A History of the County of Rutland: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1935.
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The parish of Braunston comprises 1,577 acres and adjoins Leicestershire on its western boundary. It is on high land which falls from the north, where it reaches a height of over 600 ft. above the Ordnance datum, to the River Gwash in the south, which is some 200 ft. to 250 ft. lower. The soil is clay and the subsoil Middle and Lower Lias, and nearly the whole of the parish is pasture land.
The village, which is crossed by the road from Oakham into Leicestershire with a branch to Brooke and other places, lies on the north side of the Gwash near its source and 2½ miles west-south-west of Oakham Station on the London Midland and Scottish Railway. As is frequently the case in the county, the main part of the village is grouped in and around a rough rectangular figure. The cottages are of stone with thatch or stone roofs; a few are built of brick with tiled roofs. There are several farm houses in the village, one with a stone dated 1660, aother with a modern stone tablet with the inscription 'Cheseldyne Farm 1604.' The church and Manor House, which was rebuilt in 1863, are in the south of the village. Near the Manor House is a small Georgian house, possibly the old manor house, which has a wing with a late 13th or early 14th century two-light window in the gable.
An old sunken road, known as Old Leicester Lane, crosses the parish, (fn. 1) while to the north of the Gwash, not far from the village, there are traces of entrenchments. (fn. 2) Braunston parish was formerly within the bounds of Leighfield Forest and gave its name to one of the forest bailiwicks. (fn. 3) The parish was inclosed in 1801 by private Act of Parliament. (fn. 4) The Whisp, a piece of land on the western boundary, is mentioned in 1299 and contained, in 1584, 14 acres of wood and pasture. It was settled on Bastin Burton of Oakham, in trust for the freeholders of Braunston, who had common in the parish, for certain charitable purposes. (fn. 5)
The manor of BRAUNSTON is not mentioned by name in 1086 in the Domesday Survey, but was presumably included amongst the berewicks dependent on the manor of Hambleton, (fn. 6) since the chapelry of Braunston (q.v.) was later dependent on the church of Hambleton. The manor, however, was afterwards transferred to the Soke of Oakham, which consisted of the Rutland manors and townships held of the barony of Oakham. Walchelin de Ferrers was holding it in 1167. (fn. 7) Braunston was held of the lords of Oakham (fn. 8) by the service due from one knight's fee.
In the 12th century the greater part of Braunston was subinfeudated and was known as the manor of BRAUNSTON. The first sub-tenant whose name appears is Nicholas Meynil, who in 1204 either forfeited his lands or had died. The lands, valued at 8 librates, were granted by the king in that year to Hamo Falconer (fn. 9) and in 1215 to William de Ferrers. (fn. 10) These grants disseised Gilbert de Meynil, presumably the heir of Nicholas, and in 1216 or 1217 he brought an action against Hamo Falconer and recovered the manor, (fn. 11) while Hamo was ordered to answer for his action in deceiving the king as to the title to Braunston. Sir Gilbert de Meynil was living in 1248, (fn. 12) but in 1261 the manor had passed to two Meynil heiresses, probably his daughters, Isabel, the wife of William de Rues, and Lucy de Meynil. William and Isabel sold their moiety of the manor and all claim to Lucy's land in Braunston to Peter de Nevill. (fn. 13) Nevill presumably had seisin of Lucy's land also, since he certainly obtained the whole manor. (fn. 14) In 1268 Richard, the king's brother, claimed certain lands in Braunston, probably those of Lucy de Meynil, and though Nevill resisted on the ground that Richard had not been in seisin at the beginning of the war, the decision went against him. (fn. 15) Lucy's lands appear to have escheated to the lord of Oakham before 1284, when they were in the hand of Robert de Typaco by the king's grant. (fn. 16) Peter de Nevill gave the manor of Braunston to his son Theobald in 1273, before his outlawry. (fn. 17) He was dead in 1276, when the manor was seized by the justices of the forest, but Theobald recovered it (fn. 18) and held it till 1305, when he apparently granted it to Walter Langton, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. (fn. 19) The bishop also obtained a quitclaim of his right in the manor from John, son of Stephen de Nevill. (fn. 20) In 1305 Oliver la Zouche appears as the tenant of