Maidenhead

Reviewed and updated 26th January 2017

History

  • Maidenhead stands on the western bank of the River Thames and on the line of the old road west from London to Bath and Bristol.
  • The earliest recorded settlement was Elentone or Elington - a Saxon hamlet situated north of the present town.
  • A  wooden bridge was built over the Thames in the 13th century with the town centre about a mile from the river to escape flooding.
  • Until 1857 there was no parish church in Maidenhead and the population was served by the parishes of Cookham and Bray.
  • Positioned on the main road to the west, Maidenhead grew as its inns, trades and businesses served passing travellers.
  • In 1838 Brunel's spectacular arched bridge across the Thames brought the Great Western Railway to Maidenhead.
  • As coaching declined the trains brought new residents and more visitors to Maidenhead,  especially with the boating craze at the end of the 19th century.  Commuting to London and weekending  in Berkshire became practical.
  • Large houses and hotels sprang up near the Thames creating  domestic and service jobs.
  • By 1972 the Maidenhead bypass and M4 motorway had removed much passing trade from the town.

Location

OS Grid Reference SU890811 (Town Hall, St Ives Road, Maidenhead, SL6 1RF) Maidenhead stands on the A4 east of Reading, accessible also from junction 8/9 of the M4 motorway.

Local Government

Administered since 1997 by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead - one of the six  unitary authorities that replaced Berkshire County Council.

Population

  • 1801 — 949 inhabitants
  • 1851 — 3,603
  • 1901 — 12,980
  • 1971 — 45,306
  • 2001 — 50,030
  • 2011 — 55,257

Civil Registration Records

  • From July 1837 Maidenhead was part of Cookham Registration District
  • From April 1896 Maidenhead became a Registration District in its own right
  • From April 1974 It was brought into Windsor and Maidenhead Registration District

For Maidenhead addresses in 19th century censuses see Cookham Registration District, and the civil parishes of Bray or Cookham (although Maidenhead was larger than either).  From 1901 Maidenhead  addresses are in Maidenhead Registration District, civil parish Maidenhead.

Churches, Parishes and Records

  • Before 1857 Maidenhead had no parish church
  • Holy Trinity, Cookham served Maidenhead north of the London to Bath Road (A4)
  • St Michael and All Angels, Bray served the southern portion
  • Bray and Cookham parish registers contain the early records of Maidenhead people
  • Surviving parish records for Bray, Cookham and Maidenhead are held at Berkshire Record Office.

All Saints was the first parish church of Maidenhead. It was built in 1857, the parish created from part of Bray St Michael and covering an area to the south of the Bath Road (A4). The church is Grade 1 listed.

St Luke's was built in 1866, the parish drawn from Cookham and covering that part of Maidenhead north of the Bath Road (A4)

St Andrew and St Mary Magdalene evolved from a chapel of ease that stood in the middle of the London to Bath road . The church was rebuilt in 1826 to the south of what was then the High Street, and in 1870 a separate parish was created annexed from part of St Luke's parish.

St Peter’s, Furze Platt was initially a daughter church to St Luke's. A permanent building was consecrated in 1897 and a separate parish formed in 1928 from parts of the parishes of Cookham, Cookham Dean, Maidenhead St Luke's and Stubbings.

Church of the Good Shepherd, Cox Green is Maidenhead's newest Anglican Church and began life in 1978 in a former Victorian chapel. The Cox Green Community Centre is its home today, situated in the grounds of the local Secondary School.

While not a parish church, St Mark’s Hospital Church opened in 1873, funded by John Hibbert JP of Braywick Lodge,  and provided for Cookham Workhouse inmates and Maidenhead's poor. The Eureka partnership has transcribed and published some records.

Other Maidenhead Churches

The United Reformed Church in West Street (the former Congregational Church) dates from 1785 but  church members have met since 1662 in Maidenhead. The Eureka partnership has transcribed and published some records.

The considerably altered Methodist Church in the High Street was a former chapel for members of the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion before becoming a Methodist  Chapel in 1858.  Eureka partnership has transcribed and published some records.

Twentieth century Methodist Churches were built in St Mark's Crescent and in Woodlands Park.

A Baptist Church (now the Jubilee Church) was established in 1871 in Marlow Road and a 20th century Baptist Church stands in Westborough Road (Boyne Hill).

Roman Catholic worship returned to Maidenhead in 1867 and in 1884 St Joseph's Church was built in Cookham Road. The parish covered all of Maidenhead and surrounding area. A second parish was formed in 1970 for west Maidenhead,  and a church built on what would become, in 1982, St Edmund Campion school in Altwood Road.

