A rural parish in North Devon, England including Brayford village, High Bray and Charles, and a part of Exmoor National Park


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From the June 2003 Newsletter:

Brayford School

Members of the School want to thank everyone who attended their Easter Pilgrimage which was a very special and memorable event.

On the 20th June the annual School Fete will be held at the School starting at 6.30pm. There will be lots to see and do.

The School Sports Day will be held on the 2nd July starting at 1.30pm, weather permitting.

Children from the School will be joined by adults to take part in the National Archaeology Day on
19th July (12pm - 4pm). See separate item "Brayford children take on the Romans".

On the 21st July at 2pm there will be a leaverís concert.

The School is looking for a Meal Time Assistant on Monday and Tuesdays. If you are interested, contact the School on 710345.

Methodist Church

In June the Methodist Church will be celebrating the birth, 300 years ago, of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement. This is a national celebration and Brayford have planned a celebratory weekend for the 14th and 15th June.

Saturday 14th June will be a Strawberry Cream Team starting at 2.30pm and on Sunday the 15th, the 11am service will be taken by Rev. John Carne, Chairman of the Plymouth and Exeter District (their Bishop). This will be a circuit service and they will be joined by members of Charles and High Bray Churches. The service will be followed by a picnic lunch with tea and coffee provided.

Throughout the weekend there will be a festival of flowers with displays provided by members of all the Churches in Brayford. Everyone is invited to join in the festivities.

Gardening Club

On Wednesday the 11th June at 7.00pm the Gardening Club have been invited to join the Womenís Institute on a visit to M & M  Plants at Chittlehampton.

On Wednesday the 18th June the Club will pay a visit to Thornehays Nursery at Dulford (near Cullompton) at 6.30pm.

Mr Breed, the Warden at Braunton Burrows, will take members around the Burrows on the 2nd July.

On the 5th July at 7.30pm, a dance will be held in Brayford Village Hall to raise funds for the forthcoming Flower Show. Music will be provided by Ray Hobbs.

The annual Flower Show will be on the 16th August in the Village Hall starting at 5.30pm. The date has been put back a little to reflect the growing season in Brayford. Early warning of a new class this year - a watercolour painting of Brayford Bridge.

School Gate
Due to security requirements and issues regarding public liability on School property, the gate at the rear
of the School in Mill Lane will be locked at all times.

Concert in aid of Cancer Research
On Tuesday the 10th June, the Langholm Choir from West Buckland School will hold a concert in Brayford Village Hall starting at 7.30pm. Proceeds will go to Cancer Research so please support this important charity as well as enjoying an evening of musical entertainment.

Charles Historical Society

The Charles Historical Society will be holding two open days at Charles Church on Saturday/Sunday the 21st and 22nd June starting each day at 10am. On display will be the groupís work researching local family history.

A descendant of a relative who left Charles for America in the 1840ís will make the trip to Charles to be present at the event.

A member of the Society is currently trying to contact the descendants of a Frederick Budden who came from Dorset to be the local police constable in Charles in the late
19th century.

Mother's Union

The Motherís Union wish to thank everyone who sent tokens for the "holiday away from it all" scheme which has provided holidays for 13 less fortunate North Devon families.

If anyone has got any old Janet and John books or ABC posters would they please let any members of the M.U. have them. They will be taken to Gambia to help with the education programme.

On Thursday the 19th June at 2.15pm it will be the Archdeaconry day at Ilfracombe where the aim will be to raise funds for overseas aid.

Neighbourhood Watch

The Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinators are currently trying to encourage other people in the parish to directly receive regular telephone messages from the Police regarding local crimes and suspected persons.
If you can help regarding this, or can be a contact point in your part of the parish, please let any of them know.
Donít forget to lock your sheds now that garden machinery is in regular use. Mark your property with your post code and/or record serial numberís.

