The manor house known as Bracewell Hall was a very large house built by order of the Tempest family. It was used as their residence and was on the land holdings granted them by William, Duke of Normandy (William the Conquerer). It is recorded that Bracewell Hall entertained many royal heads including King Henry VI, who was in hiding there after the Battle of Hexham in 1464, during the War of the Roses. Prince Rupert stayed there, with his thousands of troops camped in the fields nearby, while on his way to the Battle of Marison Moor.
Richard Tempest gave orders for the partial pulling down and reconstruction of a much larger Hall in 1656. After this reconstruction the Hall passed to several owners until 1845 when Robert Hopwood became Lord of the Manor. Mr. Hopwood demolished the old Hall and erected a new Hall, made of brick, on the same site in 1869. The Hall had turrets, buttresses, and gables.
Mr. James Bracewell of Midwest City, Oklahoma, who has supplied this history to us, was in the U. S. Air Force stationed in England during the World War II. He visited the village of Bracewell when the Hall was being dismantled in 1952. Apparantly the national taxes on the large house made it necessary to rebuild it as a smaller residence. Mr. Bracewell reports on the old Hall “the building had some 35 rooms, and was three stories high plus a full basement. The third floor was used for storage and a series of small maid’s rooms. Every room in the complex had a coal fireplace. A spiral staircase provided access to the floors above ground. One room, in what I considered the East wing, was some 30 x 50 feet with an overhung balcony at the second floor which projected out 4 to 5 feet. I can only guess that the balcony was used for delivery of religious services. We were not able to determine when the Hall was vacated, but we did learn that it was used during World War II to house the British troops in training, and was later used by a local engineering firm. When we saw it in 1952 it was about one fourth demolished.”
In 1987 Mr. Bracewell received a photo of the new Bracewell Manor taken by his kinsman, Dan Prettyman. “The building is called Bracewell Manor. It is now used as a retirement type complex, being divided into several apartments. It is located very near where the old Bracewell Hall stood, only a few miles west of it.”
“Comparing this new photo to the ones I took of the original building I saw in 1952, we felt a good bit of the old materials had been reused, and the five chimneys sure ring a bell for me. The new chimneys look like exact duplicates of the old Bracewell Hall chimneys to me, so it seems like some of the old Hall lives on.”