History

Braunstone has existed as a community since Saxon times; the name means “Brant’s Tun”, or the place where Brant settled. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, but the first mention of a church there is 1186, when the church was a Chapel of Ease for the Manor and Parish of Glenfield.

Unlike some medieval farming communities, the folk of Braunstone seem to have done well: by the 13th century many of them had bought their freedom from the old feudal system. Notable family names include Herle, Camville and Erdyngton, all now street names in Braunstone.

By Tudor times, the Lords of the Manor were the Hastings family. But Sir Henry Hastings ruined himself by supporting the losing Royalist side in the Civil War of 1642-48. In 1650 he had to sell his estate, which was bought by a Lancashire family called Winstanley. The Winstanleys dominated village life for nearly 300 years, until in 1929 the whole estate was compulsorily purchased by Leicester Corporation, in order to build new houses for working families who, at that time, were crowded into Leicester’s poorer inner-city districts. (The Winstanleys retired to Hampshire, but we are still in touch with members of the family.)

In the 19th century Braunstone was a quietly prosperous, unspoiled village outside the growing town of Leicester. But since the 1920s, first the eastern part of the parish (“south Braunstone”) and then the western part (“north Braunstone”) were built up with solid, well-built brick houses, laid out with gardens and plenty of green spaces. The population rose from about 200 to its present 14,000. The city boundary was moved from a line east of Braunstone Park (what we now know as Gooding Avenue) to Braunstone Lane (formerly Coalpit Lane, which ran through the middle of the old village). After a beautiful 18th century farm house was demolished in the 1970s, the vicar of the time (the Revd Alan Green) joined with others in a campaign to conserve the remaining old buildings. Braunstone village is now a conservation area, including the church, several farm workers’ cottages, and Church Field, an ancient meadow between the church and vicarage, which is mown only once a year in order to preserve its rare types of grass.

St Peter’s Church
The church is originally Norman, with a typical Norman low tower. However, like many old English churches, it has been altered and repaired so much that it would be hard to point out the original Norman bits of wall. The fine wooden screen is late medieval perpendicular; the ancient octagonal font seems to be laid on top of an even older font, placed upside down. The tower was rebuilt in 1704, at the same time as the south porch (“Queen Anne porch”) was built in red brick, that stands out from the stone of the rest of the church. The graveyard, mainly on the south side, has graves that date back at least to the 16th century, but the oldest stones are from the late 17th century.

In 1937 the church was extended on the north side, in order to make room for the new residents of the Braunstone estate. The extension became the nave of the church, whose altar was moved to the south wall of the original church. However, church attendance had declined by the end of the 20th century, and there was a new vision to serve the community by providing a community hall. The extension was converted into a hall, and the worship space is once again the old medieval church.

In 1948 two mission churches were opened. St Boniface, Winforde Crescent, no longer exists, but St Crispin’s in Braunstone Town has become the parish church for that part of Braunstone outside the city boundary.

Old Braunstone, by Jonathan Wilshere; 1972, Leicester Research Services
The Story of Braunstone Parish Church, by G. D. England; 1970 (revised 2009), privately published

See more details of the history and more details of the building

  • People at St Boniface (and others) ---

    I have just read the interview with Jack Lippitt. It brought many memories back of my growing up in Braunstone. I remember Mr. Gibbs, maybe because I was […]

  • Bob writes from Canada … ---

    I’ve been researching my family tree for about 4 years. I was very pleased to come across your web site as my ancestors are from Braunstone. My great […]

  • Memories of Braunstone – Sheila Pike ---

    Transcription of Interview with Sheila Pike on May 27th, 2004 Right can I just, so we know who it is, asks your name and when and where you […]

  • Memories of Braunstone – Ron Manship ---

    Transcription of Interview with Ron Manship on May 24th, 2004 If I could ask you to say your name and date of birth again Ronald Manship, 12 Council […]

  • Memories of Braunstone – Jack Lippitt ---

    Transcription of Interview with Jack Lippitt on May 25th, 2004 Please can you tell me your name and when and where you were born? My name is Jack […]

  • Memories of Braunstone – Dennis Pacey ---

    Transcription of Interview with Dennis Pacey (no date) So please can you tell me your name and when and where you were born just so that I can […]

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