A few weeks ago actor, comedian and self-proclaimed political activist Russell Brand was seen among the brick and flint walls of our quaint and quiet market town of Henley-on-Thames. A far cry from the pie and mash shops, cocktail bars and bustling marketplaces that characterise Brand’s native East End, it appears the celebrity was in Henley on the prowl for property as he looks to a slower pace of life along the tranquil riverbanks of Oxfordshire County. Some may find his interest surprising but Brand joins a long list of celebrity residents who have sought peace and quiet in Henley and the surrounding riverside towns.
Broadcaster Phillip Schofield and pirate of the Carribean, Orlando Bloom, both have residencies in Henley-On-Thames while Oasis rock star Noel Gallagher lives further up the river in Chalfont St Giles. Celebrity power couple George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin have recently moved into Sonning, where they will be joining Home Secretary Theresa May, who is also the MP for Maidenhead. Spoon bender Uri Geller – who once bought a life-size motorcycle made out of cane and bound like a wicker basket from a shop in Henley – has only very recently returned to his birthplace of Tel Aviv after also living in Sonning, a town that he called home for almost thirty years. With such a range of talents and famous faces flocking to our town I think it’s about time we asked ourselves what it is that makes Henley such an attractive proposition?
For starters, Hambleden, the prime area between Henley and Marlow, is the first bit of countryside you reach when you leave London to the West. This makes Henley attractive as a bolthole for Londoners and allows the restless and ultra-sociable in Henley to flock back to London in no time and with little effort. Secondly, is the appearance of the area, with its highly sought after architecture, from brick and stone cottages to imposing estates with values from £500,000 to tens of millions. For foreign buyers, Henley is the quintessential depiction of English country life, which perhaps due to the area’s prominence in British films and television productions. Hambleden is often used for filming, especially for the likes of Midsomer Murders and Poirot. Turville is actually the village where the Vicar of Dibley was filmed and the windmill above the village was used in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The implications for Henley-on-Thames coming into the limelight will likely lead to an increase in demand for houses and a rise in property prices. It’s not so much that potential buyers will want to live among celebrities (although this cannot be discounted as a factor), but the recent press on Henley and the area of South Oxford have highlighted all the aspects that make this place such a desirable area to live.
Heaton & Partners