TEMPLE ISLAND

1869: Charles Dickens published a GHOST STORY about Temple Island (then called Regatta island) -
"THE PHANTOM OF REGATTA ISLAND"

Temple Island is of course the Royal Henley Regatta start (between the right bank and the island at the downstream end). During regatta times all river traffic must go to the left bank side of the island (as you approach going downstream from Henley.)

1771: The Temple on the island was designed by James Wyatt for Sambrooke Freeman of Fawley Court

1793: [Temple Island,] Fawley Court & Henley Bridge, Boydell -

Temple Island 1793, Boydell
Fawley Court & Henley. June 1, 1793. Farington R.A. delt. J.C. Stadler sculpt.
(Published) by J. & J. Boydell, Shakespeare Gally. Pall Mall & (No. 90) Cheapside (London)

Henley Bridge in the distance was just seven years old in 1793
 
1793: Temple Island detail from above

Detail Temple Island Boydell 1793
Temple Island detail from the Boydell print above

1829: A Tour on the banks of the Thames -

On a little island, in the midst of the Thames, a former proprietor of Fawley Court has erected a Grecian temple, where occasional banquets were given ; he had also surrounded it with hanging trees and choice shrubs, forming altogether a retreat in which poetry might well be content to dwell, and Calypso be delighted to remain.

This little temple is beheld with peculiar effect from Henley bridge, which we are now approaching, the river having more the appearance of a lake than of that it in reality is.

1829: Temple Island was the cause of a clash in the first boat race. The race started at Hambleden Lock with Cambridge on the Berkshire station.
Cambridge wanted to take the Bucks side of Temple Island but Oxford wanted the Berks side (where the modern start is). The bank was a different shape then and the Bucks route was probably shorter though the Berks side would be more sheltered with less current.
The boats clashed just below the island and the race was re-run from the start. The second time Oxford just succeeded in taking Cambridge's water and the course they wanted - going on to win.

1834: Tombleson -


Temple Island, Tombleson, 1834

1870: Temple Island, Henry Taunt -

Temple Island, Henry Taunt, 1870
Temple Island, Henry Taunt, 1870
Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT1389

1899: Temple Island, Francis Frith -

1899: Temple Island, Francis Frith
1899: Temple Island, Francis Frith

1987: The Stewards of the Henley Royal Regatta purchased a 999 year lease of Temple Island.

The downstream portion of the island is retained as a nature reserve and has been extensively planted with young trees to return it to its traditional, heavily-wooded appearance.

The Temple itself has been fully restored. The wall paintings (those in the principal rooms are the earliest surviving examples of the Etruscan style in Britain) had deteriorated badly and suffered from inferior over-painting. These were repaired and now appear in the original colours as designed by Wyatt.

A statue of a nymph, in keeping with the age and style of the Temple, has been placed under the cupola.

Aerial photo of Temple Island by Last Refuge

Temple Island copyright Adrian Warren
Temple Island copyright Adrian Warren

Notice the erosion on the left bank just above the island, largely caused by the breaking wash of umpires' launches going down to the start during regattas. I once had a conversation with an umpire when he very patiently explained to me that the launches needed to travel at speed in order that the races should start on time. It did not appear to occur to him that if the launch left five minutes earlier there would be no difficulty in obeying the speed limit (5mph) and keeping wash to what has come to be regarded as reasonable limits. I suppose this might necessitate an extra launch - but what price do we place on the banks of the Thames?
As a punter I am very aware of where the bank used to be, because for some 10 yards from the present bank there is thick mud, and outside that, firm gravel. Some attempt has been made to reduce the further spread of the damage.

Temple Island Meadows - left bank

COUNTY: BUCKINGHAMSHIRE SITE NAME: TEMPLE ISLAND MEADOWS
Status: Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) notified under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
Local Planning Authorities: Buckinghamshire County Council, Wycombe District Council
National Grid Reference: SU769847
Ordnance Survey Sheet 1:50,000: 175 1:10,000: SU78 SE, SU78 NE
Date Notified (Under 1981 Act): 1989 Date of Last Revision: 1990
Area: 14.1 ha 34.8 ac
Other information: These privately-owned meadows are part of the extensive flood plain of the Henley Reach section of the River Thames.
[Southern half is owned by Henley Royal Regatta]
Description and Reasons for Notification

Temple Island Meadows consist of a series of slightly improved, sheep grazed, wet meadows which have developed on typical argillic brown earths and pelo-calcareous gley soils over alluvium. Their location, adjacent to the River Thames, renders them subject to seasonal flooding and waterlogging. Marshy neutral grassland grades into tall fen vegetation with scattered wet alder carr woodland and scrub occurring in the west and south. Wetland habitats such as these have declined nationally due to agricultural improvement and drainage and few examples of these habitats are now known to exist in Buckinghamshire. The meadows support a diverse flora and fauna, and are probably some of the most species-rich meadows remaining along the Thames, supporting several species which are of local or national importance including the nationally rare summer snowflake Leucojum aestivum, locally known as the Loddon Lily. The invertebrate and avian fauna are of particular interest.

