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Henley-on-Thames facts for kids

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Henley Town Hall - - 956401.jpg
Henley Town Hall
Henley-on-Thames is located in Oxfordshire
Area 5.58 km2 (2.15 sq mi)
Population 11,619 (2011 Census)
• Density 2,082/km2 (5,390/sq mi)
OS grid reference SU7682
• London 33 miles (53 km)
Civil parish
  • Henley-on-Thames
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Henley-on-Thames
Postcode district RG9
Dialling code 01491
Police Thames Valley
Fire Oxfordshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament
  • Henley
Website Henley-on-Thames Town Council
List of places
51°32′09″N 0°54′11″W / 51.5357°N 0.9030°W / 51.5357; -0.9030

Henley-on-Thames ( HEN-lee) is a town and civil parish on the River Thames in Oxfordshire, England, 9 miles (14 km) northeast of Reading, 7 miles (11 km) west of Maidenhead, 23 miles (37 km) southeast of Oxford and 37 miles (60 km) west of London (by road), near the tripoint of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. The population at the 2011 Census was 11,619.


The first record of Henley is from 1179, when it is recorded that King Henry II "had bought land for the making of buildings". King John granted the manor of Benson and the town and manor of Henley to Robert Harcourt in 1199. A church at Henley is first mentioned in 1204. In 1205 the town received a paviage grant, and in 1234 the bridge is first mentioned. In 1278 Henley is described as a hamlet of Benson with a chapel. The street plan was probably established by the end of the 13th century.

As a demesne of the crown it was granted in 1337 to John de Molyns, whose family held it for about 250 years. It is said that members for Henley sat in parliaments of Edward I and Edward III, but no writs have been found to substantiate this.

The existing Thursday market, it is believed, was granted by a charter of King John. A market was certainly in existence by 1269; however, the jurors of the assize of 1284 said that they did not know by what warrant the earl of Cornwall held a market and fair in the town of Henley. The existing Corpus Christi fair was granted by a charter of Henry VI.

During the Black Death pandemic that swept through England in the 14th century, Henley lost 60% of its population.

By the beginning of the 16th century the town extended along the west bank of the Thames from Friday Street in the south to the Manor, now Phyllis Court, in the north and took in Hart Street and New Street. To the west it included Bell Street and the Market Place.

Henry VIII granted the use of the titles "mayor" and "burgess", and the town was incorporated in 1568 in the name of the warden, portreeves, burgesses and commonalty. The original charter was issued by Elizabeth I but replaced by one from George I in 1722.

Henley suffered at the hands of both parties in the Civil War. Later, William III rested here on his march to London in 1688, at the nearby recently rebuilt Fawley Court, and received a deputation from the Lords. The town's period of prosperity in the 17th and 18th centuries was due to manufactures of glass and malt, and trade in corn and wool. Henley-on-Thames supplied London with timber and grain.

A workhouse to accommodate 150 people was built at West Hill in Henley in 1790, and was later enlarged to accommodate 250 as the Henley Poor Law Union workhouse.

Landmarks and structures

Henley Bridge
Henley Bridge over the River Thames

Henley Bridge is a five arched bridge across the river built in 1786. It is a Grade I listed building. During 2011 the bridge underwent a £200,000 repair programme after being hit by the boat Crazy Love in August 2010. About a mile upstream of the bridge is Marsh Lock.

Henley Bridge, engraved by Hay from a drawing by J.P.Neale, from Beauties of England and Wales, London, 1812
Henley Bridge, engraved in 1812 from a drawing by J. P. Neale, and published in The Beauties of England and Wales

Chantry House is the second Grade I listed building in the town. It is unusual in having more storeys on one side than on the other.

Chantry House Henley-on-Thames
Chantry House, next to the church

The Church of England parish church of St Mary the Virgin is nearby, and has a 16th-century tower.

The Old Bell is a pub in the centre of Henley. The building has been dated from 1325: the oldest-dated building in the town.

To celebrate Queen Victoria's Jubilee, 60 oak trees were planted in the shape of a Victoria Cross near Fair Mile.

