I’d always known the name Ernest Bradgate. Everyone here does—it’s impossible to ignore the statue on the high street, directly in front of the Ernest Bradgate Library. Or the Ernest Bradgate House Museum, the closest thing we have to a tourist attraction. Not to mention the Ernest Bradgate High School, Bradgate Street, Bradgate Close and Bradgate Crescent; and the Bradgate Bun, a stodgy, fruity creation that I have no taste for, but which is by all accounts a consistent seller in both our town’s high street bakeries. Obviously I knew who he was: Local merchant and philanthropist, mayor and politician. The great benefactor of our modest town. Bringer of education, enlightenment and entertainment to the masses through his generosity.
The controversy arose when a new housing development was being planned. A name was needed, preferably one with a historical connection to placate the local traditionalists. The question wasn’t who to name it after, but whether it should be the Bradgate Estate, Bradgate Manor or Bradgate Park.