A Brief History of Bracknell

Bracknell is one of the largest towns on the Berkshire
Surrey and Hampshire border area

Bracknell is one of the largest towns on the Berkshire Surrey and Hampshire border area, with a population of over 110,000. The first mention of the town in the historical record is in a Winkfield Boundary Charter of 942 when it is called Braccan Heal. Place names can sometimes be quite interesting to unravel but sadly for home carers and their clients in Bracknell who like a bit of pub quiz trivia, this is not one of those – it simply means some land owned by someone called Bracca!

As you might expect from a place dating back this far, there are plenty of prehistoric sites in the area, the most easy to spot being an Bronze Age barrow at Bill Hill. There is even a standing stone to the north-east in Quelm Park, which is named after the stone, the Quelm Stone. Through the centuries standing stones have accumulated all kinds of stories, some quite spooky. There are none recorded for the Quelm, so if any home care clients in Bracknell have any which have come down through the family, the local archivist would love to hear them.

Nearby Easthampton Park was a favourite hunting lodge of Henry VIII in Windsor Forest and poor Catherine of Aragon was exiled there while Henry waited for their divorce to be finalised. Catherine was one of the lucky wives of the king – although the reason for the divorce was trumped up (she had been married to his deceased brother, Arthur) she did at least survive! Anne Boleyn and Catherine Parr were not so lucky, both being beheaded for adultery, which was treason at the time. Bracknell home care clients probably learned the ‘rhyme’ at school to remind them of the wives’ fate – died, beheaded, died, died, beheaded, thrived, with ‘died’ for the first and fourth being something of a euphemism as they were divorced by the king. Younger readers probably remember it as the slightly more optimistic divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.

Two pubs used to stand side by side in Bracknell, the Old Manor and the Hind’s Head. The story goes that there were tunnels between the two and that the highwayman Dick Turpin would evade capture by nipping from one to the other. This probably stems from the fact that the Old Manor has several priest holes, which of course have nothing to do with smuggling and highwaymen and everything to do with religious persecution when Catholic priests were hiding from the Puritans.

Bracknell is a very rare thing, an ancient town which is also a New Town! After the Second World War the government created new towns to give homes to returning services personnel and also to regenerate areas which had suffered during the war. Many home carers in Bracknell will have clients who grew up as the town was also growing and some may even have been among the first families to live on the new estates. Like other new towns such as Welwyn Garden City, the street names are not called ‘road’ or ‘avenue’ simply being called things like Crown Wood. Some estates have streets named in alphabetical order – another thing for the pub quiz!

Home Instead is the leading care agency in Bracknell, Ascot, Camberley and Wokingham. If you’re interested in receiving home care for yourself or a loved one, please get in touch. Whether it is companionship, home help, personal care, dementia care or live-in care, our team help many people to remain living independently in their own home.

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