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Town Hall, Henley - geograph.org.uk - 36320.jpg
Town hall and market place
Henley-on-Thames is located in Oxfordshire
Henley-on-Thames shown within 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
Website Henley-on-Thames Town Council
List of places
51°32′10″N 0°53′53″W / 51.536°N 0.898°W / 51.536; -0.898Coordinates: 51°32′10″N 0°53′53″W / 51.536°N 0.898°W / 51.536; -0.898

Henley-on-Thames (/ˌhɛnli-/ (About this soundlisten) 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 and 23 miles (37 km) southeast of Oxford, near the tripoint of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. The population at the 2011 Census was 11,619.[1]


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[clarification needed] 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.[2]

A variation on its name can be seen as "Henley up a Tamys" in 1485.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5]

Landmarks and structures

Henley Bridge is a five arched bridge across the river built in 1786. It is a Grade I listed historic structure. During 2011 the bridge underwent a £200,000 repair programme after being hit by the boat Crazy Love in August 2010.[6] About a mile upstream of the bridge is Marsh Lock.[citation needed]

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.[7]

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.[citation needed]

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.[8]

To celebrate Queen Victoria's Jubilee[which?], 60 oak trees were planted in the shape of a Victoria Cross near Fair Mile.[9]

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


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.[10]


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

The town's railway station is the terminus of the Henley Branch Line from Twyford. Previously there were direct trains into London Paddington during peak hours, but these direct trains no longer run so now one must change trains at Twyford. There are express mainline rail services from Reading (6  miles or 10 km away) to Paddington. Trains from High Wycombe (12 miles or 20 km away) go to London Marylebone. The M4 motorway (junction 8/9) and the M40 motorway (junction 4) are both about 7 miles (12 km) away.

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.


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.[11]

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.[12]

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 which plays at the Dry Leas ground, a hockey club Henley Hockey Club which plays at Jubilee Park, and Henley Cricket Club which has played at Brakspear Ground since 1886.[13].a new club in Henley was started in september 2016 called Henley Lions FC.

Notable people

The actor David Tomlinson, seen here in the 1964 film Mary Poppins, was born and raised in the town.
  • 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.
  • Actor Jonathan Lloyd Walker was born and raised here. He now lives in West Vancouver, Canada.

See also


Henley's Local newspaper is the Henley Standard. The Henley Magazine is 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. London's radio stations such as Capital FM and Magic 105.4 along with a few others can also be received. Regatta Radio (87.7) is broadcast during Henley Royal Regatta.

Henley is on an overlap of TV regions, It is possible to receive signals from both BBC London and BBC South transmitters, as well as ITV London and ITV Meridian (West). However, the local relay transmitter for Henley only broadcasts programmes from ITV and BBC London, making Henley the only part of Oxfordshire included within the London television region.


  1. ^ "Area: Henley-on-Thames (Parish): Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  2. ^ Hylton, Stuart (2007). A History of Reading. Phillimore & Co Ltd. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-86077-458-4.
  3. ^ Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; CP 40/892; http://aalt.law.uh.edu/AALT3/R3/CP40no892/aCP40no892fronts/IMG_0051.htm; first entry
  4. ^ Lewis, Samuel, ed. (1931) [1848]. "Hendred, East – Henstead". A Topographical Dictionary of England (Seventh ed.). London: Samuel Lewis. pp. 478–482. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  5. ^ "Henley, Oxfordshire". The Workhouse. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  6. ^ "Bridge damage costs £200,000 in repairs". Henley Standard. 5 September 2011. Archived from the original on 26 April 2014.
  7. ^ Historic England. "Chantry House  (Grade I) (1047033)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  8. ^ [1], Brakspear's Website
  9. ^ [2] Google Maps
  10. ^ "The 10 most expensive market towns revealed - Money Observer". www.moneyobserver.com.
  11. ^ ""Royal Patronage", Henley Royal Regatta". Archived from the original on 2 September 2013.
  12. ^ "2011 Henley Royal Regatta". world rowing. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  13. ^ "About Us - Henley Cricket Club". www.henleycricketclub.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-04-17.
  14. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Mary Blandy) Andrea McKenzie OUP, Accessed 21 June 2015
  15. ^ Mysterious Britain and Ireland, Accessed 21 June 2015
  16. ^ "Russell Brand taking to the water for big day". Henley Standard. 14 August 2017. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  17. ^ Mitchell, Rosemary, "Copley, Esther (1786–1851)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (Oxford: OUP, 2004). [3]. Subscription required, accessed 8 May 2010

Further reading

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. Victoria County History. 16: Binfield Hundred (Part One): Henley-on-Thames and Environs. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer. ISBN 978-1-904356-38-7.
  • "The Henley Guide. With fifteen illustrations". London: Hickman and Stapledon. 1826{{inconsistent citations}}

External links

  • Henley-on-Thames online

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