Welcome to Bradninch

Bradninch is an historic town lying just off the B3181, approximately 3 miles southwest of Cullompton and Junction 28 of the M5 motorway.

There are several possible derivations of the name Bradninch – amongst them are the Saxon ‘Bradeneche’ meaning ‘broad-ash’ and the Celtic ‘bre’ (brea) or ‘bryn’, meaning ‘by a hill or hillside’.  The earliest development was a Celtic settlement in Hen Street – ‘hen’ being Celtic for ‘old’.  Evidence of the Anglo-Saxon village it became in the 8th and 9th centuries is found in the street name ‘New Haven’ – ‘neuhaben’ being Saxon for ‘new home’.

Bradninch was to become an important borough town, receiving its first charter in 1208.  Municipal Borough status was granted in 1604.  the arms of Bradninch – the Black Eagle – came from the Emperor Charlemagne through Richard, King of the Romans (second son if King John).  The Barony of Bradninch was bestowed on Richard by his brother, King Henry III, in 1244.  Bradninch has retained its close links with royalty through the Duchy of Cornwall.  In 1337, when Edward III created Edward the the Black Prince Duke of Cornwall, the barony of Bradninch was merged with the dukedom many of the surrounding farms still belong to the Duchy.

Under the Municipal Corporation Act of 1883, the town lost its borough status.  However, under the Local Government Reorganisation in 1974, the office of Mayor was revived.  The present Guildhall, built in 1835 on the site of the ancient Guildhall, is still the focal point for most of the town’s activities.  The borough relics, which are splendid reminders of the town’s historic past.

Bradninch, as well as having royal connections, is on the American Heritage Trail as the birthplace of Daniel Boone‘s father.  Squire Boone, son of local blacksmith George Boone, was baptised in St Disen’s Church in 1696.  In 1712 he emigrated to America and in 1734 Daniel was born.  Daniel became a legendary figure in American history as a pioneer and trailblazer.  He died in 1820 aged 85 years.  St Disen’s Church has a commemorative tablet to the Boones.

Like many other Devon towns, the early fortunes of Bradninch were founded on the woollen trade.  This was gradually replaced by papermaking, and for 200 years this industry flourished at nearby Hele Paper Mills and at Kensham Mill.  With the paper mills developing in importance, the appearance of Bradninch began to change to more of a mill town.  Today it remains a busy community with shops, pubs and other local services.  Limited development – it has largely been designated a Conservation Area by Mid Devon District Council – has left Bradninch comparatively unchanged in recent times, and the town prides itself on its historic past and royal connections.


Image courtesy of Ray Girvan / Bradninch from Castle Hill / CC BY-SA 2.0

Our thanks to Bradninch Town Council for contributing information for our site

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