Datchet Parish Wharf, Right bank
1910: Datchet in Thames Villages by Charles Harper.
Site of Datchet Bridge and Ferry
[ A complication is that apparently in the centre of Datchet was a stream which made life difficult
for the villagers - and this was bridged from time to time by what was then known as "Datchet
Bridge" At times it is difficult to sort out what referred to that small bridge and the much larger
bridge over the Thames. ]
From: 'Parishes: Datchet', A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 3 (1925), pp. 249-55.
The Bridge House Trust was founded by Robert Barker by deed 10 February 1644 (enrolled), whereby certain lands and a tenement known as the Bridge House were conveyed to trustees in trust that the rents and profits should be applied in erecting a bridge across the street in the middle of the town over certain waters that stagnated and lay there to the great annoyance of the inhabitants.
[ This was clearly not a bridge over the Thames.]
1278: “A great barge for the king’s ferry at Datchet”
1387: Dispute over ownership of Datchet Ferry between the de Molyns family, Lords of the Manor, and the crown.
1501: Datchet Ferry held by Richard Marlborough
1522: Mary Tudor crossed Datchet Ferry
William Shakespeare's fat old Sir John Falstaff was here deposited into the river
The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 3, Scene 5 -
… Have I lived to be carried in a basket, and to be thrown in the Thames like a barrow of butcher's offal? Well, if I be served such another trick, I'll have my brains ta'en out, and buttered, and give them to a dog for a new year's gift. The rogues slighted me into the river with as little remorse as they would have drowned a blind bitch's puppies, fifteen i' the litter; you may know by my size that I have a kind of alacrity in sinking: if the bottom were as deep as hell, I should down. I had been drowned but that the shore was shelvy and shallow; a death that I abhor, for the water swells a man, and what a thing should I have been when I had been swelled! I should have been a mountain of mummy.
1843: [WARNING FICTION!] William Harrison Ainsworth, Windsor Castle - King Henry VIII and the Lady Anne Boleyn at Datchet Bridge –
… the mayor and burgesses of Windsor, together with the officers of the Order of the Garter,
were setting forth to Datchet Bridge to meet the royal procession. …
Turning off on the left into the lower road, skirting the north of the castle, and following the course of the river to Datchet, by which it was understood the royal cavalcade would make its approach, the procession arrived at an open space by the side of the river, where it came to a halt, and the dean, chancellor, and prelate, together with other officers of the Garter, embarked in a barge moored to the bank, which was towed slowly down the stream in the direction of Datchet Bridge--a band of minstrels stationed within it playing all the time.
Meanwhile the rest of the cavalcade, having again set forward, pursued their course along the banks of the river, proceeding at a foot's pace, and accompanied by crowds of spectators, cheering them as they moved along. The day was bright and beautiful, and nothing was wanting to enhance the beauty of the spectacle. On the left flowed the silver Thames, crowded with craft, filled with richly-dressed personages of both sexes, amid which floated the pompous barge appropriated to the officers of the Garter, which was hung with banners and streamers, and decorated at the sides with targets, emblazoned with the arms of St. George. On the greensward edging the stream marched a brilliant cavalcade, and on the right lay the old woods of the Home Park, with long vistas opening through them, giving exquisite peeps of the towers and battlements of the castle.
Half an hour brought the cavalcade to Datchet Bridge, at the foot of which a pavilion was erected for the accommodation of the mayor and burgesses. And here, having dismounted, they awaited the king's arrival.
The concourse assembled on Datchet Bridge welcomed Anne Boleyn's arrival with loud acclamations, while joyous strains proceeded from sackbut and psaltery, and echoing blasts from the trumpets. Caps were flung into the air, and a piece of ordnance was fired from the barge, which was presently afterwards answered by the castle guns. Having paid his homage to Anne Boleyn, the mayor rejoined the company of bailiffs and burgesses, and the whole cavalcade crossed the bridge, winding their way slowly along the banks of the river, the barge, with the minstrels playing in it, accompanying them the while. In this way they reached Windsor; …
Leaving the barge and its occupants to await the king's arrival, the cavalcade ascended Thames Street, and were welcomed everywhere with acclamations and rejoicing.
[ Which is a splendid piece of Victorian fiction - the only problem is -
there was no Datchet Bridge until
1706 - what a pity our romantic historian did not do his research!
This is not a simple matter (In other words I may be wrong!) - because just occasionally the word "bridge" is used of a pier built out into the river, but not actually crossing it! See Henry VIIIth at "Lambeth Bridge" ]
1686: Datchet Mead and Datchet Ferry with Windsor Castle on the skyline, from Tighe and Davis, 'Annals of Windsor', Vol. 2, p 492 –
1678: The ferryman Hale delayed a royal messenger at the Ferry
1704: Charles Dryden, poet, was drowned attempting to swim across the Thames at Datchet.
