THE MEDIEVAL heart of Henley is being sold at auction.
Land known as The Mount was once the site of Beaudesert Castle, built following the Norman Conquest of England.
All that remains are earthworks and fish-ponds but it continues to be a popular site for walking and sledging.
Nearby residents are now concerned the land could be snapped up by a housing developer and believe it should be established as a country park.
The Henley War Memorial Trust – seen by many to be The Mount’s natural custodian – has heeded these calls and is seeking to secure its future for public use.
Although the trust does not have the money to purchase the land, chairman Peter Crathorne is hopeful a deal could be reached with a new owner.
Speaking to the Observer, he said: “It seems very unlikely we could gather enough money to bid as a trust, but it’s worth asking the question – you just never know.
“If there is someone out there interested in the land and the town’s heritage then we are the people to talk to.
“The Mount used to have an array of wild flowers and butterflies, much of which seems to have disappeared and replaced by nettles.
“With a bit of work and additional information it would be great place to visit and attract people to Henley.”
Listed by English Heritage as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, the motte-and-bailey castle was built by Thurstane de Montfort in around 1140.
Some accounts state it was burnt down by Royalists following the Battle of Evesham in 1265, but others say it was occupied until the middle of the sixteenth-century.
The Mount itself will be sold alongside a further 100 acres stretching north towards Buckley Green and is set to go under the hammer on Tuesday, September 23, at Henley Golf and Country Club with a guide price of £550,000.
County councillor for Henley, Mike Perry, said it was unlikely the land could be used to build new homes.
He added: “It is a protected national monument so I can’t see how it would ever be made available for development.
“Practically as well it would be very difficult to build there because of the nature of the land.
“If there was to be public ownership you could do a bit more with it and protect it. It is a beautiful spot and a key part of the town’s heritage.”