Historic Henley Buildings Opening Doors for Heritage Week

Some of Henley’s historic buildings and the River & Rowing Museum are opening their doors this week as part of the national initiative, Heritage Open Days.

Entry is FREE to all venues and the programme kicks off tomorrow (Thursday 14 September) with The Relais Henley and tours of the Town Hall and Mayor’s Parlour.  The River & Rowing Museum are offering tours and activities over the weekend and Thames Lodge on Reading Road will be open again after a successful Heritage Open Day last year.  Full details of the programme and opening times can be found below.

The Relais Henley at The Red Lion
Thursday 14 September

In the days of slow travelling, King Charles I stopped at The Red Lion on his way from London to Oxford in 1632, and again in 1642 with Prince Rupert, during the English Civil War. His painted Royal Coat of Arms is preserved over the fireplace in room 108.

Redolent of history, the ancient walls originally housed the craftsmen who built the parish church of St Mary the Virgin in the mid-16th century. The exposed beams in the Quarterdeck Bar date from this era. An earlier, 14th-century Chantry House, home of the chantry priests and later a school, can be seen in the courtyard forming part of the west wing.

According to a historic lease, the property became a hotel in 1732, known from then as The Red Lion. The brick façade was added in Georgian times and in 1889 a central hall was created, where once an archway had led to the courtyard.

A number of guestrooms are named after notable guests who stayed in these actual rooms. King Charles I has his Royal Coat of Arms painted over the fireplace in Room 108.

The Red Lion was also the regular resting place of the 1st Duke of Marlborough on his way from Blenheim Palace to London. He had room 109 furnished with his own pieces, which remained there until 1849, well over 100 years after his death.

River & Rowing Museum
Sat 16 and Sun 17 September

To celebrate Heritage Open Days this year the River & Rowing Museum will be open for FREE. On Saturday there will be storytelling sessions centred on some of the interesting objects in our collection, and on Sunday there will be family-focused tours of the museum. All weekend there will be short talks delivered by volunteers about some of the fascinating objects on display. And look out for Mr Toad, who will be popping in to say hello!

Event Times

Saturday 16 September: Storytelling at 10:30, 11:45 and 13:00
Sunday 17 September: Tours at 10:30, 11:45 and 13:00

Town Hall and Mayor’s Parlour Tour
Thursday 14 September
Tours and 10.00am and 2.00pm

View the art works in the town hall, see the Councillor, Mayor, Town Clerk and Town Sergeants robes on display as well as the Mace and learn the history of the building.

Thames Lodge
Sat 16 and Sun 17 September

Thames Lodge in Henley on Thames is the oldest Masonic order in Henley and was established in 1881.

A purpose-built hall was built on the Reading Road in 1890 on a site given by prominent Freemason, W. D. Mackenzie, over 140 years ago, and stands today, where all new and existing members own the building.

Membership in the late 19th and early 20th century included several of Henley’s leading townsmen and town councillors. Freemasonry was a significant factor in the town into the 20th century, with public and municipal ceremonies such as the laying of the foundation stone for the new town hall in 1899, and the opening of the War Memorial Hospital in 1922.

A prominent member of Thames Lodge was British World War One hero Major Valentine Fleming, the father of authors Peter Fleming and Ian Fleming, the latter of whom created the James Bond character. On the 20th May 1917, Major Fleming was killed in action in France. It is now over 100 years since his death.



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