So, a nor-easterly wind brings with it a return of the dry cold that had temporarily moved away. This wind seems to cause more grumblings than any other prevailing direction. But in Brampton there are hidden benefits. Not only a crystal clear night sky but the return of that very rare commodity, silence.

Real silence is rarely encountered in Norfolk. There may be times in the depths of Thetford Forest . or as I found recently, in the late evening inside Norwich Cathedral, but in truth the all-pervading background hum of traffic or aircraft is always there. Or so it seems.

In Brampton the background hum of traffic sneaks over the railway line and invades the village form the south and west. The sound of tyres on the Aylsham bypass itself appears to get louder every year. But give us a good settled north- east airstream from the coast and we seem to get close to silence or at least to a human scale.

This morning the railway cutting was wreathed in silence. The shuffling of a rabbit broke the atmosphere, as did the flap of a Jay’s wings. Silence allows such concentration. The last shoot of the season brought a refreshing human scale to the sound-scape; calls and shouts and the barks of gundogs drifted on the breeze in much the same way as the noise of field workers must have done when the village was their world.

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).

Wordle: Old field names at Brampton

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.