Slough's villages


Modern-day Britwell was built on farmland after the Second World War, to re-house Londoners who had lost their homes in the bombing raids. The first of 11,000 tenants moved in in 1956 and were delighted with the "roomy and modern" houses, complete with large swivel windows - "a boon to housewives". However, there were no pubs or clubs or community facilities on the estate, and no bus service into Slough or Burnham. In 1959 the Community Association was founded, and their campaigning was successful in getting a bus service and, in 1966, a Community Centre.


The first written record of Chalvey dates back to 1217. The name comes from the Old English word 'cealf', and means 'Calf Island'. The Chalvey Stab Monk legend has become a local tradition: an organ-grinder's monkey bit a child, whose father stabbed the monkey to death. The crowd took up a collection for the organ-grinder, and spent some of the money on a funeral for the monkey. On the anniversary of the monkey's death the villagers marked the occasion by following the original funeral route and burying a model of the monkey - although some accounts hint that the procession got no further than the nearest pub, and that the first person to get drunk was dumped in the monkey's grave or Chalvey Brook and named 'Mayor of Chalvey' for the following year.


Henry III (1216 - 1272) had a palace at Cippenham, where Cippenham Moat is marked on modern maps (quite near the M4 today). Cippenham Green was where villagers grazed their cows, until the end of the 19th century, and is the only ancient village green left within Slough's boundaries.


Colnbrook grew up round the coaching inns which were established in the village to provide rest and refreshment to travellers and their horses along the great Bath Road from London to the west. In 1577 there were 10 inns listed there, the same number as in Reading. The Ostrich Inn was founded in 1106, and its name was originally 'The Hospice'. Not all its guests found shelter under its roof, however - in the 17th century one landlord constructed a trapdoor in the centre of the Blue Room, and wealthy travellers were tipped from their bed into a vat of boiling water below. One account says that over 60 murders were committed in the Ostrich Inn.


Langley was originally known as 'Langley Marish' and was part of the Manor of Wraysbury. St Mary's Church houses the ancient Kedermister Library, founded by Sir John Kedermister in the 1630s when books were rare. Langley Hall, now part of East Berkshire College, was at one time used as the 'Actors' Orphanage', which provided a home for the children of actors who had died. The Actors' Orphanage was famous for the pantomimes that were put on for the children every year.


Upton was one of the ancient villages which became merged into modern-day Slough. Upton Park was developed in the 1840s as an up-market residential area after an advert in the Windsor Express invited "Capitalists, spirited Builders and any one desirous of securing a site for a Residence" to apply for land. The original houses fell into disrepair, but were re-developed in the 1980s and 1990s and divided into flats.

Alongside Upton Park is the large half-timbered house known as 'The Mere'. It was built in 1887 for George Bentley, the son of Charles Dickens' publisher, Richard Bentley. George's son, also called Richard, was a great local historian and the author of 'Some stray notes upon Slough and Upton' and 'Some historic inns of Slough'.


Wexham has some ancient buildings, such as the 12th century Church of St Mary and the 16th century Wexham Court, but nowadays is usually associated with Wexham Park Hospital. The hospital was built in the 1960s on the site of an old Victorian mansion called Wexham Park, and won an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects for its design. "A place where one could happily spend a holiday" was one description, and "better equipment than the best hotels". Innovations included rooms for parents to stay overnight while their children were in hospital, and headsets at each bed with the choice of two radio programmes or BBC1 / ITV television sound.