Holy Trinity, built in 1851
The name Bracknell is first recorded in a Winkfield Boundary Charter of AD 942 as Braccan heal, and may mean "Nook of land belonging to a man called Bracca", from the Old English Braccan (genitive singular of a personal name) + heal, healh (a corner, nook or secret place). An early form of the town's name, Brakenhale, still survives as the name of one of its schools. The town covers all of the old village of Easthampstead (though not all of the old parish) and the hamlet of Ramslade.
There is a Bronze Age round barrow at Bill Hill. Easthampstead Park was a favoured royal hunting lodge in Windsor Forest and Catherine of Aragon was banished there until her divorce was finalised. It was later the home of the Trumbulls who were patrons of Alexander Pope from Binfield.
To the north-east of the town is to be found the Quelm Stone, a standing stone, and to the south-west, just over the border in Crowthorne, is Caesar's Camp, an Iron Age hill fort.
One of the oldest buildings in the town is the 'Old Manor' public house, a 17th-century brick manor house featuring a number of priest holes. Next door once stood the 'Hind's Head' coaching inn, where it is said Dick Turpin used to drink. It is believed that there were once underground tunnels between the two, along which the famous highwayman could escape from the authorities. Other surviving old pubs are the Red Lion and the Bull, all timber-framed and dating from before the 18th century.
The oldest place of worship in the town is the parish church of St Michael and St Mary Magdalene in Easthampstead. There has been a church there since Saxon times, although the present building dates from the mid 19th century, except for the lower portions of the Tudor tower. Holy Trinity Church near the town centre was built in 1851.
Bracknell was designated a new town in 1949, in the aftermath of the Second World War. The site was originally a village cum small town in the civil parish of Warfield in the Easthampstead Rural District. Very little of the original Bracknell is left. The location was preferred to White Waltham, which was also considered, because the Bracknell site avoided encroaching on good quality agricultural land. It also had the additional advantage of being on a railway line.
The new town was planned for 25,000 people; it was intended to occupy over 1,000 hectares (about 6 square miles) of land in and around 'Old Bracknell' in the area now occupied by Priestwood, Easthampstead, Bullbrook and Harmans Water. The existing town centre and industrial areas were to be retained with new industry brought in to provide jobs. However, the town has since expanded far beyond its intended size into farmland to the south, and major expansion is now, as of 2008, under way (Jennett's Park) to the west of the town at Peacock Farm and The Parks on the site of the former RAF Staff College.
At the heart of most Bracknell neighbourhoods is a church, a small parade of shops, a primary school, a community centre and a pub. The neighbourhoods varied in population from 3,000 to 9,000. The plans included pedestrianisation, the construction of a ring road, and segregation of industrial areas from residential areas.
A slightly confusing feature of some of the estates is that streets only have names, not titles – in Birch Hill, Crown Wood, Great Hollands and others there is no 'Road', 'Avenue', 'Street', just 'Frobisher', 'Jameston', 'Juniper', 'Jevington'. The residential streets are, however, named in alphabetical order in Great Hollands and Wildridings, with As, through Ds, such as Donnybrook, in Hanworth, Js, such as 'Jameston', 'Juniper' and 'Jevington' in Birch Hill.