Dorney History
Dorney History 

The History of Dorney in Buckinghamshire



In 1264 Simon de Montfort claimed to be ruling in the King's name through a council of officials. However, he had effective political control over the government even though he was not himself the monarch, the first time this had happened in English history.


Montfort successfully held a parliament in London in June 1264 to confirm new constitutional arrangements for England; four knights were summoned from each county, chosen by the county court, and were allowed to comment on general matters of state – the first time this had occurred.


Montfort summoned a new parliament for 20 January 1265 which continued until mid-March that year. It was held at short notice, with the summons being issued on 14 December, leaving little time for attendees to respond. He summoned not only the barons, senior churchmen and two knights from each county, but also two burgesses from each of the major towns such as York, Lincoln, Sandwich, and the Cinque Ports, the first time this had been done. 


Due to the lack of support for Montfort among the barons, only 23 of them were summoned to parliament, in comparison to the summons issued to 120 churchmen, who largely supported the new government; it is unknown how many burgesses were called.


The event was overseen by King Henry, and held in the Palace of Westminster, London, which was the largest city in England, and whose continuing loyalty was essential to Montfort's cause.


Simon de Montfort's parliament of 1265 is sometimes referred to as the first English parliament, because of its inclusion of both the knights and the burgesses, and Montfort himself is often regarded as the founder of the House of Commons.

1290 - 1885


Buckinghamshire is a former United Kingdom Parliamentary constituency.


It was a constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of England then of the Parliament of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1885.


Knights of the shire are known to have been summoned to most Parliaments from 1290 (19th Parliament of King Edward I of England) and to every one from 1320 (19th Parliament of King Edward II of England).


This county constituency consisted of the historic county of Buckinghamshire, in south-eastern England to the north-west of the modern Greater London region. Its southern boundary was the River Thames.


The county returned two knights of the shire to Parliament until 1832 and three 1832-1885.



Buckinghamshire has undergone many changes of boundaries since 1884. A list of these can be found in Wikipedia – “List of Buckinghamshire boundary changes”



Eton Rural District was created under the Local Government Act 1894 and took over the responsibilities of the disbanded Eton Rural Sanitary District. It included the parishes of

  • Boveney (abolished 1934, rural part to Dorney, urban part to Eton – Eton Wick)
  • Burnham
  • Datchet
  • Denham
  • Dorney
  • Eton Wick
  • Farnham Royal
  • Fulmer
  • Gerrards Cross (created 1895)
  • Hedgerley
  • Hedgerley Dean (abolished 1934, split between Farnham Royal, Gerrards Cross, Hedgerley)
  • Hitcham (abolished 1934, split between Burnham, Dorney and Taplow)
  • Horton
  • Iver
  • Langley Marish (part to Slough in 1930, remainder split between Fulmer and Wexham in 1934)
  • Stoke Poges
  • Taplow
  • Upton cum Chalvey (abolished c. 1900, most to Slough)
  • Wexham
  • Wraysbury


The district was abolished on 1 April 1974. It was partitioned between Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire (Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury parishes) and Beaconsfield district in Buckinghamshire, with a small part of Burnham and Wexham parishes going to Slough.




The most significant of the Buckinghamshire Boundary Changes for Dorney was the Local Government Act 1972 which was brought into Law on 1st April 1974.


Dorney, at that time, was part of Eton Rural District Council.


Eton Rural District was a rural district in the administrative county of Buckinghamshire, England. It was named after but did not contain Eton, which was an urban district.


Eton Urban District was created in 1894 and abolished in 1974. It included Eton Town, Eton Wick, Boveney and Upton-cum-Chalvey.


The first stirrings of what was going to be a ferocious battle are indicated in the Dorney Parish News of August 1971.


Dorney Parish News, August 1971

Local Government Reorganisation

The Parish Council have written to the Secretary of State for the Environment opposing the Government’s proposal to transfer the Borough of Slough and the Urban and Rural Districts of Eton from Buckinghamshire to Berkshire.


