The River & Rowing Museum are paying tribute to the incredible life and legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who opened the Museum in November 1998.
The special connection between the Queen and the Royal Family with the town of Henley has become synonymous over the last few centuries; from William III of Orange residing at Fawley Court during the Glorious Revolution of 1688 (the overthrow of King James II of England), to Prince Albert becoming the first Regatta’s first Royal Patron in 1851 to the Princess of Wales’ stint as a waitress during the Regatta in 2002.
The photo above shows Her Majesty greeting Sir Martyn Arbib and Lady Sally Arbib, early essential benefactors to the museum. She arrived to the museum by the Royal Barge Windrush, accompanied by her Watermen and using the museum’s own dock which was built specially for her visit. As well as touring the galleries and greeting staff members and benefactors, the Queen was also treated to a performance by actor Rodney Bewes, of ‘Three Men in a Boat’ by Jerome K. Jerome.
In the Museum’s collections there are a catalogue of memories of the Queen’s connection to Henley. These include snapshots of visits from the Queen and the now King Charles III during the Swan Upping, an annual custom on the Thames where all swans are counted, marked and given a health check. Prince Charles is pictured with Captain F J Turk, who was the Queen’s Swan Keeper between 1963 and 1993. Captain Turk was responsible for Swan Upping. The Queen is shown greeting the Queen’s Watermen at Henley, with St Mary’s Church in the background.
In 1977 for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, coins (as pictured below) were handed out to over 2000 school children in Henley as a souvenir to celebrate the jubilee. These are at the Museum on loan from Henley Town Council. On one side it shows the Queen riding side-saddle, while the reverse shows foliage surrounding a crown, and the eagle Ampulla and Spoon used to anoint the monarch during their coronation. Both of these images were designed by Arnold Machin OBE.
The museum is open every day now from 10.00-4.00pm until it’s temporary closure on 1st October 2022 for 6 months for renovation works.