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The pretty Thames village with its own island and two of the best restaurants in the world

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Some people might forget that there is life on and in the Thames outside the city, even if the banks aren’t adorned with the likes of Westminster and the Tower of London.

But the Thames stretches for miles and miles, and the further away from the city you travel, the more picturesque the villages get.

The Berkshire village of Bray lies some 16 miles outside of the M25, on the outskirts of Maidenhead, along the River Thames – and for a tiny village, it definitely has some impressive things to shout about.

READ MORE:The pretty secluded beach 3 hours from London that’s one of Norfolk’s most underrated

A slice of Thameside heaven

It’s been known to attract several royal and famous faces, with the likes of Sir Michael Parkinson living in one of the magnificent that line the Thames.

But this village even has its own island slap bang in the middle of the river – aptly named Monkey Island.

Sadly, there are no monkeys.

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Do your village have its own island?

It was thought that the island took its name from the monkey paintings in the island’s pavilion (now a lavish hotel), but it gets its name from the title of “Monks Eyot”.

Now for those of you who have no idea what that means, it implies that the island got its name from its early ownership by the Church.

In the 12th century, monks from the Merton Priory settled nearby, building fishponds close to the island.

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The Church has been knocking round these parts since the 12th century

The Church remained the island’s owner for centuries before changing hands a couple of times before landing in the hands of the 3rd Duke of Marlborough, Charles Spencer, in 1723 – and this was the start of Monkey Island’s grand Pavilion.

It was the Duke’s idyllic escape for decades before his death in 1758.

There was a rumour that claimed insane George III was banished to the Island Estate with a pet monkey.

Monkey Island became a popular haunt for famous faces over the generations, being visited by the likes of Edward VII, Dame Nellie Melba, World War One poet Siegfried Sassoon, and novelist H.G Wells (of World of the Worlds fame).

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From Edward VII to Dame Nellie Melba – anyone who’s anyone visited Monkey Island

After a decorated history, the island was sold in the 1980s, and the Grade I listed buildings fell into decline.

The island has since been bought and revolutionised into a new luxury hotel and reopened its doors to the public.

Bray doesn’t only boast its own island, it’s also home to not one, not two, but three Michelin star restaurants.

Now for a village, that’s not a bad title to have.

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Heston’s iconic Fat Duck has been breaking culinary boundaries for years

You’ll find Heston Blumenthal’s three Michelin star Fat Duck (not literally), which is the highest accolade you can get in the culinary world; his traditional pub the Hinds Head; and the late Roux brothers, Michel and Albert’s, picture perfect restaurant, the Waterside Inn.

So if you’re after a culinary adventure, Bray surely is the spot for you.

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The Waterside Inn is just one of the late Roux brothers’ infamous legacy

BerkshireLive reported on the extraordinary role Bray has played in the British film industry over the years.

The village’s Oakley Court served as the location for Christoper Lee’s iconic 1958 film, Dracula.

Bray studios also provided the set for Ridley Scott’s legendary Alien films made back in the 1970s.

This stunning village holds a (fake) gory past, but that couldn’t taint its picturesque appearance.

Do you reckon any of the other Londons can compare with our stunning capital city?

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How to get there

Bray is easily accessible by public transport. You can catch a train from Paddington directly to Maidenhead before taking a bus right into the centre of Bray.

Or if you’d prefer the drive, Bray can be accessed via the M4.

Is there a story you think we should be covering? If so, please email ellen.jenne[email protected]

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https://www.mylondon.news/whats-on/pretty-thames-village-island-two-21333434