1706: Queen Anne built Datchet Bridge
1734: Complaint about condition of Datchet Bridge
1750: Datchet Bridge –
Datchet Bridge, William Oram, 1750
1752: Datchet Bridge seen in " A first Survey of Berkshire, 1752"
Datchet Bridge in 1752
1770: Datchet Bridge rebuilt in timber with ten arches on stone pillars
1792: Datchet Bridge, Picturesque Views on the River Thames, by Samuel Ireland -
ON the approach to Datchet, the wooden bridge has a light appearance from every point of view -, but is decaying so fast as to become dangerous, though it has not been built above fifteen or sixteen years. I am informed it is soon to be taken down, and one of stone to be erected in its stead.
1794: “Absolutely dangerous for carriages to pass over it: a stone bridge is now in contemplation.
1796: The bridge partially collapsed and the ferry was restarted
London: To Thirty Miles Extent, from an Actual Perambulation By David Hughson, 1808 -
The wooden bridge here, built by queen Anne, fell down in 1795, (and has not since been rebuilt).
1800: From The Political State of the British Empire -
In 1800, Mr. Wilson prepared a design and model for his Majesty, of a cast-iron bridge of one arch, proposed to be erected over the Thames at Datchet.
Legal Ruling, from The Justice of the Peace, and Parish Officer By Richard Burn, George Chetwynd (1820) -
The inhabitants of the county of Bucks were indicted for not repairing Datchet bridge. They pleaded specially and were
found guilty, subject to the opinion of the court upon a case, stating that queen Anne, for her greater convenience in passing to
and from Windsor castle, built a bridge over the Thames, at
Datchet in the common highway leading from London to Windsor,
in lieu of an ancient ferry, where she kept boats for the public
accommodation, and received tolls. She and her successors repaired
the bridge till 1796, when it having in part fallen in and
become impassable, the whole was removed, and the materials
converted to the use of the King, who re-established the ferry.
The question was, whether this was a public bridge and the defendants liable to repair and rebuild ?
After an elaborate argument and full consideration, Lord Ellenborough C. J. delivered the opinion of the court, that this bridge, situate in a principal highway, and used, as it so long was, for all persons as a public bridge, and being also of great public use and convenience, was and is a bridge repairable by the county of Bucks, in which it was, until the period of its late dilapidation and destruction, situate.
1811: The ferry across the Thames at Datchet Berkshire showing the remains of the old bridge just prior to its rebuilding. A Series of Picturesque Views of the River Thames. Robert Havell. 1812 -
1812: The third bridge here was opened. A strange half wood, half cast iron bridge:
half paid for and designed in wood by Buckinghamshire, and half paid for and
designed in iron by Berkshire.
Queen Charlotte (wife of George III) opened the bridge -
 Dec 16 was the day appointed for the opening of Datchet bridge,
for carriages, passengers, &c.
At half past twelve o'clock, Her Majesty in her carriage and four, accompanied by the Princesses Elizabeth and Mary, arrived at the Bridge from Windsor, where the band of the Stafford militia played "God save the King" and preceded the Royal carriage in slow time through the village of Datchet.
Many carriages, horsemen, and pedestrians, were in waiting for the Queen to pass over, and followed the Royal carriage in grand cavalcade.
Great rejoicings took place in Datchet during the day, as it is the nearest road to Windsor by two miles.
1818: Funeral of her Late Majesty, Queen Charlotte -
Even the water under the bridges over which the procession had to pass
was covered with boats, containing persons anxious to gratify their curiosity,
but who were completely excluded by the crowds which thronged the
parapets of the bridges, and presented an impenetrable barrier to their
A variety of interruptions also necessarily retarded the advance of the procession in the narrow parts of the road, and the Lancers and Horse Guards who traversed the different villages, and threw out picquets on the main road, found frequently the greatest difficulty in securing an opening among the immense and diversified throng of which the crowd was composed.
The escort of Lancers that accompanied the hearse from Kew was relieved at Longford by a similar guard from the Blues, as far as Datchet Bridge, where the procession was met by a Field Officer's detachment of 100 men, from the Household Brigade of Cavalry, who escorted it the remainder of the journey.
1823: from The Inn Keeper's Album -
AT a trifling distance from Windsor stands the
village of Datchet, situated on the banks of the
Thames, and crossed by a long arched bridge of
recent erection. In its immediate neighbourhood
are the dark groves of Ditton, and far to the right
in the distance towers the venerable spire of Eton
College, from the midst of an amphitheatre of wood.
The picturesque appearance of the landscape, is enhanced by a small tavern erected on the Windsor side of the bridge, to equip funnies and sailing boats for the gratification of the surrounding gentry. A few years since, the rage for these aquatic excursions had reached their zenith, and the landlord of the Windsor Castle [public house] had in consequence attained the full plenitude of his power. He was a gentleman of no light consideration, inasmuch as he weighed three hundred and sixty pounds, and was the accredited clerk of the parish.
1828: from The Annual Register -
ACCIDENT AT WINDSOR
As one of the small boats, which ply about Windsor, was returning about nine o'clock at night, with nineteen persons on board from Egham races to Windsor, a little beyond Datchet-bridge, it struck, through the inadvertence of a little boy, who guided the helm, on some stakes in the river at a place where formerly an eel-wear existed. The boat shortly after filled with water, and in spite of the exertions of the boatmen to bring it to the shore, the stern sunk, and all the passengers in that part, amounting to eleven or twelve, were thrown into the water, where nine of them perished.
