Brandon (St. Peter)

BRANDON (St. Peter), a market-town and parish, in the union of Thetford, partly in the hundred of Grimshoe, W. division of Norfolk, but chiefly in the hundred of Lackford, W. division of Suffolk, 40 miles (N. W.) from Ipswich, and 78 (N. N. E.) from London; containing 2002 inhabitants. The parish comprises 6759a. 10p., of which the soil is generally a sandy loam, and the substratum chalk; the meadow-land is flat, and subject to floods. The town consists of two portions, designated Town-street and Ferry-street, a mile distant from each other; the latter, which is the chief portion, stands upon the road from London to Lynn, and on the southern bank of the Little Ouse, or Brandon river. The stream forms the northern boundary of Suffolk, and is here crossed by a neat stone bridge; it is navigable to Thetford and to Lynn. A line of railway between Brandon and Norwich was opened in July, 1845; and there is railway communication with Ely, and towns beyond, in a western direction. Imbedded in a stratum of chalk a mile westward from the town, lie continuous strata of the finest flint, of which gunflints are made in abundance, and conveyed to various parts of the world, employing about 200 hands in the manufacture. In addition, the town has a considerable traffic in corn, seeds, malt, coal, timber, iron, bricks, tiles, &c.; and there are some extensive rabbit-warrens in the neighbourhood, from which 150,000 rabbits are sent annually to the London markets. About 160 females are employed in preparing and cutting rabbit and hare skins for making hats, and felts for the clothiers in Yorkshire. A brewery has also been established. The market is on Thursday, for corn and seeds: there are fairs on Feb. 14th, June 11th, and Nov. 11th; and a fair at Broomhall, about half a mile distant, on July 7th, for stock.

The living is a rectory, with that of Wangford annexed, valued in the king's books at £20. 18. 1½., and in the patronage of Thomas Everard Cartwright, Esq.: the tithes have been commuted for a gross rent-charge of £560, and there are 102 acres of glebe. The church, which is situated midway between the two streets, is in the later style, and consists of a nave, chancel, and south aisles, with a lofty embattled tower at the west end. There are places of worship for Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists. A free school was founded in 1646, by Robert Wright, who endowed it with a rentcharge of £40; it was further endowed with 8 acres of land under the Bedford Level act, and with 3 under the Brandon Inclosure act, producing £11. 18. per annum. Joanna, widow of John Wright, in 1664 bequeathed £13 per annum for keeping the school-house in repair, and for the relief of the poor: an almshouse was founded in Ferry-street for seven widows, by Humphrey Hall, in 1698; and some almshouses founded by a person named Curteis, for three parishioners, were rebuilt near the church in 1840. Various other bequests have been made for the benefit of the poor, amounting in the aggregate to about £100 per annum. Brandon Camp, a square earthwork guarded by a single trench and a rampart, is supposed to have been the Bravinium of the Romans, and to have been occupied by Ostorius Scapula previously to his decisive victory over the brave Caractacus. The Duke of Hamilton and Brandon takes his English title from the place.

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