Maidenhead, a corporate borough, a market-town, and a parish in Berks. The town stands adjacent to the river Thames and the G.W.R. at the boundary with Bucks, 6¼ miles NW of Windsor, 9 E by S from Henley, and 24 by rail and 26 by road from London. Its history was written to the length of a volume by Mr Gorham, once incumbent of its chapelry and afterwards vicar of Bramford Speke, but it really contains little matter of any note. Its name at some earlier period was Sowth Ealington or Sudlington, and it is said by Leiand that this was afterwards changed popularly into Maidenhead in consequence of some monkish exhibition at it of an alleged holy virgin's head, commemorated by a window in the modern church. But the historical name, as occurring in several ancient records, was Maidenhithe or Maydenehythe, and is supposed to have been derived from a great wharf for timber which existed on the adjacent part of the Thames prior to the erection of a timber bridge in the 13th century. The bridge became a thoroughfare of much consequence, and made some figure in several public events. A chantry was established in the town by Margaret, second queen of Edward I., and had for one of its objects the maintaining and repairing of the bridge. The corporation of the town also were authorised to exact a pont-age upon all merchandise, and to take a tree annually out of Windsor Forest for the same object. A skirmish took place in the town in the time of Richard II.; the bridge was held by the Duke of Surrey, and Henry IV. had great difficulty in crossing. James I., after a day's hunting, rode unattended into the town, and had a ludicrous encounter at the inn with the vicar of Bray and the curate of Maidenhead. Charles I. in 1647, after several years separation from his three children, was allowed to meet them at the Greyhound Inn. A party of James II.'s Irish soldiers were posted at the bridge in 1688 to impede or stop the advance of the Prince of Orange to the metropolis, but at the mere sound of a Dutch march played by some of the townsmen they ran off in a panic and abandoned their cannon. The town, from its situation on the principal western road, was unavoidably subjected to annoyance from the troubles between the time of the Reformation and that of the Revolution, and Maidenhead Thicket, which lies at the W of the town, was so specially perilous that an extra salary was for some time given to the local clergymen to compensate for the danger or cost of passing it
The country around Maidenhead is highly cultivated, richly adorned with villas, mansions, and woodlands, and very picturesque. The views of the wooded slopes on the Bucks bank of the river are surpassingly beautiful, and no portion of the Thames from the source to the sea is better known to artists, anglers, and boating men than that which is to be found between Maidenhead and Marlow. There are also many pleasant walks and drives in the neighbourhood, and hence all through the summer it is crowded with tourists and visitors. The town consists chiefly of one long street, running from E to W; it extends from the bridge to Folly Hill, or as it is now called Castle Hill; it is in-toe parish of Bray along the S side and in that of Cook-ham along the N side. There are many good houses in the-outskirts, and during recent years two new suburbs have come into existence, known as Maidenhead Court and Ray Park. The town-hall, which stands in the High Street, is a building of red brick with dressings of stone in the Renaissance style of architecture. It was almost entirely rebuilt in 1879, and it contains a large hall capable of seating 500 persons, a market-hall, public offices, and a police court, with police offices and cells. There is a small Oddfellows' Hall in South Street A recreation ground of 14 acres in extent was presented to the town in 1889 by William Henry Grenfelly Esq., of Taplow Court, and is in the Grenfell Road, and in 1890 Kidwell's Park, about 12 acres in extent, and situated in the centre of the town, was also presented by the then mayor, James Daniel Morling Pearce, Esq., of Crauford Hall. The bridge was rebuilt in 1772 by Sir R. Taylor at a cost of £20,000, is a handsome structure, and comprises seven large-semicircular arches of stone and three smaller arches of brick. The G.W.R. passes immediately S of the town, and sends off a branch along its W side to a transit over the Thames 3½ miles to the N towards High Wycombe and Thame. The viaduct carrying the main line over the river, immediately E of the town, has two flat elliptical arches each 128 feet in span, besides eight land arches, and is constructed almost entirely of brick. This bridge, which was designed by the late Sir Isambard Brunei, and is locally referred to as " Brunei's masterpiece," is said to be the greatest span of brick-built bridge extant, and possesses some remarkable acoustic peculiarities. A large and commodious station of the G.W.R. stands in the town at the junction of the Wycombe branch with the main line, 24 miles from Paddington. The town contains the-ecclesiastical parishes of St Andrew and St Mary Magdalene, and of St Luke. The former of these was formed in 1875 out of the parishes of Bray and Cookham, and the latter in 1866 entirely out of Cookham parish. The living of St Andrew and St Mary Magdalene is a vicarage in the diocese of Oxford; gross value, £439 with residence. The church is in the High Street, was originally a chantry founded in 1270 by Queen Margaret, second consort of Edward I., was rebuilt on the same site in 1724, and again rebuilt in 1826. The present church is a structure of brick in mixed styles, and is not specially interesting. The living of St Luke is a vicarage in the diocese of Oxford; gross value, £410, in the-gilt of the Bishop of Oxford. The church is a modern building of freestone in the Early English style. The church of St Mark, erected in 1873 for the use of the inmates of Cookham Union Workhouse, is a cruciform building of stone, and is served by the clergy of St Luke's. St Peter's, a chapel of ease to St Luke's, is a small building of corrugated iron in the Marlow Road. St Paul's Church, in the High Town Road, a building of red brick in the Early English style, was. erected in 1887-89, and is a chapel of ease to the church of All Saints. Boyne Hill is an ecclesiastical parish which is noticed separately. The Roman Catholic church in the Cookham Road is a fine building of red brick, flint, and stone, in the Early English style, and there are Baptist, Particular Baptist, Congregational, Primitive Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels. There are almshouses for eight poor men and their wives, with an endowment of about £250 a year, and there are several useful and valuable charities. The town has a head post office, a county police station, an inland revenue office, two banks, several good hotels, and is a seat of petty sessions and a polling place. There is a corn market every Wednesday, and there were formerly three annual fairs. There are a cycle manufactory, four large breweries, and a large corn-mill, the latter being driven by the weir-water from a solid stone lock known as Boulters Lock, on the river, about half a mile above the bridge. The town was chartered by Edward III., and is now governed by a high steward, a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors, who also act as the urban sanitary authority. The borough has a commission of the peace and a police force. The area of the borough is. 2123 acres, and the population, 10,607 persons. Population. of the ecclesiastical parish of St Andrew and St Mary, 3167; and of St Luke, 5473.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Hundred||Bray and Cookham|
|Poor Law union||Cookham|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The register St. Andrew and St. Mary Magdalene dates from the year 1862.
