Home / History of Burghwallis and Bentley

History of Burghwallis and Bentley

A comparative study of the development of two South Yorkshire Parishes

Margaret L. Pidcock-Bums , B.A.; B.Sc

Submitted in part requirement for the degree of Master of Arts in Local History, Literature and Cultural Tradition. Division of Continuing Education/Centre for English Cultural Tradition and Language.

University  of Sheffield. 1996

This thesis is the culmination of research into the history of the parishes of Burghwallis and Bentley. Burghwallis was chosen as being my native home. Once an ‘estate village’ centred around the ancient Church and seventeenth-century Hall, it is now a quiet ‘commuter’ community that no longer has the facilities of a Post Office, shop or school. Bentley is the subject of more recent studies in my position as Hon. Archivist to the Bentley and Arksey Heritage Society. From a small ‘open’ village with many farms centred around the village green, it has developed into a large sprawling village with a ‘recent’ Church, several Chapels, many shops, schools and public houses, with residents presently coming to terms with the closure of the colliery.

This study examines the way in which two parishes that at the time of the Domesday Survey had similar topographies, resources and character, have developed along different lines. In the medieval period the population at Burghwallis was expanding at a faster rate than Bentley, even when taking into account development of satellite hamlets at Wrostholme and Shaftholme. From the nineteenth century onwards the situation reversed and Bentley expanded at an ever increasing rate while Burghwallis shrank in both size and population.

Features in the landscape and documentary evidence from Surveys, Deeds, Fines and Terriers that illustrate these differences in growth are examined and theories put forward in explanation. Evidence on population statistics, occupations and social structure has been extracted from the Domesday Survey, Poll Tax and Hearth Tax Surveys, Parish Registers, Census Returns and Local Directories. The study moves through a series of specific points of information, analysing the data and then examining the process by which the communities arrived at this state.

Religious practice in the two parishes is considered, looking at siting of the churches and chapels, architecture and documentation for the extraction of information about the size and nature of the population and wealth of the communities at specific periods. The latter part of the dissertation concentrates on the growth of the parish of Bentley, looking at the areas of, and reasons for, expansion, with detailed analysis of occupations and facilities. This is compared with a description of Burghwallis during the same period, and reasons why one parish should have developed so much and the other more or less stagnated are discussed. The two parishes are put into a regional context and compared briefly with similar parishes in this area of South Yorkshire.

In conclusion it is indicated that the development of rural communities into ‘pit’ villages can be influenced by events and decisions that occurred as a result of the Norman Conquest as well as environmental, political, social and personal circumstances and preferences in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


I would like to thank firstly my husband for his encouragement, patience, and help in guiding me through the intricacies of Windows 95, Word, and Pagemaker; also Bill Brinkley for showing me the advert for the course and his encouragement and help with research. My thanks also go to all those who have helped me with research at the various archive departments, notably Carol Hill and Helen Wallder in the Local History Department at Doncaster Central Library; Brian Barber and the staff at Doncaster Archives; and staff at The Borthwick Institute of Historical Research, York; the Archives of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, ‘Claremont’, Leeds; Sheffield City Archives; and the Archives of the National Tramway Museum Society, Crich, Derbyshire. Thanks are also expressed to Doncaster Archives and Burghwallis Parish Council for permission to use tracings made from the Enclosure Maps of Bentley and Burghwallis respectively and to the Clerk to Burghwallis Parish Council for loan of the Enclosure Map and Award for my research. And lastly, thanks to all my friends for their encouragement and help and comments such as “Haven’t you finished it yet?”


  1. Introduction
  2. Topgraphy
  3. Pre-history to the Anglo-Saxon settlement
  4. Pre-History
  5. Roman occupation
  6. Anglo-Saxon settlement
  7. Domesday survey
  8. Burghwallis
  9. Bentley
  10. Population
  11. The extent of the managers at the Domesday Survey 1086
  12. 12th to 14th centuries
  13. 1379 – a poll-tax
  14. Burghwallis in the 12th and 13th centuries
  15. Bentley in the 12th and 13th centuries
  16. Utilisation of water power
  17. Population of the manors
  18. Formation of the ecclesiastical parishes
  19. Population statistics
  20. The 15th to 18th centuries
  21. Burghwallis hearth tax 1672
  22. Bentley hearth tax 1672
  23. Lords of the Manor
  24. The manors in 1672
  25. Parish registers – Burghwallis
  26. Parish registers – Bentley
  27. The parishes at the end of the 18th century
  28. The beginning of change
  29. Burghwallis pre-enclosure
  30. Bentley pre-enclosure
  31. Enclosure
  32. The enclosure of Burghwallis – 1813
  33. The enclosure of Bentley – 1759 and 1827
  34. Populations and occupations
  35. Burghwallis in 1837
  36. Bentley in 1837
  37. Burghwallis, mid to late 19th century
  38. Bentley, mid to late 19th century
  39. Religion in Bentley during the 19th century
  40. The parishes at the turn of the century
  41. Into the 20th century
  42. Transport
  43. Bentley Colliery
  44. Burghwallis
  45. Bentley
  46. The factors for change


Burghwallis and Bentley are two of a series of villages in southern Yorkshire that developed along the eastern edge of the limestone ridge, most of them around a watercourse, and with lower ground to the east providing meadow land and woodland for fuel, pasturage and building materials.


The topography of the two parishes is very similar, both having limestone uplands to the west and low, flat, clayey soil in the eastern part. To the north-east of Burghwallis are Sutton Common and Rushy Moor, early a peaty basin and in medieval times a source of fuel. The limestone uplands, once cleared of woodland, will always have provided good soil for the growth of cereal crops, and there is evidence of occupation on these areas from the Neolithic onwards. The clay soils of the lower ground are of varying types ranging in shades from blues through greys and browns to reds. They provided good material for making bricks, tiles and drainage pipes and since the middle of the nineteenth century many brickwork sites have existed for short periods of time.

Sandy and silty islands dispersed among these claylands have provided evidence of early occupation, from the Mesolithic onwards. The subsoil of this lower ground is mainly gravel, with ‘Bunter’ Sandstone at depth acting as a water reservoir.

The limestone initially provided surface stone and easily quarried thin-bedded limestone, the upper magnesian limestone; this is a hard stone that has survived well, as can be seen in the earliest parts of the church at Burghwallis and in the numerous stone walls of the district.

As quarrying extended the thicker beds of the more easily worked better quality stone became available from the lower magnesian limestone. The quality of this stone became well known in medieval times and it was transported as far afield as Cambridge. Some of the stone from these beds, however, is more susceptible to weathering than that from the upper beds and the effects of the accelerated deterioration caused by acid rain and strong winds acting on the stonework are clearly visible at many churches in the locality.

Most of the land in both parishes is now under agriculture, with drainage schemes bringing wetter areas into production. There is some pasture for cattle grazing and also recently, at Burghwallis, for the raising of deer, a restoration of a practice common in later mediaeval times. It is ironic that the old deer park at Burghwallis has been ploughed up within the last thirty years, (incidentally destroying a pasture that was rich in botanical specimens), so that new pasture land has had to be created for the present herd.

There are still areas of woodland. Burghwallis Wood and Scorcher Hills Wood are basically ancient and show signs of coppicing, although there has been new planting after both the Napoleonic War and the First World War. Daw Wood near Bentley has virtually disappeared, but there are small plantations dating from the nineteen and twentieth centuries in both parishes. Many small areas of woodland however have been cleared within the last three decades, along with miles of hedgerow, to give the large open fields which are more suited to modern agricultural machinery.

Up to the early nineteenth century the lower land was marshy and liable to frequent flooding during the winter months. In the formerly detached part of the parish of Burghwallis ‘Rushy Moor, Shirley Pool and Sutton Common, were covered with water in winter, and during flood time it was not unusual to see 500 acres under water. These places were the annual resort of immense flocks of wild ducks. Shirley Pool is an expansive sheet of water, serpentine in its form , and apparently of six acres in extent.’ This common has now mainly been dried out through drainage schemes, but Shirley Pool survives and there are still some small pockets of wet, reedy ground. [Note: These reeds were used in house building in the region until the last century, providing a free and easily accessible material to attach to upright and ceiling timbers on which the plaster could be bonded. One example is Shaftholme Farm near Bentley where reeds, plastered over, were attached to late l6th/early 17th century internal timber framing.]

Likewise at Bentley, the lower land and Ings on the banks of the River Don frequently became flooded in late Winter and Spring. The Ea Beck has now been constrained behind banks and the River Don on the southern borders of Bentley subjected to flood control and constrained behind flood banks. It is only under exceptional wet weather conditions that agricultural land is flooded and areas once more become a haven for bird life, as in the Winter of 1994-95 when land between Bentley and Arksey was flooded, leaving Thorpe Marsh Power Station on an island. This gave an indication of what the land may have looked like before drainage.

There are pools in both parishes which at the present time provide recreational fishing facilities, but most of these were created during the nineteenth century where clay was extracted for brick-making.


4. Pre-History

Evidence for early occupation of the two parishes is scant. To the north-east of Burghwallis parish, on Sutton Common and Rushy Moor, occupation sites have been revealed on sandy islands dating “from the Mesolithic to medieval period, all of which must in some way be connected with the low-lying land running through the area.” Dating of timber found in ditches surrounding the two larger islands suggest that they “were enclosed by earth banks and ditches, possibly around the 5th to the 4th century BC,” [Late Iron Age], and the nature of some of this timber demonstrates that surrounding woodlands were being coppiced at that time. Geophysical surveying has shown that a river was flowing north-eastwards between these two islands during this occupation period.

5. Roman Occupation

This site on Sutton Common was re-occupied briefly in the 2nd to 3rd centuries AD; locally produced Roman pottery was found during the 1930’s excavations. There was also extensive occupation of the higher ground on the limestone soils at this time. Aerial photographs show field systems, enclosures and dwellings over this area, and the limited excavation work carried out all points to late Iron Age or Romano-British occupation of these sites.

The most important Roman site in the parishes was the fort at Burghwallis, or Robin Hood’s Well as named in some reports. Although only recognised officially through aerial photography in 1971 it had long been suspected that there had been Roman occupation of the site. Hunter said in 1830 that “it is manifest from the number of Roman coins that have been discovered … together with fibulae and other small relics of that people … that there was some kind of settlement at this spot.” Artefacts and coins of the Roman period are regular finds in the area, and Roman pottery including Antonine Samian ware was recovered from ditch sections visible in a disused quarry that cuts into the fort at the north-west corner.

There have been numerous finds of Roman coins and small artefacts in both Burghwallis and Bentley and also in surrounding parishes, and Roman burials were uncovered at Adwick-le- Street, a parish that separates Bentley from Burghwallis. The name of Adwick-le-Street provides the clue to the other major Roman feature in the district, being the Roman highway that provided a ready-made boundary for the majority of parishes along its route in this part of South Yorkshire. May Pickles has argued that it is not entirely the feature of a road itself that makes it become a boundary, but rather that roads were wherever possible built on well-draining land. “A road is for ease of communication and as such needs good drainage and … a boundary is for the sharing out of resources between adjacent communities.

Where these two requirements happen to coincide, then road and boundary coincide.” The siting of the Roman road in this area, on the higher ground of the limestone uplands, has meant that it lay in position which fulfilled these conditions and therefore provided a suitable boundary line when parishes were formed, either late in the Anglo-Saxon period or shortly after the Norman Conquest.

6. Anglo-Saxon Settlement

The Roman fort must still have been a visible site when Anglo-Saxons colonised the area, enough so to give the name of Burg to the nearby settlement and the later established parish; there is no evidence for a Saxon ‘burg’ from which the name could have come. Indeed the fact that ’Burg’ stood alone in the Domesday Survey, instead of with some attached prefix such as in Barneburg, Coningesburg and Sproteburg, suggests that the name was given for some unusual and different feature in the landscape rather than for a specific person’s stronghold. Nothing has been revealed so far to indicate whether the earliest post-Roman settlement was in the fort area or in the position occupied by the present village of Burghwallis. However, the fact that a well was constructed very near to the fort suggests that some form of habitation may have continued near to, or within, its’ confines. [Note: The well was not in the present position of the early eighteenth century well-head, the well having dried up and the stone structure being moved during road widening] Hunter suggests that this watering place may have been one of those mentioned by Bede as having been set up by King Edwin throughout Northumbria in the seventh century. ’Such was the King’s concern for the welfare of his people that in a number of places where he had noticed clear springs adjacent to the highway he ordered posts to be erected with brass bowls hanging from them, so travellers could drink and refresh themselves.’ The fact that the site is in a prime position on a major highway which has been in existence at least since Roman times, (now the Al), and with an abundant water supply which at one time included not only the Skell but also springs on either side of the stream, would make it a preferred site for occupation at all times.

From the siting of the village of Burghwallis and other villages with Anglo-Saxon elements in their place names in this area of southern Yorkshire, it is apparent that ‘the Anglo-Saxons did not settle alongside the old roads but sought refuge in secluded places half a mile or more away.’ Each of the villages of Burghwallis and Bentley is situated between half to one mile from the old Roman highway, on the banks of streams. However whilst Burghwallis is built on the limestone just to the north of a fault line separating this limestone from the marls, Bentley village is built just to the eastern edge of the limestone, on heavier soils.

The origin of the ‘burg’ element in Burghwallis has already been discussed. Wallis was a personal name added in the 12th century, when a member of that family married a co-heiress to the manor. The name Bentley is derived from the Old English ‘bent’ meaning ‘bent or wiry grass’ followed by ‘ley’, a woodland clearing; this suggests that the area of lower lying ground was still quite heavily wooded at the time of first settlement.

No Anglo-Saxon remains have been found in either parish. Although no church is mentioned for Burghwallis in the Domesday record of 1086, the present church is thought to date from just before the Norman Conquest. This is based on the style of architecture, wall thickness, the herring-bone masonry to which the church owes its fame, and the name of St. Helen (earlier St. Ellen); ‘A dedication to either Helen or Ellen is likely to have been an early one.’

