The pretty riverside town of Henley-on-Thames takes on a jaunty, festive air this week as the famous royal regatta and the Henley Festival get into full swing with big-name stars such as Tom Jones on the floating stage. The streets are festooned with red, white and blue bunting with the Mississippi-style paddle steamer moored at the Hobbs Boatyard.
Glitz and glamour surrounds the regatta, which has been held in the town almost every year since 1839. This is the most important event in the rowing calendar. This small south Oxfordshire town justly claims to be the home of British rowing and the renowned Leander Club, based on the Remenham side of the river, is one of the best rowing clubs in the world with 99 Olympic medallists.
In recent years, it is rowing which has given the town its two most significant modern buildings — the regatta headquarters, designed by Sir Terry Farrell, and the River and Rowing Museum designed by David Chipperfield.
Henley town centre is a charming mix of medieval, Georgian and Victorian architecture. The layout of the central streets has not changed since the town was established by Henry II in the late 12th century, except for the one-way system.
In more modern times, Beatle George Harrison lived at Friar Park, a large Victorian Gothic mansion on the north-western edge of town.