Henley’s Heritage – Temple Island

Fawley Temple was originally commissioned in 1769 by Sambrooke Freeman who was then residing at Fawley Court.  Its original structure consisted of two storeys, the main Etruscan room situated on the first floor with the basement below incorporating three arched windows on the south side. His great uncle Colonel William Freeman engaged Sir Christopher Wren in 1684 to design Fawley Court.

In 1884, major changes had to be carried out on the Temple by the new owner Edward Mackenzie, a Scottish banker who had bought Fawley Court in 1853. A rise in the river level meant the level of the surrounding ground of the Temple had to be raised by several feet. Unfortunately this meant a change of design to the south side (from three arched windows to one small oval window) and the east and the west sides which now include oval windows as well.

In 1954 the nymph statue went missing during the Regatta that year.  It is believed that one of the Irish crews, who had been knocked out of the racing decided to go down to the island one night in punts with the aim of bring the statue back to the end of the course and placing it in the Judges’ Box at the finish.  Finding the statue much heavier than they imagined, they accidentally dropped into the river in the course of loading into one of the punts.  The statue was only discovered some years later by workmen dredging the bank of the island and was delivered back to the owners, minus one arm!

Temple Island was acquired by Henley Royal Regatta in 1987.