It is tempting to speculate on the possibility that persons stationed with the Roman army at the fort at Burghwallis worshipped Ellen, the Celtic goddess of armies and roads, and upon conversion to Christianity during the time of Constantine re-dedicated their place of worship to Helen, the mother of Constantine, it being convenient to keep a similar name to cover the transition from one religion to another. This, however, would imply some form of continuity, through any Romano-British still residing in the area of the fort when the Roman armies withdrew to the Anglo-Saxon settlers. The occurrence of ‘a probable visit from Helen for a break on the journey to Rome’ from York seems to have no historic basis, as Constantine had ‘divorced’ her before coming to Britain so it is unlikely that she ever visited the island.

There was no church known at Bentley during this period, and Bentley came under the ecclesiastical parish of Arksey until 1898. All Saint’s Church at Arksey is considered to be of purely Norman foundation, but this name was ‘a popular dedication in the late Anglo-Saxon period.’ Other churches with this dedication in the South Yorkshire area, namely Owston, Hooton Pagnell, Darfield, Wath-on-Dearne, Rotherham and Laughten-on-le-Morthen all have remains of either Saxon or Saxo-Norman overlap work within their structure but only one of them, Rotherham, is mentioned in the Domesday Survey. Investigation of lower parts of the Chancel walls at Arksey church has revealed masonry of a cruder nature that may be of a pre- Conquest building, and also the church guide mentions ‘4 big, irregular, reddish stones which may have been cornerstones of a Saxon tower,’ reused in the present building.

The last pre-Norman holders of the manors were Osulf (Bentley) and Godric (Arksey) cultivating around 270 and 330 acres respectively. Arksey appears to have been the more favoured of the two manors as it was here that the new Norman lord took demense land, lending weight to the argument for an early Church. Surely if there was no church in 1066 then the Norman owner of both manors would have built at Bentley, on more solid foundations and where good building stone was more readily available, than on a slightly elevated sandy island which would often have been inaccessible because of flooding. It seems that at the time of the Norman Conquest Bentley may have been the inferior manor of the two and, although the best agricultural land (on the limestone) was there, there was less acreage under the plough than at Arksey.

At Burghwallis Toe, owner of the manor in 1066, had around 360 acres where ‘three ploughs may be.’ Although all three manors had been valued at 40s. at the time of Edward (immediately pre-conquest), Burghwallis had the largest acreage under cultivation, obviously benefiting from a major part of the manor being on limestone soils.


The Manors in 1086

8. Burghwallis

As previously mentioned, prior to the Conquest Burghwallis was in the ownership of Tom, who had ‘three carucates of land for geld, and three ploughs may be there.’ The value in the time of Edward had been forty shillings, but by 1086 it was worth only thirty shillings. The manor was given to Ilbert de Laci, who as a tenant in chief held ‘a broad belt of land across the West Riding, with the majority of the Staincross and Osgoldgross wapentakes and much of the Honour of Pontefract.’ His headquarters were at the castle at Pontefract. He in turn had subinfeuded to William ‘the Poictevin,’ who held ‘manors in Burgh (Wallis), Skellow, Aiketon, and Lied’ (Lead). At Burghwallis he held ‘in the demense one plough, and three villanes and three bordars having two ploughs and a half.’ William also had demense land in Skellow and it is not known where he had his main residence, although this branch of the family eventually settled in Burghwallis. At Skellow however there are the remains of a motte and bailey castle, shown on the map as ‘Cromwell’s Batteries’, (most likely a later re-use of the site) and this was probably William’s original stronghold.

9. Bentley

It is difficult to find an explanation as to why the value of the manor of Bentley had dropped by half whilst the number of ploughs had more than doubled, compared to Burghwallis where the value had reduced by only a quarter whilst the number of ploughs showed only a slight increase. A brief overview of the region shows that Bentley and neighbouring Arksey had been reduced in value more than any other manor. One possible explanation is the lack of demense land; Bentley had none and Arksey only half a plough, whilst all other manors in the region had one or two ploughs on the demense. Land quality may also have played a part; the manor of Burghwallis was of better quality, being mainly on the well-drained limestone, while much of that at Bentley and all at Arksey, was on heavier clayey soils.

10. Population

It is possible only to give an indication of the population of the parishes in 1086. Various studies have been made and methods of calculation from differing sources give varying multiplicants, from 3.5 to 4.5 based on the actual figures given in the Domesday Book. In Burghwallis there were only three villeins and three bordars, which gives a total population of between twenty-one and twenty-seven, depending on which multiplicants are used.

In Bentley there were twelve villeins giving an estimated population of between forty-two and fifty-four. These figures indicate that the population in Bentley was slightly denser per acre than at Burghwallis, although both manors were within the average calculated density of population for rural areas in 1086 of thirty people per square mile.

The Domesday Survey lists both manors as in the wapentake of Osgoldcross, which suggests that the river Don formed the southern boundary between this and the wapentake of Strafforth. However this was to change, and Hunter suggests that it was because Bentley became part of the holding of Roger de Busli ‘that they became annexed to Strafford, in which his castle and his other Yorkshire manors were situated.’

11. The Extent of the Manors at the Domesday Survey, 1086

At the time of the Domesday Survey Burghwallis (Burg) was described as having ‘two acres of meadow. Wood, pasturable, half a leuga in length and as much in breadth. The whole manor, one leuga in length and a half in breadth.’ This as recorded was therefore about 720 acres , with half the manor being covered with woodland and the number of ploughs indicating that the rest was under cultivation.

Bentley at this time had ‘eight acres of meadow. Wood, pasturable, one leuga in length and four quarenteens (furlongs) in breadth’; this is approximately two-thirds of the size of the whole manor of Burghwallis. The size of the manor is not given, but the six ploughs suggest that about 700 acres were under cultivation although on the heavier soil each plough probably cultivated a smaller acreage. This gives a total taxable area for the manor of around twelve hundred acres.

The manor of Bentley in 1086 was therefore about one third larger than Burghwallis

Although these calculations can only be a rough guide to the size of the manors as economic units, when compared to their size at the present time it can already be seen that the potential for differing directions of development were present in the eleventh century. The parish of Burghwallis at the present date contains some nine hundred acres, which is only slightly greater than that recorded in the manor in 1086; the increase in acreage can be accounted for by draining and bringing into cultivation some of the wetter land to the east. At some period in time however the parish became larger, probably with land coming into the possession of the Lord of the Manor through marriage. (At the time of Enclosure in 1813/15 a detached portion containing the hamlet of Haywood was part of Burghwallis, but in 1875 this was annexed to the parish of Moss.) The parish as it exists today therefore is probably very similar in size and extant to that of the manor of 1086, although much which at that time was woodland is now cleared and under agriculture.

The manor of Bentley however only made up less than half of the acreage of the present parish. This suggests that a large amount of land around the manor was classed as uneconomic at the time of the survey but was obviously a prime target for future expansion.

Much of this uncultivated land must have been marshy. A map of c.1770 by Thomas Jeffrey, which shows an area of marshy ground to the south and east of Tilts which continues westwards through the parish of Adwick-le-Street to Carcroft, seems to confirm this. The Domesday name of the neighbouring parish of Arksey was ‘Archesia’, being formed from a personal name Old English (Arcil) or Old Norse (Arkil) followed by an O.E. ending meaning a water meadow; indeed Arksey has more than once been called ‘The Ark in the Sea.’ This area has been dried out, banking up the old Ea Beck and the construction of the Shaftholme and Tilts drain. Although there was no mention of a church in either of the parishes in the Domesday Book, there are, as discussed previously, definite features at Burghwallis that suggest a pre-Conquest date for the initial building and there are also indications at Arksey church, in which parish Bentley was included, that there was an earlier, possibly pre-conquest, building on the site. The Church at Burghwallis is built on the limestone, and a small but deep quarry only a few metres distant in the thinly bedded Upper Magnesian Limestone was most probably the source of stone for the earliest building. The sandstone used in the plinth and early walls was available only a short distance away in a sand and gravel deposit, or from a small outcrop in nearby Sutton parish.

Many theories have been put foreword as to why certain churches with pre-Norman architectural features were not of economic interest in 1086. One possibility is that they had suffered damage in 1069-70 when King William, in response to an uprising in the north, ‘marched northward with all the levies he could muster, and plundered and utterly laid waste that shire.’ There would have been little time for the new Norman lords to have given to restoring or rebuilding churches in the intervening sixteen years whilst they were taking control of their new estates. At Burghwallis the ‘herring-bone’ style of building survives only in part of the structure, mainly in the south walls, and it may be that in 1086 this was all that was standing, the rest of the church having been demolished, especially if it was being used as a place of refuge..

In 1086 both manors were suffering from the upheavals of the previous twenty years. Bentley was in a more distressed condition than Burghwallis, having halved in value in comparison with the reduction of only twenty-five percent there, regardless of the larger population and number of ploughs for a smaller acreage under cultivation. It appears that Roger de Busli had more important priorities than his manor of Bentley on the northern boundary of a large holding whilst William Pictavus, with less land, had managed his holdings to a greater satisfaction.


13. 1379 – A Poll Tax

In 1379 one of a series of Poll Taxes was levied, this being the first survey since 1086 for which complete records for both manors have survived. From these records, which list all those on whom the tax was levied, namely all of sixteen years and older, population sizes can be estimated and an insight gained into the structure of the community. From the various studies that have been made it is generally accepted that by taking an average family unit to be 3.85 persons an approximate size of population can be calculated.

In Burghwallis there were thirty-four married couples and ten each of single males and females, a total adult population of eighty-eight; multiplying the married couples by 3.85 and adding on the singles gives an estimated population of one hundred and forty-one. There is no separate list for Arksey, so it must be taken that as the manors of Bentley and Arksey were combined as one ecclesiastical unit at this time, the manor of Arksey was included in the returns for the ‘Villata de Bentley’ This of course makes it dlfficult to define the actual population at Bentley. The combined population of the two manors consisted of sixty-eight married couples, eighteen single males and forty-eight single women, giving an estimated total population of two-hundred and fifty. If it is assumed that the population was divided more or less equally between the two manors of Bentley and Arksey then Burghwallis and Bentley would have an equal number of married couples with Bentley having more single persons.

Whilst there were equal numbers of single men and women in Burghwallis, in Bentley with Arksey single women outnumbered single men by two/half-to-one, namely forty-eight females and nineteen males. It is difficult to explain this, especially without information of the ages of these women; one is described as a mother, twelve as daughters and five as servants. Four of the remaining thirty have children, one also a servant, and were probably widows, while the two with surnames of ‘Parsonseruand’ and ‘V›ckerseruand’ are self-explanatory. This still leaves twenty-four, half of whom cannot be connected by surname to other people in the parish. A brief survey of the Poll Tax for neighbouring parishes shows a slight predominance of females over males in two and the opposite in the others, so something different was happening in Bentley or Arksey, or both, at this time which cannot be identified from this documentation.

This Poll Tax of 1379 was a graduated one, charges being made with relation to financial status; the basic tax was four pennies. The tax lists those having trades as paying a higher rate. In Burghwallis there were a ‘Wryght’ and a ‘Taylour’ taxed at six pennies and a ‘Drapour’ at twelve pennies, whilst in the combined manors of Bentley with Arksey there were a ‘Smyth’, two ’Chapmen’ (peddlers) and a ‘Taillour’ all charged at six pennies. The number of craftsmen may seem low for the services that would be required, but Bentley could obtain goods through proximity to the market town of Doncaster and Burghwallis would be served by the market at Campsall for which Henry de Laci obtained a charter in 1293-94. In 1379 there were one chapman, two smiths, three tailors, three websters (weavers), two souters (shoemakers/cobblers), a fisher and a spicer residing there.

There is no mention of the lords of either of the manors. The Burghwallis estate had recently come into the ownership of Sir William Gascoigne, Lord Chief Justice, through marriage to the heiress from Wallis through Dependen and Mowbray, and his main residence was elsewhere.

According to Hunter however, at this period Sir Robert de Swillington ‘seems to have held Burghwallis for term of life, when it reverted back to the right line.’

Bentley likewise was in a period of transition, the last lord leaving three young daughters, co- heirs, who in 1379 were in the wardship of Richard, Lord Scrope of Bolton. Two of them were later married to two of his sons, his heir Richard and Stephen. Sir Stephen Scrope became the next lord of Bentley.

14. Burghwallis in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries

At the end of the twelfth and into the early thirteenth century both manors had seen a change of lordship. At Burg the line of Pictavus ended in seven daughters, coheirs, and the manor became divided between several of their spouses. The major holding in the manor of Burg passed into the Wallis family, Dionysia marrying Robert Wallis who was Seneschal of Pontefract.

This family had other estates to the north of Pontefract, and were to add their surname as a suffix to two manors, namely Burgh Wallis and Newton Wallis. Other parts of the estate passed to members of the families of Tankersley, Rockley and Midhope. The Rockleys had a large estate at Rockley near Barnsley but were to acquire much more land by judicious marriages. A descendent of the Robert Rockley who married Muriel, one of the coheirs of Robert Pictavus, namely Henry de Rockley, married the daughter and heiress of William de la Hay, and appears to have held land at Haywood, although the Hay family are known later for their connections with Skelbrooke. It was most likely at this date that the land at Haywood, to the east of Burghwallis parish, became a detached part of the manor of Burghwallis, and was to continue as such for over five hundred years.

The heir to the Tankersley family estate was another to acquire land at Burghwallis through marriage, but this portion subsequently passed through an heiress to Richard ie Tyas, of the family who held Lead. (This manor had been held by William Pictavus in 1086, but the relationship between the Pictavus and Tyas families has not been established.) His daughter married the heir to the Rockley estate, and the land-holdings at Burghwallis once again came into one ownership. Thus land which had been the inheritance of two of the daughters of Robert Pictavus was reunited by the joining of two of their descendants, and also land that had been split from the family holdings at an earlier period.

