BRAYFORD      

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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Some Historical Notes
In days long gone the River Bray was forded at a small settlement and thus the village name was formed as Bray-Ford, and is still pronounced that way to this day. The ford became a part of a well-established pack horse route and drover’s trail from Porlock to Barnstaple. By the mid 17th century, Brayford was on the most important highway across Exmoor, from Dunster via Exford, Simonsbath and Kensford Cross (Kinsford Gate) to Barnstaple.  The ford was replaced by a bridge, widened in the 1920s, and now thousands of visitors pass over this on their way to enjoy the sights of Exmoor.
The Parish was created as a result of the 1974 boundary changes. The then two parishes of Charles and High Bray were joined to become the new Parish of Brayford. In 1850, the combined population of the two parishes was 676.  By 2000 it had fallen to 419.
The Parish has three active churches, including two Church of England at High Bray and Charles. At High Bray, All Saints Church (in the Diocese of Exeter) was established by the Normans and completed by the Victorians. The Church of St John the Baptist at Charles, restored in 1891, was built to replace the old chapel, dedicated to St Petrock in 1424, and later converted to become the rectory. In the village of Brayford there is a Methodist Church, the present building dating from 1927. The Baptist Chapel, built in 1820 and the oldest in North Devon, is now sadly closed.


Iron Smelting and the Romans
A long-term archaeological dig at Sherracombe Ford has identified a large iron smelting site that would have been capable of producing far more metal than was needed locally. Other smelting sites have been located at Mill Lane and Bray Vale, which suggests that Brayford was a major iron producing area 2000 years ago, and could have supplied markets throughout the Roman Empire.

 

Recent History
The Brayford Millennium Project

The Millennium Project involved the extensive landscaping and planting of some previously derelict land by the River Bray bridge in the village. After a great deal of effort by local people and contractors, the project was completed in 2002 and has provided a very attractive focal point and amenity.

Literary Connections
Charles has close associations with the Blackmore family. The first Blackmore to live at Charles was John, born in 1764, who later served as curate at High Bray. His second son Richard became Rector of Charles and was the Uncle of R D Blackmore who stayed at The Old Rectory as a child and later wrote parts of his immortal book Lorna Doone there. There is a memorial window in Charles Church installed to celebrate the centenary of R D Blackmore in 1925.
  

Sir Walter Scott visited a farmhouse in the Parish and made reference to it in Kenilworth – "The ancient seat of Lidcote Hall".
  

 
Chrissy's Story
 

Derivation of Names
Bray
is derived either from the Old English word breg meaning brow, in this case brow of a hill, or from the Welsh and Cornish word bre meaning hill. The river was named after the settlement. There are recorded references in the 10th century to "Braeg", in the 12th century to "Brai", and in the 13th century to "Hautebray". The name "Hegebregh" has also been recorded. There are 16th century references to "Brayforde" and "Braiford".

Charles is thought to derive from the Old Cornish words carn lies (or lis, or les) meaning a rocky court or palace. This evolved to Carmes, Charnes and Charles – there are references to all 3 names in the 13th century. There is now no trace of a Celtic palace.

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Supported by Brayford Parish Council