the knight's fee in Braunston, (fn. 21) but by what right he held it does not appear. By 1313 Theobald de Nevill seems to have recovered the manor and granted it in fee tail to Reginald de Warle and his wife Alice (fn. 22) to hold of him for one rose yearly. In 1316, however, he was returned as tenant, (fn. 23) but he died in August of that year (fn. 24) and his manor passed to John Hakluyt and his wife Alice, the daughter and heir of Theobald. (fn. 25) It was settled on Hakluyt and his wife in 1325. (fn. 26) Hakluyt died in 1358, leaving his son William as his heir. (fn. 27) The manor remained in the possession of Alice, who obtained a quitclaim in 1363 from her son William and his heirs of his right in it. (fn. 28) Before 1366 she married John Wardedieu, (fn. 29) and in 1370 they settled the manor on themselves for life, and the heirs of their bodies, with remainder to William Hakluyt. (fn. 30) Alice died in 1371, (fn. 31) John Wardedieu surviving. (fn. 32) William Hakluyt seems to have held the manor at his death in 1373, without direct heirs, (fn. 33) but it passed before 1377 to Wardedieu's daughter and heir Elizabeth, then wife of Sir Edward Dalyngrugge. (fn. 34) In 1382 Dalyngrugge and Elizabeth sold the manor to Sir William de Burgh, one of the judges who forfeited their lands during the political disturbances of the reign, (fn. 35) and Theobald Warde, son of Simon Warde, (fn. 36) who had married Sir William's daughter and heir Amy. (fn. 37) In 1388 Theobald Warde and Thomas de Ashby were granted the custody of de Burgh's lands in Rutland. (fn. 38) Theobald died before the autumn of 1392, (fn. 39) and on William de Burgh's death Braunston passed to Amy, his widow Margery holding a third in dower till her death in 1428. (fn. 40) Amy was in 1392 the wife of Robert Chesilden, (fn. 41) and in 1427 she and Robert made a settlement of Margery's third part. (fn. 42) Robert Chesilden was tenant in 1428. (fn. 43) Amy died seised of the manor in 1445 and was succeeded by her grandson John, son of John Chesilden, (fn. 44) who is said to have been succeeded by three John Chesildens in succession. (fn. 45) Edward Chesilden, son of the fourth John, died seised of Braunston in 1549 and was succeeded by his son, George Chesilden, (fn. 46) and grandson, Kenelm, who died in 1596. Edward son of Kenelm died in 1642 (fn. 47) and was succeeded by his son Kenelm, who owned the manor in 1655. (fn. 48) Kenelm Chesilden and his son Thomas apparently conveyed the manor in that year to William Whitby or Welby, (fn. 49) who, with William Clark and Stephen Chesilden, sold it in 1668 to Giles Burton. (fn. 50) In 1682 Burton and his son Giles sold it to Richard Burneby. (fn. 51) In 1711, however, Gustavus Browne and his wife quitclaimed a moiety of the manor to Benjamin Browne, (fn. 52) and in 1713 Orlando Browne and Gustavus and his wife quitclaimed the whole manor to the heirs of Benjamin. (fn. 53) In 1742 the owner was Orlando Browne, who seems to have had a son or grandson of the same name, (fn. 54) described as of Braunston, who died in 1794, aged 37. (fn. 55) In 1801 the manor was in the possession of George (Finch), Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham, and his manorial rights were said to extend over the whole parish. (fn. 56) Since this date the manor has passed with that of Burley (q.v.), Mr. Wilfred H. M. Finch being the present owner.
Richard de Braunston, living in 1166–7, (fn. 57) is the first recorded tenant of another manor of BRAUNSTON. Reginald, son of Robert de Braunston, and benefactor of Brooke Priory, (fn. 58) may be identified with the Reginald who in 1202 recovered 3 virgates in Braunston. (fn. 59) In 1313 Hugh de Braunston or Bradewell and his wife Alice settled 5 virgates on their son Hugh known as Hugh de Swaffield. (fn. 60) On the death of the younger Hugh before 1365 his estate passed to Hugh son of Hugh de Swaffield (living 1332) and grandson of Hugh de Bradewell who held lands in Braunston in 1311. (fn. 61)
It is uncertain if this was the manor known as THE HALL which later belonged to the Swaffields. In 1300 William atte Halle held 5 virgates of the castle of Oakham at a rent of 28s. 8d., (fn. 62) and a Hugh atte Hall was living in 1365. (fn. 63) William Swaffield of Braunston, mentioned in 1394, was one of the keepers of the peace in the county in 1434. (fn. 64) Thomas Swaffield died seised of the manor in 1519 and was succeeded by his sons Simon (d. 1537) and Robert. (fn. 65) In 1588 Augustus Swaffield and his wife Philippa sold the manor to Sir Andrew Noel, (fn. 66) to whom Augustus junior, his son, quitclaimed it ten years later. (fn. 67) Noel and Swaffield, jun., sold it in 1607 to Augustine Burton, (fn. 68) a younger son of William Burton, the lord of Brooke manor in Braunston (fn. 69) (q.v.). Augustine Burton died in 1614 seised of the Hall and other tenements, formerly in the possession of Thomas Swaffield. (fn. 70) By his will, dated 8 March 1614, he left it to his nephew, Sir Thomas Burton, son of his eldest brother John. (fn. 71) Andrew Burton seems to have had the estate in 1689 (fn. 72) and William Burton in 1694. (fn. 73)
