A little while ago, I did a sheet for St George's with a paragraph for every century for the last thousand years. This week the Chair of the Parish Council asked whether I had anything similar for the village itself. I didn't realsie how much I'd picked up over the last twelve years, but, with a little help from books on my shelves and the obvious places on the web, I was able to come up with the following initial draft. I took the picture is the churchyard cross this morning.
Before 1000. We don’t know when the first settlement took place here, but the name (perhaps‘broad wood’ or ‘wide clearing’) dates from before the Vikings came and established or took over a port at ‘Grim’s by’.
1000s. In the Domesday Book, Laceby (apparently the Manor centre), Bradley and Scartho are listed together. Anglo-Saxon Swein, Erik and Tosti held most land, one of the Conqueror’s brother’s had taken some, and nearly a hundred others (‘villans, bordars and sokemen’) had tiny bits. The Manor had some interests in Grimsby, Clee and the Clee thorpes.
1100s. The name Bradley was used as the name of the meeting-place for a wider ‘wapentake’ (roughly a ‘weapon take’ - the administrative sub-division of the shire from which things like military service or tax could be required). It is just possible that the stump of a mediaeval cross in the grounds of the present Manor house is associated with this.
1200s. Ralph of Bradley was paid for materials for building the King’s castle in Grimsby, that he later killed a man in Grimsby, and that his son Geoffrey was at the siege of Lincoln. (References in the Gillett History of Grimsby.)
1300s. It is likley that the Black Death dramatically reduced the population of the parish, and there was evidence of an old village site in the fields south of the present Manor site.
1400s. The Borough of Grimsby owning the Manor of Bradley, on which Lord Wells had claims, and which the Wright family was to ‘wrest from them’. (References in the Gillett History of Grimsby.)
1500s. There is no real evidence for the well loved story that Henry VIII hunted boar in Bradley Woods when he stayed at Thornton Abbey in the 1540s. From the 1580s a James Wright was systematically buying up the Manor and lands (at that time divided into nine parts), some of it known as “Lord Well’s Manor”.
1600s. Hustwaite Wright buys a further two portion of the Manor in 1626. He sells the whole Manor to Richard Nelthorpe in 1633, and both are held criminally responsible for depopulating the village soon afterwards. The Nelthorpes (of Scawby) later acquire things like the woods and the patronage of the church, and the family owned the land for nearly three hundred years. The present Manor House is built in the 1680s (although it contains some features of an earlier house).
1700s. The land was formally ‘enclosed’ (parcelled together into fields suitable for modern agriculture) at the beginning of the eighteenth century, but only eleven families lived in the parish in the 1720s. (References in Ellis & Crowther’s Humber Perspectives.)
1800s. Modern census returns finally bring all the villagers to light. In 1851 there are nineteen houses (two uninhabited). Apart from five farmers (William Phillipson had most land, Samuel Gooseman lived at the Manor, and there was Robert Richardson and both a John Kirk and a Thomas Kirk) and a number of agricultural labourers, the only other ‘heads of household’ are the Rector (ecclesiastical reform had just led to the building of a new Rectory for a resident parson in 1849) and a Grocer.
1900s. In 1914 the Nelthorpes sold their 1 500 acre Bradley estate for £35 500; the Borough Grimsby bought what is now Bradley Playing Fields (at that time it wanted the land for a future cemetery) and Bradley Woods (for public use). First residential developments were at ‘Bradley Hollow’ (along Laceby Road) and this part of the parish (along with the whole of the parishes of Little Coates and Scartho) became part of the Borough of Grimsby in the 1920s. Most of the sixty or so houses in the remaining village have been built since then - even in the 1940s the arrow on the road pointing ‘to the village’ on a plan of the churchyard points south, and the suburban developments along Bradley Road and the first part of Church Lane are post-War.