Two notable buildings just outside Henley, in Buckinghamshire, are:

  • Fawley Court, a red-brick building designed by Christopher Wren for William Freeman (1684) with subsequent interior remodelling by James Wyatt and landscaping by Lancelot "Capability" Brown.
  • Greenlands, which took its present form when owned by W. H. Smith and is now home to Henley Business School


Lloyds Bank's analysis of house price growth in 125 market towns in England over the year to June 2016 (using Land Registry data), found that Henley was the second-most expensive market town in the country with an average property price of £748,001.


The town's railway station is the terminus of the Henley Branch Line from Twyford. In the past there have been direct services to London Paddington. There are express mainline rail services from Reading (6 mi or 9.7 km) to Paddington. Trains from High Wycombe (12 mi or 19 km) go to London Marylebone. The M4 motorway (junction 8/9) and the M40 motorway (junction 4) are both about (7 mi or 11 km) away. There are two bus services that runs from Reading through to High Wycombe via Henley. They are the 800 and the 850 bus service.

Henley-on-Thames from the playground near the railway station

Well-known institutions and organisations

The River and Rowing Museum, located in Mill Meadows, is the town's one museum. It was established in 1998, and officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II. The museum, designed by the architect David Chipperfield, features information on the River Thames, the sport of rowing, and the town of Henley itself.

The University of Reading's Henley Business School is near Henley, as is Henley College.


Henley regatta race
A race during the Henley Royal Regatta

Henley is a world-renowned centre for rowing. Each summer the Henley Royal Regatta is held on Henley Reach, a naturally straight stretch of the river just north of the town. It was extended artificially. The event became "Royal" in 1851, when Prince Albert became patron of the regatta.

Other regattas and rowing races are held on the same reach, including Henley Women's Regatta, the Henley Boat Races for women's and lightweight teams between Oxford and Cambridge University, Henley Town and Visitors Regatta, Henley Veteran Regatta, Upper Thames Small Boats Head, Henley Fours and Eights Head, and Henley Sculls. These "Heads" often attract strong crews that have won medals at National Championships.

Local rowing clubs include:

  • Henley Rowing Club (located upstream of Henley Bridge)
  • Leander Club (world-famous, home to Olympic and World Champions, near Henley Bridge)
  • Phyllis Court Rowing Club (part of the Phyllis Court Club and set up for recreational rowing)
  • Upper Thames Rowing Club (located just upstream from the 3/4-mile mark/Fawley/Old Blades)
  • Henley Whalers (associated with UTRC) focus on fixed-seat rowing and sailing.

The regatta depicted throughout Dead in the Water, an episode of the British detective television series Midsomer Murders, was filmed at Henley.

Other sports

Henley has the oldest football team Henley Town F.C. recognised by the Oxfordshire Football Association, they play at The Triangle ground. Henley also has a rugby union club Henley Hawks which play at the Dry Leas ground, a hockey club Henley Hockey Club which play at Jubilee Park, and Henley Cricket Club which has played at Brakspear Ground since 1886. a new club in Henley was started in September 2016 called Henley Lions FC.