Parish Lengthsmen

Many years ago the County Council employed people permanently in each parish to clear the gutters and drains, called 'lengthsmen'. With the introduction of machinery, these men were gradually replaced with gangs who visited parishes on a cyclical basis. In the last few years a shortage of funds has resulted in minimal cleaning work being carried out. Although the County Council have subsequently reintroduced the parish lengthsman, they only visit parishes for short periods on a bi-monthly basis. This means they have to target their efforts to known trouble spots. If there are drains, gutters or other road defects that you think need attention, contact any Parish Councillor. The next visit is in July.

Special thanks to the Newsletter Editor for providing extracts from the Newsletter.

Roman Archaeology Day, Brayford

Saturday, 19th July 2003 (National Archaeology Day) 12.00 to 4.00 pm

A celebration of Brayfordís heritage is to take place, in the form of an exhibition in the village hall and school playground. It is intended to be a fun day with practical demonstrations of Roman technology, and will have the input of experts in the field to ensure a degree of authenticity. The day will receive some national publicity, as it will be recognised as part of the National Archaeology Day.

Details are as yet to be confirmed but initials plans include:

  • Demonstrations of archaeology techniques including digging, surveying and geophysics.
  • Roman Enactment of Charcoal making, building of an iron smelting furnace, pottery making, spinning and construction of a wattle and daub wall.
  • Roman food will be cooked and available at lunch although more contemporary fare will be available for the faint hearted.
  • Exhibits supplied by Local Museums, Hanson Aggregate Plc., Exmoor National Park and local history groups.
  • The school will exhibit their work, produce and perform a play, conduct a fashion parade of Roman and Celtic clothes, and demonstrate authentic children's games.
  • Roman soldiers members of the Isca Contuberium (Exeter fort) will inspect the work and give instruction on how to live under Roman occupation.
  • Finally Dr. Gill Juleff will give a summary of the Roman iron-making evidence to date, the planned future work, and how the community can contribute to resolving our heritage.

Brayford children take on Ďthe Romansí

Primary school children are to be the first to benefit in their education from the recent discoveries of Romano-British iron-working sites in North Devon. An information/educational activities pack is currently in preparation which will add a local dimension to the ĎRomansí bit of the national curriculum. Firstly children will study Roman Britain as a whole with the usual story of invasion, armies, forts and the establishment of Roman cities. In addition they will learn to appreciate aspects of life in the Roman period. They will encounter Roman food, learn childrenís games, look at houses, clothes and jewellery.

The icing on the cake is that the children will be able to exploit the now very special position of our own village. They will learn how the new sites were discovered and the methods that have been employed to extract information from them. They will go out and look for evidence themselves and will learn to do some elementary surveying. It will be possible to handle some of the pottery that has come from the excavations and the children will see how the shape of whole vessels can be recovered from a few fragments so that their style and origin can be identified. They will learn about the trade routes that may have brought pottery from the Rhineland or southern Gaul (France) to North Devon and about the local manufacture and distribution of pottery. Because the Brayford sites are all to do with the smelting of iron, particular attention will be paid to mining and the extraction of iron from its ore.

The teacherís pack to aid this project is funded by DFES through the Museum of North Devon and local specialists are ensuring the quality of the material. This work will be culminate in an exhibition of their work and activities, at the Roman Archaeology Day.

Were there Romans in Brayford?

In 2002 there have been 3 more archaeological digs in the parish, and some brief speculative press and media reports of the work have emerged. Reports in Exmoor National Park Environmental Review and a Newsletter of the North Devon Archaeological Society do throw further light on our heritage. A dig at Sherracombe Ford, confirmed that platforms in the combe sides contain many layers of iron slag from the Roman period. The platform top layer revealed working surfaces where both iron smelting and smithing had been carried out. The base of three iron-smelting furnaces were found and the footing of an unmortared stonewall. Pottery and a coin suggest the work dates from the 2nd and 3rd century A.D. "The impression was of intensive industrial activity over a long period of time and the extent of the waste material suggests iron was exported from the area.

In the village at Tangle Bray Barn, on the Bray Vale land, two or three working platforms have revealed evidence of smithing and ore roasting. The bottom platform appears to have been used as a waste tip, and this contained extremely large amounts of broken pottery. Over 1500 pieces of pottery were found and again the material dated from the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. The majority had been transported from Dorset and Exeter, some had come from France, Germany, and Spain, indicating overseas trading.

