Monkey Island, Bray

Monkey Island is the perfect place for anyone wanting to have an adventure. Located near to the village of Bray, Berkshire, Monkey Island is a beautiful island in the River Thames, which can be reached by boat. In the centre of Monkey Island is an outstanding building, which was turned into a hotel in the 19th-Century. It has been popular with tourists since the Georgian era. If you want to explore the beautiful gardens or stay in a luxury hotel situated in the middle of the River Thames, this could be the perfect destination for you.

Photo by WordRidden

Why is it Called Monkey Island?

In Old English, monkey meant Monks Ey. It is believed that the island was used by fishermen and that it was regularly visited by monks who worked and lived at Amerden Bank. In 1666, after the Great Fire of London, bricks and stone were shipped to the island to build up the land and slow down erosion.

In 1738, the Duke of Marlborough purchased the island and built the first of two buildings on the land – The Fishing Lodge and The Fishing Temple. He also chose to place colourful monkey statues within the landscaped gardens for people to find when they visited. Some of these statues still remain on the island today.

The Fishing Lodge

The Fishing Lodge was also known as the pavilion. The pavilion was built out of wooden blocks that were carved to look like stone. Inside the pavilion is the Monkey Room, where the Duke of Marlborough stored his commissioned paintings. The paintings included portraits of monkeys playing cards, fishing, shooting, and smoking.

The Fishing Temple

The ground floor of the fishing temple was originally designed as a market stall. The Duke of Marlborough’s eclectic tastes can be seen on the first floor, where there’s a magnificent ceiling – with shells, Neptune, and mermaids built out of plasterwork.

From Lodge to Hotel

In 1840, the pavilion was turned into an inn, which was reached by boat or ferry. It was renamed the “Monkey Hall Hotel” in the 19th-Century and people have been staying there ever since. In 1963, the hotel underwent a lot of refurbishments:

  • The dining area at the Pavilion was expanded by the addition of the River Room, which is a large, glass-walled building that perches on the edge of the river
  • The Marlborough Room was added in 1970
  • The Temple was extended to allow for another 30 bedrooms

In 1983, Monkey Island was the place to be. People travelled from far and wide to experience the exquisite gardens and the Michelin star food the hotel had to offer.

Recently, in 2015, the hotel underwent more renovations. In April 2019, it finally opened its doors as a 41-bedroom luxury hotel. This luxury hotel even has a custom-made Floating Spa, which is moored on the banks of the Thames. It’s definitely a place you won’t want to leave.

Monkey Island near Bray is situated on a stunning island in the centre of the Thames. The island has a long history and has long been the place to go for aristocrats, monarchs, artists, famous performers, writers and locals. Monkey Island is now home to one of the best hotels in Bray. The hotel offers picturesque views over the Thames and seven acres of outstanding landscaped gardens. Why not take a trip and see if you can find one of the remaining monkey statues?

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