Notable people

Mary Poppins4
The actor David Tomlinson, seen here in the 1964 film Mary Poppins, was born and raised in the town.
  • Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson MBE (1929–2012) used to live in Henley-on-Thames.
  • Sir Martyn Arbib led the Perpetual fund management company during the late 20th century, unusually based in Henley-on-Thames, rather than London. Arbib was a major benefactor in the establishment of the River and Rowing Museum at Henley, which opened in 1998.
  • Food writer and television presenter Mary Berry lives in Henley.
  • American science fiction writer James Blish (1921–1975) lived in Henley from 1968 until his death.
  • Jonathan Bowden (1962–2012) lived in Rotherfield Peppard (post town Henley-on-Thames) throughout the 1970s.
  • Russell Brand, English comedian, actor and activist, lives in Henley-on-Thames.
  • British engineer Ross Brawn, best known for his role as the technical director of the Scuderia Ferrari f1 team and former team principal of Mercedes Grand Prix.
  • Winston Churchill led the Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars, (C Squadron) who were based at "The White House" on Market Place in 1908 and some years after that.
  • Gladys Cooper (1888–1971), Dame Gladys Cooper had an acting career that spanned seven decades. Appearing on stage (the West End & Broadway), in film, and on television. Twice nominated for an Academy Award, she spent her last years in Henley-on-Thames.
  • Sir Frank Crisp (1843–1919), first baronet, lawyer and microscopist, the ideator of Friar Park. The "Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)" composed by the former Beatle George Harrison is dedicated to him.
  • Esther Deuzeville (1786–1851), as Esther Copley later a writer of children's books and works on domestic economy addressed to the working people, lived here with her parents until her marriage in 1809. There is a plaque to her and her family in the United Reformed Church.
  • French general Charles-François Dumouriez (1739–1823) is buried at St Mary the Virgin parish church.
  • The Freeman family of Fawley Court: Several generations of Freemans lived at Fawley Court on the outskirts of Henley from 1684 to 1852. They contributed significantly to the development of Henley and the surrounding area as well as more generally to architecture and the study of antiquities (John (Cooke) Freeman and Sambrooke Freeman), and veterinary science and equitation (Strickland Freeman).
  • Humphrey Gainsborough (1718–1776), brother of the artist Thomas Gainsborough, was a pastor and inventor who lived in Henley. A blue plaque marks his house, "The Manse".
  • Musician and former Beatle George Harrison (1943–2001) purchased and restored the buildings and gardens of Friar Park, Henley-on-Thames in 1970, and lived there until his death. His widow, Olivia Harrison, continues to live on the estate. George and Olivia's only child, Dhani Harrison was raised at Friar Park.
  • Michael Heseltine, Baron Heseltine of Thenford preceded Boris Johnson as Conservative MP for Henley-on-Thames.
  • Tony Hall, Baron Hall of Birkenhead lives in Henley-on-Thames.
  • Sir William Hamilton (1730–1803), British diplomat, antiquarian, archaeologist and vulcanologist was born in Henley-on-Thames.
  • John Hunt, Baron Hunt of Fawley (1905–1987) had a house in Henley, where he lived from his retirement until his death.
  • Politician Boris Johnson was the Member of Parliament until he resigned after being elected Mayor of London in 2008.
  • Author Simon Kernick was raised in Henley-on-Thames.
  • Politician William Lenthall (1591–1662) was born in Henley-on-Thames. He was Speaker of the House of Commons between 1640 and 1660.
  • Hugo Nicolson, music producer.
  • Jewellery historian Jack Ogden lives in Henley-on-Thames.
  • Author George Orwell (1903–1950) spent some of his formative years in Henley-on-Thames.
  • Broadcaster Andrew Peach lives in Henley with his wife and two children.
  • Prince Stanisław Albrecht Radziwiłł (1917–1976) is buried at St Anne's church, Fawley Court just outside Henley.
  • Singer Lee Ryan lives in Henley.
  • Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy lives in Henley.
  • Broadcaster Phillip Schofield lives in Henley with his wife and two daughters.
  • Financier Urs Schwarzenbach lives at Culham Court, Aston, east of Henley.
  • Entrepreneur, philanthropist and workplace revolutionary Dame Stephanie Shirley lives in Henley with her husband.
  • Singer Dusty Springfield (1939–1999) has a gravesite and marker in the grounds of St Mary the Virgin parish church. Her ashes were scattered in Henley and in Ireland at the Cliffs of Moher. Each year her fans gather in Henley to celebrate "Dusty Day" on the closest Sunday to her birthday (16 April).
  • Sir Ninian Stephen, Australian judge and Governor-General of Australia (1982–1989) was born in Henley
  • Harry Stott, joint winner of I'd Do Anything and star of TV show Roman Mysteries.
  • Actor David Tomlinson (1917–2000) was born and raised in Henley.
  • Author and journalist Andrew Tristem lives in Henley-on-Thames.
  • Actor Jonathan Lloyd Walker was born and raised here. He now lives in West Vancouver, Canada.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Henley-on-Thames para niños

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