Settled habitation began in the Iron Age, around the 3rd century BC. Braughing is thought to have been a trading post, as it is situated on the navigable extreme of the Rib, providing a route to the larger River Lea.
Close to Braughing there was a significant Roman town, situated near to several major Roman roads, including Ermine Street (now the A10), Stane Street (now the A120) and the Icknield Way. The town was a Roman industrial centre for the manufacture of pottery. When the River Rib is in full flood, bricks, tiles and other more interesting artefacts from the Roman settlement are washed from its banks.
After the Roman period it was settled by the Anglo-Saxons: the earliest form of the name Braughing is Breahinga: Old English for the people of Breahha. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Braughing is located at the junction of 5 roads which made it an ideal settlement for trade. Agriculture was an important feature of the local economy. Sheep farming and grain were the most important.
Fleece Lane, which runs alongside The Golden Fleece, refers to the lane leading to a shallow part of the river were sheep were driven to be washed, this activity and its proximity to the location inspire both the name of the lane and that of the pub.
In the Victorian era the village grew and added facilities such as additional churches, a boys school and the Fleece Lane iron bridge to name a few. In 1863 the railway came to Braughing and with it a new station, linking the village to Buntingford. The railway served the village for 101 years until its closure under the Beeching review in 1964, despite strong local opposition.
Saint Mary’s Church
Built on the site of a pre-existing Saxon Church. In 1220 the building of Saint Mary’s Church was started, but the majority of it was built around 1416. A major restoration was undertaken in 1888, followed by a more recent renovation in 2010. The church comprises of three main buildings and the tower houses 8 bells which were donated between 1615 and 1745. One distinctive feature is a small red-brick chapel built for the Brograve family in 1638.
Old Man’s Day – 2nd October
In October of 1571 the funeral of Matthew Wall, a resident of Green End, Braughing, was halted when the coffin bearers slipped on wet leaves in Fleece Lane and dropped the coffin. Soon after knocking sounds were heard coming from inside the coffin. Matthew was not dead! He had been in a deep coma and the jolt of the fall woke him up, to the surprise of all present. He went on to marry and live for a further 24 years. When finally he died he left provision in his will for Fleece Lane to be swept of leaves and for the funeral bell to be tolled followed immediately by the wedding peal. To this day the ceremony is still carried out, now known as Old Man’s day. Local school children gather to sweep Fleece Lane, followed by a service at Matthew Wall’s grave which is in the church yard of Saint Mary’s Church.
Braughing Sausages – D White Butchers
In 1954 Douglas White and his wife Anna made their first Braughing Sausage. It has proved to be very popular with not only the people of Braughing and East Hertfordshire but also nationwide. Since those days, the recipe has remained the same. One thing that has changed though is the quantity of sausage that made and now, on average, 30,000 sausages are sold each week.
The Braughing Wheelbarrow Race was started in 1964; the race now starts and finishes at the village ford. When the race was first run, fifty years ago, it started in at The Adam and Eve pub in the hamlet of Hay Street. Teams of two, in fancy dress, push a wheelbarrow around a 400 metre course through the village streets with each person taking turns to push the barrow while the other team member sits in it. The race finishes with the barrows being pushed into the dammed up ford, while the racers are pelted with flour bombs. The event now incorporates the Braughing village fair and is usually held on the first weekend in July.