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Norfolk: Brancaster

William White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk 1883

[Transcription copyright © David E.A. Matthews]

BRANCASTER, 4 miles W.N.W. of Burnham Market, is a large scattered village, with a Staith or Quay, about a mile E. of the church, where the tide rises 9 feet in a commodious creek which crosses the salt marshes to that part of the ocean called Brancaster Bay. It is in Docking union, and polling district of West Norfolk, Fakenham county court district, Norwich bankruptcy district, Smithdon and Brothercross petty sessional division, Heacham rural deanery, Norfolk archdeaconry, and Smithdon hundred. The rateable value is 4772 4s. 6d. The population increased from 563 in 1801 to 1079 in 1851, and decreased to 1002 in 1861, and 770 in 1881, and the parish contains 3669 acres of land, including 1207 acres of salt marsh, and about 80 acres of common. In the salt marsh there have been dug up, near the beach, oak and chestnut trees, and the antlers of deer.

Here is a lifeboat, first launched July 25, 1874, the gift of Miss Lily Bird, after whom it is named. Here is a coast-guard station, consisting of 1 chief officer, 1 chief boatman, and 4 men.

Brancaster was probably the Roman station Branodunum, which was garrisoned with the Dalmatian cavalry, under a general who was designated Count of the Saxon Shore. The castle and entrenchment occupied a square area of about 6 acres of ground above the marsh, where part of the ditch is still visible, with many stones on the north side; but all the other walls and foundation stones were cleared away many years ago. Numerous urns, coins, &c. have been found here, and knives and styles with handles exquisitely wrought, about the size of clasp knives, have also been discovered. One of the coins was inscribed 'Ianus Bifrons,' and another, 'Ti. Claudius Caes. Avg.' A Roman road, afterwards called the Jew's Way, passed from Brancaster along the coast, to the other great Roman station at Caister-next-Yarmouth.

Simms Reeve, Esq., J.P. recorder of Yarmouth, lord of the manor, and chief owner of the soil, resides at the Hall, a handsome brick mansion, standing on an eminence commanding a fine view of the ocean. Mr. George Philcox, of Lynn, Captain J. E. Groom, of Great Walsingham, Miss A. S. Reeve, of Burnham Market, and some smaller owners, have estates here.

The CHURCH, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, consists of nave with aisles and clerestory, south porch, chancel, and lofty square tower with one bell. It contains several tablets of the Terry and Foley families. The Registers date from 1538 (the year in which registers were first introduced), and are in good condition. The communion plate is of great antiquity, the paten dates from 1520, the cup from 1567, and the salver was the gift of the after-mentioned Rev. Francis Bell, in the year 1700. In the floor of the chancel are brasses in memory of the Rev. William Cotyng [sic], ob. 1480, and Rev. James Hobbys, ob. 1519, former rectors of the parish. In the floor of the nave are brasses in memory of the charitable Robert Smith, ob. 1596, with a curious inscription, and William Taylor, ob. 1641.

The rectory, valued in the King's Book at 24, is in the patronage and incumbency of the Rev. Charles George Robert Birch, LL.M, who has 7A. of glebe, a spacious residence, and a yearly tithe rent-charge of 824.

Here is an Almshouse for 4 poor parishioners, and also a Free School for the poor children of Brancaster, Titchwell, Thornham, and Burnham Deepdale: both founded in 1596 by Robert Smith, who endowed them with land, now consisting of 71 acres (as set out under the enclosure Act in 1775), let for 94 per annum, and applied for this purpose. Twenty-four boys - 12 boys from Brancaster, and 4 from each of the other 3 parishes, are free scholars. Pursuant to the founder's will, the four alms-people have each 20s. and a ton of coals annually. In 1878 the Charity Commissioners appointed the following as trustees for the management of this charity - the lords of the manors of Brancaster and Hunstanton, the rectors of Brancaster and Burnham Deepdale, and the two churchwardens of Brancaster. A new and handsome Gothic schoolroom was erected, and the master's house repaired, in 1862, at a cost of 800. Besides the 24 free boys, there are about 30 other scholars.

In 1651 Francis Brampton left a yearly rent-charge of 40s. on land belonging to the rector, who gives weekly 1s. worth of bread to the poor parishioners. In 1716 the Rev. Francis Bell left 50 to be laid out in land - the rents thereof to be applied in repairing his tomb, and in distribution to the poorest people of Brancaster, not receiving parochial relief. The land purchased with this legacy is 10A., at Ringstead, let for 18 a year, which is applied in charitable purposes.

The Girls' and Infant School, which is held in a neat building erected in 1861, at a cost of 450, is attended by 67 children, and is supported by school pence, Government grant, and subscriptions.

Here is a small Wesleyan Chapel, built in 1851, and a Primitive Methodist Chapel was erected in 1864, at a cost of 133, and will seat 120 people. There is also a Primitive Methodist Chapel at the Staith, which was erected in 1865, at a cost of 187, to hold 150 people.

