St Andrew's Church
Wraysbury shown within Berkshire
|OS grid reference|
|Unitary authority||Windsor and Maidenhead|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
Wraysbury is a village and civil parish in Berkshire, England in the very east of the county, in the part that was in Buckinghamshire until 1974. It sits on the northern bank of the River Thames in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead however the Wraysbury Reservoir is in the Spelthorne borough of Surrey. Wraysbury is 18 miles (29 km) west by south-west of London.
- 1 History
- 2 Changing face of Wraysbury in the 19th century
- 3 Landmarks and Community
- 4 Localities
- 5 Politics
- 6 Famous residents
- 7 Images of Wraysbury
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Investigation by Windsor and Wraysbury Archaeological Society of a field in the centre of Wraysbury to the east of St Andrew's church revealed evidence of human activity in Neolithic times. Many hundreds of flint artefacts were found and are now in the care of the Windsor Museum collection.
The village name is traditionally spelt Wyrardisbury, is Anglo Saxon in origin and means 'Wïgrǣd's fort'. Its name is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Wirecesberie and Wiredesbur in 1195. The name is seen again as Wyrardesbury in 1422. There is a pub across the river in Old Windsor, called the Bells of Ouseley and it has been suggested that this is another archaic spelling of Wraysbury. However a more likely explanation is that it is named after the bells of Osney Abbey which were brought downstream at the dissolution and disappeared into the mud at this point.
The village was a portion of hunting grounds when the Saxons resided at Old Windsor. New Windsor was built in 1110 by King Henry I and he moved in, in 1163. The lands around Wraysbury were held by a number of noblemen.
Magna Carta Island and Ankerwycke
On the Ankerwycke estate in the village are the ruins of a Benedictine nunnery, founded in the reign of King Henry II. One of the 50 oldest trees in the United Kingdom can be found in Wraysbury. At around 2000 years old, the Ankerwycke Yew dates from the Iron Age, and is so wide that you can fit a Mini Cooper behind its trunk and not see it from the other side. Local legend says that Anne Boleyn once sat under the tree, while residing at the Ankerwycke Estate, but this still has to be verified. The Ankerwycke estate was bought by John Blagrove a prominent Jamaican slave owner, who did much to improve the estate.
St Andrew's Church
Changing face of Wraysbury in the 19th century
The population of Wraysbury remained relatively static during the 19th century, with a slight increase between the 1801 return of 616 and the final census of the century giving a population figure of 660. This compares to the early part of the 21st century with population figures for Wraysbury, standing at 3,641 in the 2001 census.
For centuries, agricultural and mill work had been the principal areas of employment for the villagers and as late as 1831, census returns show that of the 135 families in the village, 62 were employed in agriculture while 68 made their living in the Mills.
This compares to the most recent census where around 12% of the population work from home and the average distance travelled to work is now 14.24 km.
The Wraysbury Enclosure
The Enclosure of the Parish of Wraysbury was ordered by a private Enclosure Act of 1799 and was signed by the commissioners in 1803. The map of the village was redrawn by Thomas Bainbridge and shows the distribution of the lands in the following the enclosure.
Prior to this, the Common Lands of the village were owned by the Lord of the Manor of Wraysbury, at that time John Simon Harcourt, the Church, and the Trustees of William Gyll esq., although, as common land, they were subject to legal rights of pasture and grazing for copyholders and other tenants. In addition to those with legal rights over the land, the poor of the district would have had 'real' or 'customary rights', for example to feed their livestock or gather wood for fuel.
The only ones benefiting from enclosure were those who could show legal rights over the common land, such as copyholders and tenants of the manor. The enclosure enshrined their rights, converting 'rights of common' and allocating an area of land commensurate to their rights, as close to their farmhouse as was convenient. The poor were overlooked in this process, and were no longer able to forage for fuel or graze their animals.
The smaller landowners of Wraysbury to benefit from Enclosure were people such as Nathanial Wilmot, Nathanial Matthews, Shadrach Trotman and Thomas Buckland, all of whose names had previously appeared on the Wraysbury Court rolls as copyhold owners.