The grassland sward is dominated by a variety of species of grasses, rushes and sedges characteristic of wet meadows such as floating sweet-grass Glyceria fluitans, reed sweet-grass G. maxima, marsh foxtail Alopecurus geniculatus, hard rush Juncus inflexus, jointed rush J. articulatus, brown sedge Carex disticha and greater and lesser pond sedges C. riparia and C. acutiformis. Species with restricted distribution in the county include carnation sedge C. panicea, common sedge C. nigra, slender tufted-sedge C. acuta and blunt-flowered rush Juncus subnodulosus. Typical herb species of this habitat are marsh marigold Caltha palustris, ragged robin Lychnis flos-cuculi, meadow sweet Filipendula ulmaria, creeping Jenny Lysimachia nummularia and greater bird's-foot trefoil Lotus uliginosus, together with less common species such as yellow loosestrife Lysimachia vulgaris, sweet flag Acorus calamus and marsh ragwort Senecio aquaticus. The flora also includes several species which are known to be uncommon in Buckinghamshire; for example marsh lousewort Pedicularis palustris, marsh arrowgrass Triglochin palustris, tubular water dropwort Oenanthe fistulosa, marsh valerian Valeriana dioica, meadow rue Thalictrum flavum and both marsh and early marsh orchids Dactylorhiza praetermissa and D. incarnata; all of these species are associated with a long history of undisturbed grassland management.

The fen vegetation is dominated by reed canary grass Phalaris arundinacea and common reed Phragmites australis, with abundant tall herbs such as hemp agrimony Eupatorium cannabinum, great willowherb Epilobium hirsutum, purple loosestrife Lythrum salicaria, yellow flag Iris pseudacorus and marsh woundwort Stachys palustris. The shallower ditches that cross the meadows support sparse vegetation with the rare water violet Hottonia palustris and frog-bit Hydrocharis morsus-ranae recorded in past years. Another uncommon aquatic species, mare's-tail Hippuris vulgaris is abundant in the wide stream that borders the site in the west.

Where the fen grades into alder and willow carr and wet woodland along the western margin, alder Alnus glutinosa dominates with some ash and an understorey of sycamore, elder, dogwood, crack willow and the uncommon purple willow Salix purpurea. The ground flora is dominated by common nettle Urtica dioica, comfrey Symphytum officinale and dog's mercury Mercurialis perennis with common valerian Valeriana officinalis, bugle Ajuga reptans, herb Robert Geranium robertianum and hemlock water dropwort Oenanthe crocata also present. Two colonies of Loddon Lily, a nationally rare plant occur within the woodland.

The marshy grassland supports a species-rich and diverse invertebrate fauna which includes two noteworthy flies, Teuchophorus simplex and Neoascia geniculata, and the nationally rare and endangered marsh fly Dicheptophora findlandica. Dragonflies such as the nationally rare club-tailed dragonfly Gomphus vulgatissimus, a species more or less confined to the Thames, banded agrion Calyopterex splendens, brown hawker Aeshna grandis and emperor dragonfly Anax imperator are frequently recorded visitors to the meadows.

The diversity of habitats also makes the site attractive to a variety of birds. Common woodland birds recorded from the site include great and lesser spotted woodpecker, woodcock and spotted flycatcher, while the scrub and marshy reed vegetation supports reed buntings and both sedge and reed warblers. The high water levels attract breeding waterfowl such as mallard, tufted duck, little grebe, moorhen and coot. Of particular importance are breeding snipe, a species declining in Buckinghamshire due to the draining of wet meadows and pastures along the major river valleys.

