Anyone know or live in Henley-on-Thames?

(29 Posts)
hoppybird Sun 08-Apr-07 11:46:43

After an exhaustive search of areas round and about Berkshire/Surrey/Middlesex, taking into consideration my dh's commute (to Maidenhead) house prices, Ofsted reports, proximity to schools, train station, local shops and town centres, (important, as I don't drive) we realised that Henley-on-Thames is just about affordable to us and, on paper, seems really good.

I have one 6 year old ds and a 7month old dd, and we've seen a few 3 bed properties there that would certainly fit the bill - town is walkable, as are three seemingly fab schools.

So, my question to you good folks out there is, what is the reality of living in Henley? Are the schools nice? Any areas to avoid?

Would love to hear from anyone in the know!

TIA

looneytune Sun 08-Apr-07 14:23:25

Hi. I worked in Henley-on-Thames from aged 17-27 and it's pretty by the river, nice to have a drink outside at the Angel on the Bridge but I hated going out at Regatta time. So busy, lots of very snotty people who think they are better than everyone else and tbh, the traffic was sooooo bad around that time, I used to do my best to have that week off each year!

I used to be annoyed with lack of normal shops as it used to be very boutique etc. but I think it's a lot better now.

I've no idea about schools I'm afraid.

It's a lovely place at this time of year, lots of people around at lunchtimes on the grass by the river, eating their lunch etc Nice park nearby too and there's the river and rowing museum but not sure what that's like.

There's a great place called Jamborai for taking the kids - they have all sorts of diffent things for kids under 8 to do. It's quite small but I like it. You could spend the whole day there if you wanted to but I'd guess the 6 year old would be bored after a couple of hours.

Not sure if any of this info is any good. I've never lived in Henley so can't comment on what it's like to live there.

MilaMae Sun 08-Apr-07 20:35:42

I went to school there, lovely but very posh especially at Regatta time. Couldn't afford to live in a garage there now!!!!

MrsSchadenfreude Sun 08-Apr-07 20:49:18

V posh, Regatta time is a nightmare for traffic, parking is a nightmare the rest of the time, station is on branch line (so slow and have to change at Twyford). No idea about schools - Gillotts used to be a bit rough when I was at school (20 plus years ago, so has probably changed a lot) and most people went private for secondary.

What's wrong with Maidenhead or one of the surrounding villages?

hoppybird Sun 08-Apr-07 22:12:44

Thanks for the replies.

re: poshness - hmm, the house prices seem pretty much on par where we live atm, which certainly isn't posh. The sizes of properties seem to be better in Henley though(ie bedroom 3 is bigger than 6ft square). Now Marlow gave me the impression of being posh and somewhere we can't afford!

I can certainly see the Regatta making it a bit crowded, although saying that, I did used to live in North Ken, and that was obviously bad during Carnival - I can't imagine the Regatta having quite as much of an impact!

"What's wrong with Maidenhead or one of the surrounding villages?"

Well, 'village' is the problem - villages tend to have a primary but no secondary school. We want to live somewhere that's small, but not too small - Maidenhead is quite a large place and we looked at primary and secondary schools' proximity to each other and whether they were close to town, and the supposed good ones weren't. I don't drive, so it's essential that we're not stuck in the middle of nowhere, or in a place with nothing but houses.

Interesting you say that Gillots school was a bit rough, MrsSchadenfreude - ofsted reckoned it was ok - would that just be in comparison with the private secondaries though?

MrsSchadenfreude Mon 09-Apr-07 09:58:39

Yes, Marlow is Terribly Posh. Lots of children who should have gone to Gillotts in my day went to Wargrave Piggott school as it was deemed to be better.

"In my day" - I sound about 100!

MrsSchadenfreude Mon 09-Apr-07 10:00:17

Don't underestimate the Regatta. There is never anywhere to park, people don't care if they nick your parking space and get a ticket, the traffic backs up to Wargrave. It is a complete and utter pain in the arse.

MrsSchadenfreude Mon 09-Apr-07 10:00:53

That said, I always used to go and see if I could pull a rower in my yoof.

scatterbrain Mon 09-Apr-07 10:22:07

I have good friends in Henley and spend a lot of time there ! It's lovely - we'd live there if it wasn't too far away for dh's "on calls".

