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High Street
Henley-on-Thames is located in Oxfordshire
 Henley-on-Thames shown within Oxfordshire
Population 10,646 (2001 census)[1]
OS grid reference
   – London  36.4 miles (58.6 km) 
District South Oxfordshire
Shire county Oxfordshire
Region South East
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

Henley-on-Thames is a town and civil parish on the River Thames in Oxfordshire, England, about 10 miles downstream and 7 miles north-east from Reading, 10 miles upstream and 7 miles west from Maidenhead. It is near the tripoint of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.


The first record of Henley 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 that swept through England in the 14th century, Henley lost 60% of its population.[2]

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.


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.[4]

Landmarks and structures

Henley Bridge is a five arched bridge across the river built in 1786. It is a Grade 1 listed building. During 2011 the bridge underwent a £200,000 repair programme after being hit by the boat Crazy Love in August 2010.[5] About a mile upstream of the bridge is Marsh Lock.

Chantry House is the second Grade 1 listed building in the town. It is unusual in having more storeys on one side than on the other.[6]

Chantry House, next to the church
The church of St. Mary is nearby, and features 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.[7]

To celebrate Queen Victoria's Jubilee, 60 oak trees were planted in the shape of a Victoria Cross near Fair Mile.[8]

Just outside Henley, in Buckinghamshire, there are several notable private buildings:


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

The town's railway station is on a branch line from Twyford. There are direct trains into London Paddington during peak hours. At other times one must change trains at Twyford. There are express mainline rail services from Reading (10 km away) to Paddington. Trains from High Wycombe (20 km away) go to London Marylebone. The M4 motorway (junction 8/9) and the M40 motorway (junction 4) are both about 15 km away. The bus service around the town is operated by Whites Coaches as routes 151, 152, 153 and 154; other routes are provided by Arriva Shires & Essex, Thames Travel and Courtney Coaches.

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.


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.[9]

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:

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 who play at Dry Leas.

Notable people


Henley-on-Thames is twinned with:

See also


Henley's Local newspaper is the Henley Standard. A Local magazine is the The Henley Magazine produced for the Town Council

BBC Radio Berkshire (94.6,95.4,104.1,104.4), Heart Berkshire (97.0, 102.9, 103.4), Reading 107 (107.0), all broadcast from Reading, serve an area including Henley, as does Time 106.6 (106.6) broadcast from Slough. Regatta Radio (87.7) is broadcast during Henley Royal Regatta.

Local television news programmes are the BBC's South Today and ITV's Meridian Tonight.



  1. ^ "Area: Henley-on-Thames CP (Parish): Parish Headcounts". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 21 March 2010. 
  2. ^ Hylton, Stuart (2007). A History of Reading. Philimore & Co Ltd. p. 34.  
  3. ^ Samuel Lewis (editor) (1848). upon Thames "Hendred, East - Henstead". A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  4. ^ The Workhouse in Henley, Oxfordshire. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  5. ^ "Henley Standard article about bridge damage". 
  6. ^ "Chantry House". National Heritage List for England. English Heritage. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  7. ^ [1], Brakspear's Website
  8. ^ [2] Google Maps
  9. ^ "Royal Patronage", Henley Royal Regatta
  10. ^ Rosemary Mitchell, "Copley , Esther (1786–1851)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (Oxford: OUP, 2004). [3]. Subscription required, accessed 8 May 2010
  11. ^ "Henley-Leichlingen Twinning Association". 
  12. ^ "Henley Borama Friendship Association". 

Further reading

External links

  • Henley - aerial photo
  • River and Rowing Museum
  • Henley Royal Regatta
  • Henley Youth Festival held each March
  • Henleys local bus service
  • The Old Bell (oldest building in Henley)
  • Henley-Leichlingen Twinning Association
  • Stoke Row Chapel
  • Hernes Estate
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