Quirky hotel on the Isle of Berkshire King George III and his pet monkey were exiled to

Berkshire has a long history and many buildings date back centuries. Some of these buildings, be it a church, a pub or a hotel, are pretty cool and quirky places to spend the night.

One place in particular is steeped in history as the area the estate is on dates back to 1197. But where is this place and can you stay there now?

The Monkey Island Estate is a 5 star hotel located on the picturesque island of the Thames in the historic village of Bray. It is a luxury private island hotel comprised of two Grade I listed heritage lodges that form the property.

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Set on seven acres, the estate has 40 gorgeous rooms, a spa, restaurant and the Grade I listed Wedgewood Suite. The timeless accommodation hosts events, including weddings, and features traditional features with a mix of modern country style.

Where did it all start?

Monkey Island holds quite an interesting history that historians are still debating what really happened in its past. The Monkey Island Estate website reads: “In 1197 monks attached to Merton Priory settled nearby, building fish ponds near the island christened Monks Eyot (island) – the possible root of the modern name.”

“It took 300 years for the clergy to finally loosen their aging grip, selling it to the Englefield family. Change was in the air, accelerated by the Great Fire of London of 1666 when barges dumped the rubble of the rebuilding of the capital on the island, raising it above flood level and creating a site suitable for construction.”

The third Duke of Marlborough then bought the land in 1723 and commissioned two buildings for a fishing retreat. The ceiling of the Monkey Room on the ground floor of the pavilion was completed in 1738 with depictions of monkeys punting, fishing, and hunting.

Two decades before he died in 1748, the Duke managed to escape to his fishing paradise to live out his final years. Rumors claimed that George III was banished there with a pet monkey when he went mad.

In 1840 it became a riverside inn where visitors included monarchs, famous singers and well-known writers. It became a very popular place as it drew crowds for the river, accommodation, live music, dinner dances and parties.

A footbridge was connected to the shore in 1956 allowing easy access across the river. The island was sold in the 1980s and the Grade I listed properties fell into disrepair until expert renovations took place – it is now a luxury hotel.

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