DORNEY – ISLAND OF BUMBLEBEES
Dorney Court sits at the heart of the most southerly village in Buckinghamshire and is considered the first rural settlement West of London. The village occupies a practical and convenient position on land which rises above the Thames flood plain within easy reach of Windsor and only 30 miles from Hyde Park Corner. The turrets and ramparts of Windsor Castle float in the distance casting the most poetic of backdrops, while the community enjoys the protection of surrounding pastures and farmland as well as the magnificent sight of Dorney Lake and its celebrated arboretum.
The archaeological record indicates that Dorney, with its prized location neighbouring the river Thames and surrounded by fertile farmland, has long been a settled and active community. Taking its name from the ancient Saxon meaning “Island of Bumblebees’, 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. In 1996, when archaeologists from Oxford excavating the old course of the Thames in Dorney discovered a huge 3,300- year-old religious complex, the Observer Newspaper labelled it “One of the most important archaeological discoveries in Britain”. As one of the significant landowners in and around the village, the Dorney Court estate continues to be sensitive to its responsibilities to shield and promote a special, rare, green corner of the UK.
Dorney Court has always been the village manor house although it has changed dramatically since first mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) when the property was owned by Miles Crispin, a wealthy landowner.
In the millennium between the first record of the house when William the Conqueror was King of England, ownership of Dorney Court and the estate passed through the hands of 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 (Kent) married Martha Garrard, Sir William’s daughter, from which point the Palmers have lived at Dorney in continuous succession from father to son over fourteen generations and 400 years.
Today, Dorney Court is regarded as “One of the finest Tudor Manor Houses in England” (Country Life) and enjoys a living history playing a role as a backdrop to one of the iconic 2012 Olympic Venues at Dorney Lake and a privileged, continuing association with prominent figures and events in British life.