Henley-on-Thames (/ˌhɛnli-/ 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, 23 miles (37 km) southeast of Oxford and 37 miles (60 km) west of London (by road), near the tripoint of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. The population at the 2021 Census was 12,186.[1]

Henley-on-Thames is located in Oxfordshire
Location within Oxfordshire
Area5.58 km2 (2.15 sq mi)
Population12,186 (2021 Census)[1]
• Density2,184/km2 (5,660/sq mi)
OS grid referenceSU7682
• London33 miles (53 km)
Civil parish
  • Henley-on-Thames
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtRG9
Dialling code01491
PoliceThames Valley
AmbulanceSouth Central
UK Parliament
WebsiteHenley-on-Thames Town Council
List of places
51°32′09″N 0°54′11″W / 51.5357°N 0.9030°W / 51.5357; -0.9030



There is archaeological evidence of people residing in Henley since the second century as part of the Romano-British period.[2] The first record of Henley as a substantial settlement 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.[citation needed] A church at Henley is first mentioned in 1204. In 1205 the town received a tax for street paving, 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.[citation needed]

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.[3] A variation on its name can be seen as "Henley up a Tamys" in 1485.[4]

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.[5]

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.[6]

Prior to 1974 Henley was a municipal borough with a Borough Council comprising twelve Councillors and four Aldermen, headed by a Mayor. The Local Government Act 1972 resulted in the re-organisation of local government in that year. Henley became part of Wallingford District Council, subsequently renamed South Oxfordshire District Council. The borough council was replaced by a town council but the role of mayor was retained.

Landmarks and structures

Henley Bridge over the River Thames
Henley Bridge, engraved in 1812 from a drawing by J. P. Neale, and published in The Beauties of England and Wales
Chantry House, next to the church

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.[7] About 1 mile (1.5 kilometres) upstream of the bridge is Marsh Lock.[8] Henley Town Hall, which maintains a prominent position in the Market Place, was designed by Henry Hare and completed in 1900.[9] 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.[10] The Church of England parish church of St Mary the Virgin is nearby and has a 16th-century tower.[11][12] The Old Bell is a pub in the centre of Henley on Bell Street. The building has been dated from 1325: the oldest-dated building in the town.[13] To celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 60 oak trees were planted in the shape of a Victoria Cross near Fairmile, the long straight road to the northwest of the town.[14][15] 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.[17]



The town's railway station is the terminus of the Henley Branch Line from Twyford. In the past there have been direct services to London Paddington. There are express mainline rail services from Reading (6 mi or 9.7 km) to Paddington. Trains from High Wycombe (12 mi or 19 km) go to London Marylebone. The M4 motorway (junction 8/9) and the M40 motorway (junction 4) are both about (7 mi or 11 km) away.

Bus routes 800 and 850, both operated by Carousel Buses on an hourly frequency, run through Henley between Reading and High Wycombe.[18]

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

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. Rupert House School is a preparatory school located in Bell Street.



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.[19] Other regattas and rowing races are held on the same reach, including Henley Women's Regatta, 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.[20] Local rowing clubs include:

  • Henley Rowing Club (located upstream of Henley Bridge)
  • Leander Club (world-famous, home to Olympic and World Champions, most notably Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent, near Henley Bridge)
  • Phyllis Court Rowing Club (part of the Phyllis Court Club and set up for recreational rowing)
  • Upper Thames Rowing Club (located just upstream from the 34-mile (1.2-kilometre) mark/Fawley/Old Blades)
  • Henley Whalers (associated with UTRC) focus on fixed-seat rowing and sailing.

The regatta depicted throughout Dead in the Water, an episode of the British detective television series Midsomer Murders, was filmed at Henley.

A race during the Henley Royal Regatta

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 play at the Dry Leas ground, a hockey club Henley Hockey Club which play at Jubilee Park, and Henley Cricket Club which has played at Brakspear Ground since 1886.[21] 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.





Henley has one local newspaper, the Henley Standard which is also available online.

News website


In addition to the Henley Standard website, there is another source of news online: the Henley Herald [26]



Local radio stations are BBC Radio Berkshire on 94.6 FM, Heart South on 103.4 FM, Reading 107 on 107.0 FM and London's radio stations such as Capital FM and Magic 105.4 along with a few others can also be received. Regatta Radio was broadcast during Henley Royal Regatta for a number of years up to 2014.



