Bradwell a Brief History
The village of Bradwell lies mid way between Braintree and Coggeshall, close to the river Blackwater and the Roman Road of Stanes Street linking Colchester with St. Albans.
About 1000 years ago the Norman French arrived, built the Church and imposed the Manorial system. The Manor of Bradwell, its name comes from a copious spring or broad well that could drive an overshot mill before its waters reached the river Blackwater, was centred around the church. The old Manor House built close to Bradwell Hall Farmhouse was burnt down in 1879. Park House became the Manorial residence after that date.
The earliest recorded Lords of the Manor were the Hande family passing the Manor onto the Bassets (1394), the Bonhams the Maxeys (16th and 17th centuries). The church has many fine monuments to this old Essex family.
The church (Holy Trinity) was thought to have been built for pilgrims on their way to Coggeshall Abbey and later adapted by the Manor for its use. The chancel was rebuilt in 1340 and the porch added in the 14th century. During the Civil War the church suffered some damage from Cromwell's men - the Maxeys were staunch royalists. The rood loft has disappeared but the medieval wall paintings can still be seen, as can the sturdy posts that supported a turret at the time of the Armada. In 1848 Bradwell was described as a much-scattered village and being joined to the Hamlet of Blackwater by a wooden bridge. The Manor was the largest landowner with 550 acres, Glazenwood was owned by Sir J.P Wood, the 52 acres were planted out by S. Curtis as a nursery, orchard and pleasure grounds. The Rectory, built a mile away from the church was valued in 1831 at £260 and had 30 acres of glebe land. Common land was rented out and the money given to the poor not on parish relief. There were 4 shops, 3 public houses, 2 mills, 1 wheelwright and a blacksmith. By 1890 the village school and a number of cottages were built.
At the end of the 20th century there was 1 public house, 2 car repair businesses, and 1 petrol station. Many of the old tithe cottages have been demolished or sold off. Many farm and garden plots have been bought for building since the 1920s. The largest landowner is the Speakmans who farm at Perry Green. The Lord of the manor is no longer resident in Bradwell. The manor is managed by Strutt and Parker. The village school closed in the 1950s. and local children go elsewhere. Few homes depend on well water, some still have their own drainage systems. Few people work on the land but many commute to jobs outside Bradwell. During the 1930s there were two working pits and one quarry in existence. The village hall was built out of bricks from the Bridge Hall quarry. Bradwell and Rectory Farm pits supplied sands and gravels for the many World War 2 airbases built in Essex. Now only Bradwell pit remains open. Glazenwood was rescued from dereliction in the 1960's and completely refurbished by the present owner.
The 1991 census states that the population of Bradwell (Blackwater) is 486 persons. In 1849 296 souls were living in Bradwell. (There is no information about the souls of the Hamlet of Blackwater.) The 21st century is upon us and the next 1000 years of history waiting to be