Braunton, a village and a parish in Devonshire. The village stands near the mouth of the river Taw, with a station on the L. & S.W.R., 217 miles from London. It is a considerable place, with several streets and many shops, and has a post, money order, and telegraph office (R.S.O.) It was originally called Branockstown, and took that name from St Branock, a prince of Calabria, who came hither in the year 300 as a missionary. The parish comprises 10,265 acres of land and 1492 of foreshore and water; population, 2171. There are several manors, and one of them belonged in Edward the Confessor's time to the Crown, and was afterwards given to St Peter's, Exeter. From several points in the neighbourhood magnificent views are obtained. An extensive tract between the village and the sea, called Braunton Field, is noted for fertility. A tract of drift sand on the coast, called Braunton Burrows, has witnessed many shipwrecks, and has two lighthouses 933 feet apart, erected in 1820-one a fixed light, the other a tidal light-for directing vessels over Bideford Bar. An ancient chapel, called St Ann's, is embedded in the burrows, and remains of another, ascribed to St Branock, crown a neighbouring hill NE of the church. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Exeter; gross value, £536 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of Exeter. The church is Early English, and was restored in 1887; it contains some very fine pieces of wood carving of the 15th century. There are also Congregational and Methodist chapels, a school with £83 endowment, and other charities. Richard Knill, the missionary, was a native.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Braunton St. Brannock|
|Poor Law union||Barnstaple|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The parish register dates from the year 1538.
Church of England
St. Brannock (parish church)
The parish church of St. Brannock is a large and ancient building of stone, in the Early English and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel and nave and transepts, north and south porches and a tower on the south side, with spire, containing a clock and 8 bells: the nave has a pannelled oak roof of considerable span, repaired about 1850, and exhibiting on one of its panels a carved representation of a sow with a litter of pigs, alluding to a tradition that St. Brannock, who preached Christianity here A.D. 550, was directed , in a dream, to build a church on the spot where he should first meet such a group: there is an interesting palimpsest brass, having on one side the effigy of a knight in bascinet and camail, c. 1200. and on the other the effigy of a lady kneeling at a prie-dieul this is inlaid above a stepped cross incised in a large stone slab, and at the foot is a brass inscription to Lady Elizabeth Bowcer (Bourchier), daughter of John, 1st Earl of Bath, and wife of Edward Chichester esq. ob. 24th August, 1548: the church contains some of the finest examples of wood carving in Devonshire, especially on the bench ends: the font is probably Norman: a new organ was erected in 1927 at a cost of £1,500, in the gallery of the north transept; some of the work by the celebrated Father Schmidt from the old organ, which stood in the south chancel aisle, was incorporated; this aisle has been restored and dedicated as a chapel: in 1887 the roof of the nave was restored and the bells rehung, with the addition of two new ones; the bells were again retuned and rehung in 1929, the 6th being recast: the south transept, formed by the ground storey of the tower, has been restored, in memory of Mr. Edward Mock, by his widow, and also the chancel, under the direction of Mr. Ewan Christian, architect: in 1909 the east and west windows were filled with stained glass: a war memorial, from the drawings of W. D. Car¨oe esq. was erected near the main entrance in 1921: there are 450 sittings.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Braunton from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858. (Braunton (St. Brannock))
Online maps of Braunton are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering Devon online:
Villages, Hamlets, &cBoode
The Visitation of the County of Devon in the year 1564, with additions from the earlier visitation of 1531, is online.
The Visitations of the County of Devon, comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564, & 1620, with additions by Lieutant-Colonel J.L. Vivian, published for the author by Henry S. Eland, Exeter 1895 is online.