Coming of the Railway
The village saw another major change in 1848 with the arrival of the railway which opened up employment opportunities and afforded the chance to travel easily and quickly to and from the village. In the History of Wraysbury published in 1862, G.W.J. Gyll extolled the benefits to the village:
|“||Railways have much improved the locality and the condition of the people also, and it is a powerful solvent to diminish provincial rusticity, local and self-importance; class prejudice and all the elements of isolation melt away in its presence. The railway through our parish has been of great use to it; has enhanced the value of property, as is the case wherever such a project has been executed, despite the fears of those who repressed the enterprise.||”|
William Thomas Buckland was the local surveyor and valuer employed to handle the compensation claims resulting from the purchases of land for the new railway. This business of Buckland & Sons grew into an estate agency, which had an office in Windsor High Street for the following 150 years.
New Road and Suspension Bridge
Where is Wraysbury, I can scarce find it on the map? asked an associate of G.W.J. Gyll. Once the railway had put the village on the map, the next step was to improve road access, and more importantly, to alleviate the adverse effects of the annual floods which frequently resulted in the village being cut off from the rest of the county. Lord of the Manor, George Harcourt suggested that a new road should be built on higher ground from Bowry's Barn to the Colne Bridge, to replace the old road which ran along ditches susceptible to flooding. The 1848 Tithe Map, drawn by surveyor WT Buckland showing the proposed route of the new road can be seen at the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies in Aylesbury. Harcourt also suggested a replacement for the old Long Bridge over the River Colne should be built, and a new suspension bridge, designed and paid for by Harcourt, was built by civil engineer Mr Dredge.
Non-Conformists in Wraysbury
The only place of worship in Wraysbury until 1827 was the Anglican Church of St Andrew. Local farmer, surveyor and auctioneer, William Thomas Buckland, wishing to provide an alternative place of worship for non-conformists, built the Wraysbury Baptist Chapel to his own design. The original Baptist meeting place was opened in 1827 and WT Buckland was the principal minister until his death some 40 years later. Gyll, in his History of Wraysbury, described the establishment of the chapel:
|“||Much praise is to be given to the officiating, minister of the Baptists in Wraysbury, Mr. William Thomas Buckland, who exercises his vocation at the chapel here to a well disposed and confiding auditory, while to his wife and family are entrusted the religious education of the Baptist flock.||”|
The new chapel, with its elegant slender tower was opened on 16 October 1862; the building works had cost around £800. The striking terracotta relief panel, The City of Refuge, on the front elevation of the chapel, was created by the renowned Doulton & Co artist George Tinworth and is signed with his monogram.
After the death of WT Buckland, James Doulton, his son-in-law and a cousin of Sir Henry Doulton, took over the preaching duties. Later James' son-in-law the Reverend Arthur Gostick Shorrock took over the duties. Arthur had been a student preacher in Wraysbury in the 1880s, after which he spent 35 years as a missionary work in Shaanxi, China.
Use in film and television
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A flooded quarry in Wraysbury was used a filming location (actually intended to be in France) in the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill, in which Bond (played for the last time by Roger Moore) and the corpse of his murdered ally Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee) were pushed into the water in their Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud by the villainous Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) and his henchman Mayday (Grace Jones). However, Bond avoided drowning by forcing open the door and swimming to the surface.
Wraysbury Stores, the main village store until May 2006 appeared in an advert for the Daily Mail featuring Chris Tarrant.
Landmarks and Community
Due to the various gravel pits, the River Thames, lakes and reservoirs (notably "The Pond"), Wraysbury has plenty of wildlife and wonderful walks. Wraysbury Reservoir is within a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
In June, Wraysbury holds its annual fete, where stands such as the local vintage and classic car clubs show off their member's vehicles. There are also activities for children and the Tug of War held by the scouts, beavers and cubs. There are also the stands of local charities, the local school, usually giving out ice creams, and of course the church's stands.
The Wraysbury Cricket Club plays on the village Green and played the MCC in 2009.
The main store in the village was Wraysbury Stores until its closure in May 2006. The shop is now vacant. The building is Victorian and had been constantly occupied since the late 1800s. It was formerly a Post Office before becoming a general store. It neighbours a garage and fish and chip shop and is opposite the Perseverance Pub. There are many shops located on the High Street, and there is a park including children's playground which is a popular spot for dog-walkers and kite-flyers.
1st Wraysbury Scout Group is located on the Village Green.
Former actor Robert Rietti had a home in Wraysbury, but once his wife died in August 2008, he no longer needed this together with his house in Wembley and a flat in Golders Green, and sold the house in the summer of 2009.
Former Wraysbury resident Gordon Cullen, an architect renowned for developing the Townscape movement in post-war Britain, designed the Wraysbury Village Hall. It is only one of a few buildings he designed which were subsequently built.
