The parish of Brampton adjoins Huntingdon on the south-west, and comprises an area of 3,557 acres, 30 of which are covered with water. The soil is gravel and the subsoil clay. The greater part of the parish is grass land, and the arable land produces cereals and roots. Formerly the higher part of the parish was forest, but there are now only some 300 acres of woodland. The River Ouse forms the eastern and south-eastern boundary and the Alconbury Brook forms the northern boundary. Another brook, which rises about the middle of the parish, flows eastward through the parish to the Ouse. The land between the two brooks and that adjoining the Ouse is low lying, being about 33 ft. above the Ordnance datum, but the ground rises towards the southwest boundary, where it reaches 164 ft. The Great North Road forks as it enters the parish from St. Neots on the south, throwing off a branch road northeast which joins the Huntingdon to Thrapston road at Bell End, a little north of Brampton village. The Huntingdon to Thrapston road passes through the parish, crossing the Great North Road about a mile north-west of the village of Brampton. At the crossing stands an inn now called Brampton Hut, but formerly known as Creamer's Hut, well known in the coaching days. There was an Inclosure Award in 1772.
The district of Houghton (Hoghtone, Houtton, Wodehoghton) was frequently included by name with the vill of Brampton, and occurs in the boundaries of Harthay of 1154 as Houtoneslinche and the field of Houghtone. Houtoneslinche is no doubt a bank adjoining the Ellington Brook near the road, a little west of Stonehill Grove, and the field of Houghton was on the west of the Great North Road extending southward to the north-east corner of Brampton Wood. Houghton Field is mentioned as late as 1628–9, but now the name has been almost lost.
Cottages in Brampton (circa 1911)
The village is large and rather straggling and stands partly along the branch road from the Great North Road to the Huntingdon to Thrapston road, but mainly along the winding High Street, which runs westward from the branch road back to the Great North Road. The northern part of the village is called Bell End, the south part Bridge End, from the bridge over the brook here, the cutwaters of which are the remains of a 17th-century bridge, and the west part Brook End, West End or Green End, from the village green on the south side of the street. The church stands on the east side of the road to Bell End and on the south side of the churchyard is the Old Black Bull public house, an early 17th-century house with an 18thcentury addition. South of this house is the Manor Farm. There are a few timber-framed cottages in the High Street, and at West End, fixed over a spring, is the stone base of a cross of the 13th or 14th century. The base is square brought to an octagon with bold angle stops. Perhaps it was part of one of the 'four stone crosses' which Cardinal Pole, at his visitation in 1556, ordered the parishioners to rebuild. The Manor House is on the opposite side of the road to the church. It was rebuilt in 1875, but probably stands where there was a royal residence from before the Norman Conquest until the 13th century. Henry I stayed here; Stephen spent the autumn of 1136 hunting at Brampton; Henry II visited it immediately after his accession, and here it was that he promised a new charter to the Abbot of Ramsey in order to restore the abbey after its sufferings in Stephen's reign. His houses and birds are mentioned. Henry was here in July 1174, when his corrody was accounted for at £18 4s. King John also stayed here on 4 January 1213, and Henry III on 22 November 1227. The principal lay manor having been alienated by John, and Harthay granted by him in 1215 to the bishops of Lincoln, the royal visits ceased. The hall is mentioned in 1251, and in 1348 it is said to have been destroyed by floods. In 1595 the 'site of the manor or tenement called Lordship's house' is mentioned, and it was called Brampton Berry in 1652.
