This web-site is for the village of Brampton, Norfolk. This site is dedicated to Brampton and has links for both residents and visitors. The intention is to provide information, news and community based material. The village is linked through the Parish Council with the neighbouring village of Oxnead. The Parish Council area also includes the cottages at the old Red House School.
Brampton is one of the smallest villages in Norfolk and is almost certainly the smallest of all the places with the same name throughout the world (although there is a possible contender in the USA for that title). The village is located in the valley of the River Bure some 2.5 miles from the market town of Aylsham.
The village sign (above) gives a clue to the fact that the village has a rich history. Archaeological finds go back to the neolithic but the glory days were in Roman times when the site was a bustling industrial centre with maritime links to the rest of the empire. Pottery and metal products were the main items manufactured here. The sign is based on a Roman artefact discovered in the village which can now be seen in Norwich Castle Museum. Excavations in the 1960’s & 70’s uncovered a Roman bath house and much evidence of industrial activity. It also identified the location of the port area from where the manufactured items were exported.
The River Bure was navigable through Brampton until 1912 when wherries (Norfolk cargo carrying river boats) would transit to the mill at Aylsham. Brampton itself had a staithe (landing place) and at least one wherry was based here. Today the head of navigation is Coltishall from where the Bure forms an important part of the Broads network as it wends its way to Great Yarmouth.
Today the village is unspoilt and very quiet. Visitors on foot, bike or horseback are very welcome but our narrow lanes and lack of parking makes a visit by car very difficult. There is no bus service anymore although we do have a bus shelter. There is also a station at Brampton on the picturesque Bure Valley Railway which is a tourist narrow gauge line. There is a footpath and cycle way alongside this line and for the moderately active a gentle walk along the line from Aylsham to Brampton is a delight. Better still take the train and enjoy the experience. The timetable etc can be found at http://www.bvrw.co.uk/
The village has no shops, cafes or pubs. The nearest are in Buxton or slightly further away in Aylsham. Anybody visiting the village should be aware of this before arrival. There are a number of footpaths in and around Brampton. One of the favourites is the path that leads to Burgh-next-Aylsham which crosses the Bure by way of the “cradle bridge”. The photograph of the cradle bridge below left was taken from the Burgh side. The other picture was taken from the bridge and looks downstream, Brampton is on the right and Burgh the left. This footpath starts (or ends depending on your perspective) in Burgh churchyard.
Brampton Parish Council represents the residents of the village and manages the community field, village hall, bus shelter and village signs.
At the end of a hot July day, we sit outside with glasses in hand. To sit and watch the night fall is a simple pleasure, but one of which we never tire.
A Barn Owl which skims the roof and garden trees, is intent on hunting – its call breaks the falling silence. Bats appear. Pipistrelles and, we assume, Long-Eared Bats. Each following a circuit of widening spirals. An ultrasound bat-detector helps us follow their course – their call speeding up as they home-in on an insect.
The moon, not yet full but waxing and large in the southern sky, sails in solitary splendour over the ash trees which edge the old rail line. Minute by minute stars start to appear. We check their names and constellations. Vega seems to be the first, balanced at the head of Lyra. Then all of sudden, many more follow. Just before ten o’clock a bright spot arcing past the Moon turns out to be the International Space Station on it’s first visible pass of the night.
Our attention turns to the satellites, a man-made intrusion in to the natural view, but wonderful for all of that. Their names create their own poetry – SEASAT, ERBS, Integral, Genesis II.
On a more earthly theme, toads shuffle around the flower pots.
Swifts, those short-term summer visitors, from their screaming party over the Brampton rooftops. Eight..ten birds, they move so fast and change acrobatic so quickly that it is hard to keep track. I make a mental note to create some nest boxes for next year’s visit – every roof-improvement, each addition of roof insulation in the cottages serving to remove another traditional nest site. For the village not to host these visitors would be sad indeed.
The combination of speed, grace and agility make any glimpse of this
small falcon an exhilarating one. Hobbys are summer visitors to the
parish. Every year, when I see one, I tend to get over-excited about it.
For obvious reasons small birds, their prey species, would not agree. This
wariness manifests itself in the almost perceptible electric tension in the air as the
Hobby appears – bird song stops and are replaced by their alarm calls as they
dive for cover. This morning’s target – a Meadow Pipit on the Common
– was lucky, quickly diving for cover and safety.
