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A town on the River Thames, famous for its Royal Regatta

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Henley-on-Thames' most iconic view is of its main bridge, spanning the river, with St. Mary's church tower looking on from the east. Henley Bridge is a pretty, arched structure, over 200 years old. The age of St. Mary's is a little harder to place, with a long history that includes several rebuilding or restoration projects. It's likely though, that parts of the church were built more than a millennium ago.
A big part of Henley-on-Thames' identity is in the river that makes up part of its name. In the past, Henley was part of the supply route for timber and grain being moved to London. Today, it's most famous for the Henley Royal Regatta, a rowing event that takes place over 5 days every July. Before 1851, it was simply known as the "Henley Regatta". Then Prince Albert - Queen Victoria's husband - became a patron of the event, and the word "royal" was added to the title.
Races take place on a head-to-head knockout basis, over a straight course lasting one mile and 550 yards, or approximately 2.1 kilometres. Participants come to take part from all over the world. Several sections of the riverbank are open to the public, and crowds usually gather to watch the action. There are other rowing events held on the same stretch of the Thames, such as the Women's Regatta and the Veteran Regatta. When the water isn't being used for any official reason, anyone is welcome to use it. Various companies do tours up and down the Thames, or you can hire a row boat for yourself!
Any fan of the Henley Royal Regatta shouldn't leave without first visiting the River & Rowing Museum. The building itself has won awards for its architecture, and its contents are even more interesting. The galleries focus around the three themes of the town of Henley, the Thames river, and the sport of rowing. It was opened in 1998 by Queen Elizabeth, and since then it has become as familiar a part of the town as the river itself.
An event that's linked with the regatta is the Henley Festival of Music and Arts, which takes place just a week later. It features a variety of performances and exhibits, held over 5 nights. The main stage of the event actually floats on the Thames, with the audience on the riverbank.
Another popular event is the Food Festival, which is involved in all areas of cookery and cuisine, from supplier, to kitchen, to plate. There is a restaurant area, a display area for local and celebrity chefs, as well as a huge supermarket full of delicious ingredients.
Even if you're not in Henley-on-Thames at the time of one of its festivals, it's still worth seeing this pretty town, with its busy markets, and its nice old buildings.
One place that you can visit at almost any time of year is the Kenton Theatre, which is the fourth oldest working theatre in the country. It was first opened in November 1805, although it hasn't been completely successful in that time. In its first century, it actually stopped showing plays for a while, and was instead used as a church hall and a school. It transformed into a theatre once again in 1935 and since then has hosted regular performances. In 2005, Kenton Theatre celebrated its 200th birthday by staging "The School of Reform", the very same play that was shown on 1805's opening night.

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