The Goring Gap is a geological feature on the river Thames between Reading and Oxford. Melt water at the end of the last ice age caused the river to forge a passage through the chalk here, changing its course to flow through Berkshire and downstream to London. The Berkshire Downs lie to the south of the river and the Chiltern Hills rise to the north.
The twin settlements of Goring and Streatley grew up on either side of an ancient river crossing at the Goring Gap; Goring is in Oxfordshire and Streatley is in West Berkshire. The Thames was an important transport route for agricultural produce and timber. There were wharves here and three mills to grind cereals for bread and animal feed. Although most of the houses and the churches are close to the river, both parishes are very large, with extensive arable fields and woods. Sheep were also farmed on the Berkshire Downs.
Two locks were constructed on the river in the late 18c, but the ferry between Goring and Streatley was not replaced by a bridge until 1837, just before the Great Western Railway was built through Goring. Until then Streatley, on the turnpike roads from Reading to Wantage and Oxford, had been the more important place. Both villages became a significant tourist destination as a result of the good transport links and the Victorian boating boom. Goring was an ‘open’ village and soon many large villas were erected along the river, but Streatley was controlled by members of the Oxford brewing Morrell family and is relatively little undeveloped to this day. Goring grew again in the 1950s and 60s with the building of several housing estates.
Today the area is popular with commuters to Reading, Oxford and London thanks to its excellent road and rail links, as well as being home to many retired people who enjoy living in the beautiful countryside. The villages support many businesses and shops and the thriving community provides a wide range of amenities and social activities.