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The High Street

Braunston High Street is a miscellany of buildings, old and new, with the old often doing its best to disguise itself, as steep-angled thatched roofs make way for shallower slate and tile, and wooden window frames are replaced with upvc. 

Nonetheless, the front elevations of the present-day properties reveal much of historical interest.  Several buildings show evidence of blocked doorways and windows, while 'Broadlands' and 'Checkley Close' have a blocked vent beside the front door which used to provide a draught for the fire. 

The soft Northamptonshire sandstone walls of some of the houses also contain the inscribed names and initials of previous generations of Braunstonians, especially on the north side of the High Street.  On this side, too, were most of the village wells.  The majority of these have now been filled in, but those for 'Eastrea House' and 'The Old Maltings' still exist and have been turned into features by their present occupants.

Apart from sandstone, the other main building material used in the High Street was of course brick, some of which was produced locally.  For example, 'Teapot Row' or 'Policeman's Cottages' (the row of houses to the west of the Wheatsheaf Public House), “The Old Forge”  and  'South View' were all built from Braunston bricks manufactured in the old quarry that can still be seen south of Nibbits Lane and Cross Lane.

All along the High Street clues abound as to the former use of different buildings. 

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the High Street was a hive of commerce with at least six pubs and a variety of shops including  butchers, a bakery, a fishmonger, an ironmonger, a soap boiler and a potato merchant.  Surviving house names - such as 'the Old Bakery' [its former use made even more obvious by the 'HOVIS' sign!], 'The Old Harrow', 'The Old Forge' and 'The Old Maltings' - offer strong suggestions as to the original location of some of these services. 

In addition, evidence of cellar entrances on the pavement and graffiti on walls provides a good indication of the locations of former Public Houses.  For example, 'The Old Harrow' used to be 'the Harrow where weekly dances were once held in an upstairs room, while 'The Old Maltings' was once 'The Dog and Gun'. It is said that the coach house belonging to the “Dog and Gun” was used as a Fire Station during the war. There is still a house named the “Maltsters” on the south side of the High Street, four doors from Bunyard Lane, and Dolphin Cottage on the Green was the “Dolphin Inn”. However the “Cross Guns” has gone. It was converted into a butchers shop when it closed and the site then became part of the present Village Store and Post Office. Only two pubs remain in the centre of the village: the “Wheatsheaf” and the “Old Plough”. The latter is said to have once had pigs, hens and geese in the yard and a swearing parrot in the bar! 

Several buildings in the High Street are worthy of special note.  The Old Windmill, just off the High Street, dominates the western end of the village.  It was built in the early nineteenth century, originally to a height of 80 feet with a castellated top.  This was replaced by the present dome in the twentieth century.  A platform surrounded the mill at second storey height and was used for maintenance.  It was whilst trimming the sails that a workman was hit by a sail, knocked into the churchyard and killed.  Since that time, the mill has been used as a builder's yard, a cafe and is now a private residence.

Mullioned windows are to be found in 'Ash Tree House', the  'Manor' and 'the Old Bakery'.  'Tudor House', dating from the late fifteenth century, is probably the oldest property in the High Street. Rather more properties have 17th and 18th century origins. For example a date stone in the 'Manor ' reads 1653 while that on 'Checkley Close' is inscribed 1752. 


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