Historical Henley-on-Thames

The town of Henley-on-Thames dates back to 1179 when King Henry II bought land for the ‘making of buildings.’ The first church was built in 1204 and the town bridge was first mentioned in 1234.

The Thursday market was granted by a charter of King John just before 1269.

Henley is said to have lost 60% of its population in the 14th century when the Black Plagued swept through the town.

By the early 1500’s the town extended along the west bank of the Thames and New Street and Hart Street existed.

King Henry VIII incorporated the town in 1568 when the titles of ‘mayor’ and ‘burgess’ were granted.

King William ll stayed at Fawley Court in 1688 which was designed by Christopher Wren. Its gardens were landscaped by Capability Brown.

Henley became prosperous in the late 17th and 18th centuries when the manufacture of glass and malt began. Henley and the surrounding districts supplied London with most of its timber which was easily transported down the Thames.

The five arched Henley Bridge was opened in 1786 and the tower of St Mary’s Church nearby dates back to the 15th Century. The oldest known building in Henley is the Old Bell pub, built in 1325.

Henley is best known for the annual Henley Royal Regatta which was first established in 1839 by Edmund Gardiner who suggested the Regatta should be held ‘under judicious and respectable management’ and ‘from its peculiar attractions it would also be a source of amusement and gratification to the neighbourhood and the public in general’. The Regatta became ‘Royal’ in 1851.

More recently, Henley has become known as a location for a wide choice of films and TV series, including Midsomer Murders. Tours around the town, visiting the places filmed for Midsomer Murders are popular with visitors and guide books are available for those who prefer to ‘go it alone.’

Famous Henley residents and former residents include: Singer, Dusty Springfield, George Harrison of Beatles fame, poet George Orwell, TV presenter, Philip Schofield, singer, Liam Gallagher and politicians, Boris Johnson and Michael Heseltine.

Henley-on-Thames now combines some of the finest modern attractions, including award-winning restaurants and pubs with historical monuments and prestigious events such as the Henley Royal Regatta. A great place to visit for all the family.

Choose from a wide range of luxury Henley Regatta accommodation rentals close to the main attractions and events in Henley-on-Thames.