Bray, a village and a parish which gives its name to a hundred, in Berks. The village stands on the Thames, 1½ mile S by E of Maidenhead station on the G.W.R., and has a post, money order, and telegraph office under Maidenhead. It occupies the site of the Roman station Bibracte, and is now within the liberty of Windsor Forest The civil parish consists of the divisions of Boyne Hill, Bray, Touchen, and Water-Oakley, and contains part of the borough of Maidenhead. Acreage, 8976 of land and 87 of water; population of the civil parish, 7991; of the ecclesiastical, with Touchen-End, 1968. Jesus' Hospital, founded in 1627 by William Goddard, and placed by him under the government of the Fishmongers' Company of London, is a picturesque brick quadrangle, with an old chapel and 40 houses with cultivated gardens in the centre and rear. Monkey Island, about a mile SE of the village, contains a decayed fishing-house, built by the third Duke of Marlborough, the drawing-room of which was grotesquely decorated with paintings of monkeys. It is now used as an inn, and is a favourite resort of anglers and oarsmen. The living is a vicarage, united with the perpetual curacy of Touchen-End, in the diocese of Oxford; net yearly value, £360. Patron, the Bishop of Oxford. The parish church, dedicated to St Michael, is Early English and Decorated, has a much later square tower, and was repaired and altered in 1862; it contains numerous ancient and interesting brasses and monuments. Bray Wick is a hamlet in this parish, 1 mile S from Maidenhead station. Bray Wick Grove is a fine mansion of red brick, erected in 1675 and enlarged in 1750. Braywood is an ecclesiastical parish which was formed in 1871 out of the parishes of Bray and Winkfield. It is 3 miles S from Bray, and it includes the hamlets of Oakley Green and Fifield, with portions of Winkfield and Cranbourne. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Oxford; net yearly value, £100. The church, a building of flint and stone in the Early English and Decorated styles, was erected in 1866 at the sole cost of the late Madame Van de Weyer. Touchen-End is a chapelry in the parish of Bray, about 3½ miles W from Maidenhead station. It has a small church erected in 1862, which is served by the vicar of Bray and the assistant curate, and a post office under Maidenhead. Holyport is a hamlet in this parish, situated about 1 mile W of Bray village. It has a Wesleyan chapel, and a post, money order, and telegraph office under Maidenhead. Money Row Green and Water Oakley are hamlets. Boyne Hill is noticed under a separate heading. Archbishop Laud had a farm in the parish, and Simon Aleyn, notable for having repeatedly changed his creed from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism and from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism, was vicar in four reigns, and died in 1588. An old ballad represents him as saying- " And this is law, I will maintain Until my dying day, sir, That whatsoever king shall reign, I'll be the vicar of Bray, sir." The ballad commences-"In good King Charles' golden days." It probably refers to Simon Aleyn, but is wrong as to the sovereign under whom he lived.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Bray St. Michael|
|Poor Law union||Cookham|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
There is a cemetery in the Windsor road for that portion of the parish which is apart from the Touchen End district. The cemetery is divided into consecrated and unconsecrated portions.
The register dates from the year 1656.
Church of England
St. Michael (parish church)
The church of St. Michael, built in the reign of Edward I. is an edifice of flint, sandstone and chalk, in the Early English and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel, with north and south chapels, nave of three bays, aisles and a massive embattled tower with bold angle-buttresses on the south side and containing 6 bells and a clock; the tower is of four stages, the lowermost forming a porch: the massive oak roofs of the nave and aisles are said to date from the 13th century: the fabric was repaired and restored in 1859 at a great cost, under the superintendence of Thomas Wyatt esq.: over the main south entrance within a niche is a sculptured figure of S. Michael: in 1906 two handsome dormer windows were erected in the chancel: the windows are nearly all stained: there are 800 sittings.
Bray was in Cookham Registration District from 1837 to 1896 and Maidenhead Registration District from 1896 to 1974
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Bray from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Bray (St. Michael))
- Kelly's Directory of Berkshire, 1915
Land and Property
The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Berkshire is available to browse.
Online maps of Bray are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Berkshire papers online:
Villages, Hamlets, &cBoyne Hill
The Visitations of Berkshire 1532, 1566, and 1665-6 is available online.