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Right on the South Oxfordshire border sits the quintessential market town of Henley-on-Thames. As its name reveals, Henley straddles the River Thames, with the waterway offering beauty, character, heritage and a wealth of attractions to the town.
At one of the most scenic stretches of the River Thames, and with a centre brimming with historical and architectural delights, Henley-on-Thames has been voted one of the best places to live in England. It’s a regular winner of RHS Britain in Bloom medals and is popular and welcoming to buyers and renters from all walks of life.
Alongside miles of weaving walking routes and cycling paths, the River Thames provides a backdrop to Henley’s most famous annual event – the Royal Regatta. Arguably the world’s greatest rowing showcase, it sees elite rowers descend on the town every year to prove their skill in a variety of races across the multi-day event.
Whilst the Royal Regatta may be the most prestigious celebration in Henley, the town also hosts: Rewind Festival – the biggest celebration of 80s music; a Fringe Festival; a Literary Festival; ‘Dusty Day’ – celebrating the life of Dusty Springfield; and the magnificent Henley Festival. This is a five-day party of music, arts, comedy and culture, with some of the world’s finest performers taking to a floating stage in the middle of the River Thames.
When you’re not spectating on the riverside, take a cruise along it on a steamer, boat or barge – or try your hand at rowing if you’re feeling energetic. Retire to the town centre, and enjoy an area little changed since the Victorian era. Georgian fronts still line the street, home to a multitude of independent shops, local cafes and tearooms, and a superb selection of delicious restaurants.
Whatever your passions and pursuits, from young families to retired couples, Henley-on-Thames is a town that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Henley-on-Thames is easily reached by both the M40 to the north and the M4 to the south. London is just 30 miles away, and Reading is less than 10 miles. Maidenhead, Oxford and destinations across the south-west are also within striking distance given the close proximity to the motorway network.
A number of buses serve the town, including a direct service to Reading town centre. Henley-on-Thames has a railway station on the First Great Western line, with a direct service to London Paddington at peak times. At other times, Twyford provides convenient connections to London, Reading, Oxford and beyond. The journey time to the capital is approximately 45 minutes.
Families are also attracted to Henley-on-Thames because of its strong and impressive educational institutions, each offering an excellent place for children to learn.
Valley Road Primary School provides a great start in life for children aged five to 11. Teaching levels are outstanding, and the school is widely regarded in the area. Alternatively, Rupert House School provides a highly reputable independent school option for boys and girls aged three to seven in its lower school, and for girls only between eight and 11 in its upper school.
Gillots High School sets the benchmark for secondary education in Henley, as well as providing a truly beautiful place to study. The school has 33 acres of land, including a large Victorian manor house and two outlying cottages.
At sixth-form level, Henley College boasts a 400-year history of teaching and a 99% A level pass rate. The town is also home to Henley Business School, the prestigious arm of the University of Reading.
Henley-on-Thames has an international reputation as the location of the world famous Royal Regatta since 1834, but its origins as a market town pre-date its rowing heritage by hundreds of years.
With a prominent location on the River Thames, there’s been a settlement at Henley since at least the 12th century (when records began), and probably a number of years before that. Henley Bridge was first mentioned in 1234, although the current, iconic five-arch structure – a grade I listed building – was built in 1786.
There are over 300 buildings in Henley-on-Thames that are listed as having ‘special architectural or historical interest’, including St Mary’s Church, Chantry House, and the Old Bell Pub – the oldest building in the town and reportedly a place where King Charles I drank. The regular weekly market in Henley draws crowds today as it has done for over 700 years.
In 1829, the very first boat race between Oxford and Cambridge was held at Henley; the winning boat can still be seen in the River & Rowing Museum.
Regardless of the time of year in Henley-on-Thames, there is always an incredible range of activities to try, sights to see, and places to enjoy. From walking along the River Thames to catching an exciting performance at one the town’s famous festivals, attractions are plentiful in Henley, including:
Posted: August 18, 2017 By: Robert Scott-lee
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