Brampton Park, the property of the Duke of Manchester, covers about 100 acres to the south-west of the village. The history of Brampton Park (q.v.), and probably that of the house, goes back to the 12th century. In 1328 the house was said to be ruinous. An Elizabethan house seems to have been built here, probably by the Throckmortons, which is described as a fair brick house. This building was incorporated in a house probably built by Sir John Bernard, who succeeded to the property in 1666. The mid 17th-century house was rebuilt by Lady Olivia Bernard Sparrow about 1820. Over her front door were the arms of Bernard, Bernard with St. John, and Sparrow and Bernard quarterly impaled with Acheson. Lady Olivia lived here until her death in 1863. In 1889 it became an institution for the cure of stammerers and was completely burnt down in 1907, when a smaller house was built on the site, which is now the residence of Viscount Mandeville. Another capital messuage was called in 1559 'Austin Frier' which possibly belonged to the Austin Friars of Huntingdon. The lands of the Friars (q.v.) were granted to the Ardernes and from them passed to Philip Clampe of Brampton, who died seised of 'Austin Frier' in 1559.
At the end of the 12th century Lambert de Colne (Colonia) gave to the Priory of St. Mary of Huntingdon a meadow called Bromholme, parcel of his demesne of Brampton, for the health of the soul of King Richard. The priory received confirmation of this land in 1253, when it is described as the land called Bromholme (Bramholm) by the water of Brampton. Bromholme Bridge over a tributary of the Ouse, near to Huntingdon, probably replaced the ford mentioned below. After the Dissolution a meadow called Bromholme in the tenure of the bailiffs of Huntingdon and lately belonging to the Priory of Huntingdon was in 1553 granted to Thomas Reve and George Cotton of London.
There is mention of the Guild of Our Lady of Brampton in 1531 and there was a Brotherhood priest here in the 16th century. Lands called Brotherhood Lands or Lady Lands or Lady Brotherhood Lands were dealt with in 1628–9, which doubtless were those of the Guild of Our Lady. William Ball, Brotherhood priest, obtained these lands and they passed to his sisters, Frances and Anne Bawdes.
Brampton Mill on the River Great Ouse (circa 1911)
In 1086 there were two mills belonging to the manor; in 1278–9 there were three, all water and one a fulling-mill; and in 1576–7 there were four, one a fulling-mill, all on the Ouse. There is still a mill on the Ouse to the west of the railway. The fishery in the mill ponds belonged to the manor.
Brampton Wood Green and the bridge called Kate Bridge are mentioned in 1652, and some early fieldnames are: 'the Axe and the Helse' (now Axe and Helve), Hardhill acres (now Hurdle Acres), the Castell Gore, Mylne Pitt (now Mill Pits), Curriers Holme, Great Bonest (now Great Bonurst), being parcels of meadow lying, in 1550, in the common meadow called Portholme. The present Port Holme may represent the 'great meadow of Brampton in Estholm super Oldeland near the ford' mentioned in 1205, and lying on the north-east boundary. Seventeenth-century names are: Long Stonegill (Stonehill), Bolsgraffe meadow, Banbury close, 'the bailiff's swayth near the ford'; and Haddon dole, Shipping dole, Sharndole, and Thackingdole, all in Portholme.
John Pepys, father of Samuel Pepys the diarist, inherited from his elder brother Robert a property of about £80 a year in Brampton. He resided here from 1661 until 1668, when Paulina Pepys married John Jackson and he went to live with them at Ellington. Samuel's nephew John Jackson, to whom he left his library, is called 'son of John Jackson of Brampton.' The house in which the Pepys lived is still pointed out, and an iron pot of silver coins, discovered at the foot of the garden wall about 1842, is believed to have been hidden by Samuel Pepys during the Plague, when he hid his gold.
Pepys House in Brampton (circa 1911)
Sir Henry Hawkins, the eminent Judge, was created Baron Brampton of Brampton in 1899, having inherited a small farm here from his father's halfbrother. The peerage became extinct when he died childless in 1907.
There was a parochial school, but a School Board was formed in 1880, and there are now two Council schools, one mixed and one for infants. A Union Chapel (Baptist and Congregational) was registered in 1876 for the celebration of marriages. The Institute was presented to the village by Mr. John Newberry.
The nearest railway station was at Buckden, one mile south, on the Kettering to Huntingdon branch of the London Midland and Scottish Railway.
Victoria County History: Huntingdonshire Vol3 ~ Printed 1932