John Howell MP unveils artwork by award-winning sculptor, Alex Wenham, at Beechcroft's Castle Gardens, Watlington

John Howell, MP for the Henley Constituency since 2008, was the Guest of Honour at an event organised by Wallingford-based Beechcroft Developments at the company’s latest retirement development, Castle Gardens in Watlington. Mr Howell officially unveiled an artwork, commissioned by Beechcroft for the development and presented a cheque for £500 to the Friends of St Leonard’s Church on behalf of Beechcroft.

The artwork, a stone sculpture of a Red Kite, was crafted by Alex Wenham, an award-winning stone carver based in Oxford who specialises in architectural stone carving and conservation, sculpture and letter cutting. 

Since graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2000, Alex has won some of the highest international accolades in the industry and worked on stone buildings of every era from the 11th to the 21st centuries including some of the most prestigious buildings in the UK and France, where he lived for eight years.

Beechcroft’s Managing Director, Chris Thompson, welcomed invited guests including residents of the new retirement garden and all those involved in the creation of the new development.  

Following the ceremony, John Howell, Alex Wenham and the assembled guests enjoyed champagne and canapes and were able to take the opportunity to view the new show home and tour the development, including the residents’ pavilion.

Designed for the over 55s, Castle Gardens is a development of 41 elegant new homes in a beautifully landscaped setting just off Shirburn Road, less than ½ mile from Watlington High Street.  Built and finished to Beechcroft rigorous standards, the homes include elegant two and three-bedroom houses and one and two-bedroom apartments, each with a terrace, balcony or private garden – or a combination of these along with allocated parking.  The development offers an estate management service,  charging points for electric cars and a shuttle bus to take residents shopping or for longer trips.


Mr Howell presented a cheque for £500 to the Friends of St Leonard’s Church on behalf of Beechcroft.

“We were delighted that John Howell was able to perform the unveiling for us,” comments Chris Thompson, Beechcroft’s Managing Director.  “John has lived in the constituency for 30 years and takes a keen interest in housing.  Early in his parliamentary career, he was the originator of Open-Source Planning, a paper which inspired the reform of the planning system.”

“We were also pleased that Alex Wenham was able to be with us.  His past projects include work on St Paul’s Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament, Hampton Court Palace, the Louvre and the Chateau de Versailles and we are extremely grateful that he was able to produce such an impressive work of art for Castle Gardens.”

“John’s chosen charity was the very local Friends of St Leonard’s Church, a group of volunteers who constantly raise money to support the upkeep of the Watlington’s parish church for the benefit of the community and future generations.”

John Howell commented:

“It was a pleasure to be part of this event.  I had the opportunity to talk with some of the new residents of Castle Gardens who all seem to be very happy there and delighted with their new homes.  It is a lovely development, sensitively designed.  It was also good to be able to support St Leonard’s Church.  It is one with which I have a long connection having joined them in choral events and, more recently, as an occasional organist.”

For anyone considering a new home at Castle Gardens, one-bedroom apartments currently start from £295,000 and two-bedroom houses are priced from £610,000. For further details, please call the sales team on 01491 743018 or visit the webpage here.

Castle Gardens

Watlington, Oxfordshire, OX49 5BZ

2 homes currently available from £560,000

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