An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 4, Archaeological Sites in South-West Northamptonshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1982.
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The small, rectangular parish, covering only 420 hectares, is bounded on the S.E. by the R. Tove and on the N.E. by a tributary stream. Apart from small outcrops of Northampton Sand and Oolitic Limestone the area is almost entirely covered by glacial sands, gravels and clays. No pre-medieval monuments are recorded.
Medieval and Later
Bradden was first documented in Domesday Book, as two small manors with a recorded population of six (VCH Northants., I (1902), 336, 355). In 1301 23 people paid the Lay Subsidy Tax (PRO, E179/155/31) and in the same tax of 1334 Bradden together with Slapton paid 79 shillings (PRO, E179/155/3). The Poll Tax Returns of 1377 (PRO, E179/155/28) indicate that at least 52 people over the age of 14 were living at Bradden. Thereafter there is no record of the size of the village until about 1720 when there were 25 families (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 236). In 1801 the population of the parish was 156.
The modern village consists of a single winding street running N.E.-S.W. with two short lanes E. and S.E. from it. Most of the houses lie on the S.E. side of the main street, the N.W. side being occupied by Bradden House and its garden, the church, the rectory and a row of cottages. However, the surviving earthworks and a map of 1740 (NRO) suggest that there were once houses along most of the N.W. side of the street, as well as the manor house (2). At the S.W. end of the village (SP 644481) there are some rather indeterminate earthworks lying along the street and separated from the ridge-and-furrow to the W. by a well-marked bank about 1 m. high, with an outer ditch. These appear to be house-sites and closes already abandoned by 1740; at that date they lay in two fields which still exist, then called Higher and Middle Conigree. To the N.E. the map of 1740 depicts three buildings edging the street (SP 64434825, 64634830 and 64674838), between the street and the formal gardens (5) of Bradden House. These were still standing in 1803 (NRO, Enclosure Map) but were removed later in the 19th century when the garden was extended. No trace of them remains in the present shrubbery, although stone-rubble foundations of a small barn or shed associated with one of them still survive.
The 1740 map shows that the two lanes to the S.E. of the main street were continuous, forming a loop road on that side of the village. This road still existed in 1803, although the Enclosure Map shows a field boundary cutting across it. Part of the road still survives as a hollowway immediately N.E. of Lane Farm (SP 647481), running N.E. down the hillside to meet the S.W. end of Lower End Road. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 2083–4, 3087–8; air photographs in NMR)
a(2) Manor House Site (SP 647486; Fig. 14), lies immediately N. of the church, on the side of a shallow valley, on Boulder Clay at 122 m. above OD. The present Bradden House to the S.W. is traditionally the site of a manor house of the Knights Hospitallers who held land in Bradden; the existing building certainly incorporates a late medieval structure. The earthworks described here may therefore be the site of another medieval manor house of the village.
The earthworks consist of a large rectangular area 120 m. long, bounded on the N. and E. by a bank up to 1.5 m. high with an outer ditch 0.25 m. deep, and on the S. by a scarp. There is no evidence of a W. side. The interior is uneven and has two low scarps along the N. side. In the centre of the S. side are broad rectangular terraces edged by low scarps which may be the remains of a garden. The site was already abandoned by 1740 (map in NRO) when the field was called Bury; the copse to the E. is still called Bury Brake. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 2083– 4; air photographs in NMR)
a(3) Fishponds (SP 647483), at the head of a small stream on the E. side of the village street, on glacial deposits, at 120 m. above OD. A rectangular pond 30 m. by 25 m., with a large dam up to 2 m. high at its E. end, is the only survivor of a system of ponds which in 1740 (map in NRO) lay in a small field called Fishpond Close. To the S. of the surviving pond there was a much larger rectangular pond with a small rectangular island within it; another smaller pond lay to the N.W. By 1803 (NRO, Enclosure Map) the two main ponds still existed though they are depicted as circular. The smaller one had been replaced by a group of five other small ponds. All these were presumably destroyed in the 19th century.
a(4) Ponds (SP 645493), lay in the extreme N. of the parish on Boulder Clay at 110 m. above OD. On a map of 1740 (NRO) two large rectangular ponds are shown here. They appear to have been ornamental. Both have now been totally destroyed and even on air photographs taken in 1947 only very slight traces are visible. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 2083–4)
a(5) Garden Remains (SP 645483), associated with Bradden House, lie immediately S.W. of the house, on level ground at 125 m. above OD. The original gardens are depicted on a map of 1740 (NRO). The house was then L-shaped with, to the S.E., a pair of rectangular flower beds separated by a drive. To the S.W. of the house the main garden extended for some 170 m. and was divided into three separate parts. The N.E. part, closest to the house, is shown on the map as four rectangular areas, probably flower beds, arranged in two pairs along the axis of the garden. Beyond were two other rectangular areas lying side by side and planted with trees. To the S.W. lay a triangular wooded area through which passed seven intersecting straight walks. From the map it is possible to suggest that this garden was of 17th or early 18th-century date. By 1803 (NRO, Enclosure Map) the garden had been altered. The central and S.W. parts formed an area called The Wilderness and that part close to the house consisted of terraces and flower beds. Since then further alterations have taken place around the house.
A circular mound 15 m. in diam. and 1.5 m. high which lies on the edge of the modern shrubbery at the S. end of the garden (SP 64544827) may be the only surviving part of the 17th-century garden. The mound would have been situated at the junction of the central and S.W. parts of that garden, on the edge of the triangular wooded area. A mound in such a position would not be unusual for a garden of this period (see RCHM Northants., I (1975) Barnwell (9)). Several scarps remain from the 19th-century garden.
a(6) Mound (SP 643479), lies on the summit of a hill S.W. of the village, on Boulder Clay at 137 m. above OD. It consists of a low, flat-topped mound 15 m. in diam. and 0.25 m. high, completely surrounded by a water-filled ditch up to 10 m. wide. It certainly existed in its present form in 1740 (map in NRO) when it was depicted as tree-covered. At that time it lay between two fields called West and Middle Conigree. Its date and purpose are not known but it may have originated as the base of a windmill or have been connected with a rabbit warren as the field name suggests.
(7) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of Bradden were enclosed by an Act of Parliament of 1803 (NRO, Enclosure Map). All the land to the N. and W. of the village had already been enclosed at least as early as 1740 (map in NRO) and by 1803 there were three open fields, North Field in the N.E. of the parish, Middle Field in the E. and Upper Field in the S.
Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground or can be traced on air photographs over much of their former area arranged in end-on and interlocked furlongs, many of reversed-S form. It can be correlated exactly with the individual strips shown on the Draft Enclosure Map.
Ridge-and-furrow can also be traced close to the R. Tove and to its tributary on the N. edge of the parish on land which had become permanent meadow or pasture by 1803. It is well marked, for example, in the extreme N. of the parish (SP 646495) in what was Flitwell Cow Pasture and in the E. (at SP 660480) in what was Foscote Cow Pasture in 1803.
Ridge-and-furrow also survives in the N.W. in the area already enclosed in 1740, in the same form and layout as elsewhere in the parish. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1043–4, 1230–28; CPE/UK/1994, 2080–5, 3085–9)