This town is a friendly, rural community located 20 minutes from New Hampshire's beautiful seacoast. With almost 1000 households, the population has tripled to 3,000 inhabitants from its earliest count of 1,064 in 1767. Brentwood's 36 square miles are seated in the Rockingham County's geographical center and; it is home to many of the county's support services.
Whether you are an avid gardener, an outdoor sports enthusiast or more inclined to join a lively book discussion, Brentwood has a diverse array of clubs and organizations. A short drive will take you to Portsmouth NH, Newburyport MA, Boston or the coast of Maine. If you prefer to stay close to home, town trails, a lovely apple orchard, perennial gardens and town recreational activities await you.
A Bit of Brentwood History
Long before Europeans settled this area, Brentwood was home to the Abenaki tribes who farmed, fished and hunted here. Two main foot trails ran through the town, one along the Exeter River where arrowheads and other stone and wooden artifacts have been found. At Pickpocket Dam, this trail joined with the historic Pentucket Trail leading travelers to Haverhill, MA or points north.
Brentwood was founded in 1638 as a part of Exeter. In 1742 this area's residents successfully petitioned Exeter to grant them their own parish and the right to maintain a meetinghouse and minister with public funds. Disagreement over placement of the meetinghouse divided the town in two; Keeneborough parish to the north and east, and Brentwood to the south and west. In 1750 one meetinghouse was established at the site of the current United Church of Christ on Middle Road.
Early subsistence farmers produced almost everything they needed and bartered with surplus eggs, cordwood or animals to supply the rest. Mills were scattered along the rivers, producing lumber and manufactured goods. As reliance on waterpower ebbed and the mills fell into disuse, dairy, poultry and egg farms, mink, pheasant and potato farms flourished.
These farms are gone now, houses have been built in their place, but Brentwood retains its rural flavor with open space, wooded trails, small specialty farms and many home gardens. They now face challenges similar to many other growing towns, to preserve the essence of their local heritage.