A Topographical Dictionary of England
Samuel Lewis (1831)
Transcript copyright Mel Lockie (Sep 2016)
BRADNINCH, a parish (formerly a borough and market-town), having separate jurisdiction, locally in the hundred of Hayridge, county of DEVON, 8 miles (N. E.) from Exeter, and 170 (W.) from London, containing 1511 inhabitants. This place, anciently called Braineis, was of some importance in the time of the Saxons: in the reign of John it received many privileges, which were increased by Henry III., and in the reign of Edward III. it was annexed to the duchy of Cornwall. In this and m the preceding reign it sent representatives to parliament from which, on account of its poverty, it was excused in the reign of Henry VII., on the payment of a fine of five marks. During the civil war in the reign of Charles I. it suffered considerably, from its to Exeter, and was alternately in the possession of the royalists and the parliamentarians. In the year 1665, the town was almost destroyed by fire. It is pleasantly situated on an eminence, environed by hills on all sides except the south and south-west, and consists principally of neatly thatched and white-washed cottages. The woollen trade was formerly carried on, but little now remains; the principal branch of manufacture at present is that of paper, for which there are three mills, affording employment to sixty or seventy of the inhabitants. Iron-ore has been found in the neighbourhood, but works have not yet been established. The market has been discontinued; but small fairs are held on May 6th and October 2nd. The government, by charter of incorporation granted by Reginald, Earl of Cornwall, and renewed and enlarged by James I. and II., is vested in a mayor, recorder, twelve masters, and twenty-four inferior burgesses, assisted by a town-clerk, two Serjeants at mace, a high constable, and four inferior constables. The mayor is chosen, on St. Thomas' day, by the corporation at large, from among the twelve masters, who nominate two of their own body to that office; the mayor, the late mayor, and the recorder, are justices of the peace for the borough. The corporation hold a court of session quarterly: the mayor's court, for the recovery of debts under 40s., is held monthly; and courts leet and baron for the duchy are also held here. The guildhall is a small building, possessing no claim to architectural notice. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Exeter, endowed with £300, and a messuage worth £400, private benefaction, £200 royal bounty, and £1300 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Dean and Canons of Windsor. The church, dedicated to St. Disen, is an ancient structure, with a tower and other portions of later date; the chancel is separated from the nave by a richly carved oak screen. There is a place of worship for Particular Baptists. Bradninch gives the title of baron to the dukes of Cornwall, who are styled Barons of Braines.