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The name is recorded in 1015 as Mere lafan, meaning "Land left after the draining of a pond" in Old English.
From Norman times the manor, parish, and later borough were formally known as Great Marlow, distinguishing them from Little Marlow. The ancient parish was large, including rural areas north and west of the town. In 1896 the civil parish of Great Marlow, created in the 19th century from the ancient parish, was divided into Great Marlow Urban District (the town) and Great Marlow civil parish (the rural areas). In 1897 the urban district was renamed Marlow Urban District, and the town has been known simply as Marlow.
Magna Britannia includes the following entry for Marlow: "The manor of Marlow, which had belonged to the Earls of Mercia, was given by William the Conqueror, to his Queen Matilda. Henry the First, bestowed it on his natural son, Robert de Melhent, afterwards Earl of Gloucester, from whom it passed, with that title, to the Clares and Despencers, and from the latter, by female heirs, to the Beauchamps and Nevilles, Earls of Warwick. It continued in the crown from the time of Richard III's marriage with Anne Neville, until Queen Mary granted it to William Lord Paget, in whose family it continued more than a century; after which, it passed, by purchase, to Sir Humphrey Winch, in 1670; to Lord Falkland in 1686; to Sir James Etheridge in 1690; to Sir John Guise in 1718; and to Sir William Clayton in 1736. It is now the property of Sir William Clayton bart. a descendant of the last purchaser".
Marlow owed its importance to its location on the River Thames, where the road from Reading to High Wycombe crosses the river. It had its own market by 1227 (hence the name Chipping Marlow), although the market lapsed before 1600. From 1301 to 1307, the town had its own Member of Parliament, and it returned two members from 1624 to 1867.
The population of Great Marlow was 4,480 by 1841.
Marlow is served by a railway station which is the terminus of a single-track branch line from Maidenhead. The train service is known as the Marlow Donkey, which was the nickname given to the steam locomotives that once operated on the line. There is also a pub with the same name, located close to the railway station.
Marlow is divided into 3 wards: North & West, South and South East. There are a total of 12 Marlow Town Councillors elected from these wards. The respective wards have 7, 2 and 3 seats. Since 2011, the Town Council has been entirely Conservative with several councillors "double-hatting" across town and county council.
In the 2021 local elections, a group of independent candidates contested 11 out of the 12 seats. They worked under the banner "Independents for Marlow" and were inspired by similar actions in Frome and other places, part of the "flatpack democracy" movement.
Statue of Sir Steve Redgrave in Higginson Park
Marlow Rowing Club, founded in 1871, is one of Britain's premier rowing clubs and has produced many Olympic oarsmen including Sir Steve Redgrave. The club is based by Marlow Bridge and exercises above and below the lock. The Olympic lightweight men's double-sculls gold medallist at Beijing 2008, Zac Purchase, is a former member of Marlow Rowing Club.
Marlow F.C are the only football club in England to have applied for entry into the FA Cup every season since its inception in 1871. The first England captain Cuthbert Ottaway played for Marlow F.C. Ottaway was selected to lead the England team travelling to Partick to meet Scotland on 30 November 1872 in what is now recognised as the first international match to be played. The game ended in a 0-0 draw.
Marlow Rugby Club plays at Riverwoods Drive. It was founded in 1947 and runs a range of senior, youth and mini-rugby teams.
There are two cricket clubs, Marlow Park CC, and Marlow Cricket Club which was founded in 1829 and is now part of Marlow Sports Club. Marlow Cricket Club has three Saturday teams and plays in the Thames Valley League. The Sports Club caters to field hockey, tennis, running, cycling, junior football.
Marlow Tennis Club was founded in 1899 and also plays at Marlow Sports Club. It has four floodlit all-weather courts and fields men's, women's and mixed teams in Bucks, Berks and Farnham Common leagues.
Marlow Sports Club also hosts five other sports, hockey, running (Marlow Striders), cycling (Marlow Riders), junior football, and petanque.
There are two regattas associated with Marlow; the Marlow Town Regatta and Marlow International Regatta. Earliest records indicate a regatta took place annually on the River Thames in Marlow from 1855. The latter transferred to the purpose built Dorney Lake, owned by Eton College, in 2003. Marlow still hosts its Original River Regatta which takes place annually in June.
Marlow FM 97.5
Marlow FM is a local community radio station that was launched on FM on 11 May 2011. It broadcasts to Marlow and the surrounding areas on 97.5FM, and also streams over the internet. The station provides travel and news updates for the local area.
Notable current and former residents in approximate birth order.
Dr William Battie, an eminent 18th-century physician specialising in mental illness, built and lived in Court Garden House from 1758 until his death in 1776. Local lore has it that he forgot to include a staircase to the first floor, so it had to be added later. In 1789 his daughter sold the house to Richard Davenport, High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, who lived there for 10 years, during which, Court Garden was described in Boydells History of the River Thames (1793), as "a fine Georgian house standing on a gentle eminence, a lawn of some extent descending gradually from it to the river." In 1926 the estate was saved for the people of Marlow, largely due to the efforts of local resident and Crimean War veteran General George Higginson, after whom Higginson Park is named.
MARLOW is one of the pleasantest river centres I know of. It is a bustling, lively little town; not very picturesque on the whole, it is true, but there are many quaint nooks and corners to be found in it.
Marlow Bottom has become the home of quintuple Olympic gold medallist rower Steve Redgrave, Britain's only athlete to have won gold medals at five consecutive Olympics. Higginson Park features a bronze statue of Sir Steven looking across the river towards the location of the finishing line of the Marlow Town Regatta. He is also commemorated in Redgrave Place.>