Henley Regatta Hospitality within the Boaters Enclosure – Henley Regatta Tickets in 2019
Henley Regatta is five days of great racing watched by an audience determined to enjoy themselves to the fullest.
Very much part of the social season, hospitality tents are packed with revellers and the Champagne flows almost as fast as the Thames.
After parties, bars and restaurants – so much to enjoy. But beware – certain enclosures at Henley Regatta have strict dress codes.
Races are head-to-head knock out competitions over a course of 1 mile, 550 yards. The most prestigious event is the Grand Challenge Cup for Men’s Eights, which has been awarded since Henley Regatta was first staged.
It all goes back to a public meeting in Henley town hall on March 26, 1839, when Captain Edmund Gardiner proposed “that from the lively interest which had been manifested at the various boat races which have taken place on the Henley reach during the last few years, and the great influx of visitors on such occasions, this meeting is of the opinion that the establishment of an annual regatta, under judicious and respectable management, would not only be productive of the most beneficial results to the town of Henley, but from its peculiar attractions would also be a source of amusement and gratification to the neighbourhood, and the public in general”.”
Henley Regatta was first staged in 1839 and proved so successful that it was expanded the next year from one day to two. It became three days in 1886, four days in 1906 and five days in 1986.
It has been known as Henley Royal Regatta since 1851, when Prince Albert became the first royal patron. Since his death, every reigning monarch has agreed to be the patron.
Henley Regatta is run by a self-electing body of Stewards, who are largely former rowers themselves. Indeed Pierre de Coubertin modelled elements of the International Olympic Committee on the Henley Stewards.
Once professionals, foreigners and women competitors were frowned on.
Today all are encouraged and the regatta regularly attracts international crews.
During the amateur era, it was even the case that any person “engaged in any menial activity” was barred from competing.
One incident was the exclusion of future Olympic champion John B Kelly, Sr., who had served an apprenticeship as a bricklayer, from the 1920 regatta – ironically his grand-daughter would become the famous Academy Award-winning actress turned Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly.
Such anachronisms couldn’t last and in 1937, the offending references to manual labourers, mechanics, artisans and menial duties were abandoned. Amateurism went in the late 1990s and the regatta is now entirely open.
The racing can be viewed from a number of locations along both banks. Areas open to the general public are generally on the Berkshire (towpath) side of the river. Viewing opportunities on the Buckinghamshire side are limited to the Phyllis Court club, private residences and areas for corporate entertainment. A channel of the river remains open throughout the regatta, hence racing can also be viewed from boats although mooring is tightly restricted.
The Stewards’ enclosure is situated on the Berkshire side, adjacent to the last part of the course and the finish line. It comprises two covered grandstands, a restaurant marquee, several bars, a bandstand and more – all set in immaculately prepared lawns.
It is only open to members and their guests, with a ceiling of 5,000. The waiting list for membership is several years long, although preference is given to people who have previously competed at the regatta. Men are required to wear a “lounge suit, blazer and flannels, or evening dress, and a tie”. Women are required to wear a dress or skirt that covers their knees, and are “encouraged to wear a hat”. Anyone not suitably dressed can be refused entry. Mobile phone use is also prohibited.
Henley Regatta prize giving takes place in the Stewards’ Enclosure after the conclusion of racing on Sunday.
The Regatta Enclosure is situated immediately downstream of the Stewards Enclosure and is open to all on payment of an admission fee. Competitors gain free access to this area.
The Remenham Club is situated a little over halfway along the course on the Berkshire side of the river. It is a social club run by and for members of seven rowing clubs on the Thames: Kingston Rowing Club, London Rowing Club, Molesey Boat Club, Staines Boat Club, Thames Rowing Club, Twickenham Rowing Club and Vesta Rowing Club. Remenham Club is open only to its members and guests. It has a similar dress code to the Stewards Enclosure, though the rules on women’s outfits are less restrictive.
Other prominent viewing spots are Upper Thames Rowing Club, Remenham Farm and the Leander Club.
Racing a stretch from Temple Island upstream towards Henley Bridge, there have been four different courses used over the regatta’s history, the Old Course, the New Course, the Experimental Course and the Straight Course.