Coppa Club at The Great House at Sonning, formerly The White Hart

NB the water by the bank between the landing stage and the bridge is very shallow, only possible for manual boats

The Great House at Sonning

Left bank, just below Sonning Bridge
The other Restaurant/Hotels are the French Horn up the weir stream which enters the main stream on the Right bank just below Sonning Bridge; and the Bull on the left bank near the church

The Great House at Sonning is a hotel and restaurant with a riverside garden on the River Thames near Sonning Bridge at Sonning, Berkshire, England. It is possible for patrons to moor along the towpath running past the hotel on the river. It was formerly a public house, known as the White Hart because King Richard II's wife, Catherine of Valois was kept prisoner at the Bishop's Palace in the village after his death. In 1989, the original White Hart was combined with The Red House, previously a private home on Lee's Hill where the dramatist Sir Terence Rattigan resided during 1945–-47, to become The Great House.

1829: from A Tour on the banks of the Thames -

... and soon lighted on Sonning, where, having given especial orders about dinner, and seen it actually in a state of forwardness, we quickly turned our walking-sticks into fishing-rods, without the aid of magic, and took a stroll down to the river's brink, to wile away in fishing, those tedious moments intervening between us and our repast.
It must be granted, that if the sport we experienced the short time we were engaged in angling be any criterion of what is in general to be found at Sonning, a lover of the angle would not be disappointed in his sport ; we having taken, for amateurs, a reasonable quantity of fish, and being in a fair way to take many more, when "That tocsin of the soul, the dinner bell", called us away to a more substantial amusement.
Sonning is a pretty retired spot, and one of the many places uncontaminated with the knowledge and the vices ever gained from unrestrained communication with great cities.
It consists of but few houses, which are, however, well disposed. In the midst of the village stands its church, which contains nothing worthy the observation of the curious, unless it be the figures of several men lying in complete armour.
This place was formerly of note, having, in conjunction with Wiltshire, been the seat of eight bishops, and that for upwards of 500 years, but it was afterwards translated to Salisbury: it also boasted possession of a monastery and park. The manor of Sonning, if we mistake not, still belongs to the of Sonning, if we mistake not, still belongs to the Bishops of Salisbury ; and before the conquest they had a manor-house in the town.
The neighbourhood affords many pretty home scenes, the views of which always bring along with them that satisfaction and pride their appearance is sure to raise. The snug farm houses, surrounded with their ricks of wheat, hay, &c., and the numerous breeds of poultry cackling about their door-ways, convey a notion of comfort and plenty, always agreeable to the feelings and appetite of an Englishman.
In the immediate vicinity of the town, the scenes both below and above bridge, though limited in extent, are most worthy of notice : of the two, that below the bridge is superior, and the pedestrian, before entering the town, will do well to pause for a moment to survey the quiet prospect and calm appearance this village presents.
Before him is the bridge of Sonning, to the left of which rises the village, in a little cluster of neat brick-built houses, while in the midst stands Sonning church, whose venerable tower adds an additional feature to the scene, the whole being improved by the appearance of some fine elm trees, the back ground being closed in therewith ; while bearing more to the right, the view is terminated by an old stately mansion, formerly in the possession of a Lady Rich.
Above bridge, still taking in a view of the town under different circumstances, is seen a water mill ; and on the Oxfordshire side of the river, the neat cluster of cottages stretching on of the river, the neat cluster of cottages stretching on in the direction of the Reading road, and known by the name of Sonning Eye.