The family of Rockley had left Burghwallis by the middle of the fourteenth century. Sir Robert, grandson of Henry and Constance, was still a minor on his father’s death, c.1340, and his mother Cecilia had let the house, possibly moving to the main family home at Rockley near Wosborough. The next Sir Robert founded the Chantry at Wosborough, and from the pedigree in Hunter it appears that he had taken up the family seat at Rockley in Wosborough when the main line there ended in the death of an unmarried heiress. The Rockley family left a legacy at Burghwallis as the chief house of their estate was apparently still standing during Hunter’s lifetime; he mentions that ‘there is still a house by the name of Rockley Hall in the parish of Burghwallis. This appears to have been the house occupied at a later period by the Adams family who were to acquire the manor of Owston. ‘It appears in the will of William Adams, of Rockley- hall, in the adjoining parish of Burghwallis, 1542, that he had a lease of the parsonage of Owston.’

The site of a building thought to be Rockley Hall has been located and surveyed recently, along with the site of a deserted medieval village nearby, on the eastern banks of Shirley Pool. The report published by the South Yorkshire Archaeological Unit states that ‘the plough soil was found to contain large quantities of limestone and river cobbles in association with numerous concentrations of mediaeval pottery. The spread of material suggests the sites of several houses and the date range of the pottery suggests occupation from the l2th to the l6th century.’ At the ‘site known locally as Rockley Hall ….. the plough soil assemblage suggests a substantial stone building roofed in stone tile of at least two wings fronting onto a courtyard. The date range for the pottery suggests occupation from the 13th to the 18th century.’ These dates fit in very well with the documentary evidence. It is suggested that the village site ‘may be associated with peat cutting on Rushy Moor.’

The early manor house at Burghwallis is not thought to have stood on the site of the present Hall; Charlton Anne mentions that ‘The old Manor house is said to have stood in the ‘park’, where there is now a square pond and traces of building can be seen.’ This trace of building was still visible up to about the nineteen sixties, when the park was still to grass. A low bank formed a rectangular area, and to the south, on lower ground, was a rectangular depression that filled with water during the winter months; this is shown on the Enclosure map of 1813 as a rectangular pond with wings to the north. Now that the field has been ploughed the area appears as a levelled off platform site just to the south, downdrop, side of the geological fault line dividing the limestone from the marls, but above the wetter ground. The rectangular depression to the south in this wetter area was probably a medieval fish-pond.

A road ran across the park towards this site, and is shown on early maps . Pottery of only the l4th and l5th centuries has been found here, and it seems likely that this is the area of the Norman manor house, (built after the Pictavus family vacated the motte and bailey site at Skellow?), at a short distance from the church and village, but further archaeological investigation would be needed to establish this.

15. Bentley in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries

There are two moated sites, one in each of the manors of Bentley and Arksey, which according to the dating given to this type of site must have been in existence by 1379. It is difficult however to assign any of the persons mentioned in the Poll Tax to these sites. The one near to the church at Arksey is a large, single square enclosure, but that at Bentley is of the double enclosure type, very similar to the site at Woodhall near Womersley. It is known that the Newmarche family built and resided upon the moated site at Woodhall, the suggestion being that, due to its low-lying situation, it was used mainly as a summer residence. As they were also lords of the manor of Bentley during the same period it is highly probable that they were responsible for construction of the site here. This site is as yet unexcavated, but one interpretation of the surviving earthworks is that a substantial timber framed building stood in the easternmost enclosure, while a central causeway with a gate-tower led into the second enclosure. This has the remains of a fishpond, and earthworks of a shape reminiscent of a stable layout. Pottery sherds dating from the fourteenth century to the time of the Civil War have been found on the site.

16. Utilisation of Water Power

Many of the villages in this area have exploited the power of water by erecting mills on streams and Bentley and Burghwallis were no exception. A mill was in existence at Burghwallis early in the twelfth century, being mentioned in an Inventory of 1185 made for Geoffrey fitz-Stephen, Master of the Order of Templars. It is recorded as ‘APUD BURGUM, (Burgh Waleis), unum molend, qd. Robertos Walensis tenet pro 20s.’ An inquest held at Potterlame, 2 March 1307, records that ‘Richard de Waleis pays a yearly rent of 15s. for a watermill at Burghen-Walleis, given by his ancestors to the House of Templars at Templehurst.’

In 1086 William Pictavus had held the manors of both Burghwallis and Skellow, and it is logical that for the convenience of all any mill would have been sited on the stream about equidistant from the two villages. At a later date, when the manor of Skellow was split from the holding, the mill was retained in the interest at Burghwallis and the mill and mill-pond are now situated on a small tongue of land projecting from the fairly regular outline of the present parish boundary. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, it appears that the mill has been situated on or about the present site for at least eight hundred years.

The mill at Bentley can be traced nearly as far back in time, to 1332, when Robert de Hathelsay transferred ‘Two messuages, one toft, I mill, nine and a half bovates of land, six acres of meadow and 11s. 5 1/2d. rent in Kirksandale and Bentelay’ to John le Botiller. The note of the deed does not specify the type of mill, or indeed which manor it was in, but as a water-mill is later mentioned at Bentley, and no record has been found referring to a mill at Kirksandale, it seems safe to conclude that the mill and land at Bentley is the one in question. In 1554 Edmund Wyndam, knight., transferred rights Of the ‘Manors of Bentley and Arksey and 100 messuages and a water-mill with lands there’ to three knights, presumably his retainers.

This presumably would have been the mill situated on Millgate, Bentley, which was demolished in 1980, and which at the time of demolition still had mullion windows surviving on the lower floors. The mill at Bentley therefore can be traced back some six-hundred and fifty years.

17. Population of the Manors

A comparison of the population increase in the two parishes over the three hundred year period from 1086 to 1379 poses some questions. Whilst the actual numbers were fairly comparable, at approximately one hundred and ten for Burghwallis and one hundred and forty for Bentley with Arksey, the percentage increases present a different aspect. The population for Burghwallis had increased fivefold since the Domesday Survey, whilst that of Bentley with Arksey was only two- and-half times as much.

Perhaps some indication as to the reasons can be demonstrated from surnames in use at the time. At Burghwallis there was a Johannes de Scherlay, and it is known from deeds that the village of Shirley, eastwards of Burghwallis and near to Haywood, was in existence by this date. It had been under the tenancy of Henry de Rockley, a descendant by marriage of the Burghwallis family of Pictavus, who married Ellen, daughter of William de la Hay. This gentleman is thought also to have been a descendent of the Pictavus family, through a female line. This indicates that the size of the manor increased by amalgamation with adjoining property through marriage. It is suggested that a new hamlet grew in this location to meet demands for a local produce, namely the peat on Sutton Common.

Population in the parish must have been somewhere near saturation point by the middle of the fourteenth century, with most of the land under cultivation. This is demonstrated by survival of ‘ridge and furrow’ in present pasture land in the eastern part of the parish, named on the Enclosure Map as ‘Burghwallis Common.’ This poorer land being brought into cultivation at an early period suggests clearance of some of the woodland that existed in 1086.

18. Formation of the Ecclesiastical Parishes

According to Richard Holmes townships came under ecclesiastical organisation during ‘the time of Henry II, (1154-1189) when these 69 townships [the Wapentake of Osgoldcross] were grouped into 19 parishes in subordination to the then existing Churches.’ In some cases the townships were subdivided, especially ‘where the interests in the various manors had quickly become divided, generally by partition between the husbands of post-Domesday coheirs, the allocation was made according to the interest. Thus a cross division was made of the manors of Burghwallis and Owston, between the parishes of Burghwallis and Owston; … and of Sutton, between Burghwallis, Campsall and Owston.’ The district for the Poll Tax was possibly based on this larger ecclesiastical parish rather than on the manor as it appeared at the time of the Domesday Survey.

Bentley had also expanded in area by 1379, with new place names being mentioned in land transactions. The Poll Tax Returns contain surnames such as ‘de Tils’, ‘Schaftholm’ and ‘Tomholm,’ and a land transference of 1342 mentions a ‘William son of Thomas Gamell of Stokbrigg,’ These were all satellite hamlets that had grown up around Bentley, as clearances in woodland and reclamation of wetter land. There is also surviving ridge and furrow here, but much nearer to the village centre than at Burghwallis, being on low lying land between the limestone belt and the village.

19. Population Statistics

It appears that the greater statistical growth in the manor of Burghwallis had been achieved by the acquisition of land which was already inhabited, whilst growth in Bentley was the product of expansion onto land on the outskirts of the manor as a result of natural population growth. This is not taking into account other factors for which there are no surviving local statistics, such as to how much the population of each manor had been reduced by plagues thirty years previously.

These could have had a drastic impact, but possibly more so in the manor of Bentley with its’ close proximity to Doncaster than at Burghwallis in a more isolated siting. Could this be a possible explanation for the large proportion of females in the manor of Bentley? Had the male population been more heavily stricken down by the plagues and the balance not yet been redressed ?


The Hearth Tax Returns of the 1660’s and 1670’s provide the next overall survey from which size of population can be estimated, as well as revealing information about the social structure of the manors. A record was taken of the number of hearths in a property, and mention was also made of houses that stood empty or were not yet completed. Those who were too poor to pay the tax could obtain a certificate of exemption and these are recorded, but it is thought that some poor had not obtained a certificate and may have been missed from the final record, and this has to be considered when estimating population sizes.

21. Burghwallis – Hearth Tax 1672

At Burghwallis twenty-five properties were recorded; of these two were poor and two were empty. Michael Ann esq. was recorded at the Hall, which at that date was a substantial building with eleven hearths. This would have been the earliest part of the present Hall, built on land adjacent to the Church yard to replace the old manor house some few hundred metres further south on lower ground. Gordon Smith suggests that this would be about the time of Henry VII, late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. ‘The present Burghwallis Hall is said to be partly Tudor, according to the roof timbers of the central and original part of the building.’

This was during the period when the Gascoigne family held the manor, from the 1370’s when Sir William Gascoigne married the heiress Elizabeth Mowbray, a descendent of the Wallis family through a female line. A John Gascoigne of Burghwallis is mentioned in a fine by Henry VII, regarding land at Pontefract, and it seems from this and other records that the seat at Burghwallis was the residence of younger sons of the family. The Gascoigne family held the manor for about two hundred years, until the death of Thomas Gascoigne, Esquire, of Burghwallis, whose brass memorial plate still adorns his gravestone in the village Church. His will, ‘proved 9 July 1556, … leaves to Jane his wife … lands during her life within the lordship of Burghwallis, i.e. Rockley Hall and Shirley &c; … with remainder, if he die without issue, to his brother-in-law Mr. Leonard West and “to my sister” his wife.’ This sister was Barbara Gascoigne, and the manor of Burghwallis passed to the West family by this marriage.

John West inherited the manor, and in 1594 transferred it to Richard Fenton and his wife. Richard’s daughter Margaret married George Anne of Frickley and this family, who already held land in Burghwallis, were to become Lords of the Manor from the end of the sixteenth century for some three-hundred and fifty years. In 1672 however the Anne family still had the Hall at Frickley, and were not to make Burghwallis their main residence for nearly another hundred years. Michael Anne was the grandson of the George who had married Margaret Fenton.

Mr. Thomas Gleadhall had been rector of the parish for twelve years, since the end of the Civil War, and the rectory standing in 1672 had five hearths. This appears to have been a substantially sized building, possibly the one described some forty-four years later in a terrier of 1716, comprising “the Rectory house the body of which is fourteen yards long and six and a half broad, the south wing eighteen long and six broad, the north wing nine long and six broad.” The house and forge occupied by John Winn, had four hearths and the mill, in the ownership of Mr. Anne, had two.

The rest of the parish consisted of farmhouses and cottages, seven with two hearths and fourteen with only one. These twenty-one dwellings must have included farmhouses in the detached portion of the parish such as Haywood, Blacker Green, Peaseholm, Rushymoor, White House and Rockley, as there were too many to have been situated in the actual village of Burghwallis. The houses at Robin Hood’s Well were included in the parish, as a William England is mentioned with two hearths. The England family were resident in the parish from at least 1603, when a George England of’ p’ochia de Burgh Wallis’ was married in the church, and the England family are later recorded as the owners of one of the Inns at Robin Hood’s Well.

22. Bentley – Hearth Tax 1672

The Hearth Tax Returns for the parish of’Bentley cum Arksey’ are arranged in four sections and record properties overall. The first group is headed by Mr. Samuall Hall, with seven hearths, the rest of the group consisting of one house with three hearths that was in the process of being built, and five cottages with one hearth. From records in the parish registers it is known that the Hall family farmed at Stockbridge during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, so this first group of entries will refer to this small hamlet between Bentley and Arksey. A monument to John Hall, in the church at Arksey, says that he was the ‘last … male of his family at Stockbridge, who died unmarried’ in 1680 aged twenty-seven; he was survived by a sister who also died unmarried in 1729, at the age of sixty-five. John and Mary appear to have been the children of Samuall Hall, being about fifteen and seven years old respectively when the returns were taken. Their house is still standing, the old panelling from one of the rooms having recently been removed to Doncaster museum.

The second group is listed under Shaftholme, another small satellite hamlet between Bentley and Arksey; John Read had four hearths and William Turwhite three, with two cottages with one hearth each. One of the larger houses, Shaftholme Farm, is still standing, and some of the early internal timber framing with reeds used as laths under the plaster still survives. A ‘deed to the uses of a fine’ dated 20 January 1679/80 relates ‘to a farm called Shaftholme, in the village of Shaflholme … and in the Lordship of Bentley, lately held by John Read.’ The basic house was of two bays with a central stack with back-to-back fireplaces, and there is a fireplace in a first floor room on the eastern end wall. The chimney-breast to this is backed by one running from a fireplace on the opposite side of the wall but on the ground floor in the third bay, thus making up the four hearths. However, until external cement rendering or internal plastering has been removed during current alterations to the building, which may reveal further features, it is impossible to say whether this third bay is part of the original building or a later addition, although it appears to have been part of the building standing in 1672.

