2008 – Balchin Family Gathering – Bramley Village Hall

The Society held its annual Gathering at the Bramley Village Hall on Sunday September 14th 2008.

Bramley and its surrounding Parishes are the heartlands of our family origins in England. Before the Industrial revolution changed everyone’s lives we had been established here in Surrey as Yeoman Farmers for centuries.
Our yardstick is, as always, the time of Domesday and in 1086 the Manor of Bramley was far larger than what we find today, extending as far as the Sussex border and taking in Shalford, Wonersh, Hascome, and West Cranleigh.

The Domesday shows the Manor having two Mills, both are Water Mills, the first mechanical farm equipment known and as so very important when it comes to the wealth of the Manor.
Bramley is a Saxon name meaning: – “A clearing in the Broom.” However before even the Saxons arrived there were Iron Age settlements with a Fort at Hascome c 200 to 50 BC.
The Village Hall was originally the Tithe Barn. Here the Collectors for Church or State would receive a percentage of all produce from the Manor or the tax set by the Kings Sheriffs or his Lords. Nothing changes even in the 21st century.

In recent years the Hall has undergone refurbishment and additions. Used extensively by the local organisations it had all we need for our 15th Gathering. It has a large equipped kitchen with adequate space for a dining area. You will be pleased to learn that our Caterer of last year Mrs Georgie Crittendon, who earned much praise for her care and attention to all our food requirements, reserved this date for us exclusively. We had plenty of room in the Main Hall for all our Records to be laid out and Dr Nigel Balchin will assist in any copying required. There is adequate car parking outside the Hall, there were no stairs to negotiate and there are Toilet facilities including Disabled recently added. If ever we had to name an area of Balchin habitat then Bramley must fit the bill, there are so many references to our family in so many land deeds and leases that we could probably devote the whole day listing Farms and Businesses connected with the Balchin families.

It was only after 1676 that Burials were allowed at Bramley church when the Bishop of Winchester consecrated the churchyard. It was in 1699 that the first Balchin was interred there, he was John of Marshalls Farm, his wife Ann is shown on the memorial stone inside the Church. We will also find another Ann nee Sparkes, the first wife of another John Balchin of Cedar House Cobham. This property came to her Widower when he remarried an Elizabeth Barker who inherited Cedar House from her Uncle Joseph Moss the Brewer.

Of all places we have met as a family I think that we felt at home here. Look in any direction and one will find a Balchin connection. Our weekend served as a fitting tribute to our late President Professor William Balchin who as a Founder member started us all on this journey to uncover our family origins.

Roy Balchin