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Braunton (Devon, UK), St Brannock's Church -- 2013 -- 1.jpg
St Brannock's Church
Village Green - - 963301.jpg
Village Green
Braunton is located in Devon
 Braunton shown within Devon
Population 8,128 [1](2011)
OS grid reference SS485365
Civil parish Braunton
District North Devon
Shire county Devon
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BRAUNTON
Postcode district EX33
Dialling code 01271
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Devon and Somerset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
List of places

Coordinates: 51°06′36″N 4°09′43″W / 51.11°N 4.162°W / 51.11; -4.162

Braunton is an English village and civil parish 5 miles (8 km) west of Barnstaple in North Devon, Devon. While not the largest village in England, it is among the most populous in Devon with a population at the 2011 census of 8,128 people.[2] The village has the fertile, low-lying Braunton Great Field, which, in turn, adjoins the undulating Braunton Burrows, the Core Area in North Devon Biosphere Reserve, the largest sand dune system (psammosere) in England and confronts the Atlantic at the west of the parish at the large beach of Saunton Sands, one of the South West's international-standard surfing beaches.


Braunton is derived from the Old English elements: brōm; and tūn, meaning "farmstead", "settlement". It roughly translates to "the farmstead where broom grows". The name is recorded in the year 1086, in the Domesday Book, as Brantona.[3]


The South West Coast Path National Trail links to the village and gives access to walks along the spectacular North Devon coast. The Tarka Trail also passes through the village. Braunton Burrows marsh covering the near-west of the parish has been designated as a biosphere reserve, the first place in the country to gain this status.[4] The coastal part of the parish lies within the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and is the fine-grained Saunton Sands to the west and estuary of mixed mud and sand of the River Taw to the south.

The north of the Burrows are permitted for light access and have been converted into a Links Golf Course.


The Saunton Sands Hotel
Main articles: Saunton and Knowle, Devon


The civil parish includes the linear, hill-foot coastal settlement of Saunton, chiefly with holiday homes a small holiday village and a standalone luxury hotel with private beach areas.


Higher above the village is Knowle commencing within 1 mile (1.6 km) to the northwest.


Wrafton almost adjoins to the south and some of its affinity, particularly economic, is with Braunton instead of its civil parish, Heanton Punchardon further along the straight, semi-coastal road towards Barnstaple.

These have separate articles due to their environmental diversity and increasingly limited connections, other than economic for their inhabitants, to the village.[5]

Lobb and North Lobb[edit]

WNW of the village centre is a modest farm, Fairlynch, followed by a farm-courtyard cluster of buildings, Lobb and then north, by three springs in a cleft (lowland half-bowl) of the Saunton Down upland ridge is a similar cluster, North Lobb with no road access from these places other than to Braunton but a footpath (Milkaway Lane) to Croyde and a similarly downhill branch to the south, Hannaborrow Lane to Saunton Sands.


St. Brannock came from South Wales as a missionary and converted the native Britons to Christianity in AD 550. Brannock was a priest in the household of Brychan, King of Brecknock. He married one of the king's daughters, but the family troubles were a great incentive for leaving his royal home. At that time the Welsh Britons often raided their Dumnonian neighbours on the opposite side of the Bristol Channel.

In all probability Brannock came to North Devon with such a raid and is said to have landed on Saunton Sands at the mouth of the River Taw. At the time of his arrival the estuary of the Taw and Torridge rivers was wooded, as was a portion of Braunton Burrows. Brannock settled among a tribe of local Britons, soon establishing a strong Christian community. A church, the first in North Devon, was built at a spot near where the Caen stream began to spread its waters on the alluvial lands around the River Taw. Brannockstood, the township that grew up around this church, later became Brauntona and at the end of the 19th century, Braunton.

Braunton was half-surrounded by an extensive fresh-saltwater (brackish) marsh restricting available agricultural land. This was surveyed by Charles Vancouver on behalf of the Board of Agriculture in 1808, and his report recommended that the marsh should be enclosed and reclaimed. This met with local approval, and James Green was appointed as engineer for the drainage scheme. An Act was obtained on 25 May 1811.[n 1] Once the scheme was completed, responsibility for the marsh passed to a group of Marsh Inspectors, who sanctioned further work in 1854, involving the straightening and embanking of the River Caen, or Braunton Pill, to form the Braunton Canal. The scheme was completed by the addition of a new quay at Velator in the 1870s.[6]

The village had a railway station on the now closed Ilfracombe Branch Line two stations from Barnstaple railway station on the 'Tarka' or North Devon Line from Exeter which has regular and heritage trains.


The population of Braunton, according to the census of 1801, was 1,296. This number increased quite rapidly in the thirty years to 1831, to 2,047 however the rate of increase slowed during the next 10 years and coinciding with the arrival of the railway fell from 2,364 in 1851 to 2,089 in 1881. Population growth resumed and saw almost a doubling between 1961 and 2011, to 8,128 people. Data for 1801–1961 is available at Britain Through Time.[7] The 2001 and 2011 Censuses give detailed information about the village. The settlement's population in 2011 were living in 3,552 households.[1]

Population of Braunton
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1881 1891 1901
Population 1,296 1,390 1,699 2,047 2,274 2,364 2,089 2,171 2,135
Year 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 2001 2011
Population 2,328 2,644 3,019 n/a 3,819 4,303 7,510 8,128


Parish church[edit]

The St. Brannock's Church is large and has a Norman tower topped by a spire.[8] There is a fine series of 16th century benchends and other interesting carved woodwork.

The building is almost entirely 15th century but its altar end (the chancel) is 13th century which has an arch and three lancet windows. The 16th century benches are richly carved. The 15th century south chapel has a curious brass palimpsest, hinged so that both sides are visible. There is a chest of c.1560 with Portuguese figures engraved that may have come to England with the Spanish Armada and the building has a Grade I listing, running to seven paragraphs of architectural and fittings details.[9][10]

Historic estates[edit]

Historic estates within the parish of Braunton include


The village holds a carnival each year near the end of May.


There are a range of surfing facilities located in Braunton.


The town has a few hotels and guesthouses but numerous shops and pubs.


Since the closing years of the 20th century, the village has become a hub for surfing as it is on the main road gateway to three of the South West's surf beaches of Saunton, Croyde and Putsborough all with fine powdery sand and (to a lesser extent a road to Woolacombe).

A number of major surf brands are associated with the village including Tiki and Salt Rock.[citation needed]

Twin towns[edit]

See also[edit]

Braunton gallery[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Its purpose as set out in its cover description was "the Inclosing, Draining and Embanking Lands in Braunton, in the County of Devon."
  1. ^ a b 2011 Census
  2. ^ "Parish Headcounts: North Devon". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 24 December 2012. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Devon/Outdoors/Nature. Retrieved 2013-07-13
  5. ^ Grid square map Ordnance survey website
  6. ^ Clare Manning, (2007), Braunton Marsh Management Scheme, Taw Torridge Estuary Forum
  7. ^ "Braunton through time : Population Statistics : Total Population". A Vision of Britain through Time. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 
  8. ^ St Brannock's church website – includes history page
  9. ^ Betjeman, J. (ed.) (1968) Collins Pocket Guide to English Parish Churches: the South. London: Collins; p. 159-60
  10. ^ St Brannock's Church - Grade I Listing - English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1325560)". National Heritage List for England. 

External links[edit]