Brampton Bryan Village


About


Brampton Bryan village lies close to the border of Wales, in the north west corner of Herefordshire, where the border hills rise up out of the Teme Valley. The core of the village is small and compact; any part can be reached on foot within 5 minutes. The private north west section includes the Castle, which is only open on Scarecrow Sunday and for charitable tours. The church is to the east of the Castle. The cricket ground and Parish Hall are to the west, and Aardvark Books, with its café, is to the south.

The population is under 200, and many of the estate properties have "Dresden Blue" paint highlighting timber details. Some have blue disks, similar to the insurance plates of old, to mark the 700th anniversary in 2009 of the marriage between Robert Harley and Margaret de Brampton.

Brampton Bryan church and hedge at the crossroads in the centre of the village.
Brampton Bryan church and hedge at the crossroads in the centre of the village.

History


Brampton Bryan's early history

The village of Brampton Bryan is mentioned in the Domesday Book when it formed part of the estate of Ralph de Mortimer, although evidence of occupation extends back to at least Roman times, as buried remains of a temporary marching camp lie near the village.

The name Brampton means 'farm/settlement'. 'Bryan' probably refers to Sir Brian Unspac, (Lord Kinlet) an early owner of the land, who became Bryan de (the French word for 'of') Brampton.

During their 200 years of owning the land, the de Brampton family were responsible for building the Church and Castle. They managed to gain Royal Charters for a regular market every Tuesday and an Annual Horse Fair around the Saint's day of St Barnabas.

In 1294 the fourth Sir Brian de Brampton died prematurely at the age of 30, leaving only 2 baby girls. No 'heir and a spare' to take over...

By the marriage of Margaret, the elder of the two de Brampton girls, the land and properties were passed to the Harley family in 1309. The Harleys continued to successfully manage their estate.

Brampton Bryan Horse Fair in 1908.
Brampton Bryan Horse Fair in 1908.

Listed Buildings in Brampton Bryan


There are sixteen buildings and monuments in the village which are 'Listed' on the National Heritage List for England. The NHLE is the only official, up to date, register of all nationally protected historic buildings, monuments and sites in England. For full details see: www.historicengland.org.uk

St Barnabas Church

(Grade I)
With 14th Century elements, almost entirely rebuilt in 1656, with late 19th Century alterations and extensions.
Historic England list entry

Brampton Bryan Castle

(Grade I Scheduled Ancient Monument)
Earliest documented mention 1295. Early and late 14th Century rubble and sandstone dressings, with round gatehouse towers.
Historic England list entry

Ruins of Old Hall

(Grade I)
Early C14 with C16 addition. Sandstone rubble and ashlar.
Historic England list entry

Drinking Fountain

(Grade II)
Probably mid-C19. Cast iron. Fluted column with lion mask to front.
Historic England list entry

This drinking fountain, which is no longer working, was fed from a spring in the Park three quarters of a mile away.

Wheeler Monument in churchyard

(Grade II)
Chest tomb for James Wheeler, died 1827.
Historic England list entry

Brampton Bryan Hall

(Grade II*)
17th and 18th Century brick and stone house with earlier origins and later alterations.
Historic England list entry

Walnut Tree Cottage

(Grade II)
A pair of cottages, now one house, 50 yards south east of the church, timber framed and with a thatched roof, built in the 17th century.
Historic England list entry

11 and 12, Church Road

(Grade II)
A pair of cottages, 100 yards south of the church, timber framed and thatched. Possibly late 16th Century to 17th Century, with some exposed timber framing The upper storey projects (is jettied) on the west side on moulded brackets.
Historic England list entry

Each house would have had its own brick or stone pigsty, as is evidenced in some of the village gardens today, including number 12.

Enclosing Walls to South of the Hall

(Grade II)
Probably 18th or early 19th Century, sandstone rubble. The wall is continuously overhung by a conspicuous and picturesque yew hedge.
Historic England list entry

2 and 3, The Green

(Grade II)
Originally three cottages, now two. Probably late C17 to early C18 with later alterations. Timber-frame with brick infill. Brick gable wall. Thatched roof and brick end stacks.
Historic England list entry

The Manor House

(Grade II)
C17 and C18 with mid-C19 and later extensions and alterations. Painted brick, with stone tiled roof and cogged brick eaves cornice.
Historic England list entry

Oxford House

(Grade II)
Probably C17 with later alterations. Sandstone rubble and timber-frame with plaster infill. Stone and Welsh slate roofs.
Historic England list entry

This was a property which grew over time becoming a public house named The Oxford Arms (after the Earl of Oxford whose memorial is in the church), with a washroom and stables attached. The pub was closed by the Harley Estate in the late 19th century the day after a fight broke out in the pub resulting in the death of a navvy who had been working on the construction of the Birmingham Water Supply which runs through the estate on route from the Rhayader lakes to Birmingham.

K6 Telephone Kiosk

(Grade II)
Telephone kiosk. Type K6. Designed 1935 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. Made by various contractors. Cast iron.
Historic England list entry

This design was to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the coronation of King George V in 1935.

St Barnabas Church.
St Barnabas Church.
Grade II Drinking Fountain.
Grade II Drinking Fountain.
11 and 12, Church Road and The Oxford beyond.
11 and 12, Church Road and The Oxford beyond.
2 and 3, The Green.
2 and 3, The Green.
Manor House.
Manor House.