The men in another boat came to their assistance immediately, but could give no more aid than was instrumental in saving the remaining part of the passengers.
The coroner's jury returned a verdict of "accidental death", coupled with a recommendation to the commissioners for navigating the river Thames, to remove the stakes.
These stakes are the remaining rods to which, formerly, an eel-wear was attached ; they run parallel to the shore on each side of the river for the length of about thirty yards, and posts, always above water, point out their commencement and termination. The stakes themselves are often, as in this instance, quite under water, and consequently extremely dangerous, even to those tolerably acquainted with the navigation.
1837: from The New Sporting Magazine -
A boat race between the Eton and Westminster scholars took place on Thursday afternoon, 4th May.
Datchet-bridge was fixed on as the starting place, and the distance was one mile and a quarter down the stream and back. At four o'clock the banks of the Thames were lined with spectators ; and at a quarter past four the cheers of the people announced the arrival of his Majesty, the Princess Augusta, and the royal suite, who were pleased to honour the race with their presence.
Both boats rowed past and saluted his Majesty previous to starting, and at half-past four, on a signal being given, they went off in gallant style. The Westminster got the lead which they kept to the point of turning, when the Etonians touching the quarter of their opponents, a struggle ensued for the first place. The Etonians with great tact gave the stern of the Westminster boat a twist, and ran her across the river ; but the crew of the latter were too strong for their rivals. Westminster again took the lead and kept it to the finish, winning by about five boat-lengths.
The following are the names of the boats and their crews:
Westminster: [Boat name] Haidee - Howard, stroke-oar; Vialls; Turner; Mackenzie; Mackenzie the younger; Vialls the younger; Lee; Locke ; Lord Somerton, coxswain.
Eton: [Boat name] Britannia - Garnet,stroke-oar; Croft; Fellows; Boscawen; Fane; Rodgers; Morgan; Vane; Shadwell, coxswain.
[ The Eton cox, Albert Shadwell, coxed in the 1842 Boatrace and subsequently became a very influential rowing coach. ]
from 'Westminster' by W Teignmouth Shore -
The tide of victory changed in 1837;
the race was rowed on May 4th, the
course being from Datchet Bridge for a
mile and a quarter down stream and
Searle built for the winners their boat, fancifully named the Haidee, their rivals rowing in the Britannia by Archer, of Lambeth.
"On the signal being given," we quote Forshall, " the Westminsters dashed in advance, and, in passing his Majesty's carriage, which was stationed about one hundred and fifty yards from the bridge, they were at least half a boat's length ahead.
At the comer of the park-wall, and nearly opposite Mr. Fowler's cottage, the Etonians came more into the middle of the stream, and evidently made a strong pull, in the hope of catching their opponents on the quarter; but they were wide of the mark, and dropped full the length of their boat in the wake of the Westminsters.
Both parties were loudly cheered on to increased exertion, and, in turning at Newlock, the Etonians doubled the boat with greater dexterity than their antagonists; and the consequence was, that they brought the nose of their cutter full on to the sixth oar of the Westminsters, who would have shipped some water, had not young Lord Somerton bore the Haidee up by leaning over on the opposite side.
Nos. 1 and 3 in the Haidee were ordered to pull as hard as possible, while the stroke side backed water, and by these means the Etonians were foiled in turning the opposition party on shore, and both parties came alongside each other.
After about two minutes' manoeuvring, the Westminsters got away, closely pressed by Eton, who quickly came again on their stern, but could not succeed in their object, for the Westminsters, evidently by superior strength, and with their backs well laid down to their work, drew ahead, and ultimately won by between three and four lengths, amid the almost deafening cheers of their friends."
Writing of this race in "Eton in the Forties" [ ie 1840s ] Arthur Duke Coleridge said -
Eton boys are the most credulous of beings on all matters supposed to reflect distinction on the school.
The Westminster boys, in 1837 gave us a handsome beating on the River; William IV. looked on at the race,
and sulked at our defeat.
He died a few days afterwards, and, it was currently reported at Eton, of a broken heart because of the Westminster Victory.
Said Smith major to Brown Minimus -
"I say, Brown have you heard the news? The king is dead; he was so awfully cut up at our losing the race that it killed him." ...
Think of his majesty reduced to dust by the agonies of the Eton VIII catching a crab or two, and the Westminster crew winning by four lengths!
1847: Datchet Bridge now appears to have a lifting centre section for the passage of barges with masts? Lithograph by J Chapman –
1851: Bridge demolished. It was replaced by Albert Bridge and Victoria Bridge both built in that same year.
1920: Fred Thacker –
All these old bridges at Datchet led in a practically direct line from the village church across the river. The road then continued through the Home, or as it was then called, the Little, Park in a southwesterly direction to the Long Walk.
Left bank above Datchet to below Victoria Bridge