Henley is a good base to commute to London from for those with families who don't want to live in the city. The town has its own railway station, with direct service into London Paddington during peak hours. Out of peak service requires a change of train at Twyford. In addition, there are also express mainline rail services from nearby Reading to Paddington and High Wycombe which accesses London Marylebone. A short drive along the M40 motorway leads directly into the city or to Hillingdon for the London Underground.
The River and Rowing Museum, located in Mill Meadows, is the town's one museum. It was established in 1998, and officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II. The museum, designed by the architect David Chipperfield, features information on the River Thames, the sport of rowing, and the town of Henley itself.
Henley is a world renowned centre for rowing, each summer holding the Henley Royal Regatta, one of the highlights of the social calendar of the English middle and upper classes. The regatta is held on a stretch of the river that is naturally straight. The event became Royal in 1851. In that year Prince Albert became the patron of the regatta.
Other regattas and rowing races are held on the same reach, including: Henley Women's Regatta and the Henley Boat Races for women's and lightweight teams between Oxford and Cambridge University, Henley Veteran Regatta, Upper Thames Small Boats Head, Henley Sculling Head, and Henley Small Boats Head. These heads often attract strong crews that have won medals at National Championships.
Upper Thames Rowing Club (located halfway down the Henley Royal Regatta course)
Henley Rowing Club (located upstream of Henley Bridge)
Leander Rowing Club (world famous, home to Olympic and World Champions, near Henley Bridge)
Phyllis Court Rowing Club (part of the Phyllis Court Club and set up for recreational rowing)
Dusty Springfield has a gravesite and marker in the grounds of a church in Henley-on-Thames. Her ashes were scattered in Henley and in Ireland at the Cliffs of Moher. Every year, fans of Dusty Springfield gather in Henley to celebrate "Dusty Day" on the closest Sunday to her birthday (April 16th).
The author George Orwell spent some of his formative years in Henley-on-Thames and the nearby village of Shiplake.
William Lenthall was born in Henley-on-Thames. William Lenthall (1591 – 9 November 1662) was an English politician of the Civil War period. He served as Speaker of the House of Commons. The second son of William Lenthall of North Leigh in Oxfordshire, a descendant of an old Herefordshire family, he was born at Henley-on-Thames. Educated at Lord Williams's School, he later left Oxford without taking a degree in 1609, and was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1616, becoming a bencher in 1633. He represented Woodstock in the Short Parliament (April 1640), and was chosen by King Charles I to be Speaker of the Long Parliament, which met on 3 November 1640. According to Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, a worse choice could not have been made, for Lenthall was of a very timorous nature. He was treated with little respect, and was unable to control the proceedings.
Humphrey Gainsborough, brother of the artist Thomas Gainsborough, was a pastor and inventor who lived in Henley; a blue plaque marks his house, The Manse.
George Harrison lived in Henley-on-Thames from the 1970s until his death in 2001. He resided in a mansion called Friar Park. Liam Gallagher, Oasis singer, lives near Henley.
Ross Brawn a British engineer, best known for his role as the technical director of the Scuderia Ferrari f1 team. Scuderia Ferrari is the racing team division of the Ferrari automobile company. The team currently only races in Formula One but has competed in numerous classes of motorsport since its formation in 1929, including sportscar racing. The team was founded by Enzo Ferrari, initially to race cars produced by Alfa Romeo, though by 1947 Ferrari had begun building their own cars. It is also the oldest surviving team in Grand Prix racing, having competed since 1948, and statistically the most successful Formula One team in history with a record of 15 drivers' championships. As a constructor, Ferrari has 16 constructors' championships.