During alterations a brick oven has been revealed to the side of the western inglenook fireplace, being set under a stone staircase. This oldest part of the house, with central stack and oven, was probably typical of two- hearth properties in the area at this date. The other house on the opposite side of the road is recorded as having been rebuilt in the 1840’s, but information from the Parish Registers and later records indicate that the previous house on this site was the property with three hearths occupied by William Turwhite in 1672. The third group is listed under ‘Allneholmes’, a satellite hamlet of Arksey, and so is not relevant to the present study.

The rest of the properties are listed under Arksey, but must have contained the returns for both manors. Names found in the parish registers with recorded places of residence tend to confirm this. Here we find a broad range of house sizes, from one each with nine and eight hearths, three of seven, one with six, four with five, nine with four and thirteen with three; at the poorer end were twenty-one with two hearths and forty-eight with only one. The Wilbores lived at Bridge End, a small hamlet on the north side of the River Don which was included in the manor of Bentley; here there was a large house with nine hearths, long since pulled down to make room for the Don Cinema, which in turn has been demolished as part of a road improvement scheme. Of the other large houses, there was a Hall at Arksey, a carved fireplace of which, with the date of 1653, has been retained in the much altered property, and also a Hall near the mill at Bentley, demolished around the middle of this century. The parsonage house was in Arksey.

Of those with only one hearth fourteen had certificates of exemption, namely nine males, one woman and four widows; are we seeing among these the inhabitants of the newly built Almshouses for which the money was bequeathed by Mr. Bryan Cooke, Esq. in 1660? The lord of the manor of Bentley, Sir George Cooke, Bart., did not reside here, but had a house south of the nvei Don, at Wheatley.

23. Lords of the Manor

The Anne family of Burghwallis and Frickley could trace their ancestry back to John Anne, father of the Sir William de Anne who was Steward of Tickhill Castle from 1314 to 1331. The Anne family papers contain deeds from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries relating to the manors of Bunny and Bradmore in Nottinghamshire, and obviously the family had respectable resources from an early date.

The Cooke family can be traced back to Robert of Almholme, father of Edward Cooke of Arksey, and grandfather of the Edward Cooke who was mayor of Doncaster from 1504 to 1508. The family were of a reasonable financial status, and from the early years of the seventeenth century they began to acquire land in Bentley, Arksey, Almholme, Shaftholme, and Doncaster, and also further afield in Norton, Balne, Snaith, Hensall, Great Hecke and Little Hecke. From 1626 to 1634 Bryan Cooke obtained the lease of the Manor of Wheatley from Thomas Mounteney. In spite of heavy fining for supporting the King’s forces during the Civil War, he was still able to purchase the manors of Bentley and Arksey from Sir Arthur Ingram in 1654 and the manor of Wheatley in 1658.

There were however several large land owners in the manors of Bentley and Arksey. During the previous hundred years the manors had changed hands frequently. In 1554 the Sir William Gascoigne who had inherited through marriage into the Newmarch family, leased the manors to Sir Edmund Wyndham. It is recorded in 1554/5 that Edmund Wyndham, Knt., gave rights to the ‘Manors of Bentley and Arkesey and 100 messuages and a watermill with lands there and in Hanthewayt and Adwyke’ to Christopher Heydon, Knt., Anthony Hevenyngham, Knt. And Thomas Knowles, Knt.

The watermill mentioned was most likely the one which until 1980 was sited on Millgate; it had mullion windows surviving on the lower floors. Edmund was still living in 1569, when he made further leases of land to Roger and Thomas Towneshend, Roger le Straunge and his son Francis. Later in the year however Thomas Wentworth de Wentworth and Margaret his wife, the daughter of Sir William Gascoigne, were confirming the right of this Francis to the Manors. During the years 1574 – 1577 Francis made many leases of land, and several of the families taking the leases were to become prosperous by the time the Hearth Tax Returns were taken in 1672. These included the Wilbores, Halls, Jennings, and Adwickes.

In 1593 Roger Wyndham, son of Francis, passed the ‘Manors of Bentley and Hanthwayt and 20     messuages and two mills with lands there and in Arkesey, Adwyke and Shaftholme’ to his son Henry. There is no record elsewhere of there being two mills in Bentley at this date, so the second mill referred to was most likely the one at Adwicke, several miles upstream from Bentley. Henry Wyndham, Knt., only held the manor for fifteen years, and in 1606 he sold to Samual Saltonstall, Knt.; a warranty was held against the heirs of Edmund, Francis and Roger Wyndham.

During the next thirty-three years the manors passed from Samual Saltonstall to Henry Copley of Sprotborough, then through marriage to Edmund Hastings who sold to John Levett. Sir Arthur Ingram purchased in 1639 and from him it passed into the hands of the Cooke family who were to remain lords of the manor for nearly three centuries.

24. The Manors in 1672

The manor of Bentley held by the Cooke family in 1672 differed greatly from that held by the Annes at Burghwallis. In Burghwallis there were twenty-five properties, including those at Robin Hood’s Well, and an estimated population of one hundred and nineteen. It is not easy to define the exact number of households in Bentley village from the one hundred and twenty-six listed. Four properties were at Shaftholme, eleven at Almholme, seven in Stockbridge, at least one (nine hearths) at Bridge End and the parsonage. This leaves one hundred and two in the two villages of Bentley and Arksey, giving a population of about four hundred and eighty-five.

Analysis of the population at this date compared with that of the manors at the time of the Poll Tax of 1379 shows that while Bentley (and Arksey) had grown considerably in the intervening years, the manor of Burghwallis had reduced in size. This can most likely be explained by the desertion of the village of Shirley, as suggested by the (limited) archaeolological evidence.

There is also a difference in the social structure of the manors. Burghwallis was still essentially an ‘Estate ‘ village, with the lord of the manor at the Hall, next to the church, in the centre of the village and owning virtually all of the manor. The Hall however was not the main residence of the Anne family at this time as they still lived in the hall at Frickley and Burghwallis the residence of a son, a younger brother, or used as the Dower House.

The Cooke family had opted to move to an estate to the south of Bentley, and indeed to the other side of the river Don. Their main residence was at Wheatley Hall, and the pottery that has been produced from the double-moated site at Bentley suggests that the residence here may have been deserted from around the latter half of the seventeenth century, alter the Civil War. The Cookes from this time onwards were non-residential Lords of the manor although they were still worshipers at the parish church at Arksey, boating over the river to attend services there, and were to provide a school and almshouses adjacent to the church in the centre of the village.

They seem to have done little for the village of Bentley, and it obviously took second place to Arksey in the seventeenth century. The social structure of the manor contrasted sharply with that of Burghwallis; not only did the squire reside elsewhere but, although he may have been the main landowner, there were also several others with sizeable farms and creditable incomes whose family names were to be notable down to the twentieth century.

Both manors had water mills, although whilst that at Burghwallis was listed under the lord, Mr. Anne, the one at Bentley had either been sold or leased as it was under the tenancy of Edward Shirtcliffe. Burghwallis had a forge with four hearths, whilst at Bentley and Arksey there were four smithys, each with only one hearth, but there is no indication as to in which of the villages they were situated. The seeds were already sown at Bentley for the manor to develop along different lines to Burghwallis, with a much more widely based social structure and fewer of the restrictions that came with a resident squire.

25. Parish Registers – Burghwallis

The Parish Registers date from 1596, and for the most part record an excess of baptisms over burials. The population however appears to have been falling at the beginning of the seventeenth century, as 83 baptisms and 54 burials were recorded in the first ten years, but the baptisms had been reduced by half by 1640 with burials only down by a fifth, and a surplus of only four baptisms over burials. The records taken during the period of Civil War and Interregnum have suffered and very little can now be deciphered, but when they become legible, from 1685 onwards, the population had reduced even further.

In the period from 1690-1699 there were twelve more burials than baptisms, being 38 of the former and only 26 of the latter. Could this be the period when the hamlet of Shirley became deserted, with young people moving on and leaving only the elderly, to die there? From 1710- 1729 there was a slight improvement, with 41 baptisms and only 32 burials, but during the next ten years deaths rose again, the 52 burials being double that of baptisms. This downward trend continued until 1760, when births started to increase without a corresponding rise in deaths and by the end of the century baptisms, at 60 for the last decade, were more than double burials.

26. Parish Registers – Bentley

The Parish Registers for the parish of Arksey and Bentley commenced some forty years earlier than at Burghwallis, the first entry being two baptisms in 1552. Population was growing during the latter half of the sixteenth century, apart from 1583 when there were sixty deaths to twenty- five births and 1592 when deaths were double births. Miller records that in 1582 there was a great plague in Doncaster, with nine hundred and eight persons dying, and this had obviously been carried through to Bentley with the heaviest death toll being in April and May of the following year. There was another bout of plague in Doncaster in 1605, which ‘continued above a year’ although this did not affect Bentley as much, deaths only being one third greater. The growth continued until 1630, but then deaths outnumbered births for the next fifty years, which included the period of Civil Wars, with 1643, 1658, 1670 and 1680 being years when deaths were from twice to four times greater than births.

During the early part of the eighteenth century births on the whole were steadily greater than deaths, and from 1760 onwards fertility increased, with births during the 1770’s and 1780’s being a third higher than deaths. There was however one disastrous period in the late 1720’s; for 1727/28/29 and 1730 mortality was very high. A special note in the Parish Register records that this was ‘The greatest mortality that ever can be remembered or made out to be in the parish of Arksey.’ This was written in a different colour ink to the normal records and signed ‘Cha. Herring’ and was most likely done during one of the Visitations.

As the early registers do not generally record causes of death it is difficult to ascertain the reasons for years of higher mortality and lower fertility. However it is recorded that there were periods of bad harvests and severe winters throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that caused localised famine and undoubtedly lowered resistance to disease. The worst periods for mortality in Burghwallis were during the 1690’s, 1720’s, (deaths double births) and 1750’s. The Registers did not start until after the great plague that had devastated Doncaster and Bentley in 1582/3, so there is no indication of whether it affected Burghwallis. The village was however subjected to the same forces which devastated Bentley in 1728/29. This high mortality was also seen in Doncaster in 1727/28/29 and in villages surrounding Burghwallis. The worst year at Campsall was 1728, at Owston 1729 and at Brodsworth 1726 and 1729. David Hey comments that ‘Renewed population growth in the early 1700’s was checked in the 1720’s by the last series of great national mortalities brought about by fevers in the wake of disastrous harvests.’

It is an interesting coincidence that the population at Burghwallis increased from the time that the Anne family, lords of the manor but until around 1750 with their main residence at Frickley, moved into the Hall at Burghwallis and proceeded to improve not only the hall but the whole of the village. Could the better standard of living and most likely greater job security that came with these improvements be the reasons for this turn around in the health and fertility of the parishioners ? However a similar pattern of growth can be seen at Bentley, and so it is more likely that factors affecting national growth were largely responsible.

Map 2 Thomas Jeffries Map of c.1770, showing Burghwallis with the old road entering the village from the south and Bentley already spreading to the north and south away from the village green.

27. The Parishes at the end of the Eighteenth Century

By the end of the eighteenth century Burghwallis had become a typical example of an estate village and parish, with the Hall built next to the Church, ruled by a resident lord of the manor, and with many villagers or small-holders of more or less equal social status. If there were craftsmen other than the smith present the Hearth Tax Returns did not show them to be of any higher status than the majority of the population, and the situation still appeared to be the same as the time came for enclosure of the remaining common and waste land in the parish.

Bentley by contrast was an ‘open’ village, with several farms built around the village green and others in more outlying areas, many of them on land rented from the non-resident lord of the manor. There was no church within the manor, and there are indications that non-conformist religions were taking a hold. There were also several public houses and beer-houses in the village, whereas the residents of Burghwallis, including the Lord of the Manor, had to travel to Campsall, Sutton or Carcroft for that type of entertainment.

28. The Beginnings of Change
Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century Enclosures
29. Burghwallis Pre-Enclosure

According to E.M.Charlton Anne the village of Burghwallis pre-1820 had consisted of cottages clustered around the Church, with the Hall lying close by. The pre-enclosure layout of fields in the manor can be deduced from the Enclosure Map, with only about 200 acres of Commons and Waste left to be allotted at this time. The vestiges of the old open field system can be picked out on this map, being three large fields lying to the north of the village on the limestone uplands.

The area is divided into three roughly equal portions by two roads running north westerly towards the old Great North Road, namely Scorcher Hills Lane and Six Roods Lane. The small fields in the east and west sections have individual names which give no indication of the former open fields, but the central portion is divided into small enclosures many of which are simply called Middle Field Close which suggests that this was the central field of a three field system of agriculture. The area to the south of the village was mainly Parkland associated with the Hall, woodland, plantations and small fields on the heavier soils to the south of the limestone.

From entries in the Parish Registers it is apparent that the occupations of the villagers were basically those followed some four to five hundred years earlier, at the time of the fourteenth century Poll Taxes. Thomas Ragg, blacksmith, died in 1803 at the age of eighty-one. In 1806 Robert Gawthrop was blacksmith, and from the directories we find he was still there fifty-eight years later. John Blackburn was the carpenter and wheelwright from at least 1789 to 1837, some forty-eight years, and there was also a joiner and cabinet maker, William Thompson, in the village from 1803 to 1822. Joseph Wild was the shoemaker between 1798 and 1808. From these figures it appears that skilled jobs were held for term of life in Burghwallis.

There was only one farmer in the village. Thomas Pinder, a Catholic, died in 1801 and Bartholomew Ackroyd lived there from 1802 to 1809; these would be managing the Home Farm for Michael Tasburgh Esq., Lord of the Manor. Sixteen labourers are mentioned between 1789 and 1811, with at least four being resident in any one year. There was also a gentleman, Mr Ackroyd, living in 1790 and 1801, a bachelor Yoeman and a village Clerk in 1808, and Skellow Mill was part of the parish.

