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Brading (St. Mary)

BRADING (St. Mary), a market-town and parish, in the liberty of East Medina, Isle of Wight division of the county of Southampton, 4 miles (S.) from Ryde, and 95 (S. W.) from London; containing 2701 inhabitants. The parish comprises 9555 acres, of which 8156 are arable, pasture, and ground occupied by cottages and gardens; the remainder being the cliff, the harbour of Brading, and roads and waste. The town, which was formerly of considerable importance, as appears from its being styled "the King's Town of Brading" in the legend of its common seal, is situated to the south of the harbour, and may be approached by vessels of small burthen. Repeated attempts have been made to exclude the sea by an embankment; the last was by Sir Hugh Myddelton, the projector of the New River, who had effected this, when, during a wet season, the whole of the works, which had been raised at an expense of £7000, were destroyed by a spring tide. In the parish is Sandown fort, a quadrangular fortification, flanked by four bastions, and encompassed by a ditch; it was constructed in the reign of Henry VIII., on a level with the beach, and, having been greatly neglected after the rise of the English navy, was repaired during the late war, and made the most considerable fortress in the island.

The town consists principally of one long street, the houses in which are irregularly built; the inhabitants are plentifully supplied with water from public wells. The market, which is amply supplied with corn, is on Monday; and fairs are held on the 12th of May and 2nd of October. The government, by charter of incorporation granted prior to the reign of Edward VI., is vested in a senior and junior bailiff, two justices (who are the bailiffs of the preceding year), two constables, a steward, and other officers; the bailiffs are appointed at the court leet of the town. The town-hall is now partly used as a schoolroom; the lower portion contains a prison, and is also used for the market. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £20, and in the gift of Trinity College, Cambridge: the tithes have been commuted for £1645, of which £1285 are payable to the college, £330 to the incumbent, and £30 to an impropriator; the glebe attached to the living consists of 3½ acres, and that belonging to the college of 16½ acres. The church is said to have been built in 704 by Wilfred, Bishop of Chichester, who here baptized his first converts to Christianity; it is a spacious structure with a tower, and some probable remains of Saxon architecture are preserved in the nave, though the building has undergone many alterations in other parts. A church was built at Bembridge in 1827; and in 1846 an additional church was erected, which occupies a lofty and conspicuous position, at Sandown. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans.—See Bembridge.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.