1881: George Leslie, "Our River" -

The view of the church and bridge from the tow-path is one of the best composed groups for a landscape painter I ever saw.  Mr. Keeley Halswelle painted a small picture of this bit, which hung for some time at the Arts Club, and I admired it very much;  the whole group was given without any alterations, and one could not have desired a line away or a single mass added to.
There are two bridges at Sonning which connect the island of Aberlash House and mill with the main land on either side;  an old brick one on the left, and the other a rambling wooden one over the weir water, which above this bridge is very broad and shallow, and filled with watercress and forget-me-nots. 
The stream beyond the brick bridge is quite different in character;  it is very sluggish and solemn, low down in its banks, and overhung with evergreens on the Aberlash side.
There is generally some difficulty in obtaining a bed at the “White Hart”, and if the little “French Horn” Inn is also full, there is nothing for it but to sleep in the “Butchers’ Arms” up the village, which sounds worse than it really is, as the accommodation is not bad there. 
I generally manage to lunch at the “White Hart” if possible, as the coffee-room with its polished tables and pretty bow window is most inviting, and the little tables out in the garden beneath the arbours are equally pleasant if the weather is fine;  when we lived at Wargrave, this was a great place to come for tea and gooseberries.
Mr. Marks and I, on the visit which we paid to Wargrave, one fine October, rowed up to Sonning, and had the pleasure of witnessing a grand wedding there;  the miller’s daughter from Aberlash House was the bride, and the bridge was decorated with arches of flowers and evergreens.  We stood beside the west porch of the church amongst the crowd, and saw the wedding party pass in;  the floor of the porch was ankle deep with flowers, scattered from the baskets of the village maidens, the bells ringing merrily and the sun shining, as it always should on these occasions.

1886: A Riverside Luncheon, Joseph Ashby-Sterry
Listen to 'A Riverside Luncheon'

OUR Crew it is stalwart, our Crew it is smart,
But needeth refreshment at noon;
Let’'s land at the lawn of the cheery “White Hart”,
Now gay with the glamour of June !
For here can we lunch to the music of trees –
In sight of the swift river running –
Off cuts of cold beef and a prime Cheddar cheese,
And a tankard of bitter at Sonning!
The garden is lovely, the host is polite,
His rose trees are ruddy with bloom,
The snowy-clad table with tankards bedight,
And pleasant that quaint little room;
So sit down at once, at your inn take your ease –
No man of our Crew will be shunning –
A cut of cold beef and a prime Cheddar cheese,
And a tankard of bitter at Sonning !
We’'ve had a long pull, and our hunger is keen,
We’'ve all a superb appetite !
The lettuce is crisp, and the cresses are green,
The ale it is beady and bright;
New potatoes galore, and delicious green peas –
The Skipper avers they are “stunning” –
With cuts of cold beef and a prime Cheddar cheese,
And a tankard of bitter at Sonning !
The windows are open, the lime-scented breeze
Comes mixed with the perfume of hay;
We list to the weir and the humming of bees
As we sit and we smoke in the bay !
Then here’'s to our host, ever anxious to please,
And here’'s to his brewers so cunning !
The cuts of cold beef and the prime Cheddar cheese,
And the tankards of bitter at Sonning

Notice that "Sonning" rhymes with "cunning", "stunning", "shunning", and "running"

1888: 'The Strange Adventures of a House Boat' by William Black -

We shall get to Sonning to-night ; and I have been thinking that if Miss Rosslyn would like to see a capital specimen of an old-fashioned country inn, we might dine at the Bull there. Not the White Hart down by the river-side, that is beloved of cockneys ; but the Bull that the artists who know the Thames swear by. It won't be exactly like dining at the Bristol ; but it will be a good deal more picturesque.

[The historic and splendid Bull doesn't make it otherwise on this site, being away from the river]

1903: The Underdog by F Hopkinson Smith -(The White Hart was the former name of the Great House)