Quakers - the Society of Friends - West Street.  There has been a Meeting House in Maidenhead since the 18th century.


Burial grounds and cemeteries

  • Before 1857, interments would have been in one or other of the parishes of Cookham or Bray. Both are included in the society's Berkshire Burials CD 
  • All Saints’ Church has a burial ground. Berkshire Burials contains transcriptions of burial entries from 1857 to 1948.
  • St Luke’s Church also has a burial ground but 20th century records were badly damaged. Berkshire Burials covers 1866 to 1890.
  • The United Reformed Church, High Street Methodist Church and Quaker Meeting House  carried out some burials in the grounds or in vaults. Transcriptions of these records can also be found in the Berkshire Burials CD
  • Maidenhead Cemetery, situated in All Saints Avenue, opened in 1888 and the five acre site has since received almost 15,000 interments.
  • Braywick Cemetery on Braywick Road opened in July 1953, with specific sections for different religious faiths.

For both cemeteries it is advisable to contact the cemetery office for a plot reference before visiting.

Maidenhead Wills and Probate

Pre-1858 Church Courts

  • Archdeaconry Court of Berkshire, or
  • Consistory Courts of Salisbury (to 1836), Oxford (1836 to 1857), or
  • Prerogative Court of Canterbury

The records of the Berkshire Archdeaconry have recently been indexed and this index is available as the Berkshire Probate Index CD

Post-1858

Civil records can be explored using the Find a will website

Poor Law

  • Before 1834 there were workhouses in Northtown Maidenhead (for Cookham parish) and in the Chauntry at Bray.
  • The New Poor Law of 1834 saw the creation of Cookham Poor Law Union covering  the town and surrounding parishes.
  • The workhouse was built in 1835, on the present day site of St Mark's Hospital.
  • In 1896 Cookham Union was renamed Maidenhead Union.
  • Surviving records from the Cookham/Maidenhead Union are in Berkshire Record Office.
The Workhouse website provides more information.
 

Education

Charities provided the earliest education for children in Maidenhead.  A  National (Church of England) School) was set up in 1819 and a  British School for boys opened in 1848, becoming in 1863 the Wesleyan Day School. Creation of Maidenhead's parishes brought St Luke’s and All Saints’ Primary Schools.  The first Roman Catholic School began in 1871. Maidenhead Modern School opened in 1894 and an Art School in 1896, attended by Stanley Spencer. Private schools were also set up in Maidenhead in he 19th century, including Craufurd College, Maidenhead College and Castle Hill Collegiate.


Hospitals

  • St Luke’s Cottage Hospital was built in 1880 closing in 1977.
  • The infirmary of the Union Workhouse became St Mark’s Hospital.
  • Opposite St Mark’s Hospital was an isolation hospital.

Industry

The town's initial prosperity derived from the many travellers passing through it daily and the need for accommodation, stabling and trades to service horse and, later, coach travel.

The railway's arrival ended the coaching era, bringing new residents to Maidenhead and new homes, shops and businesses to serve them. Later new jobs linked with the river and tourism as the Thames evolved from working waterway to 'leisure river'. Local breweries flourished into the 20th century and there was brick making at Pinkneys Green but no single industry or business ever characterised the town.

Newspapers

Maidenhead Advertiser published from July 1869. Maidenhead Library holds microfilm copies.

The Advertiser is not yet one of the titles included in The British Newspaper Archive (as at January 2017)

Links

The society has a local Windsor, Slough and Maidenhead Branch that meets monthly in Windsor

Berkshire Record Office is the starting point for Maidenhead records

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead website lists all local libraries. Maidenhead Library Local Studies section holds some useful local history and family history material.

Maidenhead Heritage Centre provides a useful chronology for Maidenhead. Other items of interest may be found on the main centre website

Windsor and Royal Borough Museum local history collection includes Maidenhead items

Sources for Maidenhead History

The Story of Maidenhead, Luke Over, Local Heritage Books, 1984.

A History of Maidenhead, J Wesley Walker, 1931

The Book of  Maidenhead, T. Middleton, 1975

The Royal Hundred of Cookham, Luke Over, Cliveden Press, 1994

The Royal Hundred of Bray, Luke Over, Cliveden Press, 1993

Memories of Maidenhead, Luke Over, Delfine Marketing, 2003

Images of Maidenhead, published by the Maidenhead Advertiser, 1997

Maidenhead in old Photographs, Myra Hayles and David Hedges, 1992

Are you married or do you live in Maidenhead, Bridget Hole, 1998

Villages around Maidenhead, Luke Over, History Press, 2009

Furze Platt Remembered by Ray Knibbs, published privately - limited edition

 

Additional information