Brancaster (St. Mary The Virgin)

BRANCASTER (St. Mary the Virgin), a parish, in the union of Docking, hundred of Smithdon, W. division of Norfolk, 4½ miles (W. N. W.) from Burnham-Westgate, and 122 (N. N. E.) from London; containing 913 inhabitants. This place has been identified with the Roman station Brannodunum, at which an eminent commander, styled Count, or Earl, of the Saxon Shore, presided over a troop of Dalmatian cavalry, for the defence of the coast against the Saxon invaders: the castle and station occupied about eight acres between the staith and village, where numerous coins, vessels, and other relies have been found. The parish is on the road from Lynn to Wells; and comprises 3672a. 30p., of which 2162 acres are arable, 10 pasture and meadow, 621 common, 135 marsh, 587 salt-marsh, 26 woodland, 7 ozier-ground, and 37 acres gardens. Malting is carried on to some extent by the proprietor of a large malthouse, who also owns several vessels, of from 70 to 120 tons' burthen, which trade to and from the place in corn, coal, malt, timber, oil-cake, &c. The staith is situated on a commodious creek, which has at spring tides from 9 to 11 feet of water, and crosses the salt-marshes to the ocean through Brancaster bay. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £24, and in the patronage of W. Sadler, Esq.: the tithes have been commuted for £821. 14., and there is a glebe of 7½ acres, with a handsome parsonage-house. The church, which is in the early and decorated English styles, consists of a nave, chancel, and aisles, with a square embattled tower; it was thoroughly repaired in 1832. A free school and almshouses were built by Robert Smith, about the close of the sixteenth century, and endowed with 72 acres of land by his sister; the endowment produces about £70 per annum.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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