History of Bromham
A settlement at Bromham would undoubtedly have existed from the time of the transition from a hunter gatherer society to a farming and trading society located as it is at a crossing point on the Ouse. In fact, it was the river and its use as a trading and transport link that would have facilitated Bromham’s earliest development.
Evidence of occupation from the Roman period has been found in the area including pottery, bones and a stone figure that is preserved as part of Bromham Hall. Traces of circular huts mixed with Roman remains would suggest a Romano/British population was thriving in the area. Bromham is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Bruneham and later as Brimeham. The manor was then in the possession of Hugh De Beauchamp, a prominent local landowner, who held at least 44 lordships within Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Almost certainly these lands were given to De Beauchamp for services to William of Normandy during the conquest of 1066. The Manor consisted of 6 hides of land including a mill valued at 20 shillings.
Countess Judith, a niece of William the Conqueror, is also listed as a landowner with a mill worth 40 shillings and 100 eels. Eels were a valuable currency at the time and Ouse eels were exported as far as London. Both Hugh De Beauchamp and Countess Judith were also owners of the mill, a few miles upstream, at Sharnbrook.
The first mention of a river crossing at Bromham was in 1224 when parish records show that 4 shillings was spent on repairs! During the 14th and 15th Centuries a toll was collected from anyone crossing. The bridge also included a Chantry Chapel dedicated to St Mary and St Katherine. The current bridge was built in 1813 and consists of 26 arches. Only four span the river in the parish of Bromham with the remaining 22 spanning the flood plain. These are in the parish of Biddenham.
St Owen’s Church dates from the 13th Century with additions made during the 14th Century. The construction of the 70 feet high west tower took place during the 15th Century and contained 6 bells donated by the Dyve family. Sir Lewis Dyve purchased the manor in 1565. The church is located within 70 acres of parkland adjacent to the river.
Bromham’s history is woven through the Dyve family throughout the 16th and 17th Centuries. A descendant of the original Sir Lewis Dyve, bearing the same name, was a well known Royalist during the English Civil War. Capture by the Parliamentarians resulted in his imprisonment in the Tower of London from which he subsequently escaped and went into exile. Charles 1 is reported to have been a guest at Bromham Hall. It was in 1708 that a lack of male heirs forced the sale of the hall to Sir Thomas Trevor for the sum of 22 thousand pounds.
Bromham has had a number of water mills over the centuries. The current mill, located at the end of the bridge, has a date stone set into the wall of 1695. This was almost certainly a replacement for an earlier structure on the same site. Common to many water mills in the area Bromham Mill has its own orchard. Millers would have used the incredibly hard wood to fashion the gearing used within the mill. An annual event celebrated throughout the country is national apple day when the mill hosts an event celebrating all things to do with apples! The Ouse was the driving force of the mill for centuries until its power was supplemented by diesel in the 1920s.
Bromham is now is a thriving local community with schools, churches, shops and public houses. The population has grown from a mere 300 in 1901 to the present day 4500. The village had a much needed bypass opened in 1986 which took away much of the through traffic and facilitated the expansion of the village that we see today.