HENLEY-ON-THAMES, a market town and municipal borough in the Henley parliamentary division of Oxfordshire, England, on the left bank of the Thames, the terminus of a branch of the Great Western railway, by which it is 35 J m. W. of London, while it is 575 m. by river. Pop. (1901) 5984. It occupies one of the most beautiful situations on the Thames, at the foot of the finely wooded Chiltern Hills. The river is crossed by an elegant stone bridge of five arches, constructed in 1786. The parish church (Decorated and Perpendicular) possesses a lofty tower of intermingled flint and stone, attributed to Cardinal Wolsey, but more probably erected by Bishop Longland. The grammar school, founded in 1605, is incorporated with a Blue Coat school. Henley is a favourite summer resort, and is celebrated for the annual Henley Royal Regatta, the principal gathering of amateur oarsmen in England, first held in 1839 and usually taking place in July. Henley is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Area, 549 acres.
Henley-on-Thames (Hanlegang, Henle, Handley), not mentioned in Domesday, was a manor or ancient demesne of the crown and was granted (1337) to John de Molyns, 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. Henry VIII. having granted the use of the titles " mayor " and " burgess," the town was incorporated in 1570-1371 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 (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. The existing Thursday market was granted by a charter of John and the existing Corpus Christi fair by a charter of Henry VI.
See J. S. Burn, History of Henley-on-Thames (London, 1861).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)