Social structure differed in the detached part of the parish. Here were at least three farmers living at the hamlet of Haywood between 1795 and 1813, and two or three labourers. Other labourers were living at Rushymoor House, Rimer House, Blacker Green, Burns House and White Hall, the only cottage in the parish with a surviving thatched roof. There was a Cordwainer at Haywood. Although most of the land in this detached portion of the manor belonged to Mr.Tasburgh, with farms being managed by tenants, there were several small farms in other ownership. These two parts of the parish of Burghwallis, when viewed in comparison with the village of Bentley, show many contrasts.

29. Burghwallis Pre-Enclosure

According to E.M.Charlton Anne the village of Burghwallis pre-1820 had consisted of cottages clustered around the Church, with the Hall lying close by. The pre-enclosure layout of fields in the manor can be deduced from the Enclosure Map, with only about 200 acres of Commons and Waste left to be allotted at this time. The vestiges of the old open field system can be picked out on this map, being three large fields lying to the north of the village on the limestone uplands.

The area is divided into three roughly equal portions by two roads running north westerly towards the old Great North Road, namely Scorcher Hills Lane and Six Roods Lane. The small fields in the east and west sections have individual names which give no indication of the former open fields, but the central portion is divided into small enclosures many of which are simply called Middle Field Close which suggests that this was the central field of a three field system of agriculture. The area to the south of the village was mainly Parkland associated with the Hall, woodland, plantations and small fields on the heavier soils to the south of the limestone.

From entries in the Parish Registers it is apparent that the occupations of the villagers were basically those followed some four to five hundred years earlier, at the time of the fourteenth century Poll Taxes. Thomas Ragg, blacksmith, died in 1803 at the age of eighty-one. In 1806 Robert Gawthrop was blacksmith, and from the directories we find he was still there fifty-eight years later. John Blackburn was the carpenter and wheelwright from at least 1789 to 1837, some forty-eight years, and there was also a joiner and cabinet maker, William Thompson, in the village from 1803 to 1822. Joseph Wild was the shoemaker between 1798 and 1808. From these figures it appears that skilled jobs were held for term of life in Burghwallis.

There was only one farmer in the village. Thomas Pinder, a Catholic, died in 1801 and Bartholomew Ackroyd lived there from 1802 to 1809; these would be managing the Home Farm for Michael Tasburgh Esq., Lord of the Manor. Sixteen labourers are mentioned between 1789 and 1811, with at least four being resident in any one year. There was also a gentleman, Mr Ackroyd, living in 1790 and 1801, a bachelor Yoeman and a village Clerk in 1808, and Skellow Mill was part of the parish.

Social structure differed in the detached part of the parish. Here were at least three farmers living at the hamlet of Haywood between 1795 and 1813, and two or three labourers. Other labourers were living at Rushymoor House, Rimer House, Blacker Green, Burns House and White Hall, the only cottage in the parish with a surviving thatched roof. There was a Cordwainer at Haywood. Although most of the land in this detached portion of the manor belonged to Mr.Tasburgh, with farms being managed by tenants, there were several small farms in other ownership. These two parts of the parish of Burghwallis, when viewed in comparison with the village of Bentley, show many contrasts.

30. Bentley Pre-Enclosure

In 1804 Edward Miller described Bentley thus; ‘There are several well-built farm-houses in this village, but no remains of antiquity, except the ruins of an old fabric, formerly called Bentley Hall, situated in the Mill Close.’ [Note: This was a different building to that of the old manor house, which had been some short distance away on the Moat Hills site.]

The social structure of Bentley pre-enclosure can be deduced from Baine’s Directory of Yorkshire for 1822, five years before the second period of enclosure. The population of Bentley, ‘in the parish of Arksey,’ is given as 1171, but as the population in 1837 was 1144 for the whole parish, this figure must also be for the whole parish. From what is known about the two villages, approximately two/thirds of this population lived in and around Bentley. The main residents are listed as William Broughton, gent.; William Cockin, victualler; William Ledger, wheelwright; Richard Linfit, blacksmith; John Johnson and Richard Simpson, shoemakers; William Walker, conmiller; James Woodhouse, tailor; and John Paine, schoolmaster. There were also seven farmers listed, and the enclosure map of 1827 shows that most of these farms formed the nucleus of the village centre

Only one mill is inferred from this directory, being the water-mill on Millgate, for the grinding of corn. However another mill, a windmill, was surely still in existence until early in the nineteenth century. On 28 September 1796 a year’s lease was granted to John Foster from Thomas Clarke of Bentley, for a ‘Dwellinghouse in Bentley with buildings and other erections built by Thomas Clarke for the manufacturing of mustard in the garth belonging to the same … also two closes … adjoining called the Croft and Rushing Holme Close … Also a new erected stone and brick corn windmill standing in the close called ‘The Croft,’ with sails, sailyards, wheels coggs, spindles, machinery materials and other implements … for the business of Cornmiller and Mustard Manufacturer.’

One thing that is not referred to in the 1822 directory is the existence of any religious establishments. Bentley did not have an Anglican Church, being part of the ecclesiastical parish of Arksey, but nonconformist religion already had a foothold in the village. Weslyan Methodism was introduced into Bentley at the turn of the century and ‘according to tradition its first meetings were held under an old walnut tree on the village green.’ The meetings were soon moved indoors, for the records of a chapel built on the corner of Cooke Street and Askern Road that opened for worship in June 1819 state that the cost for building included a sum ‘for the purchase of furniture from the old Chapel.’

From the information available it can be seen that pre-enclosure Burghwallis was a typical example of the ‘closed’ model of a village, with the Lord of the Manor in residence and in complete control of any development. Bentley however, with the absence of the Lord, (although only living a short distance away), was evolving into the ‘open’ type of village with more opportunity for individual enterprise, for example the mustard manufacturing business. It can also be seen from the fact that nonconformist religions had taken root, whereas in a ‘closed’ village such as Burghwallis only the Anglican church under patronage of the lord was allowed. Another difference was in the amount and type of land to be enclosed, as will be discussed in the relevant sections on enclosure.

31. Enclosure

Enclosure of waste lands and the common fields had been taking place randomly throughout the country for some years, mainly instigated and carried out by the lord of the manor who in many cases gave no thought to the disruption it may have caused to the ordinary labourer. During the eighteenth century there had been a gradual increase in the number of acts passed, it being estimated that in excess of three hundred thousand acres were enclosed between 1700 and 1760 and a further three million acres between 1761 and 1801. The Napolionic Wars of 1783 to 1813, with concurrent food shortages and high prices, were an incentive to enclose remaining lands, with the object of making management easier and output greater.

The single Act for enclosing lands in Burghwallis was passed on the 22 June 1813, but the parish of Bentley with Arksey was subjected to enclosure at two periods. The first act, ‘for dividing and allotting the Commons and Waste Grounds in the Townships of Bentley and Arksey’, passed on the third December 1759, was concerned mainly with lands immediately to the north of the river Don (collectively later known as Bentley and Arksey Ings) which were to be ‘divided, set out and allotted ….. and to be Enclosed as aforesaid.’ The straight occupation roads were laid out on the common at this time. This was land which was subjected to frequent flooding, and especially more so since improvements to assist navigation and improve drainage further down the river Don. It was also land which overlooked the Wheatley Estate of the Cooke family, Lords of the Manor, immediately to the south over the River Don, and as most of it was enclosed in the name of Sir William Cooke one of the reasons for enclosure could have been to acquire more privacy for the estate by excluding the villagers from random use of this common land.

The second Enclosure Act for Bentley was carried some sixty-eight years later, in 1827, although there had been an earlier attempt for an Act in 1804 which had not been successful. This Act was for enclosing ‘open fields, intermixed Enclosures, ings, meadows, pastures, commons, wastes, and commonable lands,’ with one thousand, five hundred and fifty-five acres being awarded. The acreage of this second award was just under one third of the total acreage of the parish.

The Award for Burghwallis contained provision for re-organisation of the payment of Tythes. ‘The great and small Tythes were discharged by perpetual Com Rents’ and every property in the manor is listed in this section of the Award and shown by number on the accompanying map.

This provision was not allowed for in the Bentley Award.

32. The Enclosure of Burghwallis 1813

The land at Burghwallis, which included the hamlet of Haywood, was already laid out in a system of small fields before the award was granted in 1813, and only ‘certain Commons and Waste Grounds, containing by Estimation about Two hundred Acres’ were to be allotted. This was about one ninth of the total acreage of the parish, compared to the approximate third that was to be enclosed at Bentley.

In the absence of documentary evidence it can only be speculated as to when these fields had been enclosed. The Anne family of Frickley acquired the manor of Burghwallis early in the seventeenth century, but the Hall appears initially to have been either a second home, the residence of a younger son or in use as the Dower House to Frickley. It wasn’t until Frickley was sold in 1750 that Burghwallis became the main residence, so it is highly probable that the fields were enclosed at the latest during the latter half of the eighteenth century.    The land still to be enclosed in 1813 was the area known as Burghwallis Common and that land towards Haywood known as Rushy Moor, all land which was frequently marshy and flooded and which appeared to continue being flooded even after new drains were cut and old ones deepened at the time of enclosure. William Hatfield, when writing about the area in 186d some fifty years after enclosure, says that ‘Rushy Moor, Shirley Pool, and Sutton Common were covered with water in winter, and during flood time it was not unusual to see 500 acres under water.’ He also mentions the disruption that was caused when ‘the owners of the soil’ enclosed these commons ‘to the utter disregard of the ancient privilege of pasturage and the right of way! Digging turf, catching fish, cutting wood, and the like, known in former times as common of pasturage, of turbary of piscary, and of estovers, are lost forever to the poor, without the slightest compensation.’

There was also a small amount of land being interchanged, seemingly in order to make the holdings more conveniently situated. These were between the three largest land owners, namely the lord of the manor Michael Tasburgh, the Reverend Andrew Ewbank, Rector of the church of Burghwallis, and Godfrey Higgins, owner of Skellow Grange and a large land owner in several parishes. The major portion of the land in the manor of Burghwallis was held by the lord of the manor, the Rector and Godfrey Higgins being the only other people owning land here.

In the detached part of the parish containing the hamlet of Haywood Michael Tasburgh also held over half of the land. There were however several small farms in other ownership. The hamlet of Haywood consisted of two farms, one owned by Mr. Tasburgh and the other by Thomas Loxley; there were two farms at Blacker Green, one owned by the lord of the manor of Owston, Sir Bryan Cooke, and the other by William Loxley. Rymer House was also owned by William Loxley and adjoining land by Catherine Gilberthorpe, and the other farm in the area, Rushy Moor House, by Mr Tasburgh. The picture is therefore of dominance by the ruling classes, with the lords of the manors of Burghwallis and Owston leasing out three farms, three being in the hands of the Loxley brothers, and only one in single ownership.

Shortly before enclosure of the manor Michael Tasburgh had completely altered the layout of the village. His descendant E. M. Charlton Anne, in a brief history of’Burghwallis and the Anne Family’, says that ‘Michael Anne moved the high road out of the park to its present position: he also transferred most of the village itself, pulling down the old cottages round the Church and building others nearer to the War Memorial. [This dates from the First World War, but it is understood what is meant.] This would be 1820-30.’ This date appears to be somewhat too late, because the village, apart from the Rectory, is shown on the Enclosure Map of 1813 in the altered layout, which forms the basis of the present village. Also a Terrier of 1809 mentions a ‘new road to Campsall and Doncaster’ north of the Rectory house; that would be the new road constructed to the north of the village to replace the oId road through the Park. The Thomas Jeffries map of circa 1770 and the York Map of 1804 both show the old layout of the village with this old road entering the village through the Park from the south-east, in the direction of the Hall.

These alterations to the layout of the roads must have been done sometime between July 1802, when Michael Anne inherited Burghwallis through the death of his elder brother George, and June 1809, the date of the Terrier previously mentioned. George Anne had built on the new South-west wing to the house in 1797, and it is believed that Michael Tasburgh closed the old road because it approached the old village street in view of the new large south-facing windows and thus both roads intruded upon the privacy of the family. Such was the power of lords of the manor in those days.

Part of the ‘new village’ must have been built before 1809, as the Hall stables and several cottages are aligned along a street which appears to be a continuation of the road running east- west directly to the south of the Churchyard, and which continues as the road to join the Great North road at Five-Lane-Ends. The Smithy is also on this road, with the smithy built directly onto the street and the house set back but on the same alignment. In 1813 this Smithy and adjoining land belonged to Godfrey Higgins, not to the lord of the manor; a panel showing a crest of five ostrich feathers and a panel with the name of Burghwallis are displayed on the side of the house facing the new road. Higgins also owned property and land in the new village, which included ’Kilnhouse Garth.’ The ‘new road to Campsall’ skirts closely to the north (back) of the smithy house. Houses along Well Lane and Pump Lane, running south from the village street, could have been built at the later date as given by E.M.Charlton Anne. [No documentary evidence has yet been found to qualify these dates.]

In 1810 Michael Anne married Maria Augusta Rosalia, the daughter of George Crathome Esq. and Barbara, widow of George Tasburgh of Bodney in Norfolk, and it was at this time that he ‘assumed, by royal sign manual, … the names and arms of Tasburgh’ in order to comply with the terms of the will of George Tasburgh who had ‘left his estates to the said Barbara, and her issue by any future husband, enjoining them to take the name and arms of Tasburgh.’

The Enclosure of the remaining Commons in 1813, shortly after the marriage, would have been his final act in re-organising the parish. The one thing not included in this re-organisation was a Public House. The Anne family owned property and land at Sutton, part of which at one time had belonged to the parish of Burghwallis, and it was here that a row of cottages became converted to a public house, which one member of the Anne family frequented. It was originally known as the ‘Red Lion’ but was later changed to the ‘Anne Arms,’ by which name it is still known.

