The name of our village is interesting. From the twelfth to the sixteenth century the name was written as Brackenthwaite (or some variant thereof) which shows its origins to be from the Scandinavian bräken and thveit, meaning "bräken clearing”. Thereafter the name was changed to Brackenfeld (Old English Anglo Saxon feld, meaning “field”).
It is clear that Brackenfield was regarded as an intermediate lordship between Wessington and Ogston, each of which are mentioned in Domesday Book (1086) where the territorial grouping of “Morton, Ogston and Wessington” was part of the tenancy-in-chief of the Norman family of Deincourt. About the time of King Henry I (1100-1135) the Heriz family of South Wingfield began to acquire a substantial landholding in both Ogston and Brackenfield, and in the course of time they came to be regarded as the holding lordship of both places under the Deincourts (as tenents-in-chief). Thus at his death in 1330 John de Heriz was found to have held annual rents of 50 shillings from the tenements of free tenants in Brackenfield by the service of 10 shillings per annum payable to William Deincourt. After John de Heriz’s death we find (in 1364) Sir Richard Willoughby of Risley holding one knight’s fee in Brackenfield and Tupton under William Deincourt. The Willoughby family continued to hold Brackenfield for the following two centuries, and it is possible that Hugh Willoughby of Risley (d. 1558), who was Sergeant-at-Arms to King Henry VIII, re-built Trinity Chapel in Brackenfield before the family disposed of their holding to the earls of Shrewsbury. After the death of Gilbert, 7th earl of Shrewsbury in 1616 his extensive property passed to three co-heiresses and the manor of Brackenfield and a moiety of the manor of Wessington was eventually acquired in the nineteenth century by the Turbutt family. The Turbutts has also inherited the manor of Ogston from the Revells (who in turn had inherited it from the Deincourts but had died out in the male line in 1699), so that by the eighteenth century they had become the major landowners in Ogston and Brackenfield. The Ogston Hall estate was sold by the Turbutts in 1973 to the Wakefield family who are now the major landowners in the Parish of Brackenfield. There are however a number of independent farmers in the parish, and many former farm dwelling houses and cottages have since been sold off and converted into private residences.
The former village school at Brackenfield (now the Parish Hall) was founded in 1845 as a “National School” (ie supported by the “National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Church of England”) at the cost of £450.00 including the Master’s house adjoining. The first master was Henry Burgoyne, who taught the children for 25 years befor his retirement (he died on 20th February, 1904, aged 81 years). The school syllabus was: reading, writing, spelling, English grammar, arithmetic, general history and geography, and the school was something of a pioneering institution because a collection from the parents and managers was made in 1899 to provide the school with sports equipment – cricket for the boys and rounders for the girls. As numbers increased, an extension to the school was made by W.G.Turbutt in 1890. By the turn of the century there were about 100 pupils. The school eventually closed in the late 1940's, and the building acquired as a Parish Hall.
One of the cross-roads in the parish is known as “Mathers Grave”, where there is a large stone bearing the initials “SM” with a (spurious) date “1643” below. Samuel Mather was the son of Samuel Mather of Brackenfield and Margaret his wife. He was baptised at Morton on 26th September, 1689, the eldest of six children. He became a farm labourer. About 1716 he hanged himself in an old barn (pulled down in the nineteenth century), located near the present-day Old Vicarage. Suicides and executed criminals were denied burial in consecrated ground and were usually buried at a cross-roads near the site of their death until the repeal of the burial of suicides act in 1823. It is not known why an incorrect date should have been carved on his commemorative stone.
The major land change in the parish during the past century has been the construction of the 200 acre Ogston Reservoir in 1958-60 at a cost of £1.3 million, which flooded part of the Amber valley between the hamlet of Woolley Moor and Brackenfield. A number of houses were demolished before the construction began, including the pub known as “Napoleon’s Home” at Woolley Moor and the former Amber Valley Camp School (to which Derby School had been evacuated for the duration of WW2). Subsequently, sailing was allowed on the reservoir and the Ogston Sailing Club was established in 1960 and was the first drinking water reservoir on which sailing was permitted.
History Text supplied by Mr Gladwyn Turbutt - 25th February 2017