The Priory of St. Mary of Brooke held lands in Braunston, which were known as the manor of BRAUNSTON or BROOKE manor. In the nth century, the canons held a bovate of land at a yearly rent of 12d. of Reginald son of Robert de Braunston, lord of Braunston. (fn. 74) Reginald, who, as already stated, was living in 1202, (fn. 75) granted this rent to the sacrist of the priory on condition that the canons maintained certain lamps and candles at specified services. (fn. 76) They probably received other grants of land in Braunston, and in 1316 the Prior of Kenilworth, to which house Brooke was subordinate, appears as one of the lords of Braunston. (fn. 77) After the dissolution of the Priory of Brooke in 1534, (fn. 78) their property in Braunston was granted in 1536 to Anthony Cope to hold in chief of the king. (fn. 79) He sold it in 1544, under the name of the manor of Braunston, to John Burton. (fn. 80) The same property was given by Burton in 1545 to his son and heir William Burton, at the time of the latter's marriage to Alice, daughter of Richard Peck. (fn. 81) Although at the time of John's death in 1553 it was only described as a messuage, with lands and tenements, (fn. 82) it seems clear that it was identical with the manor, which William and Alice settled in 1575. (fn. 83) In 1581 William Burton and his eldest son John and his wife Anne gave the manor to Bartin, William's second son. (fn. 84) Bartin obtained a new crown grant of the manor in 1610, to be held with the rights and liberties which the Priory of Brooke or Abbey of Kenilworth had held. (fn. 85) He died seised of the manor in 1612 and left the manor to his brother Augustine for two and a half years until his son and heir Andrew was of age. (fn. 86) Andrew settled the manor in 1623 on his marriage with Anne, daughter of William Fairmedow and grandchild of Cornelius Fische of London. (fn. 87) In 1633 Andrew and his wife Anne alienated it to Richard Warde and his wife Bridget, Dabridgecourt Warde and Kenelm Fawkener, (fn. 88) who sold it in 1636 to Edward, Viscount Campden. (fn. 89) His descendant Henry, Earl of Gainsborough, held the property in 1795, (fn. 90) but it is doubtful whether any manorial rights then actually existed. In 1801, at the time of the inclosure of the parish, Gerard Noel Noel, who had inherited the property of the Earl, appears as a landowner only, while the Earl of Winchilsea claimed the manorial rights over the whole parish. (fn. 91) In 1817, however, it was still called the manor of Braunston in a settlement made by Sir Gerard Noel Noel, bart., and Charles Noel Noel. (fn. 92) The latter was created Earl of Gainsborough, (fn. 93) and his successors held it in 1846 and 1862. (fn. 94)
In 1655 and 1668, in conveyances of the manor of Braunston, rights of free warren, court-leet, courtbaron, view of frankpledge, waifs and strays, goods and chattels of felons and deodands are enumerated as appurtenant to the manor. (fn. 95) At no other time were any such privileges claimed. The view of frankpledge was apparently held by the lords of Oakham for the whole soke and, in 1300, 20s. a year was exacted from the soke for the view of frankpledge and 40s. for sheriff's aid. (fn. 96)
A windmill and a horsemill were sold with the manor of Braunston, alias the Hall (q.v.), in 1588 by Augustus Swaffield to Sir Andrew Noel (fn. 97) and were bought with it in 1607 by Augustine Burton. (fn. 98) Another windmill seems to have been bought by Burton in 1613 (fn. 99) and was probably the same mill which appears in conveyances in 1694 (fn. 100) and 1702. (fn. 101)
The church of ALL SAINTS consists of chancel 23 ft. by 17 ft. 6 in., with vestry on the north side, clearstoried nave 41 ft. 8 in. by 17 ft. 6 in., north aisle 9 ft. 6 in. wide, south aisle about 8 ft. wide, (fn. 102) south porch, and west tower 11 ft. square, all these measurements being internal. The tower is surmounted by a short leadcovered spire. The width across nave and aisles is 40 ft. (fn. 103) All the roofs are leaded and of low pitch, with overhanging eaves.
