Bray, occasionally Bray on Thames, is a large suburban village and civil parish in the English county of Berkshire. It sits on the banks of the River Thames, to the southeast of Maidenhead of which it is a suburb.
St Michael's Church
9,110 (2011 Census including Burchett Green, Hawthorn Hill, Oakley Hill and Paley Street)
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The civil parish of Bray is far larger than the village itself and includes a number of other villages and hamlets over an area of 2,498 hectares (6,170 acres) 24.98 km2 (9.64 sq mi). It had a population of 8,425 at the 2001 census, increasing to 9,110 at the 2011 Census.
The village is mentioned in the comedic song "The Vicar of Bray". Bray contains two of the five three-Michelin-starred restaurants in the United Kingdom and has several large business premises including Bray Studios, where the first series of Hammer Horror films were produced.
Bray sits on the banks of the River Thames, one and a half miles (2.4 km) south of Maidenhead town centre and 5 miles (8 km) north-west of Windsor. The B3028 road runs through the centre of Bray, and the A308 (Maidenhead-Windsor road) runs between Bray and the adjoining suburban village of Holyport.
Bray is a large parish, although its area has shrunk considerably since Maidenhead was detached. As well as the village, the parish contains a large number of villages and hamlets, often greens, which were originally scattered amongst the remains of the dense woodland of Windsor Forest that once covered the area. These include: Bray Wick, Holyport, Water Oakley, Oakley Green, Moneyrow Green, Stud Green, Foxley Green, Touchen End, Braywoodside, Hawthorn Hill and Fifield.
Exclusive houses on the river between Bray and Maidenhead Bridge have been referred to as Berkshire's 'Millionaires' row' in the national press. The flood risk of these houses has been decreased by the Jubilee River, a large drainage ditch dug between north Maidenhead and Datchet.
Monkey Island, in the Thames, is associated with the 3rd Duke of Marlborough, and houses two structures that he built and furnished with paintings of monkeys, and the architecturally Grade I (listed) Monkey Island Hotel.
See also St Michael's Church, Bray
The Church of England parish church of St Michael was built in 1293, supposedly to replace a Saxon church at Water Oakley. It has a number of sculptures which may have come from the earlier church, including a damaged Sheela na Gig. It is best known to brass rubbers for housing the superb memorial brass of 1378 to Sir John Foxley, the Constable of Southampton Castle, and his two wives. One of the local cottages has a tunnel which it is believed leads to the church and served as an escape route for clergymen. The current Vicar of Bray is the Reverend Ainsley Swift.
The ecclesiastical parish shares the wide parish boundaries and is named Bray St Michael with Braywoodside.
The Jesus Hospital is a red-brick group of almhouses, founded in 1609 by William Goddard to house thirty-four of the aged poor of Bray and six of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, to which he belonged. A full-size effigy of Goddard stands over the entrance, Jesus Hospital is now run by The Donnington Hospital Trust having been transferred from the Fishmongers Company in 2010.
Bray contains two of the five three-Michelin-starred restaurants in the United Kingdom:
The Fat Duck is a restaurant run by chef Heston Blumenthal in the centre of Bray. The restaurant opened in 1995, and has held a three-star Michelin Guide rating since 2004. In 2005, it was named as the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine and in 2008, 2009 and 2010, Best Restaurant in the UK, scoring a maximum 10 out of 10 in the Good Food Guide.
The Waterside Inn was founded in 1972 by the brothers Michel and Albert Roux after their success with Le Gavroche. It is currently run by Michel's son, Alain and Cavaliere Diego Masciaga. The restaurant has three Michelin stars and in 2010 became the first restaurant outside France to retain all three stars for 25 years.
Edward Lear makes reference to Bray in More Nonsense Pictures, Rhymes, Botany, etc:
"There was an old person of Bray,
Who sang through the whole of the day
To his ducks and his pigs,
Whom he fed upon figs,
That valuable person of Bray."
"There is an old Countess of Bray,
Who you might think it odd when I say,
That despite her high station, rank and her education,
She always spells 'cunt' with a 'K'."
In terms of local government, it is in the Bray electoral ward of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.
- Sylvia Anderson – Co creator of the Thunderbird Puppet Series and voice of Lady Penelope.
- Heston Blumenthal (b. 1966) – The TV chef runs The Fat Duck and The Hinds Head Hotel restaurants in Bray
- Rolf Harris (b. 1930) – Australian artist, musician, TV presenter, convicted of indecent assault against children and sentenced to 5 years and 9 months in prison
- George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven (1892–1938) – buried in Bray Cemetery
- Sir Michael Parkinson (b. 1935) – journalist and TV presenter
- Tony Prince – DJ
- "Civil Parish 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Windsor and Maidenhead" Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 3 November 2010
- Monkey Island Hotel Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1319431)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
- England (1849). The ecclesiastical and architectural topography of England. Bedfordshire (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Oxfordshire, Suffolk). p. 59. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
- The Church of England "A Church Near You".
- Ben-Amos, Ilana Krausman (17 March 2008). The Culture of Giving: Informal Support and Gift-Exchange in Early Modern England. Cambridge University Press. p. 185. ISBN 978-0-521-86723-8. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
- Full list of Michelin stars in Britain and Ireland The Daily Telegraph. Published 24 January 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
- "The Fat Duck (Awards section)". Fatduck.co.uk. Archived from the original on 14 September 2005. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
- Kates, Joanne, The Globe and Mail (11 February 2006). The mad, magic chemistry of England's Fat Duck
- "Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck tops Good Food Guide again". Bbc.co.uk. 11 August 2010. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
- Kapur, Sonia (20 May 2010). "Waterside Inn celebrates 25yrs of three-star quality". Maidenhead Advertiser. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012.
- Lear, Edward (1872). More Nonsense. Pictures, Rhymes, Botany, Etc. London: Robert J. Bush.
- "Fat Duck website". Fatduck.co.uk. Archived from the original on 14 September 2005. Retrieved 14 December 2008.
- "Rolf Harris and Val Doonican: Old pals reunite (From Bucks Free Press)". Bucksfreepress.co.uk. 31 October 2008. Retrieved 8 August 2012.