The exact origins of Brancepeth are unknown but the Saxons recorded that a big house was established in the village. It may date back to Roman times as there is a Roman Road passing through the Parish on the North side of the village above Quarry Hill.
One certainty is that the first recorded Rector of the village was a monk from Durham called Haeming whose signature dates back to 1085. The origin of the village name has down the years been the subject of discussion, debate and argument. Some believe it relates to "Brandon's path" and refers to the route taken by St. Brandon to what became known as his shrine and which today is the village church, named after him. Others prefer to believe it is associated with the "Braunspath," the braun being the wild boar that roamed freely in the area at that time and the path being the route from its lair on Brandon Hill to the River Wear. It is doubtful whether the true origin will ever be confirmed but the Golf Club has adopted the latter by displaying the Boar as its club motif.
Brancepeth Castle and estates have been the home of many well-known Durham County families. The Bulmers who occupied the "Great House" during Saxon times were succeeded by the Nevilles (of Nevilles Cross fame) in 1174 when Geoffrey De Neville married Emma Bulmer the daughter of Bertram thus transferring the estate from Saxon to Norman ownership.
The Nevilles remained until Elizabethan times when the castle and estates where sequestered by Elizabeth following an unsuccessful uprising in support of a plot to effect a marriage between Mary Queen of Scots and the Duke of Norfolk who was the brother in law of Charles Neville.
The estates were then run by Crown Commissioners and in 1569 a survey commissioned by the Queen of the village and estates records that they were "very plentyful of all things, the soyle, good and bountifull of corne and gresse, well replenished with woods and timber'.
The Castle buylded of stone with two ward and toueres with leade and ys of no greate strengthe, it standeth in playne country between two parkes and on the South of a village which ys buylded all in lengthe in one streete"
The estate was managed by various people for the (crown until the I630's when it passed again into private ownership. After passing through numerous hands it was purchased by the, Russells whose name is associated with the pensioners cottages in the village built by the Russel Trust Where Derek Carver lived after retiring from the Golf Club. They ran the estate until 1850 when the then William Russel died a bachelor and left his estate to his sister Emma Maria who was married to a Boyne.
The Boynes Occupied the Castle through to the First World War when it was used as a hospital and over 4000 casualties were treated. The Golf course was established by Lord Boyne in 1924 at a cost of £10,000 and leased to the membership in 1929. It was sold to the members in 1961.
In the mid 60s the estate houses and village land were sold by the Duke of Westminster and that was the beginning of the development that has made the village what it is today.
It has been established that the village Church of St Brandon's has been in existence for over 900 years and recent evidence since the tragic fire indicates that it may date back to Saxon times. It has been the centre of worship for landowners, estate workers and parishioners alike since. The recent fire not only destroyed the church but centuries of religious and historical artefacts which are irreplaceable and lost forever.
The church recently described by English Heritage as the most important church North of York will be rebuilt not to its former glory but as close as is humanly possible. Restoration plans are underway and fund raising very active and surely everyone who knows the church will wish to contribute however minutely in restoring such a wonderful piece of English Religious Heritage.
"An English village in a minefield" and "A rural gem in an industrial setting"
Each is true in its own way and many more come to mind too numerous to record in this short narrative.
The modern village as we see it today has evolved since the sale of houses and land in the 60s. Modern housing has been blended with the existing main street in such a way as to retain its essential country style. Development has been carefully controlled by the planners and only "in fill" building can now take place thus preserving the rural ambience of the village.
Down the centuries the castle and estate has been the main employer of the village people. This is a far cry from today where residents commute all over the country to as far as London in the South and Edinburgh in the North and retain their family homes in the village having no wish to leave.
The attractions of the village, the Castle, the Church, the setting and by no means least the Golf Club make it a special place. About 28 families in the village are members in one form or another of the Golf Club thus continuing the established relationship between the Club and The Village.
The village provides an attractive approach to the Golf Course and there are wonderful views of the Castle and Church which can only be seen from the course.
The community is proud to have a prestigious Golf Club within its boundaries and the Golf Club is proud to have the name of Brancepeth associated with it, along with the history attached to it. The Golf Course is located in a unique, Picturesque and historical setting.