Henley-on-Thames is one of the gems of the Home Counties for many who love the area. It has one foot in cosmopolitan London and another in the rolling landscape that typically represents the British countryside. A very short drive from the capita;, it is within easy reach of the M4 and M40, making it an option for commuters, although its lack of mainline rail station has prevented it from becoming swamped by the masses.
There is a long history of young families moving from London to Henley, drawn by the twin attractions of pretty countryside and a decent social life, which includes polo, racing and of course rowing. Rowing is high on the list of local activities with Henley Rowing Club providing beginners courses for adults and juniors in the autumn and spring. The Rugby Club is thriving and last summer the Cricket Club boasted Ashton Agar, one of Australia’s Ashes heroes, in its first team. Furthermore, the Hambleden Horse trials take place in early May and the Henley Agricultural Show in early September.
If there was a checklist of requirements for buyers then Henley has it all and more, including great independent schools such as Rupert House, Shiplake College, and the Oratory. There are also school buses to and from many of the big Oxford schools such as Abingdon School, Radley College and St Helen and St Katherine School. Buyers choosing the Buckinghamshire side of town can even slip into the excellent grammar school system.
Unquestionably Henley is most famous for its annual Royal Regatta which brings hoards of visitors to the town and marks the beginning of a summer season of local events. For those wanting a more sophisticated evening then The Henley Festival provides 5 days celebrating music and the arts while those wanting to relive the spirit of the 1980s can venture to the Rewind Festival just down the river in late August. Outside Henley itself the Hambleden Valley in particular offers fabulous walking and challenging cycling.
Henley also has some fantastic shopping with a great range of independent shops as well as all the favourites, including Waitrose. There is a cinema, theatre, and an eclectic range of bars and restaurants from Hotel du Vin, Loch Fyne and Shaun Dickens at the Boathouse. For those venturing further afield there is an endless choice of great country pubs all competing to produce the best pint and Sunday roast.
There is a varied selection of houses from reputedly the most expensive country house in England, to solid 1960s family properties, and popular attractive Victorian terraces.
Example Housing and House prices (all approximate) in Henley-on-Thames:
* The average 2 bedroom terrace cottage in the centre of town: £350,000
* The average 4 bedroom modern family house – starts at £600,000
* Highly sought after period houses set in a few acres can command upwards of £2.5m
Some examples of properties for sale in Henley
A beautifully restored Grade II Listed cottage, believed to date back to 1629, which has been upgraded to a high standard yet retains a wealth of character features.
A substantial, detached family home dating back to 1900. The well proportioned accommodation is light and airy and has many retained period features including original windows, high ceilings, cornices and skirting just half a mile from the town centre.
One of only six of these houses on Queen Street, this is a four storey semi detached house, originally constructed we believe in 1896, with ornate decorative gabled elevations
Outside Henley: popular locations for property hunters
If you are not keen on being right in the centre of the action in Henley then there are a few small and quieter villages on the outskirts to choose from including Fawley, Hambleden and Stoke Row.
Moving away from Henley itself, there is Fawley, a small village and civil parish on the boundary between Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, about seven miles west of Great Marlow, due and north of Henley on Thames. This charming and tucked away village is very accessible to Henley but also pleasantly off the beaten track.
For history enthusiasts, the renowned Fawley Court, which dates back to the 11th century, is an enticing attraction; the current house was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. Fawley Hill steam and vintage weekend is an annual event popular amongst residents, particularly families with children, which celebrates all forms of transport from bicycles, planes and machinery, to horse-drawn ploughs and JCBs.
Once a year the Henley half marathon closes some of the village roads and the residents enjoy watching the runners and encouraging them along the route.
Hambleden is a small village south of Buckinghamshire, about four miles west of Marlow and about three miles north east of Henley. It is a quintessential English village and many of the houses and businesses here still belong to the Culden Faw Estate.
Hambleden village itself has been used as a location for a number of films such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Witches, Tim Burton’s film Sleepy Hollow, starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci, the recent remake of The Avengers starring Ralph Fiennes and also some scenes from 101 Dalmatians.
The hugely popular Stag and Huntsman village pub with rooms has been dramatically refurbished and now makes a superb venue for a hearty pub lunch.
Hambleden is a very sought-after town for those looking for idyllic countryside properties, and as such buyers need to be aware that there is limited property stock which pushes prices well above the local average.
Stoke Row is a small village in the Chiltern Hills, about 5 miles west of Henley and approximately 9 miles from Reading.
The village is thriving and is home to a very popular pub, The Cherry Tree Inn, which is privately owned and run with meticulous attention to detail. The pub offers great eating and drinking throughout the week.
Furthermore, Stoke Row is a popular option for young families with its strong village primary school, Stoke Row C of E Primary School. There is a great range of housing stock and, in general, property is better value than that in Henley.
* Nick works for The Buying Solution in the Home Counties