A highly fashionable town in the Thames Valley, which sprang-up in the 12th-c, due to the area's rich agricultural land and the convenient location of the river for transporting grain and goods to and from the capital. The river still dominates the town to this day, providing pleasant walks along its banks and pleasure boating activities in the summer.
Henley on Thames Bridge (by rcro (CC0))
The town boasts over 300 buildings of special architectural and historic interest. The wide main street with its fine Regency houses and old coaching inns is lined with independent shops, restaurants and teas rooms. Many of the current frontages were actually added to much older structures, indicating the rich history of Henley. The town's many old coaching inns include The Red Lion, where Charles I and later George III once stayed.
Church of St Mary © TAB
The fine parish church of St Mary has a striking square tower with octagonal turrets and flint and stone chequer-board work. A 14th-c. timbered Chantry House is connected to the church by a porch. Just across from the church is the timber framed Speaker's House, the one time home of William Lenthall, Speaker of the House of Commons (1629 to 1640).
The handsome five-arched bridge that spans the Thames at Henley was built in 1786. Its keystones have stone carvings representing Father Thames and other folklore images. The Thames straightens its course for about one mile upstream of the bridge. It is this stretch of water that is used to hold the annual rowing regatta, which has now become a major international rowing event. Beside the bridge is the Leander club, headquarters of Henley's famous rowing club. A little further downstream is the River and Rowing Museum, which explores the boating heritage of the town.
The town has a brewing tradition that goes back hundreds of years and once counted over 40 malt houses within its boundaries. The 18th-c offices of the Henley Brewery is still located in New Street and is said to have brewed some of the best beer in England during the 1980/90s.
Tourist Information Centre:
|Town Hall, Market Place - Tel: 0491 578034|
The regatta was first held in 1839 and was given Royal charter by Prince Albert in 1851. The regatta commences in the first week of July and has grown to become one of England's most famous boating events. It is now a major international event in the rowing world. The regatta course runs along the longest straight stretch on the river, from Temple Island to Henley Bridge.
The history of the Royal Regatta and the Oxford and Cambridge boat race can be traced at the River and Rowing museum on the embankment.
in 1805, the Kenton Theatre is one of the oldest theatres