White Hart Crest of the Royal County of Berkshire David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History

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Stafferton Lodge at Braywick, Berkshire -  Nash Ford PublishingBraywick
Grand Houses near Bray

Bray Wick is one of the earliest places settled in the Thames Valley. Excavations have shown that Mesolithic man undertook flintworking here producing finely worked microliths. Neolithic man followed and it is believed that his pottery found in the area is the earliest ever discovered in Britain (from around 3340 bc).

The name Wick sometimes derives from Latin Vicus meaning a small Roman settlement; but in this case it would appear that we have an instance of the much more common Saxon word meaning "Dairy Farm". In 1336, the name was simply Wyke. The Bray was added about a hundred years later and, of course, this is the place with which the name is now irreversibly associated. In the 1760s, however, the area was linked to the Manor of Shoppenhangers as Shoppenhangers Wick.

The manorial "Hanging Woods" of Shoppenhangers were held throughout the 13th and 14th centuries by a family that took their name from the place. In the 18th century, it was the home of the renowned Grenfell family. The house, which was scandalously demolished in 2007, was quite unique. It looked 16th century, but was built in 1915 by an antique dealer from Sussex. He used completely authentic salvaged materials throughout the building, including some from the old manor of Foxleys at Touchen End!

Another manor in Braywick, on Canon Hill, was owned by Reinbald the Priest, Dean of the Prebendary College at Cirencester at the time of the Domesday Book (1086). He was rector of some 30 churches across the country, Bray amongst them. In the late 13th century, the manor passed to Cirencester Abbey and the Abbot appears to have had an extensive grange complex here. Canon Hill House was a 17th century mansion built on the site with later Adams' ceilings and a private chapel. It was demolished in 1973. Well-House, built on the Kitchen Garden of Canon Hill House was so named because it had a well used as an ice-house. The ice used to be brought by horse and cart from Slough. The beams in the house were said to be made from boat-timbers.

Bray Wick was one of the ancient tithings of the parish of Bray. It is recorded, in 1517, that the local tithingman was forced to threaten one Alice Smythgate with a fine and "bodily punishment" if she refused to refrain from  "babbling" and using her "unruly tongue"! In the next century, the village had its own windmill which stood on Windmill Hill.

The area once had other great houses. Braywick House was built as Braywick Grove by Sir William Paule in 1675. It is now offices and can be easily viewed from the main Maidenhead Road. It has the reputation of being a haunted house. The 18th century Braywick Lodge, home of the Hibbert family, no longer stands, but its grounds are a public park and Hibbert Road remembers the family. The mid-Victorian villa, Stafferton Lodge (previously spelt Staverton Lodge), is now a popular restaurant. It was built on the site of a secondary home of the Tudor Staverton family of Stroud Manor at Holyport. The original building was called 'Little Stroud'.

See also Bray


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