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Title: Bradninch  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Hele, Devon, Devon, List of towns and cities in Devon by population, List of places in Devon, Kingskerswell
Collection: Former Manors in Devon, Towns in Devon
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia



Bradninch from Castle Hill, St Disen's Church is to the left
Bradninch is located in Devon
 Bradninch shown within Devon
Population 1,881 (2011 census)
OS grid reference
District Mid Devon
Shire county Devon
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
EU Parliament South West England
List of places

Bradninch is a small town and former manor in Devon, England, lying about three miles south of Cullompton. Much of the surrounding farmland belongs to the Duchy of Cornwall. There is an electoral ward with the same name. At the 2011 Census the ward population was 2,041.[1]

In 2012, in research of 2,400 postcodes in England and Wales which took into account 60 separate factors of interest to young families, Bradninch was found to be the fifteenth most family friendly location in the country.[2]

The town is twinned with Landunvez in Brittany.


  • Toponymy 1
  • History 2
    • Saxon 2.1
    • Norman 2.2
    • The value of Bradninch 2.3
    • Later history 2.4
  • Notable buildings 3
    • St Disen's Church 3.1
  • Political representation 4
  • Population 5
  • Transport 6
  • Books about Bradninch 7
  • Royal connections 8
  • Notoriety 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


The place-name 'Bradninch' is first attested in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as 'Bradenese'; the name is thought to mean 'broad oak' [3] or 'broad ash'.[4] Seventy-nine different spellings of the name of the town have been recorded.[5]



Bradninch dates back to before the 7th century and at some time there was almost certainly a Norman or Saxon fortress on Castle Hill. There are no physical remains, and no known primary documentary references, but the likely site was surrounded by a number of 'castle' field names on the tithe map. It would have been unusual for Bradninch not to have had a castle given its status in the medieval period.[6]


Bradninch was the caput of a feudal barony granted by William the Conqueror (1066–1087) to William Capra, who is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as holding this manor. The barony escheated to the crown and King Henry I (1100–1135) granted it to his illegitimate son William I de Tracy (d.circa 1136). He left one daughter and sole-heiress Grace de Tracy who married John de Sudeley,[7] They had two children: Ralph de Sudeley (d. 1192), the eldest, who became his father's heir, and Sir William II "de Tracy" (d. post 1172), who inherited his mother's barony of Bradninch and assumed her family name in lieu of his patronymic.[7] He married Hawise de Born and had a son William III de Tracy (d. pre-1194),[7] one of the four knights who assassinated Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, in December 1170.

The value of Bradninch

Following the execution of Charles 1 in 1649, an Act of Parliament provided for the sale of the honor, manor and borough of Bradninch and on 24 March 1650 it was sold to Thomas Sanders and John Gorges as trustees for the new Commonwealth. The sum paid was £19,517 11s 10 1/4d (£19,517.59p). The manor was returned to the Crown at the time of the Restoration in 1660.[8]

Later history

Bradninch lost its borough status in 1886 under the provisions of the Municipal Corporations Act.[9]

The town was largely destroyed in a fire in 1666 (the same year as the Great Fire of London).

Notable buildings

Notable buildings in the town include Bradninch Guildhall (on which the Bradninch eagle is depicted), The Castle Hotel, the manor house, Earlsland House, Comfort House, and the parish church.

St Disen's Church

The 15th-century church is dedicated to St Disen, a unique dedication in the British Isles, who is considered to have been an Irish missionary saint.[10] Previously this church was dedicated to St Denis or St Dionysius, and some confusion has arisen with some believing the attribution to St Disen to have been a romantic invention of one of the 19th century vicars of the parish, Rev. Croslegh.[11] The church possesses a finely decorated screen; in the panels at the screen's base are nearly 50 paintings of saints and biblical scenes. Another screen in the church is simpler, with panels of various saints, including an unusual one of St Francis of Assisi receiving the stigmata.

Political representation

In the 2010 UK General Election, the new constituency of Central Devon, which includes Bradninch, returned a Conservative Member of Parliament, Mel Stride.