As Henley is on an overlap of TV regions, it is possible to receive signals from the Crystal Palace (BBC London/ITV London) and Hannington (BBC South/ITV Meridian) transmitters.[27][28] However, the local relay transmitter for Henley only broadcasts programmes from ITV London and BBC London, making Henley the only part of Oxfordshire included within the London television region.[29]


Henley-on-Thames was represented in the 2010 American drama film The Social Network as the site of a rowing competition between the US and the Netherlands.[30]


Henley is twinned with:

And has a 'friendship link' with:

In addition, several localities around the world are named after Henley, including:

See also



  1. ^ a b "Henley-on-Thames". City population. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  2. ^ "Henley:Origin and Development of the Town".
  3. ^ Hylton, Stuart (2007). A History of Reading. Phillimore & Co Ltd. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-86077-458-4.
  4. ^ "Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; CP 40/892". Anglo-American Legal Tradition. University of Houston. Archived from the original on 29 February 2020. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  5. ^ Lewis, Samuel, ed. (1931) [1848]. "Hendred, East – Henstead". A Topographical Dictionary of England (Seventh ed.). London: Samuel Lewis. pp. 478–482. Archived from the original on 3 October 2015. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  6. ^ "Henley, Oxfordshire". The Workhouse. Archived from the original on 12 July 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  7. ^ "Bridge damage costs £200,000 in repairs". Henley Standard. 5 September 2011. Archived from the original on 26 April 2014.
  8. ^ "A user's guide to the River Thames" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 December 2013.
  9. ^ Historic England. "Town Hall (1047802)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  10. ^ Historic England. "Chantry House (Grade I) (1047033)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  11. ^ "St Mary's, Henley | THE PARISH CHURCH OF ST MARY THE VIRGIN, HENLEY-ON-THAMES". Archived from the original on 15 August 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  12. ^ "The Tower and Chapel of St. John the Baptist" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 May 2021. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  13. ^ "Old Bell". UK: Brakspear. Archived from the original on 11 May 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  14. ^ "Map". Google Maps. Google Maps. Archived from the original on 29 May 2021. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  15. ^ "Oak trees planted for Victoria's diamond jubilee still going strong". Henly Standard. 18 February 2019. Archived from the original on 26 April 2021. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  16. ^ "Briefing News Update — Henley Business School". University of Reading. Summer 2008.
  17. ^ "The 10 most expensive market towns revealed - Money Observer". www.moneyobserver.com. Archived from the original on 6 January 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  18. ^ "800/850" (PDF). Carousel Buses. 28 July 2024. Retrieved 20 May 2024.
  19. ^ ""Royal Patronage", Henley Royal Regatta". Archived from the original on 19 August 2013.
  20. ^ "2011 Henley Royal Regatta". world rowing. Archived from the original on 13 October 2018. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  21. ^ "About Us - Henley Cricket Club". www.henleycricketclub.co.uk. Archived from the original on 26 April 2017. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  22. ^ McKenzie, Andrea (2004). "Blandy, Mary". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/2620. Retrieved 5 April 2020. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  23. ^ Ian (12 January 2012). "Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Henley on Thames". Mysterious Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 5 April 2020. (updated 26 December 2018)
  24. ^ "Russell Brand taking to the water for big day". Henley Standard. 14 August 2017. Archived from the original on 5 December 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  25. ^ Mitchell, Rosemary, "Copley, Esther (1786–1851)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (Oxford: OUP, 2004). [1] Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Subscription required, accessed 8 May 2010
  26. ^ "Henley Herald".
  27. ^ "Crystal Palace (Greater London, England) Full Freeview transmitter". May 2004.
  28. ^ "Hannington (Hampshire, England) Full Freeview transmitter". May 2004.
  29. ^ "Henley-on-Thames (Oxfordshire, England) Freeview Light transmitter". May 2004.
  30. ^ "Henley Regatta film wins awards". 17 January 2011.
  31. ^ "Brexit won't damage our friendship with twin towns". www.henleystandard.co.uk.
  32. ^ "Twinning Associations". Henley Town Council. 18 March 2024.
  33. ^ "Henley | The Dictionary of Sydney". dictionaryofsydney.org. Retrieved 29 May 2024.
  34. ^ The Romance of Place Names of South Australia, By Geoffrey.H.Manning, 1986, p.89.
  35. ^ "Henley, Dunedin". Dunedin Public Libraries. Retrieved 31 May 2024.