Bredon is by some distance the largest of the Bredon Hill villages with a population of over 2,500, including nearby Bredon’s Hardwick.
The derivation of Bredon’s name is interesting because both ‘bre’ and ‘don’ mean hill.
The village sits alongside the River Avon and is quite different in character to the other villages.
In 772AD the village was known as Breodune and a monastery was founded there between 716 and 717. The church is reputed to have been sacked by Viking raiders around 841 as they came up the river from Tewkesbury. The precise whereabouts of the monastery within the village is unclear.
However, the present church of St Giles, which dates predominantly from the 12th Century, is thought to be built near it. St Giles has a fine 14th Century spire which reaches 161 feet – the only church around the hill to still have a spire. The tower houses five bells.
Adjacent to the church are more fine buildings. The 14th Century Tithe Barn is owned by the National Trust and is very well maintained, being restored after a disastrous fire in 1980. Villagers used to come here to pay their tithes to the church, in the form of produce which was kept in the barn. Local folklore states that Shakespeare performed here during his ‘barn-storming’ period. The same is alleged of nearby Bredon’s Norton barn.
The old rectory near the church is a large house dating from the 16th Century and features two little figures sitting on top of the roof. They are said to represent Oliver Cromwell and Charles II and local legend states that if the two figures ever meet it will be the end of the world. Other fine buildings include the 17th Century Old Mansion and the 18th Century Manor House.
The village school was founded in 1718 by William Hancocks for 12 poor boys of the parish, to be taught, clothed and apprenticed. The last scholar apprenticed was in 1883. A second school was built by voluntary subscription in 1876, to educate girles aged five to 14, and boys. One thriving primary school – Bredon Hancocks School – remains.
The village is well known through the novels Brensham Village and the Blue Field written by local author John Moore. The inhabitants are lucky to have a river on one side of the village and the lovely Bredon Hill on the other.
Like all villages, Bredon has seen dramatic changes in the employment of its residents over the years. Like all villages in the Vale of Evesham, fruit growing, farming and smallholdings were the mains sources of income for the men. The women also helped with the picking and the packing of fruit and vegetables. Young girls mostly found employment as domestic servants either locally or in the bigger towns.
With the decline in market gardening, former agricultural land has been built on, doubling the village population.
The Beeching Act of 1962 closed the railway station, to the regret of many villagers.
But the village has adapted to the changes and is still a thriving community. There is an excellent village stores- a pottery and a modern doctor’s surgery.
Bredon has two pubs – the Fox and Hounds, a thatched and timbered inn which dates back to the 16th Century, and the Royal Oak, an old coaching inn believed to have been built sometime in the 14th or 15th Century.
Among the many clubs, groups and societies in Bredon is an excellent cricket club, bowls club, football, rugby and tennis clubs and a splendid village hall.