About Brayford Village
Lottery Funded play area is opened for the village use between the school and the village hall. Opened by the late Johnny Kingdom.
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.
Population approx 420.
The Parish of Brayford 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.
Exmoor National Park
Established in 1954, the Park consists of a central moorland plateau surrounded by rounded hills and a coastline of high cliffs, rocky headlands and wooded ravines. It covers an area of 267 square miles of which 29% is in Devon. Approximately 38% of Brayford Parish lies within the National Park
An Army Search Light Station at Little Bray (commandeered under the war effort) is operating briefly as a Prisoner of War Camp taking German and Italian prisoners. Many of whom stayed in the area. The remains of the camp footings still exist in the grounds of Little Bray House.
World War II
The village, as many other country villages, played its part in World War II taking evacuees from cities. Click here for Peter Burlton's account as an evacuee.
The newly completed Methodist Chapel as still in use today is opened.
The Little Bray Estate comprising most of the village and surrounding land is sold in lots on behalf of Sir C T D Acland. 29 farms totalling some 4000 acres including Down, Stock, Little Bray, North & South Bray Mill, Lower and Higher Hole, Holewater, Beara, Lydcott, Gratton, Muxworthy, Kedworthy, Shutescombe and Grasspark along with a number of village cottages and some 1400 acres of Common was sold into individual ownership.
St John the Baptist Church in Charles is restored.
Brayford School is opened. The land gifted in trust by the Acland Estate for purposes of education. Originally known as High Bray School, the school became an academy in 2005.
RD Blackmore, nephew of Richard Blackmore, rector of Charles writes his immortal book Lorna Doone, partly in Charles village. There is a memorial window in Charles Church installed to celebrate the centenary of R D Blackmore in 1925.
The combined population of the High Bray and Charles parishes was 676.
Baptist Chapel, (now converted to residential use), is built.
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.
All Saints Parish Church dates from Norman times and still has a Norman font. It was largely reconstructed in the 1500s and restored by the Victorians. The 6 church bells are amongst the oldest in the country including one cast in 1450 and another in 1499.
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.
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 entury 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.