After what seemed like a very long wait, the Cuckoo has arrived in the valley. Announcing its arrival with a rapid succession of calls at 4.50am from a perch on a tree somewhere along the Bure.
For many years the Cuckoo has arrived in the last week in April. The delay this year due to the cold spring that we have had. Last year it was not heard until 25th May, so we could count this one at least as “earlier than last year”. The British Trust for Ornithology tracks transmitter tagged Cuckoos every year, these can be seen via the following weblink; https://www.bto.org/science/migration/tracking-studies/cuckoo-tracking
The churchyard is filling with Snowdrops. Aconites and a few Daffodils. All flowering under a bright, clear sky. The easterly breeze reminds me that we have probably not seen the last of Winter, but Spring cannot be far off.
On a stag-headed Oak at Brampton Hall a male Great Spotted Woodpecker drums against a hollow branch, each salvo declaring his territorial rights in preparation for the breeding season. Further south, perched high on a favourite Railway embankment Ash tree, a Song Thrush is singing for much of the day. Each short phrase repeated four or five times carries through the cold air. Although in the garden a Scandinavian Brambling forages amongst the Chaffinches to build up reserves for the northern Spring. At night Muntjac Deer wander, hardly noticed, around the village houses and gardens.
Brampton’s hedges and lanes are clear of litter in time for the Spring again. Thanks to all the volunteers for their efforts – some particularly notable ones including Richard Berry’s monster haul of Fosters Lager cans, as well as enough car bumpers and trim to rebuild a car. We were blessed with fine weather, which went some way towards making this, sadly necessary, task more bearable.
Equipment at the ready (thanks to Broadland DC for the loan)
A selection of the volunteer litter picker army.
The Brampton Litter Pick is set for the morning of Saturday 17th February 2018. If you can spare an hour and a half to help then please let Mark Little know (or send a message via this the Village Website). We will meet at the village hall at 11.00am. Broadland District Council have kindly lent us some litter pickers. Be prepared for rain just in case, but the sun usually shines on us, so here’s hoping!
Thankfully the sight of a Kingfisher is not a rare event along this stretch of the Bure. But, even by our normal standards this year has been a particularly rich one. The Mill pair successfully raised a large brood and, during our Summer morning walks, we followed their fishing and feeding flights as they worked to raise them. On one notable morning and somewhat unusually, I even stumbled across two of them perched on the ground on the edge of the mill pool.
But, as I write, in early December, the position is somewhat different. Numbers have thinned out. The young had dispersed in the Summer and the fewer permanent residents have re-secured their territories. Most of the trees have lost their leaves and the light has taken on that washed-out Winter quality. As a result the electric blues and greens of the Kingfisher stand out almost shockingly, or they did on Saturday as we watched a single bird work the ditch. This bird was either oblivious of us or was happy to go about his fishing whilst we watched. I realized that I was holding my breath as I watched – the bird’s head turned towards the surface of the water, gently moving left and right before it sprang downwards out of sight before returning to the same perch. Time and again. Gradually working its way along the drain, the colours glowing in the weak morning sunlight.
So far a dry and mild Autumn in the village has meant that most of the trees have retained their leaves. The Field Maple leaves started to turn yellow in mid October but most have yet to fall. The Poplars, which never do things by halves, have dropped all but a few isolated leaves and as a result Keeper’s Wood has taken on it’s Winter profile.
I hear the weak call of the Redwing, but as yet have not actually spotted any of the Winter visiting thrushes. A Common Sandpiper has joined the resident Egret at the Mill Pool. The Kingfisher can still be heard but the many young raised during this bountiful year have mostly dispersed. The occasional Cormornt passes through and I hope that it has a taste for Signal Crayfish rather than for our already depleted Bure fish stocks.
The Roe Deer have gathered into small family groups. Their coats taking on their tawny Autumn colour, rather than that glowing orange-red of Summer, as they prepare for the colder season. The Muntjac galumph about in pairs – seemingly without fear they focus on the gardens and the allotment.
A fine October day for the Brampton Harvest Thanksgiving. The service was followed by a church fundraiser, a Harvest Lunch at the Old Rectory Brampton, which was kindly hosted by William and Jenny Youngs. A gathering of over sixty people enjoyed a lunch based upon the abundant produce from the fields, fruit trees and hedgerows of Brampton and Norfolk helping to raise £1,000 for church funds. One of those small glories that is part of village life in the community.