History of
Burnham

 
 
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Burnham has a rich history, being home to the ancient woodland of Burnham Beeches, the official home of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Dorneywood and the former home of the Prime Minister that championed the abolition of slavery, William Grenville.

It has existed from at least late Saxon times, being first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. Lying close to ancient river and road routes it was once a very important village, and as a result a Royal charter to hold a market and annual fair was granted in 1271.

Burnham is home to Burnham Abbey, founded by Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall in 1266, and also the Church of St Peter in the village centre which was probably started during the reign of Stephen (1134-54) and its earliest known incumbent was presented to Burnham in 1202 by King John. 

Also in the parish is Dropmore House. It was built in the 1790s by William Wyndham Grenville, who, as Prime Minister, championed the abolition of slavery and the 1807 Slave Trade Act.

Burnham Beeches in the north of the parish was bought by the Corporation of London in 1880. The 540 acres of woodland open to the public contains the Druid’s Oak, almost certainly greater than 800 years old, and the Late Bronze Age hillfort of Seven Ways Plain. It has also hosted many films, including Robin Hood: King of Thieves.

Until the late 19th century, Burnham consisted of the village High Street and outlying farms and cottages. From the 1920s, and with the building of the neighbouring Slough Trading Estate, the size and population of the village has grown from about 4,000 to over 12,000 today.

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