1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Marlow
MARLOW (Great Marlow), a market town in the Wycombe parliamentary division of Buckinghamshire, England, 311 m. W. of London on a branch of the Great Western railway. Pop. of urban district (1901), 4526. It is beautifully situated on the north (left) bank of the Thames, which is here confined closely between low wooded hills. A weir and lock, near which rise the high tower and spire of the modern church of All Saints, separate two fine reaches of the river, and the town is a favourite resort for boating and fishing. The village of Little Marlow, where the foundations of a Benedictine nunnery of the time of Henry III. have been revealed by excavation, lies near the river two miles below. The town is, as a whole, modern in appearance, but a few old houses remain, such as the grammar school, founded as a bluecoat school in 1624, adjoining which is a house occupied by the poet Shelley in 1817. The town has manufactures of chairs, lace and embroidery, paper mills and breweries.
Great Marlow (Merlaue, Merlawe, Marlowe, Marlow) appears as a manor in Domesday Book, but its “borough and liberties” are not mentioned before 1261. It was then held by the earls of Gloucester, and its importance was probably due to the bridge across the Thames, first built, according to tradition, by the Templars at Bisham. No charter of incorporation was ever granted to the town, but there are faint traces of its constitution in the 14th century. In 1342 the mayor and burgesses presented to a chantry and continued to be the patrons till 1394. Later writs addressed to the town only mention two bailiffs as officers of the borough, nor were the pontage rights and dues held by it until the 15th century. Two burgesses sat in parliament from 1300 to 1309, but the representation of the borough lapsed until 1621, when the right to return members was re-established. After the Reform Bill of 1832 the boundaries of the parliamentary borough were enlarged, but in 1867 its representation was reduced to one member, and in 1885 was merged in that of the county. No grant of a market in the borough has been found, but a market was held by the Despensers who had succeeded the De Clares as lords of the manor in the 14th century. In the 16th century the market seems to have been given up, but it was revived and held in the 18th century, only to disappear again before 1862. Fairs were mentioned in 1306 on the death of Gilbert de Clare, when they were held on St Luke’s Day and on the Wednesday in Whit-week by the earl of Gloucester, and Hugh le Despenser was granted a fair in his manor of Marlow in 1324. In 1792 there were two fairs, one of which, for horses and cattle, is still held on the 29th of October. Lace and satin-stitch work used to be made to a considerable extent.