The History of Brand Barn

brand barn


Brand Barn is named after John Brand who was born in 1792 and whose forebears owned the land around Vale Farm. He inherited the Broxtead Estate in 1813 and made many improvements including two shepherd’s cottages at Bussock (still there today) but his main interest was Chess which took him around the Continent playing against international chess names. Brand was also known for his extravagances, his womanising and his “drinking habit”.

John was living with Anne Spencer as man and wife in Vale Farm in 1829 where they were attended by three servants.

On the evening of Friday, 23 January, John retired to his bed a little after ten o’clock. Ann went up later carrying a lighted candle in a candlestick. At the top of the stairs, she tripped and fell to the ground floor. She was wearing in her hair, a metal comb pinning up her hair. As she struck the floor, the comb penetrated her head.

Anne died the following day aged just 24, and now resides in Bawdsey churchyard where John Brand erected an alter tomb in her memory.

John remarried in 1830. After some “loud” and angry behaviour whilst travelling, John was sent to prison. He had also borrowed large sums of money. His successors at that time were another branch of the family; the Fitzbrands who appointed a Commission of Lunacy to enquire if John Brand was fit to manage his own affairs. They managed to have him classified as a lunatic in order to hasten their succession, and committed him to a private asylum in Chelsea, London. (The trial is discussed at length in “Sutton People”.) However, the Fitzbrands failed in their efforts to take over the estate, and Brand’s assets were sold at the Crown Inn, Woodbridge on 30th August 1831. The monies realised paid his debts.