The Exmoor Environmental review reports that a geochemistry survey in a large field in the village centre revealed an extensive metal working area and slagheap.

There is some speculation that if you look at all the known iron slag sites in the parish, the total acreage covered is as big as any site in the Roman Empire. We have not found any conclusive evidence of a Roman soldier having been to Brayford, but as iron was so important to the growing Roman army, it seems unlikely that such a large industrial capacity would be allowed to operate without some Roman supervision.

Will we one day find the footings of a Roman building? In such a dirty industry with its use of charcoal, it seems likely that a Roman bath would be the first requirement.

A View of the Public Session of the Extraordinary Parish Council Meeting held at Brayford Village Hall on 24 April 2003
At the start of the meeting retiring District Councillor Herbert Geen gave a useful outline of the procedures involved in considering a planning application, and stated that this application should be taken to committee. Public discussion then began. The following is a summary of some of the points made:
About the development
1 This was only an outline planning application and the details would be the subject of considerable further discussion.
2 The proposed development consisted of a combined shop and office area with a flat above, 6 houses with 2 or 3 bedrooms, an amenity/play area, and car parking.
3 The houses would be sold on the basis of shared equity, the purchaser owning 80%, the developer retaining 20%. A price of £60000 for an 80% share of a 2 bedroom house was quoted.
4 Selling on of the houses would be covered by conditions in the deeds to ensure that the price remained affordable and that the houses would be offered to local people. The developer would maintain a waiting list and would be able to enforce these conditions.
5 The shop would be run by a person already employed as an office worker in the village and therefore there would be no additional labour costs.
6 The shop would not attempt to compete with supermarkets but would provide a range of basic essentials, and other services e.g. internet access, photocopying, possibly a parcel pick-up point, and perhaps tea and coffee for parents while their children used the play area.
7 The amenity/play area would be maintained by the shop staff, but would be owned by the Parish.
8 The car parking area would relieve pressure on roads in the village.
Concerns and other points
9 The proposed access is potentially dangerous in view of the amount of traffic the development would generate.
10 Control over who could subsequently buy the houses was dependent on the developer's goodwill. What would happen some time in the future when someone else took it over?
11 What would happen to the shop if it proved not to be viable?
12 Brayford needs affordable housing for both young and old. It was generally agreed that any new affordable houses should not be restricted to younger people.
13 Those with a vision for a better Brayford should be encouraged.
14 Only 2 of the present Parish Councillors actually live in Brayford village - this is simply because no-one else from the village has been nominated.
15 Fears have been expressed that this and another proposed development will split the community.
16 The large numbers attending this and the previous meeting, and the constructive discussions that took place demonstrate that, in general, most residents are in favour of the primary objective of affordable housing for the village and parish, but are concerned that the proposals may not be the best way of achieving it.

The above notes are the impressions gained by one member of the audience, and are not officially endorsed by the Parish Council.  

At the above meeting the Parish Council agreed to recommend rejection of the application in its current form.  They considered that there was a need for 1 or 2 dwellings suitable for elderly residents (e.g. bungalows), that the shop would not be viable, that the proposed shop/office building was visually intrusive, and that the present entrance position should be retained.


At an extremely well attended Annual Parish Meeting at Brayford Parish Hall on 17th April, the Chairman of the Parish Council, Brian Symons, delivered a summary of the Parish Council's work over the past year, and an update on progress with various projects (see below).  This was followed by a financial report by Councillor David Gosling, and then a summary and explanation of the key findings of the Parish Housing Needs Survey Report by Trudy Robinson, Rural Housing Enabler.  The discussion that followed centred on the perceived accuracy of the report's statistics, the definition of affordable housing, the mechanism by which affordable houses remain affordable when subsequently resold, and the need to retain young families in the Parish.
Thanks were conveyed to retiring District Councillor Herbert Geen for his 25 years of dedicated service to the Parish, and at the end of the Parish Council Meeting that followed, there was a presentation of a card and gift as a token of the Parish Council's appreciation.

