old-fashioned, peaceful, and dainty with
flowers'. He describes The Barley Mow as "without
exception the quaintest, most old-world inn up the river
(standing) on the right of the bridge, quite away from
the village. Its low-pitched gables and thatched roof
and latticed windows give it quite a story-book appearance,
while inside it is even still more once-upon-a-timeyfied…'. He adds that the river scenery is 'rich and beautiful'.
Hampden is about 4.5
miles south-west of Abingdon on the A415, and about 1.5
miles north of Long Wittenham.