|The origin of the name Eaton Bray has a very colourful background. Originally
known as EITONE- meaning Island Settlement, is mentioned in the Doomsday Book. The name refers to the abundant
water supply from the springs that rise at the foot of the Dunstable Downs. Even today the parish boundary is largely
defined by streams.
After the Norman conquest William the Conqueror gave the Manor of EITONE to his half brother Odo - Bishop of Bayeux
who led the troops at the Battle of Hastings and later commissioned the Bayeux Tapestries. However, Odo and William
fell out, Odo committed a crime, exactly what is not known, and William sent him to jail for 5 years and the Manor
of EITONE then returned to the Kings charge.
After various disputes about the land it was purchased by the Norman Baron, William de Cantilupe, who was one of
the barons who extorted the Magna Carta from King John. In 1221 he began to build a large castle at EITONE. The
present Park Farm is close to the site where parts of the moat and traces of earth works still exist.
The Manor of EITONE remained in the hands of descendants of the Cantilupe family until the 7th Lord John de la
Zouche, who fought along side Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field 1485. At that time a certain Reginald
BRAY, a follower of Sir William Stanley, who helped Henry defeat Richard at The Battle of Bosworth. It was Reginald
BRAY who picked up the dead King Richard's crown at Bosworth, and placed it on Henry Tudor's head declaring him
Henry VII, King of England.
Some five years later in 1490 Henry VII granted EITONE / EATON manor to Reginald BRAY, now a famous man in civil
and military matters.
Reginald Bray's head can be seen carved in stone high up on the exterior of St. George's Chapel Windsor, which
owes much to his skill as an architect. The Bray family coat of arms is displayed here as the backgroung of this
Naturally he turned his skills and attention to the church of his newly acquired manor and built here at EATON
a large tower upon the small 13th century tower.
Henceforth Eaton became known as EATON BRAY