The register of St. Luke's dates from the year 1866.
Church of England
St. Andrew and St. Mary Magdalene (parish church)
St. Andrew and St. Mary Magdalene is an ecclesiastical parish, formed July 30th, 1870, out of the parishes of Bray and Cookham. The church was originally a chantry, founded in 1270 by Margaret of France, second consort of Edward I. when the first building, of which a full account is given in Nichols' "Collectanea Topographica." vol, 6, was erected in the centre of High street; it was rebuilt on the same site in 1724, and in 1825-6 was taken down and the present building erected at the east end of High street: it is an edifice of brick, in mixed styles, consisting of Decorated chancel, nave, organ chamber, and an embattled western tower, 60 feet in height, containing a clock and 2 bells: the church was enlarged and improved in 1877-8, at a cost of £2,670, when the chancel was built, an organ chamber provided, the organ re-constructed, and in 1882 a pulpit of Caen stone and oak and a wrought iron lectern were erected and the clock renovated; in 1893-4 the church was repaired and redecorated throughout, at a cost of about £220: there are 630 sittings.
St. Luke's (parish church)
St. Luke's is an ecclesiastical parish formed March 1, 1867 entirely out of Cookham parish; the church is a building of freestone, in the Gothic style, consisting of chancel, nave of six bays, aisles, south porch and a tower at the south-east angle, 80 feet in height, with spire, and containing a clock and 2 bells: the spire was added in 1894 at a cost of about £1,500, and the total height is now about 150 feet; the reredos was the gift of the Rev. G. H. Hodson M.A., vicar of Enfield; the carved choir stalls were presented in 1902 by the parishioners and other friends as a memorial to the late Miss Meara; in 1910 a wrought iron chancel screen was presented by the then vicar; there are a number of memorial windows, including the west window, a memorial to the late Dr. Goolden: the church was enlarged in 1869 and is capable of seating 850 persons.
St. Mark's church
The church of St. Mark, erected in 1873, for the inmates of the Cookham (later Maidenhead) Union, at a cost of £2,000, by John Hibbert esq. of Braywick Lodge, is a cruciform building of stone, consisting of chancel, nave, transepts and a western turret containing one bell: the stained east window, placed in 1878, and the east window, in 1886, are memorials: there are sittings for 230 persons.
St. Paul's Church, Hight Town road
St. Paul's church, in the High Town road, a chapel of ease to the church of All Saints, Boyne Hill, was erected in 1887-9 from the designs of Mr. E. J. Shrewsbury A.R.I.B.A.: and is an edifice of red brick, in the Early English style, consisting of chancel and lofty nave under one continuous roof, vestries constructed below the chancel, and a turret containing one bell; the chancel is separated from the nave by a screen, above which is a massive rood beam bearing a large and richly-decorated cross: at the east end is a rose window filled with stained glass: the services here are conducted by the clergy of All Saints, Boyne Hill: there are 350 sittings.
St. Peter's, Furze Platt
St. Peter's, in the Furze Platt, a chapel of ease to St. Luke's, is a building of stone, consisting of a chancel and a nave, consecrated in 1898, and enlarged and completed in 1908: there are 300 sittings.
Baptist Chapel, Marlow Road
The Baptist chapel, Marlow road, erected in 1873, will seat 315 persons.
Strict Baptist Chapel, York road
The Strict Baptist chapel, York road, erected in 1864, has 100 sittings.
Congregational Chapel, West Street
The Congregational chapel, West street, was first founded in 1662; the present building, erected in 1781, will seat 500 persons.
Primitive Methodist Chapel, Queen Street
The Primitive Methodist chapel, Queen street, erected in 1882, has 300 sittings.
Wesleyan Chapel, Castle Hill
The Wesleyan chapel, Castle Hill, erected in 1859, has 500 sittings.
The Catholic church, in the Cookham road, dedicated to St. Joseph, is a building of flint, with red brick and stone dressings, in the Early English style: in 1914 a chancel, transepts, sacristy and tower were added: there are 200 sittings.
Maidenhead was in Cookham Registration District from 1894 to 1896 and Maidenhead Registration District from 1896 to 1974
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Maidenhead from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Maidenhead)
- 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 Maidenhead 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:
The Visitations of Berkshire 1532, 1566, and 1665-6 is available online.
The Maidenhead Poor Law Institution is a building of brick, built in 1836, to hold 220 inmates.