Hythe End is the part of the village closest to Staines upon Thames, largely a linear development on the Staines Road, on the northern bank of the River Thames close to Bell Weir Lock, with a large minority of properties adjoining the riverside.
Hythe End consists of several riverside homes, mainly on The Island, Hythe End. Gravel pits to the north containing water and reeds make up a Site of Special Scientific Interest. One of the major features at Hythe End is the river water extraction facility. This was built in 1910 by the Metropolitan Water Board to supply water from the River Thames to its works in Ashford Common via the Staines Aqueduct, this feeds first the King George VI Reservoir and continues eastwards, passing the Water Treatment Works at Kempton Park, to also supply some of the supply of the Kempton Park Reservoirs another Water Treatment Works at Hampton.
Media related to Hythe End at Wikimedia Commons
Sunnymeads is the linear western neighbourhood bordering the River Thames and to the north, Datchet, and has its own train station . Although long part of Wraysbury administratively, its almost uninterrupted narrow buffer zone continues to render it a separate settlement. Its own facilities include Sunnymead Stores, since the turn of the 21st century a tanning boutique. The station is unmanned with no inside waiting areas but tickets and travelcards can be purchased at the ticket machine.
Sunnymeads was one of the favourite destinations for Londoners both during and after the Second World War who would lease or acquire plots and build modest shacks on the river. Few of these original houses still exist as they have been demolished and more permanent, larger houses have been built in their place.
Friary Island is a large residential island accessed by a short causeway bridge in the River Thames here.
Sunnymeads Masonic Lodge – King John's Hunting Lodge may only by longstanding name date to the time of the Magna Carta – it is a restored late 14th Century building, dating to the reign of the first Tudor King, Henry VII of England, which is Grade II* listed.
Media related to Sunnymeads at Wikimedia Commons
On a Parish level, the town is represented by eleven councillors of the Wraysbury Parish Council.
On Borough level, the town is part of the Horton and Wraysbury electoral ward and is currently represented by two councillors (John Lenton and Colin Rayner of the Conservative Party) in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. Councillor Lenton serves on both the Wraysbury Parish Council and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council.
- David Gilmour – Member of the British Rock band Pink Floyd
- Gordon Cullen – British Architect (d.1994)
- Christine Keeler – A young girl who was involved with the Profumo Affair.
- Bunty Bailey – The girl in the classic rotoscoped music video Take on me by a-ha, and also a past member of Hot Gossip
- Andy Ellison, Singer in British rock bands, Johns Children, Radio Stars, Jet.
Images of Wraysbury
- The National Archives documents online website, Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI)
- Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; National Archives; CP 40/647; http://aalt.law.uh.edu/AALT1/H6/CP40no647/bCP40no647dorses/IMG_0818.htm; sixth entry, with John Magot as plaintiff against Thomas Gille of Wyrardesbury
- The Heritage Trees of Britain and Northern Ireland by Jon Stokes and Donald Roger: The Tree Council [ISBN 1-84119-959-1]
- Parishes: Wyrardisbury or Wraysbury, A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 3, W. Page (Editor), 1925, pp. 320–325.
- "Ankerwycke Burned Down" (PDF), The New York Times, 19 September 1915, Sunday: Picture Section Rotogravure: Part 1, Page 15
- Hakewell, James (1825), A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica, London: Hurst and Robinson, p. 73 , See Wikisource
- History of the Parish of Wraysbury, Ankerwycke Priory, and Magna Charta Island; with the History of Horton, and the town of Colnbrook, Bucks., G.W.J. Gyll, 1862, London: H. G. Bohn. Online Version at Google Books OCLC: 5001532
- National Statistics website: Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI)
- The History of Buckland & Sons by Edward Barry Bowyer FRICS (1973) STEAM 2005
- History of the Auction by Brian Learmount, Iver: Barnard & Learmont, 1985 [ISBN 0951024000]
- The Baptist Magazine, J. Burditt and W. Button: Baptist Missionary Society, 1862 p.779 Online version at Google Books
- The Doulton Lambeth Wares, Desmond Eyles and Louise Irvine: Richard Dennis, Shepton Beauchamp, 2002, p49.
- Wraysbury Village Community Website
- King John's Hunting Lodge English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1135976)". National Heritage List for England.
- Wraysbury Parish Council: Councillors
- Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead: Horton and Wraysbury Ward
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wraysbury.|