Henley-on-Thames is a town on the north side of the River Thames in south Oxfordshire, England, about 10 miles downstream and north-east from Reading, 10 miles upstream and west from Maidenhead. It is located near the corner between the counties of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
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 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 Bridge is a five arched bridge across the river which was built in 1786. The church of St. Mary is located nearby and features a tower built in the 16th century. About a mile upstream of the bridge is Marsh Lock.
In the vicinity of Henley, there are several notable private buildings:
Henley is a good base from which to commute to London for those with families who don't want to live in the city. 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 to Hillingdon for the London Underground.
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 holding the Henley Royal Regatta, one of the highlights of the social calendar of the English middle and upper classes. The regatta is held on a stretch of the river that is naturally straight. 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 and the Henley Boat Races for women's and lightweight teams between Oxford and Cambridge University, Henley Veteran Regatta, Upper Thames Small Boats Head, Henley Sculling Head, and Henley Small Boats Head. These heads often attract strong crews that have won medals at National Championships.
Local rowing clubs include: