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Wiltshire Community History

Braydon Search Results

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This page is one of 261 pages covering every community in Wiltshire, and is provided by Wiltshire Council Libraries and Heritage. A project to provide a fuller picture of each community is in progress, working on the larger communities first. When these 261, which are modern civil parishes, are completed we will begin work on a further 180 villages and hamlets to provide comprehensive coverage of Wiltshire communities large and small.

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1773:

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1773

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1810:

From Andrews' and Dury's Map of Wiltshire, 1810

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre

This is a corrected and updated edition of the 1773 map that includes the recently built canals.

From the Ordnance Survey 1896 revision of the one inch to one mile map.:

From the Ordnance Survey 1896 revision of the one inch to one mile map.

Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

Thumbnail History:

The civil parish of Braydon comprises the small hamlet of Braydon and the remainder of the once great Royal Forest of Braydon. The civil parish is small, containing only 2,031 acres in 1911, and begins at Ravensroost Wood in the west and stretches east towards Cricklade through remaining woodland and farmland and ends roughly at the train line running north to Kemble. The south of the parish is marked by the straight piece of road connecting Minety with Purton which bisects the Braydon Road, the B4696. This road runs north to south through the parish, leading to Wootton Bassett to the south and The Leigh to the north.

A tributary of Derry brook crosses the western part of the parish, which parish lies on Oxford clay, known locally as Minety clay. Minety clay is classically muddy and waterlogged, and often marshy. Langhopps Hill is in the centre of the parish.

The small hamlet of Braydon was once a tithing of Purton but became a civil parish in its own right in 1866. In the Middle Ages, as a tithing of Purton, Braydon belonged to the Duchy of Lancaster. The population in 1931 was 74, which seems to be the highest recorded number of people living in the parish. In 1881 there were 48 people living in there. In 2001, the population recorded in the parish was 49; settlement is not the main focus in Braydon and only a small number of houses are scattered throughout it. The forest certainly takes prominence.

At its height in the 13th century, the forest of Braydon covered around 50 square miles and was a major hunting forest established after the Norman Conquest. The forest was first mentioned in a Saxon chronicle of 796. It is not known exactly when the forest became a Royal one, but by the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086, Braydon had the Royal title. . It was the Saxons who began to clear some areas of the forest for settlement and they farmed the forest and were also able to use the trees for firewood or for building. At that time, the total area of the forest was around 10,000 acres. It was primarily used as a hunting forest for Royalty and a source of food from the red and fallow deer. It was heavily wooded at this point
Cattle and sheep from neighbouring parishes also often roamed through the woods and money was also raised for the Crown by imposing fines on anyone who broke forest law; these were fairly strictly enforced. By 1086 the forest had already become large; it was around nine miles long and six wide at Purton, and extended southwards to Wootton Bassett where it was six miles long and three wide. By 1228 it was made up of an area of 46 square miles; this was Braydon Forest at its height. However, after this time the land began to be taken out of the Royal Forest and much of the land given over to farming. By 1330 there were only seven miles of forest and it was sold by Charles I in the 17th century for the sum of £30,000.

Prior to the sale it had become known as Duchy Wood, because of a 14th century connection to Henry, earl of Lancaster. Before the sale, the Crown did attempt to make the land more profitable by disafforesting the forest and turning it into farmland. This meant the forest lost its Royal status and was made up of around 4,000 acres.

Ravensroost Wood, to the east of the parish, is a nature reserve looked after by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. It is part of the ancient Braydon Forest, but is now a relatively isolated wood (although it is large) surrounded by fields. The main tree in the wood is oak, with hazel growing in the shrub layer, as well as holly and midland thorn. However, some of these fields are very important in their own right; to the east of the wood is Ravensroost Meadows Nature Reserve and to the north the Distillery Meadows Nature Reserve. The woods at Ravensroost are so special, they has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and this was bought by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust in 1987. The Braydon Forest Countryside Management Project was set up by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust in 1990. It exists to manage the woods, meadows, wetlands and hedgerows that make up the remainder of Braydon Forest.