The building is generally of roughly coursed rubble, but has been much restored. The vestry was added about 1860, (fn. 104) and the restoration of the chancel took place in 1887–8, (fn. 105) when its south wall was rebuilt. The nave was restored in 1890, the old high closed pews and a west gallery erected in 1791 being then removed. The present seating dates from 1928. The tower is said to have been taken down to its foundations and rebuilt in 1728–9, (fn. 106) but the old materials appear to have been used again.
The earliest work in the building dates from c. 1150, to which period the half-round responds of the chancel arch belong: they have moulded bases and scalloped capitals with square chamfered abaci or imposts continued along the wall on the nave side. The extent of the nave of the 12th century church was probably the same as at present, but in the first half of the 13th century a south aisle was added and the chancel rebuilt as now existing. The south arcade and chancel arch are of this period (c. 1225–30), and the south doorway is also probably contemporary, though in appearance rather earlier in style. At the beginning of the 14th century a north aisle was added to the nave, and about a century later the tower appears to have been erected, followed shortly after by the addition of the clearstory. New windows were inserted in the chancel and south aisle, the east end of the aisle refaced or rebuilt, and the porch added. All this later work apparently extended over a considerable period towards the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century. All the walls are plastered internally.
The chancel has a chamfered plinth, but is without buttresses. At the east end of the north wall is the only remaining 13th-century window, a single lancet, (fn. 107) the hood of which has notch-stops. The fourcentred east window and one in the rebuilt south wall are of three cinquefoiled lights, and there is a square-headed window of two trefoiled lights west of the modern priest's doorway. A round-headed north doorway, now opening into the vestry, may belong to the 12th-century church. The unmoulded trefoiled piscina recess has a slot for a wooden shelf, but the bowl is new; below the south-east window is a rectangular aumbry. The chancel arch is of two chamfered orders without hood-mould. The roof is modern, with flat-boarded ceiling.
The nave arcades are of three bays, with pointed arches of two chamfered orders, those of the 13thcentury south arcade springing from cylindrical piers with circular moulded capitals and bases, and from similar half-round responds. The arches have plain hood-moulds on each side. The piers and responds of the later north arcade are octagonal, with deeper moulded capitals (fn. 108) and the hood-moulds of the arches have head-stops.
The south doorway is a good example of early 13th-century work, with semicircular arch of two orders, and hood-mould enriched on the underside with a continuous line of dog-tooth. The inner order has a keel-shaped moulding springing from plain chamfered imposts on nook-shafts with moulded bases, and simple water-leaf (west) and foliated capitals. There are traces of colour on the wall on either side the opening inside the porch, and a scratch dial at the top of the west jamb. (fn. 109)
The south aisle is lighted by two windows in the south wall, one on each side of the porch, that to the east being of three lights similar to those in the chancel, and the other a square-headed window of two trefoiled lights. There is also a single-light trefoiled window of c. 1350 in the west wall, but the east wall is blank. In the north aisle are two 14thcentury square-headed windows respectively of three (fn. 110) and two cinquefoiled lights, and west of the blocked doorway a modern window of two lights. (fn. 111) The end walls are blank.
There are three pointed clearstory windows on each side, all of two cinquefoiled lights, with tracery and hood-moulds, and above them a hollow-moulded string. The low-pitched east gable has a modern apex cross, and stands high above the chancel roof.
The tower is faced with ashlar, and is of three stages, with moulded plinth and diagonal buttresses the height of the lower stage. The pointed bellchamber windows are of two trefoiled lights with quatrefoil in the head, and the tower terminates with a plain moulded parapet behind which the tiny spire is scarcely seen. There is no vice. The two lower stages are blank on the north and south, but on the west there is a square-topped doorway with plain lintel, and above it a second lintelled opening with wooden door; over this again is a glazed pointed opening with central mullion, the whole arrangement apparently dating from the 18th-century rebuilding. There is no arch to the nave, the west wall of which is pierced by a square-headed doorway.
The font is of 12th-century date, and consists of a large rectangular bowl (fn. 112) with plain sides and shafted angles with cushion capitals and moulded bases; the capitals have a line of pellets at the angle.
In the floor at the east end of the south aisle are the brass effigies of Kenelme Cheseldyn of Uppingham (d. 1596) and his wife Winefred, daughter of Francis Say of Wilby, Northants, (fn. 113) and an armorial brass plate to Edward Cheseldyn of Braunston (d. 1642). (fn. 114) A large blue floor-slab in front of the chancel arch has the indents of a single figure and an inscription.
