The parish of Bray includes a number of other villages and hamlets. It has an area of and a population of 8,425 at the 2001 census.
Bray is known as the village mentioned in the song The Vicar of Bray, a satirical song which traces the changes in the alliance between church and state during the reigns of English monarchs from Charles II to George I (1660-circa 1730). The song is reproduced with annotations in Wikipedia and the article is worth a thoughtful read.
The parish of Bray constituted the whole of the Beynhurst Hundred and was part of the Cookham Poor Law Union. The parish was located in the Cookham Rural District 1894-1974, and since that date in the Royal Burgh of Windsor and Maidenhead (both the administrative district and the unitary authority).
Bray was a large parish, although its area has shrunk considerably since Maidenhead was detached in . As well as the village, the parish contains a large number of villages and hamlets, often greens, which were originally scattered amongst the remains of dense woodland of Windsor Forest that once covered the area. These include: Bray Wick, Holyport, Water Oakley, Oakley Green, Moneyrow Green, Stud Green, Foxley Green, Touchen End, Braywoodside, Hawthorn Hill and Fifield.
Expensive houses on the river upstream of Bray Lock have been referred to as in the national press. The flood risk of these houses has been decreased by the Jubilee River,dug between north Maidenhead and Datchet.
For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Bray, Berkshire.
Online Historical References
Nineteenth Century Local Administration
English Jurisdictions is a webpage provided by FamilySearch which analyses every ecclesiastical parish in England at the year 1851. It provides, with the aid of outline maps, the date at which parish records and bishops transcripts begin, non-conformist denominations with a chapel within the parish, the names of the jurisdictions in charge: county, civil registration district, probate court, diocese, rural deanery, poor law union, hundred, church province; and links to FamilySearch historical records, FamilySearch Catalog and the FamilySearch Wiki. Two limitations: only England, and at the year 1851.
During the 19th century two bodies, the Poor Law Union and the Sanitary District, had responsibility for governmental functions at a level immediately above that covered by the civil parish. In 1894 these were replace by Rural and Urban Districts. These were elected bodies, responsible for setting local property assessments and taxes as well as for carrying out their specified duties. Thses districts continued in operation until 1974. Urban districts for larger municipalities were called "Municipal Boroughs" and had additional powers and obligations.
Poor Law Unions, established nationally in 1834, combined parishes together for the purpose of providing relief for the needy who had no family support. This led to the building of '"union poorhouses" or "workhouses" funded by all the parishes in the union. The geographical boundaries established for the individual Poor Law Unions were employed again when Registration Districts were formed three years later. In 1875 Sanitary Districts were formed to provide services such as clean water supply, sewage systems, street cleaning, and the clearance of slum housing. These also tended to follow the same geographical boundaries, although there were local alterations caused by changes in population distribution.