The above notes are the abbreviated impressions gained by one member of the audience, and are not officially endorsed by the Parish Council. 


Richard Edgell  (Conservative)  495   
Michael Nelson  (Liberal Democrat)  375
Peter Chantler  (British National Party)  118
Turnout was 58.6%

Our new District Councillor is therefore Richard Edgell.
(The existing 10 members of Brayford Parish Council were elected unopposed.)


Improvements to the Shop Hill junction with the A399 will include modifications to the layout and cutting back of hedges where necessary to provide better visibility.  Surveying has started.

Surveys will be carried out to establish the requirements for passing places on Barnstaple Hill.

Negotiations are under way to purchase a piece of land from Brayford School to provide a Village Play Area.

Rebuilding of The Pound walls at High Bray is expected to start soon.  Sufficient stone is available and the work could be completed by late summer, or the end of the year at the latest.  (The Pound is a former enclosure for stray animals, on the right hand side of the road from Bray Cross to High Bray.)

Finishing touches for the Millennium Project include the provision of seats.

Twinning with the village of Kilskyre in County Meath, Ireland is being actively pursued, to further develop the strong links already established by Brayford School.

Thanks to the efforts of the Parish Council, a large number of new trees have been planted, including Crab Apple, Common Ash, Hawthorn, Romanos Rose and Silver Birch.  Locations are Welcombe Cross Road, Charles, Grasspark, Bray Cross, Mill Lane and Cross Gate.


On Wednesday 21 May a contingent from Brayford Gardening Club descended on David Hopkins' nursery at Goodleigh for an optionally hands-on session on making hanging baskets. We started by lining our baskets with moss, then cutting out inner liners from old compost bags which caused a bit of difficulty for some! Then came compost, fertiliser and water retaining granules. The first plants to go in were pushed through holes cut in the sides of the liners - the trick seemed to be making the holes big enough first! Next came another layer of compost and the main plants on the top, and finally some smaller ones to fill the gaps. Those of us who were content just to watch found the proceedings remarkably entertaining, and at least kept clean hands. Having created the hanging baskets we were invited to explore the nursery, which meant the chance to buy even more plants. Thanks to David and his wife for their hospitality and for sharing their knowledge, and for giving us an enjoyable evening despite the mist and drizzle.

On Tuesday 15 April, Brayford Gardening Club welcomed Ken Bishop who gave an illustrated talk on Pelargoniums. He showed us examples of the many different types and varieties including Zonal, Regal, Dwarf, Ivyleaf and Scented Leaf, but pointed out that many of these were only available from specialist nurseries. He gave a demonstration of taking cuttings, using a gritty compost, and removing the growing tips to produce bushy plants, though each time this is done flowering is increasingly delayed. Plants should be potted on in at least 3 stages of increasing pot size and fed with a liquid fertiliser. If planted out in the garden in summer, he recommended keeping them in clay pots to encourage flowering rather than excessive foliage growth. To conclude, there was a series of slides showing the varieties in full flower later in the year, followed by questions; tea, coffee and biscuits; and the chance to buy some plants.
It was an enjoyable evening which seemed to divide the audience into those who were content to admire Ken Bishop's enthusiasm and dedication, and those who were inspired to try it themselves.

On Wednesday 19 March, Dr Gavin Haig, surgeon, GP and expert on alternative medicine, gave a truly inspiring talk at Brayford Village Hall. Illustrated with many examples from his own wildlife garden, he explained the healing powers of a whole range of plants but, more than that, emphasised the importance of keeping physical and mental health in balance. It is not just the chemical constituents of plants that have healing powers but the actual presence of the plants themselves, the animal life that depends on them, and the whole natural environment. In an increasingly chaotic world he gave us all hope that nature will prevail over the misguided activities of humanity. Thanks are due to the members of Brayford Gardening Club who helped organise the event, to everyone who attended and, of course, to Dr Haig for giving us such an entertaining and thought-provoking evening.

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