Bradninch lies within the Cullompton Rural ward of Devon County Council and within the Bradninch ward of Mid Devon District Council. Both wards are represented by Green Party member Francis Duncan Fyles.


The 2012 population estimate for the town was 2,222.[12]

The 2013 population estimate for the town was 2,366.[13]

According to the Office for National Statistics Bradninch Ward had a population of 1,775 in April 2001.[14]

In 1887, according to John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, the population was 1,705

In 1851 the population was 1,834.[15]


The town used to be served by the Hele & Bradninch railway station at Hele, which is now closed. The nearest railway stations - all approximately 9 miles distant - are Tiverton Parkway which is on First Great Western's Paddington to Penzance route and Pinhoe and Whimple both of which are on South West Trains Waterloo to Exeter St David's route.

The only regular public transport through the town is the Stagecoach Devon 1/1A/1B "Culm Valley Connect" bus service that connects Bradninch with Exeter, Cullompton and Tiverton.

Books about Bradninch

The best known book about the town is by Charles Croslegh. He became vicar of Bradninch in 1897 and wrote a 360-page history of the town entitled “Bradninch, being a short historical sketch of the honor, the manor, the borough, and liberties, and the parish”. Other books have been written about the history of Bradninch and Hele by Anthony Taylor and by Paddy Nash.[16]

Royal connections

The Bradninch 'eagle' seal - an eagle displayed sable on a shield argent - was given to the burgesses of the town in about 1120 by the illegitimate son of Henry 1, Arthur Reginald (Earl of Cornwall and Lord of Bradninch), when, by his letters patent, he incorporated the town and borough of Bradninch.[8]

In 1337 King Edward III bestowed the first English dukedom on his eldest son, also called Edward, (and later known as 'The Black Prince'), naming him the Duke of Cornwall and Baron of Bradninch. Since then, the Monarch's eldest son has been the Lord of the Manor of Bradninch. The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, currently holds the title. Much of the farmland around the town still belongs to his Duchy of Cornwall estate.


Bradninch was the last town in England to punish someone by placing them in stocks. On 2 November 1866 Cornelius Pippet, a cooper was convicted of drunkenness and placed in stocks for 6 hours.[17] The stocks are part of the town's historical memorabilia kept in the Guildhall.

It was in Bradninch, in 1702, that George Boone III, grandfather of the American

  • The Bradninch Town Council website
  • Entry in GENUKI (UK and Ireland genealogy), including description from the year 1850
  • Description in Devon County Council / Devon Libraries Local Studies Service
  • History of Bradninch
  • Bradninch shown on a map of the county of Devon, 1765
  • Bradninch at DMOZ

External links

  1. ^ "Ward population 2011". Retrieved 22 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "Family Friendly Hotspots 2012". Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Eilert Ekwall, Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, p. 58.
  4. ^ Illustrations of Devon's History, R.R. Sellman, p23
  5. ^ Croslegh, Charles - Bradninch, being a short historical sketch of the honor, the manor, the borough, and liberties, and the parish, p343
  6. ^ "Bradninch Castle Hill". Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c Sanders, I.J., English Baronies, Oxford, 1960, p.20, Bradninch
  8. ^ a b General Report to the King in Council from the Honorable Board of Commissioners on The Public Records: March 1831. 
  9. ^ "Municipal Corporations Act, 1883" (PDF). 
  10. ^ "St Disen's". Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  11. ^ N Orme, English Church Dedications, p53
  12. ^ "PPSA population estimates of Mid Devon parishes". Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  13. ^ "PPSA population estimates of Mid Devon parishes". Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  14. ^ "Key Figures for 2001 Census".  
  15. ^ "Census statistics 1801-2001 Devon parishes B.". Devon Libraries Local Studies Service. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  16. ^ "Books on Hele and Bradninch". Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  17. ^ Croslegh, Charles - Bradninch, being a short historical sketch of the honor, the manor, the borough, and liberties, and the parish.
  18. ^ [Morgan, Robert. Boone: A Biography. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2007; ISBN 978-1-56512-455-4]
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