POST, MONEY ORDER, TELEGRAPH OFFICE, and SAVINGS BANK at Mr. George Bennell's. Letters arrive at 8.10 a.m., and despatched at 4.20 p.m., via Lynn.

	Annas        Parlet              fisherman, Staith
	Barmston     William Stephen     farmer
	Bennell      George              bootmaker, postmaster,
	                                   and parish clerk
	Bennett      Mrs Harriet         Staith
	Bennett      James               blacksmith, Staith
	Billing      Miss Elizbth.       dressmkr. Staith
	Billing      Frank               plumber & pntr. Staith
	Billing      Robt.               farmer & carter, Staith
	Billing      Mrs Susannah        dressmkr. Staith
	Billing      William             mail contractor
	                                   and pony and car letter
	Birch        Rev. Charles George
	               Robert, L.L.M.    rector
	Blackburn    Benjamin            farmer
	Blackburn    Charles             farmer, Staith
	Bocking      Mr Thomas
	Brown        Mr John             Staith
	Bul          Robert              carter
	Bunckle      Hy.                 beerhs. & rabbit dlr. Staith
	Bunting      Mrs Mary            pork butcher
	Burgess      -                   baker
	Butcher      Isaac               police constable
	Chastney     Samuel              fisherman, Staith
	Dix          James Joseph        fisherman, Staith
	Everett      Jas. Chapman        fisherman, Staith
	Fiddaman     John B.             grocer, draper, and farmer
	Fiddaman     Matthew             farmer & assistant overseer
	Godfrey      Joseph              farmer
	Goshawk      Mrs Jane            grocer and beerhs
	Green        Francis             shopkeeper
	Groom        Wm.                 foreman carpenter, Staith
	Hales        William George      chief boatman of coast guard, Staith
	Heugh        Thomas              blacksmith, Staith
	Jarvis       Henry               victualler, Ship Inn
	Jickling     George              fisherman, Staith
	Lane         Thomas              fisherman, Staith
	Large        Charles             cart owner
	Loose        Henry               fisherman, Staith
	Loose        Robert              fisherman, Staith
	Loose        William             fisherman, Staith
	Lumsden      George              chief officer of coast guard, Staith
	McCreedy     Alexander           grocer, Staith
	Messer       Reuben              endowed schoolmaster
	Mussett      Henry               coal merchant, Staith
	Neale        Alfred              victualler, Life Boat
	Neal         Charles             carter, Staith
	Neale        Dennis              baker and farmer
	Oake         Thomas
	Oake         Thomas, jun.
	Petchey      Edward Fox          carpenter and wheelwright
	Philcox      Misses Mary Ann
	               & Adelaide        Manor house
	Pickerell    John                carter
	Pitcher      Edward              butcher
	Pitcher      Mrs Elizabeth       farmer
	Pointer      Charles             farm bailiff
	Pooley       Mrs H.              vict. Jolly Sailor, Staith
	Powditch     Thomas              tailor, Staith
	Powell       Charles (C. & Son)
	Powell       Charles & Son       blacksmiths, agricultural machine
	                                   makers, iron and brassfounders
	Powell       Joseph
	               (Charles & Son)
	Ralph        John                shopkeeper, Staith
	Raven        Robert              fisherman, Staith
	Reeve        Simms, Esq., J.P.   barrister-at-law, and recorder of
	                                   Yarmouth, Norwich, The Hall
	Robson       Albert              corn merchant, Staith
	Robson       Thos.               baker, corn miller & frmr
	Rodwell      Mrs Mary A.         frmr. Staith hs
	Roy          Mrs Fanny           Staith
	Sharpe       Mr Samuel
	Skipper      Mrs Alice
	Skipper      Miss Caroline       laundress
	Skipper      Henry               fisherman, Staith
	Skipper      Robert              fisherman
	Southerland  George              fisherman, Staith
	Southerland  Isaac               gardener, Staith
	Southerland  Mrs S.              dressmaker, Staith
	Stroulger    Mrs Elizabeth       shopkeeper, Staith
	Thompson     Christopher Thos.   grocer, draper, beer retailer,
	                                   and farmer
	Thompson     Edward              fisherman, Staith
	Ulph         Mrs Mary            Staith
	Walden       Thomas              farm bailiff to S. Reeve Esq.
	Wilkin       George              farmer
	Winterbone   Isaac               victualler, White Horse;
	                                   and fisherman, Staith
	Winterbone   William             coal dlr. Staith
	Woodbine     Charles             bootmaker, Staith
	Woodgelt     George              carter, Staith
	York         Miss Anne Eliza     schoolmistress

From ADDITIONS AND CORRECTIONS on pages 13-16:

'Clock Close,' comprising about 1 acre, has recently been consecrated as a burial-ground.


See also the Brancaster parish page.

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Copyright Pat Newby.
December 2000