Other Points of Interest


Most of the village was destroyed in the Civil War, so nearly all the buildings are dated since 1644 when the village was replanned. There were a few houses which were miraculously saved, with just the thatch destroyed.

A major building programme was undertaken in the village and across the estate in the mid to late 19th Century and much of the building stone used in the village at this time is known as Broomy Hill stone. The outcrop of this type of rock appears locally only on the Brampton Bryan estate and is exceptionally hard. The shape of stone blocks is typically very irregular due to the difficulty of working such hard stone. To achieve straight edges necessary for doors and windows, brick is used to frame the openings. This mix of Broomy Hill stone and brick produces a distinct local vernacular style of architecture which is particularly noticeable in the pairs of 19th Century estate cottages.

Laundry Cottage

This was where all the laundry from the Hall was done. The unusually large chimney stack reflecting the need for plenty of heat and hot water. Laundries typical of the date had brick-built furnaces supporting large bowls, or 'coppers', which provided hot water, with stoves for the heating of irons and for drying racks.

Blue circular discs

The blue circular discs, similar to those used by insurance companies in the past, are an estate embellishment added in 2009 to mark the 700th anniversary of the marriage of Robert Harley and Margaret de Brampton.

The village green

The village green was the site of the historic annual Fair. This is where the Fair was held every year from 1252, up until the early 1960s. Judging by old photographs it attracted many hundreds of visitors and, in particular, horse traders. Bron Cakes, similar to Shrewsbury Cakes, (containing sugar, flour, eggs, butter, lemon zest, and dried fruit) were sold at the Horse Fair. Recipes for these date back to the mid-1600s. "Bron" is the colloquial short form of Brampton Bryan.

Cobbler’s shop

Manor End on the left side of Manor House once housed the Cobbler's shop. All the shoemaking tools are now lodged at Hereford Museum. There are business records of a shoemaker, a tailor and a grocer in the county Archives dating back to the mid 1800s. Below the Shoemaker's shop were stables.

Toll house

The Hairdressing salon used to be a Toll house and behind the hairdresser's used to be the Parish Reading Room and club for the village. From records we know there was an Air Rifle Club in 1914.

Blacksmith's Forge and Wheelwright's shop

The Forge was where the little shop is now, just to the right of Wendy's hairdressing salon – in the ground outside the forge you will see the large flat iron disc (or wheelwright's iron mould) set into the ground, which was used for "tyring" wheels. Made in the forge, red-hot iron tyres were laid on the iron mould so that they could be shrunk on to cart wheels; blacksmith and wheelwright working in unison. The metal cauldron, also outside the forge, was used for cooling purposes.

The Forge is now occupied by artist Alice Draws The Line.

Manor Farmhouse

The buildings to the left of Manor Farmhouse were its Victorian stables (converted in the last 20 years to Mortimer and Cressida Houses), the buildings to the right of the farmhouse, including Bron Offices and Aardvark, were its farm buildings. The house is now rented separately from the farm. It's an 18th Century building – and the windows were blocked probably to avoid excessive window tax.

Window tax was first imposed in England in 1696. It was intended to be a progressive tax in that houses with a smaller number of windows, initially ten, were subject to a 2 shilling (10p now, equivalent to £13.98 in 2019) house tax but exempt from the window tax. Houses with more than ten windows were liable for additional taxes which increased in line with the number of windows. The poorest, who were more likely to live in houses with fewer windows, were therefore in theory taxed less. The tax was abolished in 1851.

Aardvark Books

In the past the complex has been used for many things, including granaries for the local farm, and a turkey farm. In 2007 Aardvark Bookery was created using the services of craftsmen from the estate to design bespoke interior spaces.

The Bookery is now an Aladdin's cave of new, second hand and rare books, as well as music scores, maps, prints and cards. People come from miles around to browse and read and use the café. There's also a well-stocked children's reading and play area. Aardvark Books famously hosts the re-enactment of the Siege of Brampton Bryan every two years, bringing visitors from miles around.

Langdale House

Previously a school, the stone armorial plaque on the face of the building records its construction in 1860 by Jane Elizabeth Harley who became Lady Langdale by her marriage to Baron Langdale. The coat of arms is a mix of the Harley & Langdale arms – they are 'impaled'.

Jane Elizabeth was the daughter of the 5th Earl and Countess of Oxford. Her husband to be, Henry Bickersteth, intended to become a doctor but ended up as Master of the Rolls in the House of Lords. He became friends with Jane's father, the 5th Earl, after he had been assigned as his medical attendant in 1802. He married Jane at the ripe old age of 52, thirteen years her senior, although he must have known her for a good number of years previously.

The Langdale Baronetcy had been initially created back in 1658 for an ardent Royalist Catholic supporter of Charles 2nd, but the heirs to that particular line had died out by 1777. The title was recreated especially for Jane Elizabeth's husband at about the same time as he became Master of the Rolls.

The Manor House and Brampton Bryan village green.
The Manor House and Brampton Bryan village green.
The Oxford, Brampton Bryan village.
The Oxford, Brampton Bryan village.
Brampton Bryan village.
Brampton Bryan village.

Places of Interest

If you're planning a trip to Brampton Bryan, there are also plenty of other places in the local area that you might like to visit. Here are some of our recommendations.

See the list

Local Directory

The next phase of the Brampton Bryan website will include a directory of local businesses and community groups.

Find out more