And the inns! - Or rather my own particular inn - the White Hart at Sonning.
There are others of course - the Red Lion at Henley, the old Warboys Hostelry at Cookham, the Angler at Marlowe, the French Horn across the black water and within rifle-shot of the White Hart - a most pretentious place, designed for millionaires and spendthrifts, where even chops and tomato-sauce, English pickles, chowchow and the like, ales in the wood, and other like commodities and comforts, are dispensed at prices that compel all impecunious painters like myself to content themselves with a sandwich and a pint of bitter - and a hundred other inns along the river, good, bad, and indifferent. But yet with all their charms I am still loyal to my own White Hart.
Mine is an inn that sets back from the river with a rose-garden in front the like of which you never saw nor smelt of: millions of roses in a never-ending bloom. An inn with low ceilings, a cubby-hole of a bar next the side entrance on the village street; two barmaids - three on holidays; old furniture; a big fireplace in the hall; red-shaded lamps at night; plenty of easy-chairs and cushions. An inn all dimity and cretonne and brass bedsteads upstairs and unlimited tubs - one fastened to the wall painted white, about eight feet long, to fit the largest pattern of Englishman.
Out under the portico facing the rose-garden and the river stand tables for two or four, with snow-white cloths made gay with field-flowers, and the whole shaded by big, movable, Japanese umbrellas, regular circus-tent umbrellas, their staffs stuck in the ground, wherever they are needed. Along the sides of this garden on the gravel walk loll go-to-sleep straw chairs, with little wicker tables within reach of your hand for B. & S., or tea and toast, or a pint in a mug, and down at the water's edge seafaring men ... find a boathouse with half a score of punts, skiffs, and rowboats, together with a steam-launch with fires banked ready for instant service. ...
Landlord Hull, of the White Hart Inn - what an ideal Boniface is this same Hull, and what an ideal inn - promised a boatman to pole the punt and look after my traps when the Henley regatta was over; and the owner of my own craft, and of fifty other punts besides, went so far as to say that he expected a man as soon as Lord Somebody-or-Other left for the Continent, when His Lordship's waterman would be free, adding, meaningly:
"Just at present, zur, when we do be 'avin' sich a mob lot from Lunnon, 'specially at week's-end, zur, we ain't got men enough to do our own polin'. It's the war, zur, as has took 'em off. Maybe for a few day, zur, ye might take a 'and yerself if ye didn't mind."
I waved the hand referred to - the forefinger part of it - in a deprecating manner.
I couldn't pole the lightest and most tractable punt ten yards in a straight line to save my own or anybody else's life. ...
Poling a rudderless, keelless skiff up a crooked stream by means of a fifteen-foot balancing pole is an art only to be classed with that of rowing a gondola. Gondoliers and punters, like poets, are born, not made ... No, if I had to do the poling myself, I should rather get out and walk. ...
You perhaps think that you know the Thames. You have been at Henley, no doubt, during regatta week, when both banks were flower-beds of blossoming parasols and full-blown picture-hats, the river a stretch of silver, crowded with boats, their occupants cheering like mad. Or you know Marlowe with its wide stream bordered with stately trees and statelier mansions, and Oxford with its grim buildings, and Windsor dominated by its huge pile of stone, the flag of the Empires floating from its top; and Maidenhead with its boats and launches, and lovely Cookham with its back water and quaint mill and quainter lock. You have rowed down beside them all in a shell, or have had glimpses of them from the train, or sat under the awnings of the launch or regular packet and watched the procession go by. All very charming and interesting, and, if you had but forty-eight hours in which to see all England, a profitable way of spending eight of them. And yet you have only skimmed the beautiful river's surface as a swallow skims a lake.
Try a punt once. Pole in and out of the little back waters, lying away from the river, smothered in trees; float over the shallows dotted with pond-lilies; creep under drooping branches swaying with the current; stop at any one of a hundred landings, draw your boat up on the gravel, spring out and plunge into the thickets, flushing the blackbirds from their nests, or unpack your luncheon, spread your mattress, and watch the clouds sail over your head. Don't be in a hurry. Keep up this idling day in and day out, up and down, over and across, for a month or more, and you will get some faint idea of how picturesque, how lovely, and how restful this rarest of all the sylvan streams of England can be.