There are considerable traces of mediæval paintings on the east and south walls of the south aisle. In the middle of the east wall is an image bracket about 6 ft. 6 in. above the floor, which probably supported a figure of our Lady of Sorrows, of which the painting formed the background. An angel with outstretched wings is depicted on either side and on a medallion at the north end are a cross and the instruments of the Passion. On the south wall are portions of a text and fragments of a painting in red and black of the Mass of St. Gregory. It depicts an altar with chalice and paten, and about the altar four candlesticks and a patriarchal cross. (fn. 115)
There is a stone coffin in the south aisle, and in the churchyard is preserved a grotesque stone figure (fn. 116) of the type known in Ireland as 'Sheela-na-gigs,' which was found in use, face downward, as a doorstep into the church.
There are four bells in the tower: the treble is by Thomas Newcombe (II) of Leicester (c. 1562–80), inscribed 'S. Thoma,' the second dated 1710, the third by Hugh Watts of Leicester (c. 1593–1615), inscribed 'Praise the Lord,' and the tenor by Thomas Norris of Stamford, 1660. (fn. 117)
The plate consists of a cup of 1570–71; a paten of 1640–41; an undated paten with makers' marks 'R-S' only, and a pewter flagon. (fn. 118)
The registers before 1812 are as follows: (i) all entries 1558–1632; (ii) 1655–1694; (iii) 1695–1721; (iv) 1721–1753; (v) baptisms and burials 1754–1789; (vi) marriages 1754–1789; (vii) baptisms, marriages and burials 1790–1812; (viii) marriages 1802–1812. (fn. 119)
The chapel of Braunston was dependent on the church of Hambleton in the early 13th century, (fn. 120) and presumably this arrangement was made when the chapel was first built. In the confirmation of the grant by Edward the Confessor of the church of Hambleton to the Abbey of Westminster, made by William the Conqueror in 1067, there is no mention of the chapel. (fn. 121) In 1086 the church was actually in the hands of Albert, the King's clerk, and it is unlikely that the abbey obtained it till the reign of William Rufus. (fn. 122) The chapel existed in the 12th century, (fn. 123) and in 1227 it had a 'vicar' whose rights were reserved to him at the institution of a new rector of Oakham. (fn. 124) This suggests that the advowson still belonged to the monks of Westminster, who were also owners of the advowson of Oakham, but in 1232 it was in the hands of Hugh of Welles, Bishop of Lincoln. (fn. 125) In that year he granted to Hambleton church a pension in the church of St. Peter's, Stamford, and the chapel of Braunston to his successors in the see of Lincoln. (fn. 126) Between 1268, when the Bishop collated, and 1274 it had been assigned to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln, (fn. 127) who owned the advowson of Hambleton with Braunston until 1884. In that year Braunston chapel was separated from Hambleton, and by Order in Council formed into a separate vicarage, with the chapelry of Brooke annexed. The Dean and Chapter of Lincoln own the advowson of the new vicarage. The rectorial estate at Braunston was leased in the 17th century to the lords of Brooke Manor (q.v.). (fn. 128) In 1801, when the parish was inclosed, the Dean and Chapter or their lessees were entitled to all tithes except those belonging to the vicar of Hambleton. Both rectorial and vicarial tithes were commuted for land. The chapter also claimed a yearly custom of 7½d. from each yard-land, and the right to take payment of the tithe of hay in kind. (fn. 129)
Roger de St. John was vicar of the chapel in 1227, but it is improbable that any vicarage had been permanently instituted at that time, though it was already the custom to appoint a special chaplain to serve Braunston, with a right to certain profits of the church. (fn. 130) On the institution of the vicarage of Hambleton in 1274. by Bishop Gravesend, the patronage of the chapel was assigned to the vicar, who was bound to appoint a resident chaplain at Braunston. (fn. 131) This was still the rule in the 16th century. (fn. 132) The small tithes of Braunston were assigned to the vicarage of Hambleton. (fn. 133)
The Whisp (or Wisp) Land Charity.—By an indenture dated 19 April 1636 a piece of land called the Wisp was conveyed to certain persons, the rent to be applied towards the maintenance of a preacher to preach in the chapel at Braunston, or in default thereof for and towards the repairs of the parish church of Braunston and the bells therein, and for repair and amendment of decayed bridges and highways and relief of the poor. The land is let for £25 per annum, which has been applied towards the stipend of the vicar, coal for 14 poor recipients, and repairs of the roads. (fn. 134)
The Church or Town Land Charity.—It is not known by whom the land was given, and there are no deeds relating to it. The land, situated in Braunston, contains 11 acres 21 poles, and is let for £20 per annum, which is applied towards the maintenance and repair of the fabric of the church.
Duke of Buckingham's Charity (see under Belton).—The annual income, amounting to £10, is applied for the general benefit of the poor. The trustees of the charities are the vicar and churchwardens of Braunston (ex officio), two representative trustees appointed by the vestry and six co-optative trustees.