During the Roman period Staines was an important settlement known as 'Pontes', meaning 'at the bridges'. This was the point where the road known in some places as the 'Giant's Causeway' crossed the Thames heading towards the Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, now known as Silchester. There was also a second Roman bridge which crossed the River Colne. For centuries the City of London had jurisdiction over the River Thames upstream as far as Staines and the point is marked by the London Stone. Until 1965 Staines was part of the now defunct county of Middlesex.
The first reference to the present name of 'Staines', meaning 'stones', dates from 969 A.D. At the time of the Domesday Survey of 1086 Staines belonged to the monastery of Westminster Abbey and the manor had no less than six mills and two weirs. The weirs were important for their eel traps as eels were a very popular dish in medieval times.
The parish church of St Mary has features dating from the early 16th century but much of the church was rebuilt in 1828 after a major collapse. The church is first recorded in 1179 but it is highly probable that a church of some form existed here before 1066. Indeed, there was probably an early church here during the late Roman period.
The monastery at Westminster was seized by Henry VIII during the late 1530s and in 1613 the manor of Staines was granted to Lord Knyvett of nearby Stanwell.
There was a medieval bridge here by 1229 during the reign of Henry III (1216-1272). A new bridge over the Thames was built in the 1790s to replace a wooden bridge, but it soon collapsed because of poor foundations. During the next thirty years two successive iron bridges were built but they both failed. However, the problem was finally solved in 1832 when the present bridge, constructed in Aberdeen granite and Derbyshire red sandstone was opened. It was built by the famous brothers, Sir John and George Rennie from designs made by their father, also John, who was also responsible for Waterloo Bridge in London.
The railway came to Staines in 1848 and between 1884 and 1916 the town had two stations - Staines Central and Staines High Street. However, the latter was closed in 1916.
By the late Victorian period Staines had a number of manufactures and also a large brewery run by the Ashby family. The town's most famous export was linoleum and this ubiquitous floor covering was laid on the floors of millions of homes in several continents. It could be said that Staines covered the floors of the world!