The Red Lion Hotel, Henley by Mortimer Menpes, R.I.. Watercolor. Source: The Thames, facing 98. Text and formatting by George P. Landow. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the University of Toronto and the Internet Archive and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.]

Henley is very well worth thinking of at all times of the year. It is a pleasantly-built, middle-aged, red-brick town. Its history does not reach back so far as that of Abingdon or Reading. It boasts neither abbey nor cathedral. Near the esplanade above the bridge, there are one or two of the tumble-down, out-of-perpendicular style of cottages, which invariably add so much to a river scene; but the main part of the town, which is, of course, of red brick, has a homely air of the seventeenth century about it. The solid and stately Red Lion Hotel, close to the bridge, is one of the most historic houses in the place. Charles I. stayed here in 1632, when, after severe dissensions, he was trying the method of ruling England without a Parliament, and when the terrible fate that was to befall him had not yet "cast its shadow before." It is doubtful if he paid his bills, for he was in chronic want of money; but he left a memento behind him which has more than repaid the hotel, for it forms a perennial source of interest. This is a large fresco painting of the royal monogram and coat of arms over one of the mantelpieces, and from the date it is evident it was done at the time of this visit. It was not discovered till 1889, having probably been hastily concealed during the troublous days of Cromwell's ascendency. Being on one of the principal coaching roads, Henley received more than its share of celebrated visitors. On July the 12th, 1788, George III., with the Queen and three of his daughters, had breakfast at the Red Lion; George IV. once dined here; and the celebrated Duke of Marlborough regularly kept a room here that he might use it in his journeys from Blenheim ; his bed is still preserved. . . . In summer the red brick of the hotel is almost hidden by the creepers which embrace it ; especially noticeable is the glorious wistaria, most lovely of all the climbing plants.

References

Menpes, Mortimer, R.I., and G[eraldine]. E[dith]. Mitton. The Thames. London: A. & C. Black, 1906. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of Toronto Library. Web. 18 April 2012.


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