Bramley = "Bramleia" = forest glade overgrown with broom
Bramley is one of the manors that first appears in Domesday Book. It was one of the number of manors that made up the honour of Conisbrough, held by William de Warenne. It was a modest settlement in 1086 with only seven villains and one freeman.
12th and 13th Centuries
In the late 12th century Mabilia, widow of Otto de Tilli, seneschal of Conisbrough, gave two oxgangs of land at Bramley to Roche Abbey, with the proviso that the abbey was not to have common pasture for more than 100 sheep. A grange with a string of fish ponds was established at Bramley by the abbey.
There were 51 taxpayers listed at Bramley in the 1379 Poll Tax returns, which would indicate a total of over 200. The most important person in the village was John Wikerson "farmer [lessee] of Bramley Grange", and Sibilla, his wife, who paid 12d.
Church and Chapel
There was an ancient chapel at Bramley but it had no parochial rights as the village was part of the parish of Braithwell. The only burial to have taken place there was of Samuel, son of William Spencer, who died on 18 February 1647, age six months. Bramley Chapel was not licensed for marriages until 1949. The building could only accommodate around 50 worshippers and, by the 1950s, was in poor repair.
A new ecclesiastical parish of Bramley, incorporating Hellaby, Sunnyside and part of Ravenfield parish was formed in 1955. A new church, dedicated to St. Francis, was consecrated the following year, at a cost of £14,000. The old chapel was then demolished.
Bramley Grange and Bramley Hall
At the Dissolution, Roche Abbey's grange passed to the Spencer family of Attercliffe. A new house, Bramley Grange, was erected on the site. The present house has a frontage dated 1756 but there is internal evidence of earlier building, including 17th century plasterwork and fireplaces.
The other main house in the parish, Bramley Hall, belonged to the Eyre family who can be traced back to the 16th century. A sketch of Bramley Hall c1720 shows a 17th century house with three gables. The last representative of this family, Margaret, daughter of Henry Eyre, married William Spencer of Bramley Grange in 1726. Bramley Hall has been much changed over the years and is now divided into four dwellings.
When John Byng, Viscount Torrington, passed through Bramley in 1789, he described it as a "neat, well built village" and referred to Bramley Grange as "as good and habitable now as any house in the country".
The original village school stood near the junction of Lidget Lane and Moor Lane South. This was replaced by the new Bramley and Wickersley provided school at Wickersley, opened in 1909. Bramley Sunnyside School was opened in 1928 to serve the new housing on the north west side of the village and at Sunnyside.
Bramley was one of the early centres of Methodism in South Yorkshire. The chapel dates from 1785, having been erected on his own land by Matthew Waterhouse. The following year John Wesley, then over 80, accepted Waterhouses' invitation to preach in the new chapel which he described in his journal as "a neat preaching house for the poor people". After preaching he dined with Mrs Spencer at Bramley Grange. The chapel closed in 1972 and was converted into a private house.
The population of Bramley remained small throughout the 19th century, starting at 238 in 1801 and reaching only 431 in 1901. By 1911 however the figure had jumped to 1,335 as the result of housing development in the Park Grove area. Since then the population has continued to rise, reaching 3467 in 1991.
(Extracted from: RMBC, Patchwork of Parishes, 1997)