Braunstone

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Braunstone is a civil parish and is the largest parish within the district of Blaby in Leicestershire, England, now known as the Town of Braunstone or more commonly, Braunstone Town. At 2007 the population is around 15,000. There are around 7,500 households including Thorpe Astley.

Braunstone is mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. The village remained a small settlement (population 238 in 1921) until 1925 when the Leicester Corporation compulsorily purchased the bulk of the Winstanly Braunstone Hall estate.

It is just outside the city boundary of Leicester, and the part of the old civil parish now inside the city boundary is also called Braunstone. This part of the parish, which contains a large council estate was detached in 1935 from the Blaby district and Braunstone Parish to become part of the county borough of Leicester, hence the present split. The use of the name Braunstone Town is more recent, and is an attempt by Braunstone Town Council to distinguish their village from the modern council estate of the same name.

Braunstone Town is adjacent to the M1 motorway (junction 21) and is adjoined by the Meridian Business and Leisure Parks, and the Fosse Shopping Park and Grove Triangle retail outlets.

Although the parish doesn’t have a railway station of its own, Leicester station is close. Leicester PlusBus, is scheme where train and bus tickets can be bought together at a saving meaning that the station is within easy reach.

The earliest dated human find recorded is a Bronze Age axe (about 1000 BC) found in 1893.

Next came the building of the Roman road from Leicester, through the site of the Narborough Road South to the High Cross near Sharnford. It is also evident that the Vikings of the early or later period had settlements in or near Braunstone, hence the nearby names of Viking origin – Lubbesthorpe, Countesthorpe, Enderby, Elmesthorpe, Cosby, Kilby, Kirby etc. Throughout the above period Braunstone was covered with forest as were most county areas surrounding – in what was known as Leicester Forest. But like most forests these were composed of a series of large woods containing small early settlements or hamlets inter-connected by rough trackways – from which most of our public field paths owe their origin.

Braunstone is mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086 AD) where it is referred to as BRANTESTONE or BRANSTUN.

“Braunstone – six plough lands, all but for oxgangs, in Braunstone which is the reign of The Confessor had been valued at twenty shillings, were worth sixty shillings at the general survey and were then held by the son of Robert Burdet. The land was equal to four ploughs, one was in Demesne, and four Bondmen; and two socmen and five villains, with one border, had two ploughs. There was a wood five furlongs long and three broad, and there were 5 acres (20,000 m2) of meadow. Two socment abiding in Braunstone had five oxgangs of land in Lubbesthorpe; and jointly with ten villains and six borders in that lordship had two ploughs and five ploughing oxen.

The above lands were held by Robert Burdet under Hugo de Grantemesnil one of William I’s most powerful barons. Notes: A ploughland or carvcate = about 80 to 120 acres (0.49 km2) of land. Socmen = Scandinavian Villan = Peasant or serf.

The first Lord of the Manor was Hugh de Grantemesnil, one of William I barons. At this time the village consisted of 8 households and was worth about 60 shillings (£3!).

The Harcourt or Horecut family held the overriding interest in the estate from the 13th to the 16th Century. A survey taken in 1299 showed a growth to 24 households in the village.

The fourteenth century saw several outbreaks of the Black Death in the area. Its effect on Braunstone is not recorded, but nearby Glenfield was seriously affected. At this time the Leicester Forest extended into Braunstone as far as Bendbow Spinney.

Several portions of Braunstone were sold off in the late 16th Century. 150 acres (0.61 km2) of arable land were sold to the Manners family in 1579 and a further 100 acres (0.40 km2) went to the Bennett family ten years later. 240 acres (0.97 km2) of land were converted to pasture in 1596 by the Hastings family who owned the estate at that time.

Woodlands were gradually converted to pastures, mainly for sheep – being then the more profitable husbandry. Also woodland timber was cut down during civil wars or as fines for supporting the wrong side.

Leicester Forest was fully enclosed in 1628. Villagers of Braunstone were compensated for the loss of Forestry Rights.

The first manorial house was sited near to St. Peters Church and would have been built of the same type of stone as the church. Around 1480 AD the second manor house known in deeds as “the Mansion” was sited at the corner of Braunstone Lane and Braunstone Avenue. This property had stone walled cellars and ground floor, and two upper and overhanging storeys of oak frame infilled with either wattle and daub or brickwork and a Swithland slate roof. Some rooms were panelled. This building was demolished in February 1776 when the Winstanleys built the Braunstone House, now called Braunstone Hall.

James Winstanley purchased the estate from the Hastings family in 1650. He paid £6,000. The Winstanleys were Lords of the Manor of Braunstone for nearly 300 years and were responsible for building most of the structures which can be seen in Braunstone Park today.

The 18th Century was a period of prosperity for Braunstone. The largest estate of the time was owned by one Abraham Compton and comprised 68 ewes, 25 lambs, 14 cows, 6 heifers, 4 calves and 6 pigs.

In 1750 James Winstanley III tried to sink a pit on the manor. His attempts were thwarted when his bore hole was filled with stones by intruders, thought to be from local mining districts.

Braunstone Hall was built by William Oldham, who was later to become Mayor of Leicester. There is a rainwater head dated 1776. During the building work, a stonemason and a labourer fell to their deaths from the attic storey. This may have given risen to the stories of the Hall being haunted. The garden part was used to grow fruit trees and contained several hot houses. It is now the walled Garden. There was also a small home farm which provided food for the hall. After the Winstanleys left the hall in 1926 it was converted for use as a school.

Braunstone remained a picturesque village with various tenanted farmsteads until, in 1925, the Leicester Corporation compulsorily purchased the bulk of the Winstanley Braunstone Hall estate for £116,500.

Braunstone’s population rose from 238 in 1921 to 6,997 in 1931.

In 1935 the part of Braunstone on the city side of Braunstone Lane became the North Braunstone Ward of the City of Leicester, and the parish of Braunstone in compensation had part of Lubbesthorpe added to its boundary.

During the last war, Braunstone Park was put to agricultural use. Wheat, barley, and potatoes were grown and sheep allowed to graze. What is now the Memorial Gardens was used as a military camp, occupied first by the British Army and later by the American 82nd Airborne troops. After the war, due to the severe housing shortage, people were allowed to occupy the camp until they found homes of their own.

The Braunstone Town Council is the parish council level local authority of the parish of Braunstone Town. The Town Council was established in 1977 when the former parish council resolved to change its status to that of a town council.

The Town Council has 21 elected members (i.e. councillors) who are elected for terms of office of four years.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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