The connection between the Brakspear family and brewing goes back to 1769 when Robert Brakspear (1749-1812) became the landlord at the Cross Keys in Witney and started brewing Brakspear bitter. In 1779 Robert moved to Henley to join his uncle Richard Hayward at a brewery on Bell Street, Henley. On Robert's death in 1812 the brewery moved to new premises in New Street, Henley and Robert's son William Henry Brakspear (1803-1882) joined the business. In 1848 William became the sole owner of the business, which became a Limited Company on his death in 1882. The business, however, remained with the family as William was succeeded by his sons Archibald (1846-1909) and George (1848-1907) and later Archibald's son Archibald (1902-1972). In 2002 the brewing of Brakspear beers was licensed to Refresh, owners of the Wychwood Brewery. Consequently Brakspear beers are brewed in Witney once more.
The records consist primarily of financial records and a long sequence of brewing books. These books seem to have been individual brewers own personal record of their daily brews and provide a comprehensive guide to the make up of each brew. There are also notes by Robert Brakspear and others on brewing as well as some clues to the coded symbols brewers used to disguise their brews.
The records were deposited as Acc 2253 in April 1984, Acc 2701 in August 1987, Acc 2727 in December 1987 and originally catalogued as Brakspear I-XI. A conspectus of new and old references is included at the end of this catalogue. Additional records were deposited in Acc 5202 in October 2013 and Acc 5398 in June 2005. Recatalogued with additions by Alison Smith in June 2014.