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Coordinates: 51°32′10″N 0°53′53″W / 51.536°N 0.898°W / 51.536; -0.898

Town Hall, Henley - geograph.org.uk - 36320.jpg
High Street
Henley-on-Thames is located in Oxfordshire
 Henley-on-Thames shown within Oxfordshire
Population 10,646 (2001 census)[1]
OS grid reference SU7682
    - 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 Listeni/ˈhɛnl ɒn ˈtɛmz/ is a town and civil parish on the River Thames in Oxfordshire, England, about 10 miles downstream and north-east from Reading, 10 miles upstream and west from Maidenhead. It is near the corner between the counties of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.


The first record of medieval settlement dates to 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 is first mentioned at Henley 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. It is probable that the street plan was established by the end of the 13th century.

As a demesne of the crown it was granted to John de Molyns, in 1337 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.

Henry VIII, having granted the use of the titles "mayor" and "burgess", the town was incorporated in 1568 by the name of the warden, portreeves, burgesses and commonalty.

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

A workhouse to accommodate 150 people was built at West Hill in Henley in 1790 and later enlarged to accommodate 250 as the Henley Poor Law Union workhouse.[3]

Landmarks and structures[edit]

The River Thames and the five arched Henley Bridge

Henley Bridge is a five arched bridge across the river which was built in 1786. During 2011 the bridge underwent a £200,000 repair programme after being hit by a boat Crazy Love in August 2010.[4]

The church of St. Mary is located nearby and features a tower built in the 16th century. About a mile upstream of the bridge is Marsh Lock.

To celebrate Queen Victoria's Jubilee, 60 oak trees were planted in the shape of a Victoria Cross near Fair Mile.[5]

The Old Bell is a traditional pub situated right in the centre of Henley. The building has been dated by experts at 1325, making it the oldest building in the town.[6]

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


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

The town has its own railway station, with direct service into London Paddington during peak hours. Off-peak service requires a change of train at Twyford. In addition, there are also express mainline rail services from nearby Reading to Paddington and High Wycombe which accesses London Marylebone. A short drive along the M4 motorway leads directly into London or along the M40 motorway to Hillingdon for the London Underground. The local 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 & organisations[edit]

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 Henley Royal Regatta is held on "Henley Reach", a stretch of the river on the north side of town that is naturally straight, although it was later extended artificially. The event became Royal in 1851. In that year, Prince Albert became the patron of the regatta.[7]

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.[citation needed]

Local rowing clubs include:

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

Other Sports[edit]

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[edit]


Henley-on-Thames is twinned with:

See also[edit]


Henley's Local newspaper is the Henley Standard.

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. ISBN 978-1-86077-458-4. 
  3. ^ The Workhouse in Henley, Oxfordshire. Workhouses.org.uk. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  4. ^ Henley Standard article about bridge damage
  5. ^ [1] Google Maps
  6. ^ [2], Brakspear's Website
  7. ^ "Royal Patronage", Henley Royal Regatta
  8. ^ Rosemary Mitchell, "Copley , Esther (1786–1851)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (Oxford: OUP, 2004). [3]. Subscription required, accessed 8 May 2010
  9. ^ Henley-Leichlingen Twinning Association
  10. ^ Henley Borama Friendship Association

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]