The trick with Regatta week is to have your own parking ! If you rely on on-street parking then you will be scared to go out as you will lose your space ! Also - never plan to do anythjing in a hurry in Regatta season ! Bear in mind that it's not just the one week though - there are lots of other regattas held there, also Henley Festival brings a lot of people in.

Shopping and schools are great and the people are really nice. Even the rowing crowds are nice people on the whole - you are not talking football crowds !

go for it !!! (PS. Have lived in Maidenhead - Henley far far better choice ! - Marlow is very expensive !)

newgirl Mon 09-Apr-07 20:43:31

henley is lovely!! go for it! I think it is busy for traffic in the centre but if you live a little further back it won't be too bad and the river and parks are fantastic - go for it!!

hoppybird Wed 11-Apr-07 21:28:47

Hmm. The comments about parking are a bit worrying - would that just affect residents living closer to the town centre though? I guess choosing a property with a garage/own off -street parking would be a priority. dh believes he'd be able to use the train during Regatta week rather than brave the traffic (which we had noticed was bad on a visit there not long ago), and is even considering cycling to work!

scatterbrain - yes I would have thought that the crowds decending on the town wouldn't be of a particularly rowdy type.

batgirl Thu 12-Apr-07 12:49:19

I know the area fairly well.

Traffic in Henley is often bad - the problem is crossing the river - big queues at rush hour/weekends to get over the bridge.

Schools, both state & private, I believe are fine at primary level, secondary not so good. Gillots doesn't have a 6th form, which isn't a good recommendation IMO, & has a "mixed" reputation - I believe lots still go to the Piggott, which is considered very good. There are also girls & boys grammars in Reading. Lots of Henley families go private - but I am not aware of any well regarded private secondaries in the immediate area, children do tend to travel some distance.

Maidenhead is a totally different town, much less elegant! Train connections obv far better. Schools very mixed - some very good state schools (primary & secondary) & also some very very bad ones.

Marlow I know less about. Schools have a good reputation. There is a grammar school. Train connection not very good - change at Maidenhead for main line.

How about Twyford, Wargrave or Sonning (bad traffic there, though!) - good state schools all within walking distance, both primary & secondary. Twyford has a Waitrose & mainline station.

Caversham (posh part of Reading!) is popular & has good schools, good shops & access to Reading station.

Phew - sorry about thelength of this post!

batgirl Thu 12-Apr-07 12:52:54

Ooh - just remembered one other thing! Henley does have a bit of a reputation atm for rowdy youths on a Sat night. There was a death in the town centre fairly recently - might be an idea to visit on a Saturday evening to check.

hoppybird Thu 12-Apr-07 16:15:08

Ah, very useful information, Batgirl!

One of the reasons we're wanting to move from where we are now is because of secondaries not being good (my ds is in year 1 atm). We had been thinking of moving twice initially - now, because dd hasn't a room of her own - ds would stay in his current school and we'd move once he needed a secondary. However, if we found a good secondaries and primaries in another area, we wouldn't have to move again after 5 years.

The fact that Gillots doesn't have a 6th form is a bit disappointing, as is finding out that Henley 6th form college used to be a grammar school back in the day - that would have been good! I've had niggling doubts about Gillots myself, based on nothing and despite Ofsted. Anyone out there know any different?

Can't afford Marlow - would love to though! I think wargrave may also be a bit pricey?

Had looked at Twyford, but it didn't 'click' with us - I think the secondary was a bit far from the primaries for non-driving me. Sonning doesn't have a mainline station, if I'm not mistaken? dh not keen on considering Caversham, although I had wanted to investigate - he used to live in Reading though.

We were certainly thinking about visiting Henley on a weekend evening, though we don't tend to go out much - our own town, which we like, is apparently a bit rowdy on a Saturday, but it doesn't affect us, as we don't go there at those times. Worrying that even somewhere like Henley gets violent.

batgirl Thu 12-Apr-07 16:49:15

I'm still thinking!!

How about Wokingham? It is a bit further away from Maidenhead but an easy commute if your DH is driving (or cycling!. It is quite a nice (not in the Henley/Marlow league, though) market town, some very good primaries, secondaries are more mixed - but there are some v good ones + easy train to Reading for grammars & shopping.

hoppybird Thu 12-Apr-07 17:29:02

My dh does drive - was just considering cycling if we chose to settle in Henley.