It can be seen from this evidence that the enclosure of Burghwallis in 1813 probably caused little disruption to the life of the villagers, apart from extra work involved on the ditches and hedgerows. Their world had been literally ripped apart in the preceding years, when the whole layout of the village had been re-organised. There is no record of the nature of the cottages that were removed from around the church, but the cottages and houses that were built to the west of the Hall to rehouse the villagers were sturdy structures in local limestone and must surely have been an improvement. Most are inhabited to the present day, many forming the core to modem extensions.

This moving of the village from around the Church to the west side of the Hall was not the last of the new building to be carried out in Burghwallis. For many years requests had been made to the church authorities for help with funding to build a new rectory, but apparently all that was forthcoming was a small amount that had been put towards repairs to a barn. The layout of the old rectory and foldstead is as shown on the Enclosure Award Map, and is described in detail in an extensive Terrier of June 1809. The Rectory House was to the east of the foldstead adjoining the churchyard, a thatched barn to the north, two other barns with tile and slate roofs with a small stable and a swine cote attached to the north and east, and stables and a cowhouse to the south. A Dove Cote stood in the centre of the foldstead.

A small piece of land to the south of the old rectory had been obtained through exchange with Michael Tasburgh at the time of enclosure which added to the size of the rectory grounds. This was formerly the village green. On 3rd June 1815 a Mr. Jas. A Pritchett, Architect, of York presented an elevation and plan for a new rectory with an attached estimate stating that ’a new Glebe House … might be built for the sum of two thousand pounds together with the old materials.’ On 12 July a certificate was obtained, as required by the Act 17 of George III, from two independent clergymen as to the condition of the old rectory. They stated that ‘Common Repairs have through length of time fallen into decay.’ On November 20th of the same year a mortgage of £1,050.6 shillings was granted of the profits of the rectory of Burghwallis, and building could commence. The new rectory was built immediately to the north of the old one, on an empty piece of the foldyard, which would allow for the outbuildings to remain. The tiled barns have been converted into a house, but the other outbuildings and old rectory have been demolished; presumably any remaining foundations are buried under the present rectory lawn.

By around 1820 the village and manor of Burghwallis had evolved into the state in which it was to stay for around the next one hundred years. Baine’s Directory of Yorkshire for 1822 lists the main resident as Michael Tasburgh Esq., and names a wheelwright, blacksmith, boot and shoe maker and a cabinet maker.

33. The Enclosure of Bentley – 1759 and 1827

Bentley was still working on an agricultural system which had probably been in operation since the Middle Ages. Around the village the old open field system was still in operation, and vestiges in the shape of ridge and furrow grassland still survive in small pockets. As at Burghwallis the main open fields were on the higher limestone soils to the west of the village, and the ‘meadows, pastures, commons and wastes’ to the east and south, on the clays between the village and the River Don. A map of Amersall, Broad Ax and Scawthorp Fields dated 1735 shows these to be arranged in smaller fields (named fields, acres and shutts) that are divided into long, narrow, numbered strips. Unfortunately documentation to denote the ownership of these strips has not survived with the maps. The extent of the open fields can be found in the allotments of the Enclosure Award. Those associated with Bentley consisted of the West Field, Broad Axe Field, Scawthorpe Field, Amersall Field and Streetcroft, Havercrofl and Broach.

The reasons for enclosure of this land, namely the parish of Arksey with Bentley, stated that ‘… the Lands and Grounds of the respective Proprietors … lie much intermixed and dispersed in small parcels, so as to render the Cultivation and Management thereof in the present state inconvenient, and the Commons and Waste Grounds … are in their present state incapable of any considerable improvement, and it would be of great benefit and advantage to the several persons interested therein if all the said Open and Common Fields … were divided and inclosed.’ The commissioner also had the powers to ‘stop up, direct or alter any carriage-road, bridleway passing through the lands intended to be divided and allotted or passing through any of the enclosed lands,’ and alter and improve drains etc. but he had no power to alter anything that was likely ‘to injure … the watermill … called Bentley Mill.’

Many small roads and footpaths are shown on the Enclosure Map as ‘discontinued,’ and the award list of’Carriage and foot Roads to be Stopped Up and Discontinued’ names thirty Common and Public Footways, one Common and Bridleway and one Carriage and Occupation Road. These included what is now a section of the Al9, from its junction with Millgate to the junction with Finkle Street and Arksey Lane. The main road from Doncaster to Askem and Selby diverted at the first named junction to run at a dogleg through the village green and past the only Inn, the ‘Grey Horse’. This road had been turn-piked between Bentley and Selby in 1827/28, with Toll-Bars to the north of Bentley and the north of Askern. The line of this road caused further disruption in the parish of Burghwallis as it was routed across the western edge of the parish, ignoring the field boundaries with a new section of road which effectively took the traffic away from the old routes which passed through the villages of Owston, Sutton and Campsall.

Sir William Bryan Cooke was Lord of the manors of both Bentley and Arksey and as such was entitled to certain allotments for Manorial Rights, Tithes, Glebe, and in lieu of Chief Rents. These consisted of 1/18th part of the commons and wastes, 1/5th of the open and commonable fields and intermixed Enclosures, 1/10th of the ings meadows and pastures, 2/l7ths of all ancient Enclosures and homesteads, 1/9th of the commons and wastes and a ‘Special Allotment’ of’such parts of Bentley and Arksey Ings, as lies opposite to or in front of the grounds and mansion called Wheatley.’ These comprised just over 1/3rd of the total allotment. Of the final total of 1893 acres allotted Sir W B Cooke was to acquire 1447 acres by either allotment or purchase; this was nearly three quarters of the land covered by the enclosure. The other approximately 450 acres were allotted in small amounts, the largest being 33 acres and the smallest only 22 perches. Of the farmers listed in the Directories for 1822 and 1837, only two were recorded in the enclosure award as owning land of their own; the rest must have been renting land from Sir William Cooke.

What upsets the enclosure caused in Bentley can only be guessed at, but the change in methods of agriculture would have removed certain common rights from the villagers on which many of them would have depended as part of their subsistence.

It can be seen from this information that already before enclosure Bentley was developing along different lines to Burghwallis, the main reason appearing to be that the lord of the manor no longer resided in the vicinity of the village.. The old moated site had long been abandoned and the Old Hall between the mill and the village centre, which may have been a residence of earlier lords, was no longer occupied by them. As already stated, the main residence of the branch of the Cooke family who owned the manors of Bentley and Arksey was to the south of the river Don, almost opposite to the village of Bentley, at Wheatley Hall. Here there was space for a large house and park, which may have been one of the reasons that this site was preferred to one at Bentley or Arksey.

This ‘absence’ at Bentley of the lord of the manor had allowed the village to develop and grow on a more independent basis, an ‘open’ village, without dominant rule and planning by one person. The lords of the manor of Burghwallis had almost always been resident within the village, and had exerted a tighter control over the development of the parish, being much more progressive in their planning. This can be seen in the description of the land to be enclosed. At Burghwallis this was just commons and waste but in Bentley open fields were included, indicating that the old system of strip farming was still in operation here.

From this date onwards the villages were to develop on completely different lines. Although the village of Burghwallis ‘matured’ there was very little building done after around 1820 for nearly one hundred years, and time could virtually have been said to stand still. Bentley however was to grow at a steady rate both in population and the variety of occupations throughout the rest of the nineteenth century.

The Early Census Returns

From the mid nineteenth century onwards statistical information about the growth of population is available from the ten-yearly Census Returns, which also provide records of occupations and social structure. These can be supplemented by details from the directories, and also from local newspapers, which began to concentrate increasingly more on local affairs and less on national news.

35. Burghwallis in 1837

In Baines ‘Directory of Yorkshire’ for 1837 Burghwallis is described as ‘a straggling village, finely shaded with trees,’ and the 1,826 acres of the parish included Skellow Grange, the hamlet of Haywood, a few cottages forming part of the village of Sutton, and ‘part of the hamlet of Robin Hood’s Well’, notably those buildings on the east (Burghwallis) side of the Great North Road. The inhabitants of the village included a blacksmith, a wheelwright, a maltster and miller, one farmer and two clergymen, namely the rector of the parish church and a Catholic priest, possibly resident at the Hall. (The Anne family had always been of the Catholic faith.)

36. Bentley in 1837

Bentley is described as ‘a well-built village’ in the parish of Arksey, and was centred around a village green. The residents included two blacksmiths, three wheelwrights, a maltster, a com miller, a gamekeeper, eleven farmers, five boot and shoe makers, four bricklayers, three tailors, three butchers, two shopkeepers and a mustard manufacturer. There were also three Beer Houses and an Inn, the Grey Horse. This inn may have provided a stop and services for the London to Edinburgh mail coach which from 1832 ran through Bentley along the recently turnpiked Doncaster to Selby Road.

The changes at Bentley during the ten years since the Act for Enclosure are already apparent. There are four more farmers listed than in 1822, one more blacksmith, two extra wheelwrights, two more tailors and three more boot and shoemakers. There were also four bricklayers, (this term is used specifically rather than stonemason) which indicates that locally made bricks were becoming popular for new buildings rather than the local limestone that had been used previously. At least two of the farm complexes in Bentley village were built completely of bricks, as was also the new Methodist Chapel built in 1835. Local clay was suitable for the making of bricks and several sites were in use throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A field which at enclosure was awarded to Mr. Chadwick, resident at Arksey Hall, had been developed into a complex brickyard site by 1854 when the first Ordnance Survey map was published.

Perhaps the main indicator of a change in social structure over the previous fifteen years is the presence of three butchers and two shopkeepers. Up to enclosure many families would have been self-sufficient, possibly keeping a pig or a cow on the common land, or they would have obtained supplies directly from a farm. They would also have grown produce either in a small plot attached to the cottage or in one of the strips in the open fields. For many this way of life had gone, they not being entitled to be awarded land at enclosure, and  these would now be employed mainly on the land which at this period was still labour intensive. They would therefore have to rely on obtaining some provisions through a retail outlet. The other indicator of increased population, and also possibly wealth, is that the number employed in the clothing and footwear industries has more than doubled.

Most people accepted the changes but some sought a better way of life elsewhere. One example of this is Jonathan Watts, ‘who is leaving this country for America’. On Tuesday, April 3rd 1832 he placed an advertisement in the Doncaster Gazette for the auction of many of his worldly possessions. He was the owner of a Wheelwright’s and a Blacksmith’s shop, but could not have plied his trade in Bentley for long as he is not mentioned in the Directory for 1822, ten years previously. His goods included ‘All the stock of Wheelwrights and Blacksmiths Tools, six Beasts, Implements of Husbandry and Household Furniture.’ His trade was obviously a lucrative one as he appeared to be quite a wealthy man. His house contents included ‘Four-post Bedsteads, Mattresses, three Feather Beds and Bedding, eight Mahogany Chairs, three Chests of Drawers, capital Mangle, Dining, Card and other Tables, Pier and Swing Glasses, Kitchen and Chamber Chairs, Sofa, Carpeting, a capital antique Five-Weeks Clock, and Kitchen requisites.’

Although the evidence indicates a parish that is growing and developing, the actual population was decreasing, from 1,183 in 1821 to 1,144 in 1831. This was to reduce by another 88 over the next ten years. Apart from those moving to ‘pastures new’, one possible explanation could be connected to outbreaks of cholera in Doncaster in 1831-1832; this undoubtedly would also have affected the inhabitants of Bentley.

37. Burghwallis, Mid to Late 19thCentury

The population at Burghwallis had also fallen minimally, from 237 in 1822 to 223 in 1837. This figure fluctuated only slightly for the next fifty years, the number of properties in the main part of the parish only rising from twenty-four to thirty-two during this period. Some of these new cottages were connected with Skellow Grange, being housing for a gardener, chauffeur and lodgekeeper. The number of skilled workers remained fairly constant, although there was no boot and shoemaker after 1889. A tailor was resident from around 1826 to 1889, and the wheelwright was also listed as a shopkeeper in 1861. In this year the blacksmith, carpenter and tailor were each employing two assistants and the shoemaker one. There were five agricultural labourers and three labourers working in the woods and plantations; the remainder of those in employment were working as servants at the Hall, Skellow Grange, the Rectory, (four), and the farms. In 1861 only thirteen of the adults resident had been born in Burghwallis, indicating that the population was quite mobile. Movement was not very far however, as most had been born in neighbouring parishes or farther afield in Yorkshire. Of those born in Burghwallis, three women were married and had taken husbands from nearby parishes, the other four being in service in the village.

The blacksmith and son and the shoemaker were also native and the other three men were in service. The gamekeeper was the only one from any distance, being born in Suffolk and resident in the village for less than four years. The 1861 Census also carries the first mention of a Police Constable.

Changes came but seem to have done little to interrupt the ordered nature of life in this estate village. In the 1850s the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway line was put through the detached part of the parish and several cottages were built nearby to house the railway workers, although some of them lived in a former farmhouse that had been converted into three cottages. The inhabitants of Burghwallis now had the facility of a Railway Station at Askem, if they had transportation to take them the two-and-half miles journey there. Askem was also the nearest Money Office, but on the 27th May 1865 a Wall Letter Box was installed in the village, for collections only, emptied once a day. Letters were not delivered into the village until a Post office was set up sometime between 1893 and 1908.

There was a school in the village by 1854, and in 1858 twenty three children attended the School Feast. Prior to this the sons of the wealthy could have been educated at the ‘Bamsdale Academy, Robin Hoods Well,’ for between twenty to twenty-four guineas per annum. In 1871 a twenty- year old Farm Bailiffs daughter was schoolmistress, but there is no mention of a school in the directories until 1889, when a ‘National School (mixed) for about 30 children; average attendance, 15.’ was there, and in 1891 a ‘Certified National Schoolmistress’ is listed.

