Henley-on-Thames - all you need to know

Population: 12,100

Eat at: The Greyhound on Gallowstree (0118 972 2227)

Why? Owned by TV chef Antony Worrall Thompson and his wife Jay, this restaurant offers fine food in Rotherfield Peppard, a stone’s throw from Henley.

Drink at: The Old Bell (01491 414114)

Why? This is the oldest building in town; unspoilt and dating back to 1325.

Stay at: The Relais Henley (01491 523288)

Why? Mixing old-fashioned hospitality with boutique-style rooms, guests have included George III, Charles I, Dr Samuel Johnson and his sidekick Mr Boswell.

Henley-on-Thames lies at the point where Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire meet, and looks out over the Chilterns, the Thames and the Cotswolds. The Thames draws many a watercraftowning fanatic to moor and move here. Henley’s Royal Regatta is one of the English ‘season’ must-be-at events. Temple Island is its start, the finishing line is at Poplar Point. But there’s more to Henley than the waterside. The compact town has its own proud history of brewing thanks to Brakspear’s, and hosts many festivals across the summer.

MOST NOTED FOR… Henley Royal Regatta. For five days, Henley Royal Regatta takes over, with river parties in bank-side marquees, and locals picnicking in boats. It’s a test of elite rowers’ nerve, sinew and resolve, and a social spectacle in itself. hrr.co.uk

WHILE YOU’RE HERE… Visit singer and icon Dusty Springfield’s grave in St Mary’s churchyard. Her fans gather in town every April to pay tribute.

BUT TRY NOT TO… Stay riverside all day. Henley’s a cracking little place to browse in, with upmarket boutiques, beautiful antiques and interiors shops, fine jewellers and some notable galleries and bookshops.

Get a picture of Henley by taking a pleasure cruise past riverside businesses, glorious moorings and dreamy houses. Hobbs, one of the oldest local boat companies, celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2020 (hobbsofhenley. com). While you’re here, visit the iconic River & Rowing Museum. The award-winning architecture houses permanent exhibitions including EH Shepard’s illustrations for author Kenneth Grahame’s riverside classic The Wind in the Willows, as well as two galleries honouring the River Thames and Henley’s history. A statue of two of the nation’s finest oarsmen, Sir Steven Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent, stands outside (rrm.co.uk). The famous Leander Club on the Berkshire bank of the Thames celebrated its bicentenary in 2018. Its first Olympic rowing champion brought back gold in 1908, and more than 100 of its members have been champions since (leander.co.uk).

Sports star-spotting is a given as elite oarsmen and women train here and return to their old haunts. Henley is home to the billionaire computer pioneer and philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley, chef Antony Worrall Thompson, TV presenter Phillip Schofield and actor Orlando Bloom. Late residents include Beatle George Harrison, writer George Orwell and actor Rodney Bewes.