BURNHAM, which gives name to a hundred and deanery, lies about three miles north-east of Maidenhead, and about a mile to the north of the road from London to Bath and Oxford. The parish is divided into five districts, called liberties, namely, those of Brightwell, Cippenham, Boveney, Wood, and East-Burnham.
Burnham had formerly a market on Thursdays, granted to the abbess of Burnham in 1271, together with a fair on the festival of St. Matthew: the market has been long disused; and there are now three fairs, Feb. 23, May 1, and Oct. 2. The great road to Bath and Oxford formerly passed through Burnham; upon the building of Maidenhead bridge it was diverted to its present course, in consequence of which it is probable that this place fell to decay, and lost its market, which was transferred to Maidenhead. Cookham, on the other side the river, near which the old road passed, had also a market, which declined probably about the same time.
Richard, King of the Romans, in the year 1265, founded an abbey of Benedictine Nuns at Burnham, which was endowed with the manors of Burnham, Cippenham, Stoke, Bulstrode, and some smaller estates. When dissolved in the reign of King Henry VIII. its revenues were valued at 51 l. 2s. 41/2d. clear annual income; the site was then granted to William Tyldesley, but soon reverted to the crown. In 1574, Abbess-Park at Burnham was granted to Paul Wentworth esq. of Burnham-Abbey, then lessee under the crown. In the reign of Charles I. Sir Henry Fane procured a lease of Burnham-Abbey, which was afterwards in the family of Darrell and Lovelace; Lord Lovelace sold it to the Villiers family, who renewed with the crown in 1691; the lease is now vested in the Earl of Jersey. The site of the abbey, of which there are very small remains, is above a mile from the village of Burnham, a little to the south of the Bath road. The arms of the abbey were Or, on a chief Arg. Three lozenges, Gules.
When the Domesday survey was taken, the manor of Bunrham belonged to Walter Fitz-Other, ancestor of the Windsor family. Being in the crown in the reign of Henry III. That monarch gave it, with all its rights and privileges, to the abbess and convent. At some period subsequent to the dissolution of monasteries, it seems to have been united to the manor of Huntercombe, in the parish, the present proprietor of which, Mr. Sayer, gives a deputation for the manor of Burnham, alias Huntercombe, which claims jurisdiction over the greater part of the parish including West-towne and Boveney. These are spoken of in some deeds of the reign of Henry VII. as separate manors then belonging to Sir Reginald Bray. Boveney was at a later period in the Paules of Bray-wick. Sir Ch. H. Palmer seems to claim some jurisdiction over Boveney, by giving a deputation for his adjoining manor of Dorney, by the name of Dorney cum Boveney.
The manor of Huntercombe, formerly the property and seat of an ancient family of that name, at a later period was successively in the families of Windsor, Hodenge, Darrell, and Evelyn. William Evelyn, in the early part of the last century, sold Huntercombe to Anthony Collins and Thomas Eyre esq. Mr. Eyre, by a subsequent purchase, became possed of the whole. In 1777, on the death of Thomas Eyre esq. the last heir male this estate, and the manor of Allards, alias East-Burnham, which had been the property and seat of the heirs for more than 400 years, devolved by his request to his nephew Henry Sayer esq. who is the present proprietor. Huntercombe-House was a few years ago in the occupation of Sir William Young bart. and since of the late Sir Booth Gore bart.: it is at present unoccupied.
The manor of Cippenham in this parish was part of the ancient demesnes of the crown, and is said to have been a palace of the Mercian Kings: it is certain there was a royal palace at Cippenham, so lately as the reign of Henry III. who occasionally resided there, as appears by the foundation charter of Burnham abbey, which is dated thence: it is probable that an ancient moated site near Cippenham was the spot where the palace stood. Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, who died in 1300, was seised of the manor of Cippenham, which in 1330 was granted to John of Eltham. About this period it seems that there were two manors in Cippenham, one of which was given to Burnham abbey, the other was granted in 1339 to Sir John Molins, and passed by female heirs to the families of Hungerford and Hastings: it is probable that they were united after the dissolution of the abbey. The manor of Cippenham, which had long been in the family of Goodwyn of Wooburn, was purchased by the Duchess of Marlborough about the year 1742, and having passed by her bequest to her granson John Spencer, was sold by his representative, the present Earl Spencer, to the late Mr. Dupré: it is now the property of his son, James Dupré esq. of Wilton-park.
[Correction/Addition at the end of Magna Britannia states "By a fine levied, 36 Hen.III. between Richard Earl of Cornwall, and Joan de Ferrars, the manor of Cippenham, with the advowson of the chapel there, was limited to the said Joan for life, with remainder to the Earl of Cornwall and his heirs."]
The late learned Jacob Bryant esq. had a seat at Cippenham.
In Boveney liberty is a chapel of ease, a very ancient structure. An act of parliament passed in 1737, for making it a distinct cure, but the want of a sufficient endowment prevented it from taking effect.
Brightwell-Court, in Burnham, belonged formerly to the family of Cage, from whom it passed by marriage to John Hastings esq. of Woodlands. This John Hastings, who died in 1656, was son and heir of Sir George Hastings, son of Henry, a younger son of George, the fourth Earl of Huntingdon; there is a wooden tablet to his memory in Burnham church, which has the arms of Hastings, with 100 quarterings, over which are placed the arms of Cage, on an escutcheon of pretence. Brightwell-Court was for some time the seat of the accomplished Charles Earl of Orrery, who purchased it of Mr. Reeve, an eminent lawyer of Windsor: it has since been successively the seat of Crayle Crayle esq. Lady Ravensworth, John Symmons esq. and Lord Grenville. It is now the property and residence of Hon. Mr. Irby, eldest son of Lord Boston.
In the parish church at Burnham is a handsome monument of the late Mr. Justice Willes, with a medallion, in which he is represented in his robes: there is a tablet also for his son, Edward Willes esq. and memorials of the families of Eyre, Evelyn, Hawtrey, and Sumner.
The advowson of the vicarage of Burnham was given to Eton College, by Mr. Hawtrey, a fellow of that society, in whose family it had been a considerable time. The vicarage is endowed with a part of the great tithes, the remainder are in lay hands: they were formerly appropriated to the abbess and convent of Burnham. Mr. Cole, the Cambridge antiquary, was vicar of this parish from 1774 till his death in 1780.
Robert Aldrich, bishop of Carlisle, was a native of Burnham