The main events in Burghwallis all seem to be connected with activity at the Church. In 1858 this was in need of much restoration, the tower being ‘out of repair’ and also the roof, and a window was required for the north wall of the chancel. ‘There were no windows in the north side of the church at this time.’ The plans for the restoration of the church arrived on the 23rd January 1864 but ‘opposition crept in among the parishioners’ and an appeal was made to the Archbishop of York. On June 8th the parishioners agreed to some work being done but said there was ‘no absolute necessity for anything but very slight repair.’ Things were to change, and Mary Frank tells us that ‘My father being Rector could restore the chancel’ and a tender of £124.00 was received for doing the work. The chancel arch was ‘found under the old plaster’ and taken down and restored during May and June of 1865.

Whilst this dispute was going on there was also further contention, over the nature of the new pews for the church. The village having been altered to his satisfaction George Anne, squire and patron of the parish church, turned his attention to the church and requested a faculty to refurbish this by replacing the old box pews with open bench type ones. However he appears to have wanted to demonstrate his status in the village by replacing his box pew with one of ‘red slammed deal,’ as also the one for Mrs Hatfield, resident of Skellow Grange. The parishioners disputed this, wishing all new pews to be of oak with no difference for the rector’s family or the Anne family and Mrs Hatfield, and eventually all the old square pews were removed and replaced with ones of ‘oak suitably carved.’ Further funding was spent on refurbishment, for in 1870 ‘the old Jacobean pulpit and reading desk were removed and carved oak ones put in their place.’ The bells, being cracked, were sent away to be recast and were returned in January 1871. The bill from John Taylor of Loughborough, dated Feb. 2nd 1871, was for a total of £14.3s.l0p for the three bells. In 1875 an organ was purchased and 1881 saw the chancel screen being removed and restored by the village carpenter.

It was not until 1883 that agreement was finally reached on major restoration of the church, work beginning on the 24th July to replace the roof. This must have been a prosperous period for the parish, as ‘money poured in for the church, and gifts. An alabaster Reredos, a cross, vases, candlesticks, book rest, alms dish, alms bags, two altar cloths, fair linen cloth, book markers, a lectern, corona pulpit and font ewer. It was a wonderful year.’ New windows were also installed. In 1891, ‘during the winter, the Church Tower was taken down, the stones numbered, and rebuilt as it was; it had become very unsafe.’ Mary Frank tells us that her father, the Rector, was very satisfied ‘now the Church and Churchyard were in good order.’

The social life of the parish during these years of restoration was concentrated very much on events connected with fund-raising, sales of work etcetera, but attention was also paid to intellectual pursuits. A reading room was opened in a room in the blacksmith’s house, which ‘was very much liked by the young men.’ There was also a penny bank, a clothing club, a Girls’ Friendly Society and a Young Mans’ Friendly Society and the village had a cricket club from the 1860’s, using a private pitch created in the Hall park. Cricket was not only a pastime for gentlemen in those days as a photograph in the Doncaster Chronicle illustrates, being entitled ‘Ladies v. Gents Cricket at Burghwallis;’ the ladies are resplendent in long white dresses and large-brimmed summer hats. The picture is very much one of self-sufficient village life, quietly controlled by the squire and the church.

38. Bentley, Mid to Late 19th Century

The changes in Bentley during the ten years after enclosure have already been discussed, and from then on the population grew, at first slowly but then at an increasingly faster rate. In 1848/9 a series called ‘Village Sketches, or Hints to Pedestrians’ was published in the Doncaster Gazette, which describes Bentley in detail. ‘Bentley is in the parish of Arksey … the great mass of the population is concentrated (here) and amounts to about 700. (This was approximately two thirds of the population for the whole parish.) The farm houses, of which there are several, are large and commodious … but the cottages predominate (and) are neat and comfortable.’ There was a Weslyan Chapel and a building that was originally for the use of the Primitive Methodists but was in 1849 in use as a National School. Bentley already had several industrial premises.

The mill for the manufacture of mustard has already been mentioned, but the writers of 1849 were ‘not aware that it was carried on to a great extent,’ and by that date it had ‘entirely ceased.’ There were also several malt-kilns that had all been in operation at one time but, possibly because of ‘increased temperance – only one is now employed.’ The hamlet of Bridge End, a large house built by the Wilbore family and a few houses in the angle between the north bank of the river Don and the Great North Road, are also part of the township of Bentley. Wainwright says that this house ‘was formerly a great hall or hospital for the entertainment of strangers or pilgrims.’ Earlier in the nineteenth century it had become the site of a carpet manufactory that had now closed, and in 1849 formed ‘a portion of the extensive warehouses (of} the business of … a tillage and seed merchant.’ There were two corn mills in the village, one operated by running water and the other steam, and several brickyards in the vicinity, the one between Bentley and Arksey having ‘supplied several millions (bricks) for the works on the railroad, and is now … employed in the making of pipes for drainage and other … earthenware.’

The Railroad had greatly altered the life of the people of both Bentley and Arksey, the line running approximately half way between the two villages with a station situated where the highway was crossed by the railroad. ‘The Bill for the Great Northern Railway passed the house of Commons in 1845 … the works commenced early in 1847; and the first trial trip on the line from Doncaster over the northern end to Stockbridge [the original name for the Station] took place August 11, 1848, in carriages drawn with horses.’ By 1861 the line was operating four trains each way daily, Sundays excepted, when there were only three trains. The railway carried corn and cattle, coals and lime and the station offered the inhabitants of Bentley, as the station at Askern did to those at Burghwallis, speedy access to Doncaster for any goods that were not available locally and also for the sale of produce. The crops grown around the 1850’s were turnips, barley, wheat and ‘seeds’ on the limestone soils, and also sheep farming, and wheat, beans and clover were produced on the clays. In competition with the railways, the firm of Hodgson and Hepworth commenced operating horse buses in the late 1800’s ‘with the real purpose of bringing customers from the outlying districts to their shops.’ Bentley was one of the villages to benefit from this service.

The Census Returns for Bentley for 1851 give a clear picture of how the population was already changing in response to this new industrialisation. Forty-four people entered their occupation as farmers, but half of these held under one hundred acres of land, three having only six acres that would have been little more than small-holdings and the rest ranging between one hundred and forty to two hundred and seventy acres. There were 157 agricultural labourers, 18 agricultural servants and 18 farm servants to work these farms, being 58% of the total workforce. Boys as young as twelve years were employed on the land. Another ten per cent were ‘in service’ and many of these would be employed in the farmhouses. There were five blacksmiths, (a master, three journeymen and one apprentice), six wheelwrights, three of whom were masters, and three carpenters, all occupations relying mainly on farming to provide work.

The brickyard(s) employed ten men, being one brick and tile maker, eight brickmakers and one labourer. It seems probable that only one site was in production, the Tuffield Brick Works between Bentley and Arksey, as at this time a team of eight men was required to produce sand-faced bricks on a commercial scale and that is the number listed in Bentley in 1851. Only two of the employees were local, the others coming from as far afield as Cheshire, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire; from the evidence given of the birthplaces of their children, it seems that skilled brick makers had to follow their source of employment round the country as the clay pits were worked out. By 1861 there were no brick makers living in the parish, and the site is now a fishing pool. The clay soil of this area was ideal for the early manufacture of bricks.

The early Ordnance Survey map of 1841 shows another brickyard at Tilts Hills, which on the O.S. map for 1854 is shown as the ‘Tilts Hills Brick Kiln,’ and there was also a brick-kiln on Bentley Moor Lane. Both these sites are now fish-ponds, but a later site at the junction of Adwick road with Askem road, in Toll-Bar, has been used as a refuse dump and is now covered with soil and used as a sports field. There were only two bricklayers listed, a master and apprentice, which suggests that the local limestone was still the most popular medium for building. Ten stonemasons, half of whom belonged to one family, the Hodgsons, were resident in Bentley. Three of them were still working the quarries in 1861 although James, now aged seventy-seven, had a small farm of 10 acres as well. Another was a son of Robert Lister of Bentley, who built Christ Church, Doncaster, in 1829. A stone merchant was residing in Arksey in 1851. Road-making and housing provided employment for 5% of the workforce at this time.

As early as 1735 a field to the east of the Great North Road was known as Quarry Acres, (an area now built upon and called Stonehill Rise). This was probably the earliest site used as a source for building-stone for Bentley. On the Enclosure map of 1830 three quarries are shown on the limestone at the junction of Green Lane with the Great North Road, and the land between two of these and a piece of land to the immediate south east is shown as the property of the surveyor of the highways. This land was to be quarried ‘for the purpose of building or repairing any Messuages, Tenements or other buildings … and for all other necessary uses … but not to be given away, sold, exchanged or otherwise or elsewhere … disposed of.’ The land however was not stood idle waiting to be quarried, but was leased out for agricultural purposes. In 1878 an agreement was made between the Highway Board and Mr. John Smith, allowing the said John Smith to rent the land for £3.00 a year, on the understanding that the workmen were allowed access ‘along the fence … doing as little local .damage to the crops as may be,’ and that there would be no compensation paid for loss of crops due to ‘taking more land from time to time for the purpose of getting stone. A map of 1841 names the quarry nearest to Green Lane as the Blasting Quarry, and one to the east as Long Edge Quarry. This quarry had a lime kiln in 1854.

The railway was also making an impact on employment, as seven railway labourers were resident here although only one had been born in Bentley. The station master had been born in Loughborough, Leicestershire, and the six labourers seemed to have followed the railway as it was constructed, coming from Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, other parts of Yorkshire and even America.

Shoes and clothing were still items being made to order in 1851, there being seventeen shoemakers, nine tailors and ten dressmakers for the population of eleven hundred. (This was for the combined parish of Bentley with Arksey.) There was still only one inn at Bentley, the ‘Bay Horse’; others were the ‘Three Horse Shoes’ at Bridge End and the ‘Sun’ at Bodles, all part of Bentley parish. There were also three Beer houses in Bentley; these were tenanted by Thomas Dodgson and his sons John and James who were all also shoemakers, William Holmes, a farmer, who was later named as the tenant of the ‘Railway Tavern’, and Mrs. Sarah Milford.

There were five butchers but only one shopkeeper listed, and two milk sellers. Rarer occupations included game keeper, gardener, horse breaker and horse keeper, a painter, fellmonger, a gate keeper/porter (railway) and a lock keeper. Kelly’s Directory for 1861 lists a Post Office with mail arriving at 8.10 a.m. and dispatched at 5.30 p.m., also a company manufacturing Metallic Bedsteads, thought to be using the old com mill on Finkle Street. By 1877 there were two shops in Bentley and two coal dealers, and the Farmer’s Company Limited run by two managers.

On 7th January 1875 a School Board was formed and in 1877 a board school with a teacher’s house was built on the village green in Bentley, as the building being used (formerly the old Primitive Methodist Chapel on the Doncaster road) was becoming overcrowded and unsuitable for mixed age range teaching. This was some two years before the Government Act of 1879 to set up School Boards wherever there was a need. It was to take 174 (mixed) children. An infants’ department was added in 1889 for a further 120 children and further enlargement in 1894 raised the intake for the mixed department to 246.

The Cooke family, lords of the manor, began selling off parts of the parish in 1868, including farms, land and cottages. In January 1869 the old mill on Millgate was sold to Doncaster Council and rented to Mr. Laurence for £140.00 per annum. Further property was sold during the 1880’s and 1890’s and the Cooke family slowly relinquished their control of the parish.

During the time that these changes in occupation were taking place the population had been growing steadily. Figures from the census returns however cover the combined parish of Bentley with Arksey, and have not been analysed in detail. A guide however is given in ‘Village Sketches’ of 1849 indicating that about two thirds of the population lived at Bentley, and from then until the turn of the century most of the growth was in and around this village. The population grew slowly during the first half of the nineteenth century. In 1801 it was 1,029 and over the next thirty years there was an eleven per cent increase, up to 1,144. Between 1831 and 1841 the population decreased by eight per cent; this decrease may be accounted for by outbreaks of Cholera, which occurred in Doncaster in 1832 and 1836 and most likely affected Bentley. By 1851 the total population was back up to 1,105, of whom 413 were in employment. There was little change during the 1850’s but during the 1860’s a steady rise in numbers began. From the early 1870’s the growth rate increased rapidly, from twenty-four per cent during those ten years up to twenty-eight per cent during the 1890’s. The census returns for 1891 recorded a population of 1,863.

This growth can be shown by the increase in housing in Bentley village, and also as a gradual spread of housing southwards from Bentley mainly along the west side of the road towards Doncaster. These were classed in the census returns for 1871 as ‘all new houses in the field leading to Doncaster.’ Nine of the ‘Westfield Cottages’ had been built by that date, with one of these still empty, and three more were under construction. Bentley Green was still in existence as a Village Green, and around this area was Anderson’s Yard with four houses and a few hundred yards away was Wrostholme, (called ‘Rostall’ on the Ordnance Survey map of 1854), with eleven. ‘Elmbank’, along the Doncaster Road, was built late in 1871, (next to the street now known as ‘Haslemere Grove’), and during the 1870’s the land between here and ‘Westfield Cottages’ was built upon; these included ‘Rose Cottages’, 1876, ‘Mount Pleasant’, 1877, and also ‘Broughton’s Houses’ and ‘Harrison’s Houses’. During the 1880’s the rest of the west side of the road to Doncaster was built upon, mainly with terraced properties, but with a few detached houses interspersed among them. Building also commenced on the east side of the road during this period, and by 1891 about half had been built upon. Housing along the remainder of this road was built during the 1890’s.

Building in other areas was also necessary as a result of the increasing population. By 1883, as the cemetery round the church at Arksey was becoming full, a Burial Board was investigating possible sites for a new cemetery. At a meeting held on Monday 3rd March 1884 it was proposed, seconded and carried ‘That the resolution of the 18th December 1883, selecting a site on the west side of the railway, in Humphrey Croft be rescinded, and that the site in West Croft on the east side of the railway be selected instead.’ This site was about mid-way between the two villages, just to the Arksey side of the railway line, and cost £362 for the land and a further £238 to fence and lay out the site.

