Henley-on-Thames shown within Oxfordshire
|Population||10,646 (2001 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|- London||36.4 miles (58.6 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|Website||Henley-on-Thames Town Council|
Henley-on-Thames i/ / 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.
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.
Landmarks and structures
To celebrate Queen Victoria's Jubilee, 60 oak trees were planted in the shape of a Victoria Cross near Fair Mile.
Just outside Henley, in Buckinghamshire, there are several notable private buildings:
- Fawley Court is 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- The American science fiction writer James Blish (1921–1975) lived in Henley from 1968 until his death.
- British engineer Ross Brawn, best known for his role as the technical director of the Scuderia Ferrari f1 team and current team principle of Mercedes Grand Prix.
- 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".
- Michael Heseltine, Baron Heseltine of Thenford preceded Boris Johnson as Conservative MP for Henley.
- Musician Liam Gallagher of Oasis and his wife Nicole Appleton of All Saints have a second home in Henley-on-Thames.
- Musician George Harrison (1943–2001) lived at Friar Park, Henley-on-Thames from 1970 until his death.
- Politician Boris Johnson was the Member of Parliament until he resigned after being elected Mayor of London in 2008.
- Politician William Lenthall (1591–1662) was born in Henley-on-Thames. He was Speaker of the House of Commons between 1629 and 1640.
- Author George Orwell (1903–1950) spent some of his formative years in Henley-on-Thames and the nearby village of Shiplake.
- Prince Stanisław Albrecht Radziwiłł (1917–1976) is buried at St Anne's church, Fawley Court just outside Henley, where he founded the Divine Mercy College.
- Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy lives in Henley.
- Singer Lee Ryan 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.
- 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 here.
- Actor Orlando Bloom has property in Henley-on-Thames.
- Scriptwriter Richard Curtis owns a holiday home in the parish.
- Actor Jonathan Lloyd Walker was born and raised here. He now lives in West Vancouver, Canada.
- Jonathan Bowden lived in Rotherfield Peppard (post town Henley-on-Thames) throughout the 1970s.
Henley-on-Thames is twinned with:
- Brakspear Brewery, founded in 1779 but now moved to Witney;
- Henley Festival, held each July
- Leander Club, one of the world's oldest rowing clubs
- Henley shirt, a garment named after the town because it was the traditional uniform of the rowing clubs;
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.
- "Area: Henley-on-Thames CP (Parish): Parish Headcounts". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- Hylton, Stuart (2007). A History of Reading. Philimore & Co Ltd. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-86077-458-4.
- The Workhouse in Henley, Oxfordshire. Workhouses.org.uk. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
- Henley Standard article about bridge damage
-  Google Maps
- , Brakspear's Website
- Rosemary Mitchell, "Copley , Esther (1786–1851)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (Oxford: OUP, 2004). . Subscription required, accessed 8 May 2010
- Henley-Leichlingen Twinning Association
- Henley Borama Friendship Association
- Allison, Barbara (2011). "Henley's Major Inns in the Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries". Oxoniensia (Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society). LXXVI: 55–79. ISSN 0308-5562.
- Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1974). Oxfordshire. The Buildings of England. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 335–345. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
- Townley, Simon C, ed. (2011). A History of the County of Oxford, Volume 16: Binfield Hundred (Part One): Henley-on-Thames and Environs. Victoria County History. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer. ISBN 978-1-904356-38-7.
- The Henley Guide. With fifteen illustrations, London: Hickman and Stapledon, 1826
- 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