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Bradninch from Castle Hill - - 472656.jpg
Bradninch from Castle Hill, St Disen's Church is to the left
Bradninch is located in Devon
Population 2,041 (2011 census)
OS grid reference SS9903
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
EU Parliament South West England
List of places
50°50′00″N 3°25′00″W / 50.8333°N 3.4167°W / 50.8333; -3.4167

Bradninch is a small town and former manor in Devon, England, lying about 3 mi (5 km) south of Cullompton. Much of the surrounding farmland belongs to the Duchy of Cornwall. There is an electoral ward with the same name. At the 2011 Census the ward population was 2,041.

In 2012, in research of 2,400 postcodes in England and Wales which took into account 60 separate factors of interest to young families, Bradninch was found to be the fifteenth most family friendly location in the country.

The town is twinned with Landunvez in Brittany.


The place-name 'Bradninch' is first attested in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as 'Bradenese'; the name is thought to mean 'broad oak' or 'broad ash'. Seventy-nine different spellings of the name of the town have been recorded.



Bradninch dates back to before the 7th century and at some time there was almost certainly a Norman or Saxon fortress on Castle Hill. There are no physical remains, and no known primary documentary references, but the likely site was surrounded by a number of 'castle' field names on the tithe map. It would have been unusual for Bradninch not to have had a castle given its status in the medieval period.


Bradninch was the caput of the feudal barony of Bradninch granted by William the Conqueror (1066–1087) to William Capra, who is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as holding this manor. The barony escheated to the crown and King Henry I (1100–1135) granted it to his illegitimate son William I de Tracy (d.circa 1136). He left one daughter and sole-heiress Grace de Tracy who married John de Sudeley, They had two children: Ralph de Sudeley (d. 1192), the eldest, who became his father's heir, and Sir William II "de Tracy" (d. post 1172), who inherited his mother's barony of Bradninch and assumed her family name in lieu of his patronymic. He married Hawise de Born and had a son William III de Tracy (d. pre-1194), one of the four knights who assassinated Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, in December 1170.

The value of Bradninch

Following the execution of Charles 1 in 1649, an Act of Parliament provided for the sale of the honour, manor and borough of Bradninch and on 24 March 1650 it was sold to Thomas Sanders and John Gorges as trustees for the new Commonwealth. The sum paid was £19,517 11s 10 1/4d (£19,517.59p). The manor was returned to the Crown at the time of the Restoration in 1660.

Later history

Bradninch lost its borough status in 1886 under the provisions of the Municipal Corporations Act.

The town was largely destroyed in a fire in 1666 (the same year as the Great Fire of London).

Notable buildings

Notable buildings in the town include Bradninch Guildhall (on which the Bradninch Eagle is depicted), The Castle Pub, the manor house, Earlsland House, Comfort House, and the parish church.

St Dicen, Bradninch, Devon - East end - - 1726163
The church interior

St Disen's Church

The 15th-century church is dedicated to St Disen, a unique dedication in the British Isles, who is considered to have been an Irish missionary saint. Previously this church was dedicated to St Denis or St Dionysius, and some confusion has arisen with some believing the attribution to St Disen to have been a romantic invention of one of the 19th-century vicars of the parish, Rev. Mr. Croslegh. The church possesses a finely decorated screen; in the panels at the screen's base are nearly 50 paintings of saints and biblical scenes. Another screen in the church is simpler, with panels of various saints, including an unusual one of St Francis of Assisi receiving the stigmata.

Bradninch Manor House

Bradninch Manor
Bradninch Manor - Ancient seat of the Sainthill family

The surviving grade I listed manor house is situated on the north side of Parsonage Lane, to the immediate east of the village. It was built in 1553 by Peter Sainthill (c.1524-1571), MP, Recorder of Bradninch and Deputy Steward to the Duke of Cornwall of the manor of Bradninch. It was the scene of Peter's Banquet or The Cavalier in the Dumps, a Puritan satirical verse written circa 1645, describing a banquet held there during the Civil War for his soldiers by Captain Peter Sainthill (1593-1648), MP, grandson of the builder. One of the verses is as follows:

Peter, their Captain, for to try
If good King Charles they'd stand by,
Prepared a Banquet at his hall,
And there invited one and all
To eat, and drink, and for to sing
"God bless the cause! God bless the King!"

The present structure represents only half of the original "H-shaped" building. During World War II it served as a home for evacuees from Duchy-owned properties in London. Immediately after the War, in the late 1940s it served as a boarding school for very young children. Many of the original fittings of some of the 17th century rooms were removed illegally by the then owners in 1980, but the magnificently decorated Job Room survives in its original Jacobean form, and is comparable to a similar room with internal porch at nearby Bradfield House, Uffculme.

Political representation

In the 2010 UK General Election, the new constituency of Central Devon, which includes Bradninch, returned a Conservative Member of Parliament, Mel Stride.

Bradninch lies within the Cullompton Rural ward of Devon County Council and within the Bradninch ward of Mid Devon District Council.


The 2012 population estimate for the town was 2,222. The 2013 population estimate for the town was 2,366. According to the Office for National Statistics Bradninch Ward had a population of 1,775 in April 2001.

In 1887, according to John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, the population was 1,705

In 1851 the population was 1,834.


The town used to be served by the Hele & Bradninch railway station at Hele, which is now closed. The nearest railway stations – all approximately 9 miles distant – are Tiverton Parkway which is on Great Western Railway's London Paddington to Penzance route and Pinhoe, Cranbrook and Whimple all of which are on South Western Railway's' London Waterloo to Exeter St Davids route.

The only regular public transport through the town is Stagecoach South West 1/1A/ “Culm Valley Connect" bus service that connects Bradninch with Exeter, Cullompton and Tiverton.

Royal connections

The Bradninch 'eagle' seal – an eagle displayed sable on a shield argent – was given to the burgesses of the town in about 1120 by the illegitimate son of Henry 1, Arthur Reginald (Earl of Cornwall and Lord of Bradninch), when, by his letters patent, he incorporated the town and borough of Bradninch.

In 1337 King Edward III bestowed the first English dukedom on his eldest son, also called Edward, (and later known as 'The Black Prince'), naming him the Duke of Cornwall and Baron of Bradninch. Since then, the Monarch's eldest son has been the Lord of the Manor of Bradninch. The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, currently holds the title. Much of the farmland around the town still belongs to his Duchy of Cornwall estate.


Bradninch was the last town in England to punish someone by placing them in stocks. On 2 November 1866 Cornelius Pippet, a cooper was convicted of drunkenness and placed in stocks for 6 hours. The stocks are part of the town's historical memorabilia kept in the Guildhall.

It was in Bradninch, in 1702, that George Boone III, grandfather of the American pioneer Daniel Boone, joined the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). George Boone's son, Squire Boone, father of Daniel, left England for America in 1717.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Bradninch para niños

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