The archaeological record indicates that Dorney, with its prized location neighbouring the River Thames and surrounded by fertile farmland, has long been settled. Traces of pre-historic occupation have been uncovered in the peat suggesting that riverborne trade as much as agriculture played dominant roles in the development of the site.
The Anglo-Saxons named the Village ‘Dorney’, meaning Island of Bumblebees, and now more than ever, bordered by water on all sides and with hives on the Dorney Court Estate, the choice of name is resoundingly appropriate.
The Village of Dorney, the most southerly in Buckinghamshire, occupies a practical, as much as a strategic, position on land which rises above the Thames flood plain. Meadows once lay between the Village and the River but, since 2006, Dorney Lake and its celebrated arboretum have replaced traditional farmland.
Dorney Court has always been the Village Manor House although it has clearly changed dramatically since it is first referenced in the Domesday Book (1086) as being owned by Miles Crispin. Crispin was a wealthy landowner with holdings in six counties and the Domesday Book makes note of his family ties to Gilbert Crispin the Abbot of Westminster as well as to his Castle at Wallingford.
Since this first record of the House at a time when William the Conqueror was still the King of England, ownership of Dorney Court and the surrounding Estate passed through the hands of at least six families before it was sold to Sir William Garrard, Lord Mayor of London, in 1537. Within a few years, Sir James Palmer of Wingham in Kent married Martha Garrard, Sir William’s daughter, from which date the Palmers have lived at Dorney Court in continuous succession from father to son over thirteen generations.