Friday, 23 December 2016

Henley-on-Thames - Oxfordshire

I was born in a small town that had two rivers. One passed through Birmingham on its way to us and was so polluted that if the sport of throwing supermarket trollies into the nearest river had been invented back then, they would have corroded away in just a couple of days. The other was beautiful. Not large but with character and the best fishing in Warwickshire.

I have always found a good river attractive. We don't have really big rivers in Britain but good-sized brooks like the River Thames can appeal for most of its length. Lots of other people must feel the same because Henley is a magnet.

Henley-on-Thames is known to anyone who has ever sat in a rowing boat. We don't know how long the Regatta has been going on for, but it was made Royal 155 years ago in 1851.

King Henry II bought the land where Henley now stands in 1179. The first mention of a church in the area was in 1204. In 1337 the town and area was passed to John de Molyns and his family retained possession for the next 250 years.

The town had its ups and downs. More than 60% of the population died as a result of the Black Death. A recovery began and the town made a name by trading in glass and malt. Today the population is around 12,000.

The main crossing for the River Thames is the Henley Bridge. This was built in 1786. There is always a buzz around the bridge, always, not just at Regatta time. The Thames heads north as it passes through Henley, then swings east as it heads for London, growing all the time on its journey to the Thames Estuary.


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