 
 
 
 
Upstream to Fawley Court




Introduction
Estuary
PLA
QEII Br
Barrier
Tower Br
Custom Ho
London Br
; Frost Fairs
Cannon St Rb
The Great Stink
Southwark Br
Millenium Br
Blackfriars Rb
Blackfriars Br
Waterloo Br
Charing Cross Rb
Westminster Br
Lambeth Br
Vauxhall Br
Victoria Rb
Chelsea Br
Albert Br
Battersea Br
Battersea Rb
Wandsworth Br
Fulham Rb
Putney Br
Hammersmith Br
Barnes Rb
Chiswick Br
Kew Rb
Kew Br
RICHMOND
Twickenham Br
Richmond Rb
Richmond Br
TEDDINGTON
Kingston Rb
Kingston Br
Ditton Slip
Hampton Br
MOLESEY
SUNBURY
Walton Br
Desborough Cut
SHEPPERTON
Chertsey Br
CHERTSEY
M3 Br
Laleham Slip
PENTON HOOK
Staines Rb
Staines Br
Runnymede Br
BELL WEIR
Magna Carta Is
OLD WINDSOR
Albert Br
Datchet
Victoria Br
Black Potts Rb
ROMNEY
Eton
Windsor Br
Windsor Rb
Windsor Slip
Elizabeth Br
BOVENEY
Dorney Lake
York Cut
Summerleaze Fb
MonkeyIsland
New Thames Br
BRAY
Bray Slip
Maidenhead Rb
Maidenhead Br
Below Boulters
BOULTERS
Cliveden
Hedsor
COOKHAM
Cookham Slip
Cookham Br
BourneEnd RFb
Quarry Woods
A404 Br
MARLOW
Marlow Br
Bisham
TEMPLE
HURLEY
Medmenham
Culham Ct
Aston Slip
HAMBLEDEN
Temple Is
Fawley Ct
Remenham
Regatta
Phyllis Ct
Henley Slip
Leander
Red Lion
Henley Br
Angel on Br
Landing
Hobbs Boatyard
Hobbs Slipway
MARSH
Hennerton
Bolney
Wargrave
Shiplake Rb
R.Loddon
SHIPLAKE
Sonning Br
SONNING
Dreadnought
K&A Canal
CAVERSHAM
Reading Br
Caversham Br
Reading Slip
Purley
MAPLEDURHAM
Hardwick Ho
Whitchurch Br
WHITCHURCH
Hartswood Reach
Gatehampton Rb
Goring Gap
Goring Br
GORING
Swan
CLEEVE
Moulsford
Moulsford Rb
Papist Way Slip
Winterbrook Br
Wallingford Br
BENSON
Shillingford Br
R.Thame
DAYS
Burcot
Clifton Hampden
Clifton Church
Clifton H Br
Barley Mow
Long Wittenham
CLIFTON
Appleford Rb
Sutton Courtenay
Sutton Br
CULHAM
Culham Cut Fb
Abingdon Slip
Abingdon
Abingdon Br
ABINGDON
Nuneham Rb
Nuneham
Nuneham Park
Radley Boats
SANDFORD
Rose Island
Kennington Rb
Isis Br
Iffley Mill
IFFLEY
Oxford Rowing
Isis
Donnington Br
Riverside Slip
Boathouses
Punting
Lower Cherwell
Upper Cherwell
Islip
Head of River
Salters Steamers
Folly Br
Bacons Folly
Oxford Fb
Osney Fb
Weir stream
Osney Rb
Bullstake Stream
Osney Marina
OSNEY
Osney Br
Four Rivers
OLD RIVER
CANAL
Medley Weir Site
Medley Fb
Bossoms
Perch
Trout
GODSTOW
Godstow Nunnery
Godstow Br
Thames Br
KINGS
River Evenlode
EYNSHAM
Swinford Br
Oxford Cruisers
PINKHILL
Farmoor
Stanton Harcourt
Bablock Slip
Arks Weir Site
NORTHMOOR
Harts Fb
//Rose Revived
Newbridge
//Maybush
River Windrush
below Shifford
SHIFFORD
Shifford Fb
Tenfoot Fb
Trout Inn
Tadpole Br
RUSHEY
Old Mans Fb
RADCOT
Radcot Cradle Fb
Swan Inn
Radcot New Br
Radcot Old Br
GRAFTON
Eaton Hastings
Kelmscott
Eaton Fb
BUSCOT
Bloomers Hole Fb
Trout Inn
St Johns Br
ST JOHNS
Halfpenny Br
Marina Slip
LIMIT
Inglesham
Hannington Br
Kempsford
Castle Eaton Br
Marston Meysey
A419 Br
Cricklade
SOURCE?
THAMES HEAD
SEVEN SPRINGS