Wokingham is rather large - we had been looking for a smaller, greener area, but not too much out in the sticks, and big enough for decent rail connections.

I found this useful website, which I've been using to compare towns at a glance in relation to local schools - info is from 2004 I still need to go onto the BBC league tables/ofsted for a more up to date picture, but again - it's how it looks on paper - I guess we won't really be able to tell unless we actually visit the schools. :/

It seems the (non independent) secondaries in Wokingham are about the same as Gillots.

batgirl Fri 13-Apr-07 07:54:36

Goodluck with it all, Hoppybird!

Do ask if there's anything else I can tell you about the area.

mumblechum Fri 13-Apr-07 14:05:29

Hi, I've lived 6 miles from Henley, 4 miles from Marlow for the last 8 years and absolutely love it here.

So far as schools are concerned, if you live in Henley town itself, Gillots has a very good reputation, but not as good as the Bucks grammars. Henley is only a few miles away from the Bucks border (we live just in Bucks), so if a grammar education is important to you, bear that in mind.

We spend most weekends walking and cycling as you're right in the Chilterns. There are loads of lovely restaurants and pubs for eating out, you can hire boats, I could go on all day. We've lived in loads of places all over the UK and this is definitely the best.

Property prices are not cheap, however. 4 bed properties in our village start at £1m, a tiny cottage will set you back £650k. I think Henley town would be cheaper, though.

I work in Wokingham which is a pleasant enough town, and the property is much cheaper, but you don't have the same countryside, it's very flat.

C'mon, live in Henley/Marlow, I'll be your friend!!! [stalker emoticon]

hoppybird Fri 13-Apr-07 23:21:12

LOL @ mumblechum! Hey, thanks for that info, but at your property prices!

Would be nice to be in the catchment area for a grammar as well as an 'ordinary' secondary - the dc's might be particuarly academic, who knows? Always good to have the choice. re: the rest of Bucks - High Wycombe seems like a good-ish commute, though we've not investigated it - I understand it has good schools, but I've not heard anything else positive about it.

You know, last time we moved, we didn't have kids, and that was complicated enough. SO much more difficult when taking education into account as well, particularly trying to think ahead. I think the majority of primary schools in various areas we've looked at seem to perform pretty well - such a mixed bag at secondary level though!

Actually, I had a look at property prices in Wokingham and was impressed at how much you can get for you money there! Might have to investigate that area more fully. Back to the drawing board maybe...

batgirl Sat 14-Apr-07 20:53:17

Just a point on the Reading grammar schools - the girls school doesn't have a catchment area, you can apply regardless of where you live. The boys school does - if you look at the website (Reading Boys School), it tells you which postcodes you can apply from.

HTH!

SittingBull Sat 14-Apr-07 21:03:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RustyBear Sat 14-Apr-07 21:03:47

It's actually just Reading School,batgirl, not Reading Boys School, (nor Reading Grammar School in fact) I can't check the website atm, as it's apparently not working, but if they do restrict entry from certain postcodes, it must be something new that the new head has started - though they were always keen to discourage people from coming from too far away.
My DS got in there from Wokingham - he's now at Warwick University, so this was nearly 8 years ago, but there is an MNer whose son got in last year & I think they are from West Berkshire.
I live in Wokingham btw, and work in a junior school there so if you need any more info let me know.

Tutter Sat 14-Apr-07 21:09:00

moved here (3 miles from henley) in december and love it

am that your dh's commute is to maidenhead. mine goes into london, so henley isn't great for us - we're a little way out so that djh can get to twyford (and therefore the fast line into paddington)

if henley were on the main line we'd move there like a shot

went to view a house in henley today - loved it, but still concerned about the commute

can't comment on schools as ds1 only 22mo and ds2 not yet born

MrsSchadenfreude Sat 14-Apr-07 22:55:20

I grew up in Sonning. My father commuted to Maidenhead, but he drove. Had an idyllic childhood, messing about in the river, on boats etc.

hoppybird Mon 16-Apr-07 14:48:27

SittingBull - schools in Henley are not good? I'm surprised. Do you know that for sure?

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