1906: G.E.Mitton -

THERE are certain notable details of the riverside which stand out in the mind after the rest have been merged in mere general remembrance of lazy happiness. In these we may include the backwater at Sutton Courtney, the woods at Clieveden, the Mill at Mapledurham, and the Rose Garden at Sonning.
Roses grow well all along by the river, but nowhere so well as they do at Sonning, and the rose garden forms an attraction which draws hundreds to the place. Yet Sonning has other attractions too; it is very varied and very pretty. When one arrives at it first, perhaps coming upstream, one is rather perplexed to discover the exact topography. We round a great curve which encloses an osier bed; here, in early spring, the osiers may be seen lying in great bundles, shaded from olive-green to brown madder. Then we see some green lawns and landing places beneath the shadow of a fine clump of elms, and catch sight of the lovable old red-brick bridge, with its high centre arch, spanning the stream. But there is another bridge, a wooden foot-bridge, which also spans the stream, at right angles to the other, and peering through beneath this we can see the continuation of the red brick one in a new iron structure, which stretches on right up to the neat flower beds of the French Horn Hotel.
The truth is, the river suddenly widens out here into a great bulge, and in the bulge are several islands, on one of which are a mill and a house and several other things, not to forget a charming garden. It is the river channel between this island and the bank that the first bridge, the old one, spans.
And what a view it is! Above the bridge can be seen rising the little grey church tower.
On one side is the White Hart Hotel, with its warm tone of yellow wash, its red tiles and its creepers, and above all its famous rose garden.
In the foreground is a willow-covered ait placed in exactly the right position. It is a perfect picture. But yet this is not the best side of the bridge. The other side is better; for here, to resist the flow of the current, the builders placed the buttresses which emphasise the height of that centre arch; buttresses now capped with tufty grass and emerald moss, and from the crevices of which spring clumps of yellow daisies, candytuft, wallflower, hart's-tongue fern, and other things. In the bricks all colours may be seen, after the manner of worn bricks, not even excluding blue.
The mill is, as it should be, wooden, and with Sandford Mill, is mentioned in Domesday Book. From the dark shadow beneath its wheel, the largest on the river, gurgles away the water in cool green streams, passing beneath the overhanging boughs of planes and horse-chestnuts. From the mighty sweep of the wheel, as it may be seen in its house, the drops rise glittering in cascades to varying heights like the sprays of diamonds on a tiara.
The mill-house, called Aberlash, stands not far off on the same island, with a delightful garden.  This island spreads onward with green lawns in a sweeping semicircle to the lock and cottage, and from two small weirs the water dances down, adding variety to a beautiful pool where stand many irregular pollard willows on tiny aits.
Over the smaller weir, framed in a setting of evergreens is a bit of far distant blue landscape. There is a bank here too, an embankment, which might be covered with flowers according to its owner's design, but that the water nymphs, intolerant of flowers, except those of their own choosing, take a wicked delight in sweeping down over the weir, and sending the water flowing like a lace shawl all over the embankment to carry back all the roots and bulbs and other things that may have been planted there to use as playthings; their gurgle of delight at their own unending joke may be heard all day long.  The shy kingfishers love the big pool below the weir, but it is not often they are seen unless the watcher has the faculty for making himself invisible against his background and is able to remain motionless.
The woods of the Holme Park, rising high close by, throw a deep-toned shadow on the picture, particularly refreshing on a baking summer's day. Many birds find their refuge in these woods, and at night the weird cries of the owls sound hauntingly over the flats. A ghost is supposed to inhabit the park, and the owl's cry might very well serve for a ghost's moan on occasion.
Having thus explored the puzzling bit of river, we may land and walk up through the Rose Garden ...

1904: Sonning Bridge and Hotel, Francis Frith -

1904: Sonning Bridge and Hotel, Francis Frith
1904: Sonning Bridge and Hotel, Francis Frith
View of LEFT bank from downstream of bridge
The punter is 'running' ie walking up and down the punt - the usual Victorian method which has now been forgotten - it didn't leave much room for the passenger who is awkwardly sitting on the till

1906: The rose garden at Sonning, Mortimer Menpes -

Rose garden at Sonning, Mortimer Menpes, 1906
The rose garden at Sonning, Mortimer Menpes, 1906
View of LEFT bank from downstream of bridge

1907: Sonning -

Sonning 1907
Sonning 1907
View of LEFT bank from downstream of bridge

Sonning, 1910
Sonning, 1910
View of LEFT bank from downstream of bridge

1889: Jerome K Jerome -

We got out at Sonning, and went for a walk round the village.  It is the most fairy-like little nook on the whole river.  It is more like a stage village than one built of bricks and mortar.  Every house is smothered in roses, and now, in early June, they were bursting forth in clouds of dainty splendour.
If you stop at Sonning, put up at the "Bull," behind the church.  It is a veritable picture of an old country inn, with green, square courtyard in front, where, on seats beneath the trees, the old men group of an evening to drink their ale and gossip over village politics; with low, quaint rooms and latticed windows, and awkward stairs and winding passages.
We roamed about sweet Sonning for an hour or so, and then, it being too late to push on past Reading, we decided to go back to one of the Shiplake islands, and put up there for the night.