BRAUNTON, one of the largest villages in
the West of England and reputedly the largest in England, lies in the
North West of Devon, overlooking Barnstaple Bay. It is two miles from
the sea and through the centre runs the Caen Stream a tributary
of the Taw. It took its name from the Goidel saint, Brannock, who came
from South Wales as a missionary and converted the native Britons to
the christian faith in 550 A D.Brannock was a priest in the household of
Brychan, king of Brencknock. 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 Dumnoni neighbours
on the opposite side of the Bristol channel.
In all probability Brannock came to North Devon on the occasion of such a
raid and is said to have landed on Saunton Sands at the mouth of the river
The Estuary of the Taw and Torridge was wooded in those days. As also was
a portion of Braunton Borrows. Here lived a tribe of Britons and Brannock
settled among them, soon establishing a strong christian community. A christian
church, the first North Devon was built at a spot near where the Caen stream
began to spread its waters on the Alluvial alnds around the river Taw.
The township, that grew up around this church, he named Brannockstood, which
later became Brauntona and at the end of the nineteenth century, Braunton.
Many of the older villagers would tell you that they lived in Branton just
as those of a neighbouring village today say they lived in Ham.