BRACKLEY, a market town and municipal borough in the southern parliamentary division of Northamptonshire, England, 59 m. N.W. by W. from London by the Great Central railway; served also by a branch of the London & North-Western railway. Pop. (1901) 2467. The church of St Peter, the body of which is Decorated and Perpendicular, has a beautiful Early English tower. Magdalen College school was founded in 1447 by William of Waynflete, bishop of Winchester, bearing the name of his great college at Oxford. Of a previous foundation of the 12th century, called the Hospital of St John, the transitional Norman and Early English chapel remains. Brewing is carried on. The borough is under a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Area, 3489 acres.
Brackley (Brachelai, Brackele) was held in 1086 by Earl Alberie, from whom it passed to the earl of Leicester and thence to the families of De Quinci and Holand. Brilliant tournaments were held in 1249 and 1267, and others were prohibited in 1222 and 1244. The market, formerly held on Sunday, was changed in 1218 to Wednesday, and in answer to a writ of Quo Warranto Maud de Holand claimed in 1330 that her family had held a fair on St Andrew’s day from time immemorial. In 1553 Mary granted two fairs to the earl of Derby. By charter of 1686 James II. incorporated the town under a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 26 burgesses, granted three new fairs and confirmed the old fair and market. In 1708 Anne granted four fairs to the earl of Bridgewater, and in 1886 the borough had a new charter of incorporation under a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors under the Municipal Corporations Act of 1882. Camden (Brit. p. 430) says that Brackley was formerly a famous staple for wool. It first sent members to parliament in 1547, and continued to send two representatives till disfranchised by the Reform Act of 1832. The town formerly had a considerable woollen and lace-making trade.