"BRANDON, (or Brandon-ferry), a parish and market town, in the hundred of Lackford, in the county of Suffolk, 7 miles to the N.W. of Thetford, and 78 miles N.E. from London by road, or 88¼ miles by the Great Eastern railway, on which it is a station. It is pleasantly situated on the banks of the Little Ouse, which is also called the Brandon river, and is here crossed by a stone bridge. About a mile below the town is a ferry to the Isle of Ely. At Lakenheath and other places in the neighbourhood are very extensive warrens, from which large supplies of rabbits are obtained, and sent to the London market, affording a source of great employment to the furriers. The existence of a chalk deposit, riche in flint of excellent quality, led to the establishment here of a large manufactory of gun-flints, from which for a long time the supply of the army was almost exclusively drawn, the description of flint obtained from the common, about 1 mile S.E. of Brandon, being reckoned more certain in its fire and lasting longer than any other. There used to be from 70 to 100 men constantly employed in this branch; but the introduction of percussion caps has occasioned a great falling off in this manufacture, which has entirely disappeared from the towns of Greenhithe, Maidstone, and Northfleet. A good trade is still carried on in corn, malt, coal, timber, and bricks. There are besides several breweries, three whiting mills, an agate powder-mill, and an extensive steam saw-mill. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Ely, of the value with the rectory of Wangford annexed to it, of £800, in the patronage of the Rev. Samuel Warren, incumbent. The church, an ancient structure of flint and stone, with a fine tower and porch in the Norman style, is dedicated to St. Peter, and has been recently repaired. There are chapels belonging to the Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, Baptists, and Latterday Saints. The chapels, like the cottages in this locality, are principally built with flint. Adjoining the church is a National school, built in 1843, on the site of the old workhouse. A free school, founded by Thomas Wright in 1646, further endowed by Joanna Wright, and restored in 1862, has a revenue of £51 per annum.
The town has recently very considerably improved in its trade, chiefly owing to the commodious railway station, communicating with Norwich, Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Lynn, Ely, Cambridge, and London. It contains several comfortable inns, a branch of the Harvey and Hudson Norwich bank, and a central post-office; but the streets are yet unlighted. In High-street are six almshouses, appropriated to poor widows; and near the church, which is a quarter of a mile W. of the town, are three others, founded by Mrs. Ann Curtis in 1675, but rebuilt in 1840. There are charitable endowments (exclusive of the free school) producing about £170 a year. Brandon was the birthplace of Eyre, Lord Mayor of London in the middle of the 15th century, and founder of Leadenhall Market. The Brandons, Dukes of Suffolk, had their name from this place, which also gives the title of duke to the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon. In the vicinity are the remains of a Roman encampment. Brandon Park is the seat of the Baron de Bliss, lord of the manor. In the neighbourhood are several other pleasant seats and residences of the gentry; the chief of which are Brandon Hall, North Court Lodge, and Brandon House, a handsome brick building on the Norfolk side of the river. Thursday is the market day. Fairs are held on the 14th February, the 11th June, and the 11th November, chiefly for cattle and toys.
Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)