One weekend when the weather was cloudy with very strong winds I thought I’d try out my long exposure technique described in the blog post of the same name, so I drove out to Brill with my Nikon Df. Brill is a location well known to photographers all over Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, and attractively perched on top of a steep hill, with an excellent view over the plain below. The result is shown to the right, I was quite pleased with it.
The origin of the name of the village is derived from both the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic words for hill (Bre-hyll). In the reign of Edward the Confessor it was called Bruhella. It is notable for its old post mill, the timbers of which reputedly date from 1685 and the clay pits were dug for the production of pottery and Brill bricks. The clay pits were in use from Roman times until the last bricks were produced in the 1920s. Roman occupation in the Brill area is highly probable as suggested by finds of tiles and pottery and the square earthworks believed to have been a Roman look-out. The village is also close to the Roman road of Akeman Street. It was a royal manor of the kings of Wessex in the Anglo-Saxon period and there was a Royal Palace at Brill until it was destroyed by the Parliamentarian John Hamden in 1643. Edward the Confessor, Henry II, John, Henry III and Stephen all held court there in the 12-13th centuries.
Brill was the scene of a battle during the English Civil War. After the Battle of Edgehill in November 1642 a royalist force occupied the village. Parliamentary troops were sent to oust the royalists, and on January 27th 1643 the two forces met in the Battle of Brill.
The royalists had thrown up sturdy earthworks, perhaps using remnants of Brill Castle. The Roundheads launched a fierce canonnade, but called off the attack after several hours when the Royalists lit damp straw on fire, creating a wall of choking smoke. Residue of the Royalist defenses can be seen in the village. During the 1830s an attempt was made to turn Brill into a spa town, as there is a spring between the nearby village of Dorton and Brill but royal patronage favoured Tunbridge Wells and Leamington Spa over the rather isolated village.
The Pheasant pub has outside seating that provides access to the view over a pint, which is very pleasant in the summer. The site of the windmill is a popular spot for a picnic, with children and dogs often scampering about amongst the undulations of the old clay pits, and of course there are plenty of photographers…