Online Encyclopedia

MAIDENHEAD

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 428 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MAIDENHEAD, a market town and municipal borough in the Wokingham parliamentary division of Berkshire, England; 24i- M. W. of London by the Great Western railway. Pop. (1901); 12,980. Area, 2125 acres. It is pleasantly situated on and above the west (right) bank of the Thames, and is much in favour as a residential town and a resort of boating parties. Though of high antiquity it is wholly modern in appearance, and a large number of handsome houses have been built in its vicinity. A beautiful timbered house of the 15th century, how-ever, survives in Ockwells, a short distance south of the town. The stone bridge carrying the London road over the Thames dates from 1772; but the crossing is of ancient importance. Maidenhead has trade in malt and grain. The borough is under a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. The history of Maidenhead (Maydenhutt, Maydenhith) is bound up with that of the ancient bridge. It is not mentioned in Domesday. Edward I. (1297) gave a grant of pontage in aid of the bridge, which was almost broken down; similar grants to the " bailiffs and good men of Maydenhithe " were made by succeeding sovereigns. In 1451 Henry VI. incorporated the gild of the Brethren and Sisters of Maydenhith to provide certain necessaries for the celebration of Mass and to keep the bridge in order: the gild, dissolved at the Reformation, was revived by Elizabeth, who, however, later (1581) substituted for it a corporation consisting of a warden, bridgemaster, burgesses and commonalty: the governing charter until the 19th century was that of James I. (1685) incorporating the town under the title of the mayor, bridgemaster and burgesses. In 1400 Thomas Holand, earl of Kent, held the bridge in the interests of the deposed Richard II., but was eventually forced to retire. In 1643 a meeting took place in the town between Charles I. and three of his children. In the 18th century a considerable trade was done in carrying malt, meal and timber in barges to London: at that time three fairs were held which have now practically disappeared. The Wednesday market is held under a charter of Elizabeth (1582).
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