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Brackley is a town in southmarker Northamptonshiremarker, Englandmarker. Historically a market town based on the wool and lace trade, it was built on the intersecting trade routes between Londonmarker, Birminghammarker and the English Midlandsmarker and between Cambridgemarker and Oxfordmarker.


Brackley, originally also known as Brachelai or Brackele, was owned in 1086 by Earl Alberic. After this it passed to the Earl of Leicester, and to the families of De Quinci and Roland.

In the 11th and 12th centuries Brackley was in the Hundred of Odboldistow and in the Manor of Halse. Richard I (The Lionheart) named 5 officials sites for jousting tournaments so that such events could not be used as local wars, and Brackley was one of these. The tournament site is believed to be to the south of the castle where the A422 now passes.

Henry III attacked the castle in 1173. The site was later granted to the Hospital of St John.

The town was the site of an important meeting between the barons and representatives of the King in 1215, the year of Magna Carta. Magna Carta required King John to proclaim rights, respect laws, and accept that the King’s wishes were subject to law. It explicitly protected certain rights of the King's subjects, whether free or a prisoner — most notably allowing appeal against unlawful imprisonment. King John and the barons were to have signed Magna Carta at Brackley Castle, but they eventually did so at Runnymedemarker.

Market day was on Sundays until 1218, when it was changed to Wednesdays. It is now on Friday mornings.

In 1597 the town was incorporated by James II. It had a mayor, 6 aldermen and 26 burgesses.

Over time the Brackley has been known for wool and lace-making.

In 1901 the population of the town was 2,467.

The Brackley Poor Law Union

Until 1834 the poor house in use by the area was in nearby Culworth, but in that year the Brackley Poor Law Union was founded. A workhouse for 250 people was built in 1836, southwest of the town on Banbury Road. It was demolished in the 1930s.


Brackley is close to the A43 road, which now bypasses the town, linking it to Towcestermarker and Northamptonmarker to the east and the M40 motorway to the west. The A422 links it to Banburymarker and Buckinghammarker.

The nearest railway station to Brackley is at , about six miles (10 km) away. Brackley once (prior to 1966) had two railway stations of its own, but both have since closed (the lines closed in 1961 & 1966). The first, known in its latter years as Brackley Town, opened in May 1850 on a LNWR branch line from on the Oxford-Bletchley-Bedford-Cambridge linemarker to Banburymarker via Buckinghammarker. The second was on the Great Central Railway, the last mainline to be constructed from the north of England to London which opened in March 1899. Chiltern Railways have said to have aspirations for services from to Rugbymarker along the former Great Central Main Line. This would have Brackley Central railway stationmarker reopen with direct services to London, and Rugby. Also this line is under consideration for the new High Speed 2 250 MPH Line to Birmingham as reported in Railnews on 1 June 2009. The line through Brackley Town closed in January 1961, while the Great Central was closed by British Railways in September 1966. A prominent feature of the latter was Brackley Viaduct which spanned the Ouse Valleymarker just southeast of the town. It was in length, high, had 20 brick arches and two girder spans and was demolished in sections in early 1978. The viaduct will need to be rebuilt if the SP2 Mainline gets the go ahead.

The town has numerous bus services and is connected to major towns and cities including Banburymarker ('499', '500'), Buckinghammarker, Towcestermarker, Oxfordmarker and Northamptonmarker ('X88', '88'). In 2001 the 'X38' Oxford-Northampton express service became the 'X6' with the introduction of the '88' to serve villages en route to Northampton (such as Towcester, Blisworthmarker and Milton Malsormarker). In September 2007, Stagecoach Group's Oxford-Brackley-Towcester-Northampton services were reduced with the merging of the 88 and X6.

Notable buildings

The earthwork remains of Brackley Castlemarker lie between Hinton Road and Tescomarker. It comprised a motte mound high and approximately in diameter with an outer bailey to the east. Archaeological excavation has revealed evidence of a ditch defining the perimeter of the bailey. Two fishponds originally lay outside the ditch but have subsequently been infilled – however south of St. James Lake may have formed a part of this. Brackley Castle was constructed soon after 1086 and may have gone out of use in 1147.

The Church of England parish church of Saint Peter at the eastern end of the town centre has an 11th century Norman south doorway.

Brackley's other notable buildings include Magdalen College Schoolmarker, founded by Magdalen Collegemarker for its pupils to escape the great plague affecting Oxfordmarker in the 15th century. St John's chapel stands next to the original college buildings and is still in use today, making it the oldest building in Great Britain in continual use by a school.

The town park belongs to the National Trust.

Winchester House School is a private school within the town for children aged from 3-13.


Brackley is close to the Silverstonemarker motor racing circuit, and has some industry related to Formula One racing, notably Mercedes Grand Prix (formerly Brawn GPmarker British American Racing/Honda) which is based in the town, and the Force India F1 team which operates a wind tunnel on the former site of the north railway station. On the east outskirts of the town is Bronnley, suppliers of hand-made soaps to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Their products are bestowed with Royal Honours for Excellence. Several of the town's larger employers, including Clansman Cases and Cardale Doors have either closed, relocated or downsized in recent years. However, Faccenda has grown with the expansion its sister company Direct Legal and Collections (DLC).

Sports and leisure

Brackley Rugby Union Football Club, currently plays in Midlands 4 East .

Brackley Sports Football Club plays in the North Bucks League Premier Division with its Reserves team in the North Bucks Intermediate Division. It also has a ladies' team playing in the Northants Women's League.

Brackley Athletic Football Club is a junior football club affiliated with the Northamptonshire Football Association. It plays in three leagues: the under 7s - 10s are in the Milton Keynes & District Junior Sevens League, the under 11s - 16s are in the Milton Keynes & Border Counties League and the girls' team is in the Oxford Girls Football League.

Brackley has a tennis club, a leisure centre and swimming pool and a martial arts academy.



  1. Online 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica entry for Brackley
  2. Brackley Poor Law Union and Workhouse 1835 onwards
  3. Railnews
  4. Subteranea Britannica: Disused Stations Site Record: Station Name: BRACKLEY
  5. Pevsner & Cherry, 1973, page 115
  6. Brackley RUFC
  7. Brackley Sports FC
  8. Brackley AFC
  9. Brackley Tennis Club
  10. Brackley Leisure Centre and Swimming Pool
  11. Brackley Freestyle Martial Arts Academy

External links

Music and dance

Community and business

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