Maidenhead is a newer town than a lot of other towns in the UK and nearby Cookham and Bray both existed long before Maidenhead. However, the town still has a lot of historical significance.
In the early 13th Century, a small village, called South Aylington, developed near the Thames, between Cookham and Bray. The village remained a small hamlet until a bridge was built around 1250 and Henry III issued a road widening order. This led to a big change for the village, as it found itself now located along the main road from London to Bristol and the West. A wharf was built beside the bridge and a settlement grew around it.
In 1400 the Earl of Salisbury tried unsuccessfully to assassinate Henry IV. When the attempt failed, his supporters tried to hold the bridge at Maidenhead against royal troops. The battle lasted for three days before the Earl’s forces were overcome.
“Maydenheth” was granted its first charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1582, breaking ties with nearby Cookham and Bray. Maidenhead became a popular stopping place for travellers, becoming a market town and leading to the addition of breweries, a chapel, stables, vets, blacksmiths, and coaching inns.
By the middle of the 18th Century, as the second stop on the Bath Road out of London (before Slough had fully developed), Maidenhead was one of the busiest coaching towns in England.
The bridge was rebuilt in the 18th Century, with the current bridge dating from 1777.
The railway arrived in Maidenhead in 1838, although the first stations were at Taplow and Boyne Hill with the present station only being built in 1871. The introduction of the railway initially reduced the number of visitors to Maidenhead, with road traffic declining. However, by the late 1800s the town’s population had increased, with people living in Maidenhead and commuting to London for work. Many new Victorian properties were built in the town, several of which can still be seen today.
Maidenhead’s railway bridge is the biggest brick-built arch railway bridge in Europe. The bridge contains two of the widest and flattest arches ever constructed from bricks. The bridge was designed to take train across the Thames and built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It was first used in April 1839.
The Maidenhead clock tower, located outside the railway station, was built for Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897.
Today Maidenhead has an estimated population of around 70,000 and is part of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.
All Saints’ Church, Boyne Hill
All Saints’ Church in Boyne Hill is a Grade I listed building designed by the architect George Edmund Street, also known as G. E. Street.
George Edmund Street was an English architect who was a leading practitioner of the Victorian Gothic Revival and who was originally an assistant to Sir Gilbert Scott, one of the most famous architects of the period.
The neo–Gothic Victorian Church was completed in 1857 and is an excellent example of George Edmund Street’s early work. The 150-foot tower and spire is the highest point in Maidenhead and contains a peal of eight bells.
The Church is arranged in a unique collegiate style, surrounding an enclosed quadrangle. The unique complex consists of the Church surrounded by the Vicarage, a former school, two clergy houses and a gated archway. On the southwest boundary is an almshouse.
The church, consecrated on 2 December 1857 by Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, became the first ecclesiastical parish in the Borough of Maidenhead.
An extension at the West end of the church was added in 1911 by Street’s son.
The Bear, High Street
The Bear on the High Street in Maidenhead dates back to 1845. However, it takes its name from an older inn that was first recorded in 1489.
The original Bear Inn was one of the town’s main coaching inns and was located at the corner of Park Street and High Street.
The new building is Grade II listed and became a Wetherspoons pub in 2010.
The building is a three-storey property with several 6 over 6 double hung sash windows. Above the front central door is a late 19th Century glazed porch with large carved wooden bear at the top of it.
Greyhound Inn (NatWest Bank)
During the Civil War, Maidenhead was the location for the reunion of King Charles I and his young children prior to his execution. In 1647, after being found guilty of high treason, King Charles I requested to be reunited with his children to say goodbye. This was permitted by the leader of Parliament, Thomas Fairfax, and King Charles I, who was being held at Caversham Castle, was allowed to visit his children at the Greyhound Inn.
Although the Greyhound Inn was burnt down in 1735, a plaque can still be seen today at the site where Greyhound Inn was located, which is now home to NatWest Bank.
Above the NatWest bank you can also spot some one over one sash windows, with the first floor having arched sash windows.
Timber windows in Maidenhead (SL6)
Today, timber windows can still be spotted across Maidenhead and the surrounding villages. With numerous Victorian and some Georgian properties, as well as timber casement windows, the town is also home to lots of traditional sash windows.
Several conservation areas are located both within the centre of Maidenhead (All Saints Boyn Hill, Altwood Road, Castle Hill, Maidenhead Riverside, and the Maidenhead Town Centre Conservation Areas) and nearby villages, including Pickneys Green, Hurley, Cookham, Bray, and Burchett’s Green.
The town also has several listed buildings, helping to preserve the heritage of the town.
At The Sash Window Workshop, we specialise in working on traditional properties, providing high quality timber windows and doors that are both energy efficient and designed to complement the character of the property. We have extensive experience working in Conservation Areas and can also comply with listed building regulations when required.
Based down the road from Maidenhead, in Bracknell, we manufacture all our new joinery in-house. We regularly work in Maidenhead and the surrounding villages, having installed and draught proofed around £60,000 worth of windows and doors in Maidenhead (SL6) in 2022.
First side image: © Nancy (CC BY-SA 3.0), via Wikimedia Commons
Second side image: © John Salmon / All Saints, Boyne Hill, Maidenhead, Berks – Parsonage / CC BY-SA 2.0
Third side image: © Peter Reed (CC BY-NC 2.0)