39. Religion in Bentley During the 19th Century

Nonconformist religions had become dominant in Bentley during the nineteenth century, probably due to the Parish Church being situated at Arksey, some two and half miles walk away. The Wesleyans had obviously expanded rapidly, for they had vacated their original building on the edge of the village green and moved into a new, larger chapel at the corner of Cooke Street and Askern Road by June 1819. The former building was taken over by the Primitive Methodists, being larger than their original chapel on the Doncaster Road. In 1871 the Weslyans added a school building to the chapel that they were to use for seventy-three years.

On October 22nd 1889 a meeting was held to consider the building of a new chapel to accommodate the growing congregation, and a site on the corner of the Doncaster Road and (Chapel) Street, facing Millgate, was donated by Mr. William Chadwick of Arksey Hall. This new chapel with schoolroom, built in the Victorian Gothic style using brick with stone dressings, was originally planned to a budget of £1,500 but finally cost over £2,350. The opening service was held on the l6th June 1892. It had seating for three hundred and sixty-five persons and the schools held two hundred children. A pipe organ was installed four years later. Only ten years after building the chapel was being ’renovated’ at a cost of £150. At some time after the old Primitive Methodist Chapel ceased to be used as a schoolroom it was taken over by the Anglican Church and used as a Mission Room for the convenience of those unable or not wishing to make the journey to the church in Arksey.

At the same time that the new Methodist Chapel was being planned and built, discussions were also in progress about providing a Mission Church in Bentley. The foundation stone for this was laid on St. Peter’s Day (after whom the church became named), June 29th 1891. The church was built in the Early English style, and there was seating for five hundred. The cost of building the church, as given in Kelly’s Directory for 1908, was ‘£10 000, defrayed by the late Charles Edward Stephen Cooke esq. of St Catherine’s, Doncaster.’ Four of the bells and the Reredos were presented by his widow. The clock was given by Mrs Broughton in memory of her family who had resided in the parish for many generations, and a brass Eagle Lectern and an organ by Mrs Hatch.

A ‘Specification for the Insurance of Property belonging to Sir William Cooke, Wheatley Hall’ cited ‘On the building of the Parish Church of Saint Peters situate at Bentley … £8,000; On Pulpit, Pews, Fittings, Font, Lamps, Lectern, Printed Books, Ornaments, Vestments, Surplices, Altar Cloths, £2 000.’ The stained glass window in the chancel, the marble and alabaster Reredos and the organ were valued at a total of £800. A further insurance of £425 was asked for the Mission Room, which had been rebuilt in 1892, (obviously in the realisation that the church was going to be long in building and the need for extra space being urgent) but a footnote dated November 4th 1900 states that ‘the property is supposed to belong to the Vicar and Churchwardens’ and this amount of £425 ‘must be struck out – or you may prejudice the ownership by allowing Sir William to pay the insurance.’

The licence and authority to hold services in ‘a building known as the Bentley Mission Church in the parish of Arksey’ was granted by the Lord Archbishop of York on October l4th 1896. This licence however was only ‘approved for the performance of Divine Service for the convenience of the inhabitants of the said parish residing at a distance from the Parish church’ for ‘Preaching the Word of god’, ‘reading the Common Prayer’ and ‘Celebrating the Holy Sacrament.’ A note in the margin states that ‘This licence does not authorise the publication of Banns and the Solemnisation of Marriages.’ That was to come two years later when, in 1898, Bentley became a separate ecclesiastical parish and the church was allowed to perform all Anglian services.

40. The Parishes at the Turn of the Century

By 1901 the total population for the Civil Parish of Bentley-with-Arksey was 2,403; of these just 384 lived in Arksey, the other 2,019 being in the new ecclesiastical parish of Bentley. The area for the civil parish was 5,039 acres. In comparing this with the population of the parish for 1849/51, when the 1851 census listed 1,105 persons of which about 700 lived in Bentley, leaving around 400 to be living in Arksey, it can be seen that virtually all the increase in population in the civil parish over the second half of the nineteenth century was around Bentley.

In the same year (1901) the population of Burghwallis was ‘100 in the civil and 70 in the ecclesiastical parish’ with 946 acres of land. In 1861 the population of the ‘township’ of Burghwallis (which extended into the parishes of Bamby upon Don and Owston with Skellow) had been ‘226, and of the parish 190, with 1,826 acres of land.’ Burghwallis had diminished by around fifty per cent in both size and population during the later half of the nineteenth century, due to the ’detached’ part of the parish, being attached in 1875 to the parish of All Saint’s, Moss, for ecclesiastical purposes. The hamlet of Haywood, the areas of the former hamlet of Shirley and Rockley House, and the farmhouses and railway cottages around Haywood were all part of this transfer.

42. Transport

The nature of the two villages at the turn of the century, which reflects the changes that had been taking place during the second half of the 1800’s, can be seen in the forms of transport, both public and private, which were available at this time.

At the end of the nineteenth century Doncaster, along with many other towns, was in the process of installing a ‘Light Electric Railway’ system. This was officially opened on Monday 2nd June 1902, with two services operating to Balby and Hexthorpe. There were problems at first with providing a service to Bentley, the great Northern Railway being the principal objector at the public inquiry, ‘on the grounds of its possible interference with their railway services. At that time, a level crossing existed where the North Bridge now stands, and the Company strongly objected to the tram lines being laid across their track.’ This was solved initially when a large barn-like building in Marsh Gate, already owned by the Corporation, was taken over by the tramways’ committee for use as a shed for trams running on a service to Bentley. Passengers used a ‘feeder’ service from the Clock Corner to the level crossing and then walked through the underpass to Marsh Gate for the service to Bentley, which commenced on Monday 27th October 1902. It ran as far as the corner of Millgate, terminating opposite the new Methodist chapel, and by 1908 electric trams were running from Marsh Gate, Doncaster to Bentley ‘every 15 minutes from 5.15 a.m. to 11.15 p.m.’

This tram system was in operation for twenty-five years, the line being extended further through Bentley as the township grew.

Throughout this period the people of Burghwallis were still relying on a ‘Carrier’s Cart’ which ‘came in a morning through Burghwallis from Norton on its way to Doncaster. The Carrier was most obliging. You could ride to town with him; hand him a parcel to deliver to the station; get him to change a pair of shoes at the shop, back a horse, or wait until the end of the market to collect six pennyworth of cheap pig’s trotters or cow heels.’ The cart only ‘ran’ on Tuesdays and Saturdays, for the markets at Doncaster. The nearest public transport was still nearly two miles away, being the bus service from Skellow. Alternatively there were now three railway stations a short distance from the village, it being situated ‘2 miles north-east from Hampole station and 3 north from the Carcroft and Adwick-ie-Street station on the West Riding and Grimsby section of the Great Northern Railway and 2 1/2 south-west from Askern station on the Knottingley and Doncaster branch of the Lancaster and Yorkshire railway.’ The main form of transport in Burghwallis was therefore the bicycle, and this was to continue until a very limited Bus service (three a day, with a lunchtime service extra on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday market days) was introduced in 1960. Most of the villagers worked locally, either in agriculture or eventually at one of the pits at Askem, Brodsworth or Bullcroft.

43. Bentley Colliery

The major attraction for this influx of new residents was the opening of the colliery at Bentley. The Parish Magazine for November 1888 carried an article which stated that ‘boring for coal has been commenced in this parish, on the estate of Sir William Cooke … to a depth of about 700 yds … the site selected for the bore hole is at Bentley, in the field adjoining Mr. Mason’s mill, and alongside a stream known as the Mill Dyke.’ This site however, on the edge of the old village of Bentley, proved unsuitable, and further borings at a site to the north of the village were carried out. These proved successful and the first shaft was sunk here in 1905, with the pit being operational by 1908.

Bricks for the colliery buildings were produced on site, only a short distance from the site of the earlier Tuffield brickyard, and the colliery brick-works continued in operation to provide bricks for the ‘new village’ that was built to house the miners, between the pit and Bentley village centre. In the old village cottages along the main road were demolished and replaced by many new commercial premises built to provide services for the growing community. In 1910 the Great Central Railway Company built its avoiding line through Bentley, drawing its traffic mainly from the older coalfield.

This rapid growth in population continued over the next decade, and by 1921 had doubled again to nearly 13,000. Early ‘housing estates’ grew behind the buildings along the major roads, and also along the turnpike road towards Askern and around the old Toll-House at Toll Bar. In 1911 two Council Schools were erected on Bentley Road, one being a mixed school for 360 children and the other a temporary school for 200 infants. In 1912 a Public Elementary school for 1,280 children was built in Bentley, and two years later a school to take 430 mixed and infants was erected at Toll-Bar. In 1913 new Council Offices were built at Bentley and the new unit of Local Government, Urban District Councils, was based in the new centre of population at Bentley, rather than at the ancient centre of Arksey.


The population in Burghwallis increased slowly during the early decades of the twentieth century, being 173 in 1901 and 178 in 1931. At Bentley however the village was altering dramatically. Over the first ten years of the century the population nearly trebled, from 2,403 in 1901 to just under 6,500 in 1911. As was indicated from the middle of the eighteenth century, most of this population growth was in the village of Bentley, with Arksey expanding only very slowly and so accommodating a very small percentage of the increase.

44. Burghwallis

At Burghwallis the village school closed and the children had to walk about a mile to a pre- fabricated building constructed in Green Lane, at the north-eastern boundary of the township of Skellow. This also served the children from the village of Old Skellow, and from Robin Hood’s Well, Hampole and Skelbrooke. When Bullcroft pit was sunk in 1908-1911 a new village was created between old Skellow and old Carcroft and a mixed school catering for all ages was built at Skellow. The children from Burghwallis and neighbouring farmsteads were then bussed to this new school.

By the time of the outbreak of war in 1939 Burghwallis was still little changed from the time of enclosure over a hundred years before. A few private houses and a half-dozen council houses had been built on the outskirts of the old village during the 1930’s, with the new inhabitants working on the land or commuting short distances to nearby collieries. Entertainment was provided by dances, plays, films and whist-drives held in a wooden ex-army hut which had been purchased by the church council in the early 1920’s, and the first establishment for the sale of alcohol was a similar hut, situated at the opposite end of the village, for use as a working men’s club.

45. Bentley

In contrast the old village of Bentley had lost its rural atmosphere completely, becoming swamped in the commercial ventures associated with a thriving colliery community. Like all other surrounding pit villages it had acquired a cinema, opened on September 14th 1914, which also doubled as a theatre, and other facilities for recreation, such as sports grounds and working men’s clubs were to follow. Bentley Pavilion and Recreation Park with bandstand and area for open-air dancing were built along the Al9 (Doncaster to Selby road) on ground to the north of the old Wesleyan Chapel.

The residents of Bentley experienced poverty during the colliery strike of 1926, heartbreak at the loss of husbands, fathers and sons during the pit explosion of November 1931, and disruption and loss during the floods of 1932 and again in 1941, all disasters which were mainly just news items to the residents of the quiet village of Burghwallis.

A Conclusion

Several questions are raised from the preceding comparative histories of the two villages and manors. Why did some villages remain basically ‘estate’ villages and others develop into ‘pit’ villages? Were the changes mainly twentieth century ones, or can they be traced back to developments in the past? At first glance, and disregarding post Second World War development, Burghwallis was the typical ‘estate’ type of village, whilst Bentley appeared to be a typical ‘pit’ village, both similar to many others in the Doncaster region. But how far back can differences between the two types be traced, or are they only the results of decisions made in late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries? Are they dictated by environmental, political or social circumstances, or purely by personal preferences and decisions?

When the Domesday Record was made in 1086, many manors in this area of South Yorkshire appear similar. Few had churches or mills that warranted mention, and yet it is now known that many had been founded but were not of economic importance to the Crown at this time. The church at Burghwallis has been shown to have pre-conquest features, and certain features and circumstances regarding the church at Arksey also suggest some form of building on the site before 1086. Whatever the circumstances at this time, by the end of the twelfth century Burghwallis, in common with Arksey, Owston, Campsall, and Adwick-le-Street had churches and Bentley, as also Carcroft, Skellow, Sutton and Askern (not mentioned in Domesday) did not. The collieries that developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were built near to villages that did not have early churches, which suggests that social structure at the end of the twelfth century, or even earlier, has directly or indirectly affected the development of these manors and villages right up to the twentieth century.

Map 7 – The area around Burghwallis and Bentley showing villages, early Churches, Manor Houses/Halls and Collieries. One mitigating factor was the preference of Lords of the Manor to build their residence in close association with the Church, as at Burghwallis, Owston and Campsall. They would therefore be unlikely to exploit mineral rights if it meant encroaching upon their personal privacy. The lord of Bentley lived south of the River Don, out of sight of the village of Bentley, and at Owston and Campsall the Lord owned other villages, (Carcroft\Skellow and Askem respectively), near to which were sites suitable for the exploitation of coal. At Burghwallis and Adwick-le-Street it would be difficult to site a colliery which would not interfere with the lifestyle of the Squire, although both were eventually to be affected, both visually and audibly, by collieries in adjoining parishes.

Another factor that has to be taken into account however is that the three pits in the area surrounding Burghwallis and Bentley, (north of Doncaster and east of the Al/Roman Road), were all sunk on land belonging to members of branches of the Cooke family. Did this family somehow gain a monopoly over the exploitation of coal in this area, or was it purely coincidental? Bentley colliery’s first shaft, on land of the Cookes of Wheatley, was commenced sinking in 1905, although exploration for coal had been initiated in 1888. Bullcroft, on land of the Davis-Cooke family of Owston, was begun in 1908 and Askem, on land of the Cooke-Yarboroughs at Campsall, in 1911.

These conclusions however are based only on the examination in depth of two parishes and a brief look at adjoining parishes. The research has demonstrated that to gain a full understanding of the causes for change from rural villages into ‘pit’ villages, an in depth study of all parishes in this region of South Yorkshire is needed.

End © Margaret Burns