On this page first you will find two pictures showing most of the Brereton descendants who attended. This is followed by a short account, which i distributed to attendees describing the history of the Cookes and Breretons at Brinton Hall
Hover your mouse cursor on the faces to briefly reveal the names:-
Missing from these two snaps are Mike and Mary Seppings, Judy Beaumont, Esme Bagnall-Oakeley, and Michael Sandford (behind the camera!) - Can some else supply snaps of us?
In July 2000 a Brereton reunion was held at Little Massingham, where Duncan Brereton distributed short account of the Brereton family's180 year association with Little Massingham. That reunion prompted me to set up this web site where Duncan's account can still be read. This directly spurred my own researches into our family's history. So for our reunion at Brinton Hall on 7 September 2009, I have followed Duncan's example and prepared a summary of our family's association with their earlier home: an association which has been traced to the Cooke family in 1660s and before and which continued for over 260 years until 1922 – when the hall was sold to Harry Hemingway, the ancestor of the present owners. – Michael Sandford
Edmond Cooke of Brinton was a well-to-do property owning tanner living in Brinton, who died in 1669. In the aisle of Brinton Church there is a flagstone inscribed “E.Cooke 1669”, which must mark his burial. He left his property to his wife Anne for her life and then it was to go to his son Edmond, The two younger sons were to get £100 each. However, the son Edmond died in 1675/6, presumably leaving the estate to be inherited by the youngest son Robert. It was Robert's daughter Cicely Cooke (1660-1752) who married John Brereton of Shotesham (1842-1734) and passed the Brinton estate on to her Brereton descendants.
According to White, Brinton Hall dates back to a house built in 1606, however, this may have been a misreading of the brick now high on the South Wall which we now interpret as building work done in 1660 by Robert and Mary Cooke.1 The date of 1660 does not, however, quite tally with presumed date of 1675/6 when Robert is assumed to have become owner of the hall, so it may be that this dated brick was installed later and records the marriage year of Cicely's parents.
John and Cicely Brereton would have been buried at Brinton, but over 100 years later their gravestones were moved to Briningham churchyard and can been seen today propped up against the Brereton-Seppings pyramidal monument surmounted by the muzzled bear.
John and Cicely's eldest two sons John and William lived for a time at Letheringsett Hall where they remodelled the house copying the style used for Holkham Hall, John's three sons appear not to have survived, and the Brinton property passed to William who was a lawyer and married in 1719/20 to Anne Shorting the half niece of Sir Cloudesley Shovell. The second date brick on Brinton Hall marked “B W . A . 1721” is presumed to record the rebuilding of the Hall in early Georgian style and this suggests William and Anne refurbished and occupied it before the deaths of his parents.
From the marriages John and Cicely's other children, Elizabeth Brereton to Henry Paul and of Lydia Brereton to William Goldsmith, we have traced descendants living today .
Moving on now to the children of William and Anne Brereton, again the Brinton Hall estates seem to have passed on through the second son John (1723-1785), who was a grocer. The eldest son Shovell(1720-1780) was a solicitor and had four daughters, one of whom married Thomas Seppings.
Of John's daughters, most noteworthy in the context of Brinton Hall was Mary Brereton who married David Lloyd of Cardigan, and it was Mary and David's daughter Anna Margaretta (1756-1819) who returned to her mother's birthplace at Brinton when she married her first cousin John Brereton (1753-1823). John's twin brother Abel inherited several hundred acres of land, in Brinton and nearby parishes, but the Brinton Hall estate was owned by John the elder twin.
In 1792 John Brereton of Brinton was listed as carrying on an extensive trade as a draper, grocer, tallow chandler, soap boiler and feed factor. He was transporting goods around Norfolk and even as far as London in a stage wagon whose timetable was advertised in the local paper. Delivering Norfolk game and parcels to London was a speciality. John's younger brother Robert (1760-1831) moved to Blakeney and became a coastal shipping merchant and was an important arm of the family's merchant businesses.
We can now see a picture of a family entering the 19th century with landholdings of a few hundred acres, modest by some standards, but whose main wealth was probably derived from from a variety of merchant and other businesses. At any rate it was sufficient to see two of the younger sons of John and Anna Margaretta educated at Queen's College Cambridge and become Rectors of Little Massingham and of Briningham. William John (1787-1851), the eldest son, did extensive work on the Hall and the grounds as is recorded on the date brick “B WJ . E . 1822” and established the hall very much as it seen today.
Alas, what might be regarded as the hey day of the Hall in Brereton hands lasted less than two decades, for in 1836 the country bank, complete with a big safe in Brinton Hall, operated by William John, failed. The debts of William John's bank were about £70,000. He owed the Norwich and Norfolk Joint Stock bank £52,7442. There was a court case which centred around the legality of cheques written in Brinton more than 10 miles distance from the Joint Sock Bank in Norwich. The case caused repercussions in which all the brothers became involved as executors of the will of their father John who had died in 1823 as lawyers sought to claim money from from the family's estates. However, somehow the Brinton Hall was kept in the family and passed to William John's eldest son, John Brereton (1813-1861), who was recorded as the owner in 1838.
After John's death in 1861 his widow Elizabeth (nee Brereton of Blakeney) lived in the Hall until it was sold out of the family in June 1868. It then comprised 256 acres. A succession of people then lived there, some on leases from A.E Palmer who appears to have purchased it.
Then between 1904 and 1908 the Cuthbert Arthur Brereton (1850- 1910) a civil engineer and the youngest son of John Brereton (1813-1861) decided to purchase the property and bring it back into the family again. There is a memorial window on the south side of Brinton Church to Cuthbert Arthur.
It was Cuthbert Arthur's son, John Lancelot(1887-1973) who finally sold Brinton in the autumn of 1922 to Harry Hemmingway, ancestor of the present owners. John Lancelot had inherited Cuthbert Arthur's property in Twickenham and later acquired property in Somerset from his mother's side of family (St Albyn Jenner), so he had moved away from Norfolk. His third daughter Cicell Juliet Brereton (mother of Jane Peaster - nee Hussey) was born at Brinton Hall in Feb 1921. With her sister, Gwendoline Joan Fleetwood they form the last living connection for the Brereton family with Brinton. Cicell and Joan's much younger half brother, Robert Ian Brereton, who I found 3 years ago managing an inn in Norfolk and has inherited several portraits including that of Cicely Cooke.
With occupancy by Cookes and Breretons spread over at least (1660 to 1922), the Brereton's descendants can be pleased to see the Hall is still preserved and wonderfully restored to its late Georgian appearance by the present owners the Jeremy and Esme Bagnall-Oakeley.
1 Sylvia Yates and David Yates, in The Brinton Hall Estate Past and Present, a report prepared for the centre of East Anglian Studies at The University of east Anglia, 1922-3, state on page 5 that White's “Directory of Norfolk “ 1845
2Reports of cases in Bankruptcy by Basil Montague and Scrope Ayrton Vol 2 , Butterworth, London 1836. The Bury Post of February 1836 reported: The bank of W. Brereton and Co. of Brinton in Norfolk has suspended payment. It was not a bank of issue for re-usable notes; but to the sorrow of a great number of industrious hard-working pople, it was a bank of deposit. The liabilities are roughly estimated at £70,000; the assets it is feared will fall miserably short amount of £700 or £800, who would scarcely allow himself fire and candle.
If you were unable to come on the “Brereton Day” you can still visit on a public open day. The tour is approx. 2 hours and the public viewing price is £13. You can book on the invitation-to-view website. There are plans for a Snowdrop Walk in February 2010.