When the black death swept through the town of Henley-on-Thames in the 14th century, it wiped out 60 % of the population. Luckily, the town itself has survived, and generation after generation of visitors continue to enjoy all this South Oxfordshire town has to offer.
Records for this town, which is surrounded by the Oxfordshire countryside, and the counties of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, date back to medieval times. There were settlements here as early as 1179, while it’s also been recorded that Henry II bought land in the town to build on, which was seen as the true beginnings of Henley on Thames. Evidence of the town’s history lies in The Old Bell pub, said to date back to 1325, and Fawley Court, a building designed by Christopher Wren. There’s also a few claims to fame, as Dusty Springfield had her ashes scattered in Henley, and Hollywood actor Orlando Bloom is said to have a property in the town.
There is plenty to see and do in Henley on Thames and the surrounding area, from boutique shops and restaurants, to art galleries and a busy square on market days. Although there’s the opportunity to participate in several sports, including golf, Henley is one town that is globally famous for its links with rowing. Statues of Olympic medallists Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent greet visitors to the town’s River and Rowing Museum, which has exhibits for all ages, while the Henley Regatta is an annual event that Henley is very proud of. The regatta is one of the best events of its kind, and has grown from a small scale public attraction that started life in 1839, to a world renowned competitive rowing event.
Following the rowing each year, is the equally entertaining Henley Festival, celebrating the arts. During the 5 day event, an array of rock, classical, and jazz artists will take to a floating stage, which in 2011 included Blake, Jools Holland, Tom Jones, and Mica Paris. To run alongside the main events, there are also firework displays, clubs and bars, and street theatre.
From key events and high quality restaurants, to shopping, historic charm, and the surrounding beauty of the Chiltern Hills, Henley on Thames is one place that deserves its reputation. Whether you visit it for the day, stay for a week, or attend one of the towns events, you’ll find Henley on Thames is a place not to be missed.