It was once part of a large Anglo-Saxon estate, with a manor house at Nobottle, and land in Brington, Althorp, Harlestone, Glassthorpe and Flore. William the Conqueror gave this estate to his illegitimate son, William Peverel, whose descendants held it for over 400 years, until the first Sir John Spencer acquired it, together with the advowson of St Mary’s Church at the beginning of the 16th century.
The church of St Mary the Virgin is the oldest and largest building in Great Brington. A beacon was placed on it square bell tower, circa 1200AD, to warn of the approach of the Spanish Armada in 1588.
The church was rebuilt by John Spencer in 1519 and the Spencer Chapel was added as a mausoleum for his family which currently houses the remains of or memorials to 20 generations of Spencers, the last, the 8th Earl Spencer who died in 1991. Also buried in the church are Lawrence Washington, the great-great-great-grandfather of the first president of the United States and his younger brother Robert, who were cousins of the Spencers and came to the Bringtons from Sulgrave in the county at the beginning of the 17th century
To bring the “parish history” up to date…
As of the early 2020’s, in addition to the parish church, the Old Rectory, the medieval cross and the Reading Room, Great Brington also boasts a Post Office & Shop and the Fox & Hounds Public House/Althorp Coaching Inn whilst Little Brington is home to The Saracen’s Head Restaurant & Pub, Brington Primary School and the spire of the parish church of St John on Nobottle Road, which was pulled down in 1947.
And a fascinating parish fact: BETSY ANN RUSSELL (20 August 1842 to 24 October 1955) who died at the age of 113 years & 65 days and, according to the Guinness Book of Records, was the world’s oldest living person at the time, was born in Great Brington!