Sonning French Horn 2020
The French Horn at Sonning is a luxury hotel and restaurant on the banks of the River Thames
next to the Sonning Backwater Bridges (on the B478 road), at Sonning Eye, Oxfordshire, England.
The speciality of the restaurant is duck, roasted on a spit in front of the fire, and there is an extensive wine list. The restaurant has a panoramic view of the gardens and river beyond. The riverside trees are floodlit at night. It is possible for diners and other visitors to moor on the river in the hotel's garden. There is an old, rusty iron gate with the name of the hotel within the ironwork on the path by the river opposite Sonning Bridge. The hotel includes a number of riverside cottages that are now used as rooms for hotel clients.
Notable clientele include the film director and restaurant critic Michael Winner, who has used the location as a film set, and Princess Diana. It has also featured in the books of Dick Francis.
Close by is The Mill at Sonning, now a dinner theatre.
1873: Advertisement -
French Horn advert in Henry Taunt's New Thames Map, 1873
1903: The Underdog by F Hopkinson Smith -
... the French Horn across the black water ... 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
1884: The Upper Thames, Harpers New Monthly Magazine -
... Sonning Church and bridge and lock and adjacent weir are all picturesque.
They seem made for artistic study and poetic suggestion.
Up a noisy back-water we pushed our way to the French Horn,
and indulged in shandy gaff and tobacco.
Cigars seem utterly out of place in these pretty primitive retreats.
We smoked church-wardens the pipes of our forefathers.
The news of the time was represented by London papers several days old, though the French Horn is only seventy - one miles from London. It is a peculiarity of the Upper Thames, and indeed one of its greatest charms, that it is practically hundreds of miles from the metropolis. The excitement of the most sensational news in town evaporates on its flight through the somnolent calm of Oxfordshire meadows and Berkshire woods and dells.
Sonning is reputed to have once been a place of note. It has a certain old-world look which conveys an idea of antiquity.
1890: Sonning, The French Horn Hotel, Francis Frith -
Sonning Archimedes Screw 2020
Quite a sight at the weir above the French Horn