Dorney Parish News, December 1971

Local Government Reorganisation


County Boundaries:

Under the Local Government Bill just published Bucks is to lose to Berks Slough, Eton Urban District and the Parishes of Dorney, Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury and part of Wexham.            

At the Committee stage of the Bill it is likely that Bucks County Council will continue their pressure in Parliament to retain the whole of their present County.

Slough has opted to go into Berks. Eton Urban and the 4 Parishes (Dorney, Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury) have opted to remain in Bucks and the Parishes are now urging their M.P. to try to bring this about.


New Districts.

Eton Urban District and the Parishes of Dorney, Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury have opted to remain in Eton Rural District within the County of Bucks. If, against their expressed wish, these local authorities are compulsorily transferred by Parliament into Berks, then all 4 Parishes are opposed to forming part of a new Slough District and would prefer to be in a new Windsor District. Eton Urban has not yet made up its mind whether to opt for Slough or Windsor. Slough, of course, would like all 4 Parishes and Eton Urban in their new District. That is the position at 14th November (1971) and it is not possible to forecast what Parliament will ultimately decide.


Parish Councils.

Dorney Parish Council, like others, will remain in being, but it is not known what representation the Parish is likely to have on any new District Council. We cannot expect any great say for our small numbers. It is, therefore, vital for us that we should be in a new District which understands and is sympathetic to small rural communities. Hence our opposition to Slough, and, if we cannot stay in Eton Rural District, our preference [is] for a new Windsor District.




On 6th July 1972 Sir Ronald Bell, MP, Member for Buckinghamshire, South spoke in the House of Commons on the subject of Dorney on Amendment 56 to the Local Government Bill 1972.


6th July 1972 – Amendment 56 to the Local Government Bill 1972 (The Dorney Amendment)

Sir Ronald Bell (Member for Buckinghamshire, South)

Source: Hansard (extracts only)


"As Dorney is on the north bank of the River Thames, it is strange that it should ever have been thought of making it part of a county south of the Thames. There is no bridge at Dorney and nor is there one anywhere near. Dorney has been in danger of being dragged into Berkshire with Slough.


However, Dorney does not lie between Slough and the immediately adjacent area across the river in Berks; it lies well to the west and its main interests and connections are north-west to Taplow and, most important, the people of Dorney want to remain in Bucks and, equally, the people of Taplow, who are next door, want to remain in Bucks.


Dorney is a beautiful village with a strong sense of community and it would be wrong if it were treated as a mere appurtenance of Slough with which it has little connection and no affinity, and I feel confident that the Minister will advise the House to accept the Amendment."


Keith Speed


"My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) explained why the small parish of Dorney, with a population of 850, should be transferred to the new Buckinghamshire rather than remain in Berkshire. This is a marginal case. The people overwhelmingly wish to stay there. It will not be of any significance to either the new Buckinghamshire or the new Berkshire. Therefore, I advise the House to accept Amendment No. 56."


The Amendment No. 56 was agreed to. Dorney remained in Buckinghamshire




The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

RBWM was formed on 1 April 1974 as a non-metropolitan district of Berkshire, under the Local Government Act 1972, from parts of the former administrative counties of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

From Berkshire came the boroughs of Maidenhead and Windsor, and the rural districts of Cookham and Windsor, and from Buckinghamshire came the Eton urban district, and the parishes of Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury from the rural district of Eton.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead contains the following towns and villages

  • Ascot
  • Bray
  • Clewer
  • Cookham
  • Datchet
  • Eton
  • Eton Wick
  • Horton
  • Hurley
  • Maidenhead
  • North Ascot (part)
  • Old Windsor
  • South Ascot
  • Sunningdale
  • Sunninghill
  • Waltham St. Lawrence
  • White Waltham
  • Windsor
  • Wraysbury




1985 Local Boundary Commission Assessment


The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) was the statutory body established under the Local Government Act 1972 to settle the boundaries, names and electoral arrangements of the non-metropolitan districts which came into existence in 1974, and for their periodic review. The stated purpose of the LGBCE was to ensure "that the whole system does not get frozen into the form which has been adopted as appropriate in the 1970s". In the event it made no major changes and was replaced in 1992 by the Local Government Commission for England.



