A brief history of Marlow


The earliest recording of Marlow, which was then known as Merelafan, is in a will dated 1015 AD. The next mention is in the Domesday Book when it had become Merlaue.

Since then the town has flourished in the central core of the High Street, St Peter Street, Spittal Street, Chapel Street and West Street. This area included the burgage plots belonging to the important burgesses of the town, and the boundaries were Portland Alley in the West and The Alley in the East. The church has been in this area for a long time – St Wulfstan visited it in 1070 AD – but it became very decrepit and damp and was demolished in 1802. The current church was built in 1835 and was later extended.

The river has always been an important means of transport, mainly for timber to London. The earliest bridges were between St Peter Street and the current site of the Compleat Angler, but these ultimately became obsolete and were replaced in 1832 by the current suspension bridge.


The earliest surviving picture of the High Street (late 1850s) - Courtesy of the 'Trip Back in Time' collections


Many of the main buildings date back to the 16th and 17th centuries but the oldest is probably the 14th century Old Parsonage in St Peter Street. The oldest structure in the area is a 12th century chapel and crypt at Widmer Farm. There are, however, even older structures further afield such as the Iron Age hill forts at Medmenham and Danesfield and monastic sites at Bisham and Little Marlow. The core of the town is now protected within a conservation area.

The two most significant buildings in the town are Marlow Place and Remnantz, both of which were part of the Royal Military College before it moved to Sandhurst in 1812.

The River Thames is the southern boundary of Marlow, with the weir and lock being significant features, and originally a flash-lock near the centre of the weir was used by the barges. These either careered down the weir or were hauled up using a capstan operated from St Peter Street. Later it was replaced by the current type of pound lock.

Famous personalities who have lived in Marlow are Mary and Percy Shelley, Thomas Love Peacock, T. S. Eliot - and Jerome K. Jerome wrote his “Three Men in a Boat” here.  Famous sportsman Steve Redgrave still lives nearby.

D R Greenwood 2013

Marlow Town Council,
Court Garden, Pound Lane,
Marlow, Bucks

Telephone: 01628 484024
Email: office@marlow-tc.gov.uk

© 2015 Marlow Town Council