Bray (St. Michael)

BRAY (St. Michael), a parish, in the union of Cookham, hundred of Bray, county of Berks; containing, with part of the town of Maidenhead, 3728 inhabitants. This place is by some considered to occupy the site of the Roman station Bibracte: it now forms part of the royal demesne, being included within the liberty of Windsor Forest, and enjoys some privileges, among which is exemption from toll in the adjacent market-town. The manor-house of Ockwells, an ancient structure, was a hunting-seat of King Henry III., and subsequently the property of the family of Norreys, who had also two other manors in the parish. The present house was built by Sir John Norreys, in the reign of Edward IV.: in the hall is a large bay window, filled with coats of arms in stained glass in fine preservation, among which are those of Henry III. and his queen Margaret, the abbey of Abingdon with the mitre, and the Norreys family several times repeated. The site of the manor-house of Creswell, now called Philberts, was formerly occupied by a magnificent palace, inhabited by Nell Gwynne. Fuller, in his Worthies, relates a story of a vicar of this parish, who unhesitatingly conformed to every change of religion that took place during the reigns of Henry VIII. and his three immediate successors, being steady in the exercise of one principle only, which was, to live and die "Vicar of Bray." The parish comprises by measurement nearly 10,000 acres. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £25. 4. 4½.; net income, £500; patron and appropriator, the Bishop of Oxford, whose tithes have been commuted for £2299: in 1814, 402 acres of land were assigned in lieu of all vicarial tithes. The church is a spacious edifice, with a tower on the south side, and contains some ancient memorials of the family of Norreys. A school for boys was founded by William Cherry, Esq., who endowed it with £500, to which Townley Ward, Esq., added £100 three per cents.; and there is a national school for girls at Bray Wick, endowed with £16 per annum by the late Whitshed Keene, Esq., of Hawthorn Hill. Jesus' Hospital was founded in 1627, by William Goddard, for forty poor persons, six of them to be free of the Fishmongers' Company, under whose management it is placed: attached is a chapel.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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