(a) West of Slough

6. Berkshire County Council's original submission for the area west of Slough provided for the transfer to Berkshire from Buckinghamshire of part of the district of South Bucks comprising the parish of Dorney, together with part of the parish of Taplow and the Lent Rise ward of the parish of Burnham.


It was claimed that the area looked to, and was part of, Slough. The County Council subsequently extended its suggestions to bring into Berkshire all of South Bucks south of the M40 Motorway.


Two alternative options were submitted by Buckinghamshire County Council - a minor tidying up of the existing boundary where it cut through properties, and more substantial recommendations involving a return to the pre-1974 boundary of the River Thames. This latter scheme would have resulted in the transfer to Buckinghamshire of the borough of Slough and the parishes of Eton, Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury.


Opposition to both the original and the-extended recommendations of Berkshire County Council was expressed by Buckinghamshire County Council, Slough Borough Council, South Bucks District Council, the parish councils of Burnham, Beaconsfield, Denham, Dorney, Farnham, Gerrards Cross, Hedgerley, Iver, Stoke Poges, Taplow and Wexham, and by Dr Alan Glyn MP, Sir John Page MP, and Mr Tim Smith MP, and by a large number of organisations representing residents, of the area affected. Over 300 private individuals also wrote to us objecting to Berkshire County Council's suggestions.


Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council expressed general support for the Berkshire County Council submission.


7. After careful consideration we concluded, from the views expressed to us and our own assessment of the nature of the area, that Taplow was separate from the Maidenhead community, whilst Dorney was quite different from Slough and had little link with Windsor across the river; this suggested to us that both areas should remain in Buckinghamshire.


We also formed the view that although the Lent Rise ward of Burnham adjoined Slough, it was different in character, and we noted that the residents claimed a closer affinity with Burnham village to the north and with South Bucks district as a whole.


We also considered the further suggestion of Berkshire County Council to transfer a larger part of South Bucks district, and Buckinghamshire County Council's proposal to return to the pre- 1974 boundary along the River Thames.


We concluded that there was insufficient evidence to show that such large-scale changes would result in more effective and convenient local government.


8. We recognised, however, that the present county boundary west of Slough was unsatisfactory.


We therefore decided to adopt as our draft proposals the original, limited suggestions of Buckinghamshire County Council which, by using Huntercombe Lane as the western boundary between Slough and Burnham, would resolve the anomalies caused by the existing boundary running through properties.


Electoral Consequences.

9. We noted that our draft proposals would not have a significant effect on the electoral entitlements at either district or county level in either Berkshire or Buckinghamshire.





Was split into six unitary authorities under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1992. Rather than abolition, its powers were passed to the unitary authorities of West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham, Bracknell Forest, Reading and Slough.



Conclusions as related to Dorney


The minutes of the Parish Council of DEC71 stated “It is, therefore, vital for us that we should be in a new District which understands and is sympathetic to small rural communities. Hence our opposition to Slough, and, if we cannot stay in Eton Rural District, our preference [is] for a new Windsor District.”


At that time it was strongly felt that Buckinghamshire represented small rural communities such as Dorney very well.


However it is also clear that the new Windsor District (whatever that meant at the time) would also have been acceptable.


In December 1971 it wasn’t possible for the Parish Council to know what the Windsor District, as a non-metropolitan district of Berkshire, would actually turn out to be.


Eventually it became a significantly larger and more powerful body than originally expected – with a number of rural communities included together with Maidenhead.


In 1992 it became a Unitary Authority - The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.



Bill Dax