History of Temple Island
Temple Island is an elegant ornamental folly designed by the 18th century English architect James Wyatt commissioned by the Freeman Family and constructed in 1771. It was designed as a fishing lodge for Fawley Court , a nearby historic house also owned by the Freeman family.
Temple Island is situated a mile and a half downstream of the picturesque market town of Henley-on-Thames, on one of the most beautiful stretches of the River Thames.
Change of Ownership
In the 19th century, the island's ownership passed, with Fawley Court, from the Freeman family to the Mackenzie family. Excessive alternations were carried out under the new owner. A rise in the river level made it necessary for the surrounding ground of the Temple to be raised by several feet. This lead to a change in the design of the south side of the building and a large wooden balcony was positioned with a double staircase down onto the grass. The Mackenzie family also erected a new stone statue of a nymph under the cupola.
Henley Royal Regatta
In 1987, the future of the island including the Temple was secured through the generosity of Mr and Mrs Alan Burrough. Their magnificent donation made it possible for Henley Royal Regatta to acquire a 999 year lease of the island from Miss Mackenzie, the freehold being vested in The Trustees of Temple Island.The Stewards of the Regatta carried out an exemplary restoration over the following three years.
Under Henley Royal Regatta, small groups of people may now view the Regatta from the same position enjoyed by members of the Leander Club enclosure in this 1893 print.