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Barging in England – The Thames – English Barge Cruises

Top Ten Sites to Visit on the River Thames with Barge Magna Carta

Some of the top things when you think of England might be: royalty, stately homes, London, and the River Thames. It's fair to say that these features are the major visitor attractions in the UK. A vacation in England wouldn't be complete without a visit to at least one or two of these places.

Enjoy the River Thames aboard the English Hotel Barge Magna Carta

A barge cruise aboard the Hotel Barge Magna Carta along the Thames River will take you to many of these attractions. Many of the most iconic locations based outside of London will be revealed on your barging cruise where you will experience some off-the-beaten track gems. Grand palaces, castles, and universities with many years of history, are just waiting to be discovered.

Here is a top-ten list of places to visit outside of London on a River Thames barging cruise aboard the Hotel Barge Magna Carta.

1. Windsor

A royal stronghold in Britain for almost 1000 years, Windsor is a historic market town situated amidst many hectares of Royal Parks. This green and leafy location is best known for being home to Windsor Castle, which was the late Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite residence. Towering on a hilltop, the castle's Round Tower can be seen for many miles around, especially from the River Thames below. It's atop the Round Tower that the Royal Standard flag will fly if King Charles III is in residence.

Enjoy Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle

A guided tour within this spectacular castle will reveal State Apartments displayed with paintings and ornate furniture, St George's Chapel, which is the resting place of many royals, and the impressive St Mary's Dolls' House, which is the most extraordinary miniature palace you will ever see. Explore the castle and experience its atmosphere.

2. Oxford

The extraordinary University city of Oxford is a destination not to be missed on a Thames River sightseeing tour. Located less than 60 miles from London, this extravagant city has been a settlement since Anglo-Saxon times. The streets of Oxford are absolutely beautiful and filled with quirky shops, excellent cafés, and historic breweries.

Aerial view of Oxford college
Aerial View of Oxford College

Founded at the end of the 12th century, Oxford Univerity's yellowed limestone buildings dominate the city's skyline and large stretches of the river Thames. With each college of the University having its own domain and buildings within the city, Oxford is an eccentric and exciting place to explore. It is full of history, culture, and photo opportunities. Not to be missed is the impressive Christ Church college, which has links to Henry VIII.

3. Cliveden

Based in the Royal county of Berkshire, the National Trust's Cliveden estate is home to an elegant 17th-century country house that was owned by the Astor family. Situated on the River Thames, its stunning grounds boast parterre gardens, woodland, and sculptures. The movies "Sherlock Holmes" and "Cinderella", among others, have featured Cliveden as a filming location.

Cliveden tulips
Clivenden Estate

Visitors to Cliveden on a Magna Carta River Thames barge cruise can learn about the shocking scandal that centered on a party held at Cliveden in the 1960s. The Profumo Affair shook Britain and resulted in a loss of confidence in the government, that would change politics forever. Don't miss an opportunity to tour its grounds with your onboard guide, to make sure you hear all the shocking details!

4. Magna Carta Memorial in Runnymede

A visit to Runnymede's Magna Carta Memorial has quite a story to tell. The Magna Carta was a historic document signed under King John in 1215. It defined the extent of royal power over the people living in the Kingdoms of England and Wales. Broadly considered to be the very beginnings of law and democracy in Britain, the Magna Carta was signed by nobles and barons in Runnymede.

Runneymede's Magna Carta Memorial
Magna Carta Memorial

Occupying land next to the River Thames, the Magna Carta Memorial immortalizes the events that took place in this picturesque location. Guests aboard the hotel barge Magna Carta have an opportunity to enjoy a unique perspective of this historic area on a Thames river cruise.

5. Hampton Court Palace

A favorite residence of King Henry VIII, Hampton Court Palace is an example of royal extravagance. Cruise past its stunning gardens and banqueting house on the River Thames and experience the palace in a way that most visitors never do.