The southern part of the wood, as part of the larger forest, was leased to a Phillip Jacobson by Charles I. He was a Dutch jeweller and the King owed him £10,000 for jewels. The north of the wood was owned by a Roger Nott in 1636 and his family remained in ownership for the next two centuries. A family called Branston, from Hullavington, bought the woods in 1922. For many years a common sight on Boxing Day was a shooting party moving through the covers.

Red Lodge, in the centre of the parish, sits among much woodland and was originally built as a shooting lodge. Its first name was Hatton's Lodge. It is though to have been built at some point in the 17th century, probably in 1630.The name simply derives from the red stone used to build it. White Lodge and Maplesales were farms built in the 17th century, and buildings still stand on this site in the east of the parish, close to Red Lodge. White Lodge Bungalow retains the name of the former, although this was built much later.

A few more houses were subsequently built; some in the east, near to Red Lodge, and others in the west along the grand sounding Queen Street (in reality a wooded road). Some other farms are scattered across the parish; these are mainly dairy; arable farms have not thrived in Braydon. In 1879 only seven per cent of land was given to the growing of crops; there was a herbing industry in the first half of the 20th century, however. Medicinal herbs were picked and dried in sheds and then sent on to merchants, with the industry reaching its peak in 1938.

It would be slightly grand to call these far flung buildings a "hamlet", as there is no real centre, but it is the best description for them. The woods, tress and marshland making up Braydon are the main stars of the parish. When writing of the story of Primitive Methodism in North Wiltshire, the Reverend William Tonks wrote in 1907, "At Braydon, standing at the chapel door, the question is "Where are the people?" There are few houses in sight, but though a widely scattered people, the Braydon folk know where the chapel is, and are very regular in attendance."

Braydon was once part of Cricklade and Wootton Bassett poor law union, which was formed in 1835. There were traditionally many squatters living within Braydon Forest, taking advantage of the lack of legal control over habitations. Today Braydon is too small and sparsely populated for a parish council and has a parish meeting instead.

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Churches: Information on both current and disused churches and chapels.

Schools: Information on both current and closed schools.

Population 1801 - 2011

Photographs: If images have been added for this community they are available here.: We hold a collection of over 50,000 photographs of places in Wiltshire in the County Local Studies Library. These may be viewed at this library and copies of out of copyright material may be purchased. We can search for a picture of a building or event if you e-mail us with details.

Historical Sources: A select list of books and articles is listed in 'Printed material'. You may go directly to the actual text from some of these.

Printed Material: This is a select book-list for the community but in the case of a town there may be hundreds more books, pamphlets and journal articles.

The full text of some items is available to view on this site.

The Victoria History of Wiltshire (opens in new window) is a partnership between local authorities and the Institute of Historical Research at London University. The History of Wiltshire is now the largest county history in the country and is still growing. The volumes are divided between general and topographical with Volumes One to Five covering subjects such as prehistory, ecclesiastical, economic and political history. The Volumes from Six onwards are topographical and will ultimately provide a comprehensive and systematic history of every single town and parish in the county.

(opens in new window) Explore Wiltshire's Past web site

Newspapers from 1738: These newspapers covered this community at different times. Newspaper titles in bold text are either the ones you should check first for information about this community.


Maps: listed are maps on which you can find this community. All maps are Ordnance Survey maps.


Archaeological Sites: A Sites and Monuments Record (opens new window) is maintained by the County Archaeology Service and covers some 20,000 sites. The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society was formed in 1853 and have been publishing an annual journal since 1854. The journal contains both substantial articles and shorter notes on archaeological excavations, finds, museum objects, local history, genealogy and natural history.

Folk Arts:

Folk Songs from Braydon

Folk Biographies from Braydon

Folk Plays from Braydon

History of Buildings: The collections of the Wiltshire Buildings Record are housed in the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre at Chippenham.

Listed Buildings: The number of buildings, or groups of buildings listed as being of architectural or historic importance is 2.

English Heritage and National Monuments Record

Local Authors: There could be an author who was born or has lived in this community.

Literary Associations: Some communities have featured in novels or may have been the main setting for a book.

Registration Districts: If you want to obtain a copy of a birth, marriage or death certificate you can contact the local registrar.


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