Sonning on Thames is a stunning Thames-side village in Berkshire! Learn all about the best things to do in Sonning! Oozing with character, this beautiful British village is one of the best places to visit in Berkshire.
Sonning-on-Thames, most often simply referred to as Sonning, is a small village just east of Reading. Just over the river from the town is a small island in the River Thames. On this island, you’ll find the hamlet of Sonning Eye, which while distinct from Sonning, is utterly inseparable.
Without a doubt, Sonning is one of the best place to visit on a day trip from London! Are you ready to learn about the village?
Where is Sonning-on-Thames?
Sonning-on-Thames lies on the edge of Berkshire county. A short walk over the bridge will take you into Oxfordshire as you enter the neighbouring village of Sonning Eye. As you might guess from the name, the bridge in Sonning goes over the Thames. The banks of the river define the northern edge of the village.
The nearest major town to Sonning is Reading which lies no more than four miles to the East. Despite its proximity to the suburbs of Reading, Sonning has managed to keep its identity as a separate village. It really is one of the top villages near London.
Where to stay in Sonning on Thames?
Let’s face it! There are only two options for you to stay in this village:
What famous people live in Sonning?
Who lives in Sonning? There are quite a few notable residents of Sonning. Perhaps the most famous are George and Amal Clooney. Amal’s family lives a few miles outside of Sonning. The pair have a large property just over the bridge in the hamlet of Sonning Eye, which they have done extensive work on including adding a large pool house and private cinema.
Jimmy Page, of Led Zepplin and former cricket captain Andrew Strauss both have homes within the bounds of Sonning. When it comes to magicians, both Paul Daniels and Uri Geller have lived here. If you’re interested in politics, then it may interest you to know that Theresa May also calls the village home.
There have been a lot of rumours that more American superstars have been looking for property in the area. Taylor Swift and Brad Pitt have both been identified as celebrities looking for an English base in the area.
Parking in Sonning Eye
There are a few good spots to park in Sonning Eye. If you enter the hamlet over the Sonning bridge, then there is a small number of free parking spots located immediately after the bridge.
If these are all taken, the next option is to park in the car park of the French Horn. It is only for customers, so you’ll have to grab a bite to eat in the restaurant, however, as long as you do they are quite relaxed about cars being left for a while if you go to explore the village further.
Things to see in Sonning Eye
1. The Bull Inn, Sonning-on-Thames
Looking for the best pubs in Sonning? The Bull Inn is a picture-perfect English country pub and restaurant. This 16th Century pub is Grade II listed and in excellent condition. The timber frame and white rendered exterior is the perfect canvas for the plants and trees that climb its sides.
The food served is a great example of what can be done with seasonal produce. This means that what you have to choose from will depend on the time of year. With much of the food locally sourced you can get a real taste of proper English pub food.
2. Sonning Lock
A short walk upstream from Sonning Bridge will bring you to Sonning Lock. You can also follow a scenic footpath from St Andrew’’s church to bring you to this serene and beautiful spot. It’s well worth the short walk to see the beauty of the location.
If you visit in summer, you can also enjoy a spot of tea or a cold drink from the informal tea garden that sits by the lock.
3. Sonning Bridge
There has been a bridge in this spot since 1125. Of course, the original wooden bridge is long gone, as are the many wooden ones that followed. There are rumours that Dick Turpin lived in the area and it was over this bridge that he raced across to escape the authorities by crossing the county line.
The current stone bridge was put in place in the early 20th Century. This was in response to complaints that the traction engines crossing the wooden bridge were causing too much damage and disturbing the locals.
As you cross over the bridge, you can find a stone marker. Carved into the marker are the letters B and O, separated by a straight line. This is the marker for the county line, between Berkshire and Oxfordshire. The line is the boundary and runs down the middle of the River Thames.
In the middle of the bridge, there is a post box. However, the post box is located on the side of one of the supporting buttresses of the bridge, so the only way to reach it is by boat. The postbox is a mystery, but it was believed it is the work of a prankster!
4. The Mill at Sonning on Thames
In the 18th Century, the Mill at Sonning was ideally located to take advantage of the river for grinding flour. Now it’s quirky location on an island in the middle of the river, makes it a popular spot for dinner and a show.
The Mill was the first building on the Thames to harness the river’s flow to generate electricity. It’s an excellent reflection of how The Mill used to operate. Because of its loving and sensitive restoration, the Mill has received several conservation awards.
