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Choral music by composers spanning five centuries graced Brampton Church on Saturday night. The twenty strong Hickling-based choir, the Nonsuch Singers, under the Guidance of the urbane Dominic Vlasto, sang works by the sixteenth century composer Orlando Lassus, William Byrd, Vaughan-Williams and Billy Joel amongst many others. Choral pieces were interspersed with readings of short pieces by Bernard Levin, Evelyn Waugh and some authentically delivered Noel Coward musings. The Coward readings alone would have been highlight enough if it was not for the genuine pleasure in hearing a choir in the nave of Brampton church. The church was full and the evening ended with a splendid light buffet. The lack of a proper car park at the church did led to an inevitable excitement at the end of the evening, but all in all the evening was a highlight and a great success.

A Caracute and a Virgate

November 28, 2010

The Domesday Book, that written record of the Norman Yoke, states that the ploughable land in Brampton extended to a ‘caracute’ and 30 acres (a ‘virgate’). This is a total area of 150 acres or thereabouts.
A check of the maps shows that this area coincides with the area occupied by the fields around Brampton Hall and St Peter’s Church and those which lie further south towards Street Farm. This could include the Church Field, Seven Acres, Kiln Field, Hill Field, Winter Letts, Topletts and the Town Field. This needs to be verified by Mr Pope.
Additional information form the Domesday Book specifies that this was tended by 25 peasants with a total of that the 3 teams of Oxen (or 24 beasts as each team was said to be of eight oxen).

The 26 acre field behind the cottage, known as the Town Field, has taken on a distinctly tawny hue. The colour a combination of the natural decay of the barley stubble remaining from August’s harvest and an autumn application of herbicide. The field is by no means barren.

The Town field was presumably the main Open Field for the village. A Tithe map of 1837, which seem to record the tidying up of some ancient areas of strip cultivation, shows four distinct hedged enclosures. This same map shows the bisecting route of the new railway in an authoritative Victorian pencil stroke.

Before the railway was built through the middle of the Town Field in about 1879, these four fields ran with three more enclosures in a continuous group to the Aylsham / Buxton Road. Mrs Vincent reminded me once that a farm track led from Lower Farm all the way across to the Buxton Road and you can see the route on the old plans.  

Now the embanked railway line alters the lie of the land so radically to make this appear unlikely – but it is true, and what a change must have been felt in the village at that time.

The field today is more reminiscent of the ancient open field than it was in the 19th and 20th centuries. This morning flocks of a dozen or so Skylarks continue to glean seeds from the field.

Clear mornings following a night of rain are the best conditions for Brampton. That is, if you want to spot Barn Owls or other birds of prey in or around the village; this morning, the middle Saturday of October, being a good example. Rain pelted down on and off until around eight o’clock. Soon afterwards the skies cleared again and a gentle easterly breeze settled down under blue skies – the clouds were the benign cumulus that drifted by without the threat of further rain.

At this time birds which have been hunkered down suddenly feel the need to move. Woodpigeon fly purposefully in all different directions and certainly without a group plan. But the Barn Owls and other predators hunt with purpose.

At Brampton Church the normally playful Jackdaws were in serious mood. They, who mostly see to be intent on joy riding and acrobatics rather than any serious purpose, were escorting a Buzzard away from their territory with the same intent that the aircraft from Coltishall used to escort Russian spy planes. Common Buzzards are becoming increasingly regular sightings in this part of Norfolk – their territory gradually expanding for the midlands. This one did not seem to worried by the attention and circled away to the north. It is possible that it will adopt the river valley temporarily.