Situated in the heart of England, on the eastern edge of the Cotswolds, Brackley is a pretty market town that retains its original medieval layout. The strikingly wide marketplace is overlooked by an 18th century town hall and the tree-lined high street extends to about a mile in length.
In ancient times, the town was on the border between the warring Danes and Anglo Saxons. During the medieval period it rose to glory as a wealthy wool town and in 1215, Brackley played a small but significant role in one of England’s most important events, the sealing of Magna Carta. In the 18th century, the town became a busy staging post for coaches and today it is at the heart of ‘Motorsport Valley’, only a few miles from Silverstone and home to Mercedes AMG Petronas, one of Formula One’s most successful racing teams.
For centuries, Brackley has been a centre for festivals and events, from the thrill of the medieval tournament and the gathering of 2000 knights and horses in 1215, to annual hiring fairs, or ‘Mops’ and religious feasts, such as the lace makers’ festival of St Andrew. Tradespeople and livestock gathered at the town’s weekly market and the Fat Stock Show in December and in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Grafton Hunt met outside The Crown on Armistice Day. These traditions continue today, with a range of events for the whole family.
»Click here to download SNC’s guide to Exploring the Heritage of Brackley.
Jousting in Brackley – King Richard I’s Tournament Decree (1194)
King Richard I (1189-1199) relaxed his father’s order, granting licences for tournaments including jousting. This order was referred to as Conflictus Gallicus in which tournaments were licensed in England in 1194 by Richard I using rules brought from France. King Richard licensed five areas in England where tournaments could be held:
– Between Salisbury and Wilton
– Between Warwick and Kenilworth
– Between Stamford and Warinford
– Brackley and Mixbury
– Blyth and Tickhill
Those who wished to tourney there had to obtain a license and make a payment for the privilege. Foreign knights were banned from tourneying in England.
“The famous king Richard, observing that the extra training and instruction of the French has made them correspondingly fierce in war, wished that the knights of his kingdom should train in their own lands, so that they could learn from tourneying the art of war and so that the French could not insult the English knights for being crude and less skilled.”
»Click here to read more on the history of Jousting
Brackley Town Hall Restoration project
In August 2015, Brackley Town Council heard that their bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £2.2million to restore the Town Hall had been successful. This was the end of a long and hard journey but marked the beginning of a new one – the Town Hall Project!
Councillors, Council Staff, Consultants, Architects, Local Residents, Business Owners and many others worked hard together to find out as much as they could about our building’s history, the way it has been built and what it provides for the town of Brackley. The regeneration aims to meet the needs of the town, retain its Georgian charm and generate income so we can continue to maintain this amazing building.
The building will be shut for about 18 months while the work takes place but there will be lots to do to get involved while that happens. This website will be constantly updated with blogs, pictures and videos as well as details of events or how to join in and take part in a project.
For a building of this importance and complexity, a very experienced and diverse design team is required. Expertise is needed in heritage architecture, conservation civil and structural engineering, archaeology, interior analysis, landscape architecture, mechanical and electrical engineering and cost consultancy.
»Click here to read more about the restoration project
»Click here to view the Town Hall Plans