Birmingham is young, modern, and fast-paced. Henley-in-Arden is probably its opposite in many ways. Dating back to the 12th century, you’ll find a quieter, slower pace of life here – filled with rubber duck races, ancient mounds, and a high street of good old-fashioned shops. But this medieval town is one of the prettiest in England and, only 40 minutes from Birmingham by car or train, no less exciting.
The first thing you’ll notice about Henley-in-Arden is the architecture, with a mile-long high street blending medieval, Tudor, Georgian and Victorian design. There are over 150 historic buildings, shops, pubs and restaurants to discover, like the traditional Edwardian railway station or the 12th-century Norman church, St Nicholas Church. History hides around every corner in Henley.
Perhaps the town’s most popular historical attraction is Henley Ice Cream. Housed in a 16th-century building, the ice cream parlour began trading in 1932 and serves over 50 flavours. It’s been winning awards pretty much ever since then. It can seat up to 40 people, but we recommend grabbing a scoop or two – of banana and fudge, blackcurrant sorbet, walnut and maple syrup, to name a few and exploring the rest of the market town.
Wander up to The Mount, Henley’s highest point, where you’ll find the earthwork remains of Beaudesert Castle, a medieval deer park and fishponds; visit the gorgeous Jubilee Gardens, and enjoy the flowers in a peaceful setting; or learn more about the town’s history, from the Norman Conquest to the present day, at the Heritage Centre. There are all sorts of walks to enjoy too, with The Millennium Way passing through this cherished town.
Fancy grabbing a bite to eat? Well, fans of The Yummy Brummie are in luck. The Mount by Glynn Purnell offers a proper pub experience with Michelin expertise. Whether you want a full restaurant experience, classic pub grub or simply a refreshing drink at the bar, it can do it all. Enjoy everything from burgers to a signature black pudding scotch egg.
There are numerous pubs about, however, alongside a fish ‘n’ chip shop, a local bakery, pizzeria, Indian takeaway and more – so you’ll never go hungry in Henley-in-Arden. So much is crammed into this tiny town, in fact, you’ll want repeat trips to see it all. Make sure to visit over the Summer Bank Holiday – when the town’s iconic rubber duck races take place during Henley Fayre.