The Mill is adjoined to the Mill House, the home of George and Amal Clooney.
5. High Street
The High Street through Sonning and Sonning Eye is lined with large brick-built homes. Interspersed you will find several pubs and restaurants. There are few shops in either the village or the hamlet. However, there is plenty of character to soak up as you wander through the street, and over the single-track bridge.
6. The French Horn
Best Sonning restaurants? The French Horn is a pub and restaurant that sits on the banks of the River Thames. As you enter the cosy pub, you will be greeted with the sight and aroma of ducks roasting over an open fire.
This is a tradition almost as old as the pub itself.
7. Coppa Club Sonning
The Coppa Club is a fantastic place to visit, the food is terrific, and the place is filled with different nooks and spaces for you to experience. You can choose to dine in the lounge bar or dining room. If you want to get some fresh air you can sit in the landscaped gardens that face onto the River Thames. In poor weather, there’s also an all-weather terrace to sit out on.
If you’re there for a celebration, you can hire one of the private celebration igloos! You can book this funky space for up to 6 guests for 2 hours. It’s a great way to have an unforgettable experience while you’re in Sonning.
8. St Andrew’s Church, Sonning
This active and bustling church is nestled into the heart of Sonning and has a prime location right on the river. The current church is built on the site of an Anglo Saxon church, so the area is one that had long been used for worship. You can still see some of the Saxon stonework in the church today.
The majority of this church dates from the 13th and 14th Century and is filled with memorial plaques. It’s well worth a visit for anyone interested in English country churches.
9. The Apple Tree House
If you’re travelling in a large group, there is an amazing property in the heart of Sonning that you can rent. The Apple Tree House is a massive mansion of a home that can sleep up to 16 guests and includes a hot tub in the garden. Even if you don’t stay here, it’s worth having a nosy at the place from the outside as it’s a truly exceptional rental house.
Looking for great walks near London? Several lovely walking paths start from Sonning and take you along the River Thames. Your options include;
10. Blue Water Walk
The Blue Water Walk is the name of the path that heads north along the river from the Sonning side of Sonning Bridge. Following this path will take you up to Sonning Lock. It’s only a short walk. The path is a small part of the Thames Path. It gets its name from the large number of blue dragonflies you can spot on this short stretch of the river.
11. The Thameside Walk
On the other side of the River Thames is the Thameside Walk. This path starts from the car park of The Mill at Sonning. You begin by walking over a small wooden bridge before the route takes you on a lovely walk. The whole path is 3 miles in length and takes you as far as Shiplake to the north of Sonning.
12. Thames Path
The Thames Path is a long-distance walking trail. To walk the whole thing takes around 14 days. The path passes right through Sonning so you can easily walk in either direction along the route if you start from Sonning.
By heading north, you’ll start on the Blue Water Walk. Once it becomes the Thames Path again, you can continue up through Shiplake to Henley, which is the end of the path. Heading to the south from Sonning along the Thames Path will take you through Caversham.
In either direction, the path is easy to follow, well signposted and easy to walk. It’s suitable for all level of walkers.
Places to visit nearby Sonning on Thames:
- Henley-on-Thames: 7 miles away from Sonning-on-Thames
- Hambleden: 11 miles away from Sonning-on-Thames
- Marlow: 11 miles away from Sonning-on-Thames
- Goring on Thames: 13 miles away from Sonning-on-Thames
- Fingest: 14 miles away from Sonning-on-Thames
- Windsor: 16 miles away from Sonning-on-Thames
- West Wycombe: 17 miles away from Sonning-on-Thames
- Wallingford: 17 miles away from Sonning-on-Thames
- Burnham Beeches: 18 miles away from Sonning-on-Thames
- Beaconsfield: 18 miles away from Sonning-on-Thames
- Dorchester on Thames: 20 miles away from Sonning-on-Thames
- Old Amersham: 23 miles away from Sonning-on-Thames
- Abingdon: 27 miles away from Sonning-on-Thames
- Wendover: 27 miles away from Sonning-on-Thames
- Thame: 30 miles away from Sonning-on-Thames
Is it worth visiting Sonning-on-Thames?
Sonning is a beautiful little village in the heart of the English countryside. It’s a spot worth visiting if you’re looking for a base for a walk along the River Thames, in a village where you have several good meal options and plenty of luxury to enjoy!
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