Bray Today & Yesterday

frontA famous vicar, immortalized in a well known song; the intriguing Monkey Island, with its elegant Temple; the Waterside, celebrated for its gastronomic excellence; a lanquid summer afternoon's boating on the Thames - the name Bray conjures up a variety of associations. With a profusion of old and interesting buildings, Bray is as rich in its history as it is picturesque. And, like the legendary vicar, said to have adjusted his religious views to suit 'whatsoever King shall reign,' Bray has had many changes.

This book tells Bray's colourful story, through the lives and dwellings of its inhabitants, from its origins as a Saxon settlement around a river crossing to the burst of building in modern times. In a walk about the village it describes the church, pubs, shops and homes, and the venues of special events like punt regattas, a carnival and royal visits. It explores Bray's oldest sites, such as the fifteenth century Lych Gate and the beautiful Jesus Hospital, as well as the scenes of more recent memories, including the exuberant nightlife in the social heyday of the 1920s, when Bright Young Things enjoyed dancing and cabaret at the Hotel de Paris, and the 'clubs' of Ferry End inspired the teasing query, 'Are you married, or do you live in Bray?'

Inextricably bound up in with Bray's past is the river, used for fishing, trading, transport and later recreation, and also the cause of many a disastrous flooding. And at the heart of the story are Bray's people: its many illustrious inhabitants, benefactors, 'characters' and unsung ordinary residents, all of whom have left their mark on the village and contributed to its vibancy.

Enlivened by memories from inhabitants and many evocative illustrations of Bray past and present. Nan Birney's engaging work, first published in 1973, has now been fully updated by Richard Russell. It will delight anyone who has lived in or visited Bray, or wants to discover the essence of an English village.

NAN BIRNEY edited by Richard Russell
Published by J. D. Birney
Price £17.99 per copy
(The price includes a gift of £2.50 per book to St Michael's Church, Bray)
Standard P&P - UK outside Bray £3.50

Please make cheque/PO payable to J. D. Birney and send to:
J. D. Birney, 26 Upper Mall, London W6 9TA

Nan Birney was born in a village at the foot of the Himalayas, when her father was a captain in the 10th Gurkha Rifles. In 1937 she married Charles Birney and for twenty years they lived in Yorkshire, where their three children were born. In 1956 she and her family moved to Bray, where she soon became involved in local life, at first mainly connected with the church; later she became the first Chairman of the Bray Preservation Society. She died in 1988, and is buried in the churchyard at Bray.
Richard Russell has spent the whole of his working life in Berkshire. He went straight from Cambridge to teach at Cheam School, near Newbury. He then moved to Windsor, where he ultimately became Headmaster of St George's Choir School, Windsor Castle, and followed that with twelve years as Head of English at Elstree School, Woolhampton.
Among his interests he includes music (he claims to play the gramaphone very well), travel, sport, photography, philately, local history, the Romantic Movement in English Literature and genealogy. He is a direct descendant of Leigh Hunt, the essayist and poet, about whom he has written small booklets. He also enjoys composing poetry, and has written several plays for schools

Oliver Gooch