English Hotel Barge Magna Carta moored at Hampton Court
Magna Carta Moored at Hampton Court

A tour around Hampton Court Palace will reveal Henry VIII's Great Hall and Royal Chapel, William III and Mary II's State Apartments, complete with throne room and bedchambers, and the Tudor kitchens, which still contain a working fireplace. Wandering around the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, you will see the spectacular Baroque façade and gardens, The Great Vine, and the famous maze. Legend has it, that if you keep your right hand on the maze wall at all times, you'll be able to reach the center, and the exit with great ease.

6. Cookham Village

The picturesque village of Cookham on the River Thames is known for its pretty scenery and historic buildings. Once home to the quirky 20th-century artist Stanley Spencer, the village is popular with art and history lovers.

Cookham Stanley Spencer Gallery
Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham

Described by Stanley Spencer as "Heaven on Earth", Cookham has been home to the Stanley Spencer Gallery since 1959. With a fantastic array of almost one hundred paintings and drawings in its collection, the gallery displays artworks throughout the year and holds unique exhibitions for visitors.

7. Henley-on-Thames

Situated just outside of the city of Oxford, Henley-on-Thames was previously voted one of the best places to live in the English countryside. With its location alongside a stunning stretch of the River Thames, this medieval market town has plenty of attractions for culture, nature, and history buffs.

Henley-on-Thames Rowing Regatta
Henley Royal Regatta

Henley-on-Thames gained fame through its participation in the Henley Royal Regatta and is well known for its boating and rowing. Visitors to this historic town shouldn't miss an opportunity to find out more about the history of the River Thames at the River & Rowing Museum. A visit to this spectacular modern gallery will reveal some of the collection's 35,000 items and take you on a journey back in time on the Thames.

8. Hurley

Built around the River Thames, the historic village of Hurley heavily relied on the water to support its infrastructure. Originally founded by Geoffrey de Mandeville in 1086, Hurley church is an unusual example of a Christian building because it has neither aisles nor a tower. The church incorporates Norman features from an earlier building and contains the tombs of the Barons of Lovelace, who assumed the local manor after the dissolution of Hurley's monastery in the 16th century.

Hurley - The Olde Bell Inn

Arguably the most famous building in Hurley, The Olde Bell Inn dates back to 1135. This inn was originally built as a guest house for visitors to the monastery. Those cruising on hotel barge Magna Carta will have an opportunity to visit this impressive historic pub, see the treasured trinkets on display, and enjoy a very English pint of beer!

9. Marlow

You may have never heard of the Buckinghamshire town of Marlow, but after a visit, you'll certainly wonder why. This calm town on the River Thames has everything you need, perhaps enjoying a leisurely stroll, a quintessentially British cup of tea, or some retail therapy. The surrounding area has proven to be inspirational to creatives, having been home to many famous writers like T.S. Eliot, Mary Shelley and Enid Blyton, and Marlow.

Marlow Suspension Bridge
Marlow Suspension Bridge

Cruise under Marlow's suspension bridge which joins the riverbanks of the Thames between Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. Perhaps you'd like to enjoy a walk or bike ride along the Thames Path? Pass along the picturesque riverbanks from the extensive green space at Higginson Park to either Hurley in one direction, or Cookham in the other.

10. Eton

Situated directly opposite Windsor on the banks of the River Thames, Eton was once on the main road from London to Windsor. Now it is best known for the exclusive Eton College and the small town is a popular tourist destination. Connected to the neighboring royal town by Windsor Bridge, the old London Road across the river is now only passable on foot or bike, and makes for some spectacular views.

Marlow Suspension Bridge
Eton College

Founded by Henry VI in 1440, Eton College has seen many famous boys through its doors. Many of Britain’s Prime Ministers were schooled at Eton, and Princes William and Harry also attended the private school. Visitors shouldn’t miss an opportunity to explore this historic town and inquire about the stories of Eton.

Explore the sights of the River Thames aboard Magna Carta

You'll get to experience all of the above sites and so much more on a luxury cruise aboard Magna Carta. Accommodating up to eight passengers, this luxury takes guests on a week-long all inclusive luxury cruise between Hampton Court Palace and Henley-on-Thames.

English Hotel Barges — Hotel Barges in England

Hotel Barge Magna Carta

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Upper Thames (London-Henley)
up to 8 guests
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