is known of Tickhill’s origins until the late 11th
century: there is no reference in the Domesday Book of 1086, and
the first written reference does not appear until the early 12th
20th century research and excavations confirm there
had been settlements in the surrounding area since Roman times.
The remains of a Roman villa were discovered close to Stancil
Farm, two miles north east of Tickhill, two brooches, a buckle
and an ampulla were found close to All Hallows Hill to the east
of Wilsic Lane and a hoard of 1,300 silver dinarii from
the second or early third century was found ‘in Tickhill’.
the Norman Conquest of 1066, there appears to have been an
active Anglo-Saxon settlement in the area around Dadsley. The
name, which means ‘Daeddi’s clearing, is thought to derive from
Daeddi, an Old English (OE) personal noun and leah
(OE) meaning ‘forest glade or clearing’.
The exact location has not been established, although the
pattern of open fields suggests that it was near to Dadsley Lane
and Dadsley Well about a half mile
north of the present town, and
one mile north east of All Hallows Hill. A survey and
excavations in the late 1980s would seem to confirm that All
Hallows Hill was the site of All Hallows
Church, a pre-conquest church serving Dadsley and other settlements in the
also evidence of a later, secondary Viking settlement – a
farmstead or hamlet - at Woolthwaite, two miles south west of
Tickhill, as the ‘thwaite’ element derives from thveit,
an Old Danish word meaning ‘clearing, meadow or paddock ‘.
Domesday Book, the
great land survey commissioned by William the Conqueror, makes reference to
the manors of Dadsley, Stainton and Hellaby, which had belonged
to the Saxon lords, Elsi and Seward; after the Conquest their
lands were confiscated and given, together with other manors in
Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire,
Leicestershire and Devon, to Roger de Busli, a Norman baron, by
William l as a reward for his support.
these manors had a population of 54 villeins
(tenant farmers) and
(smallholders), who had 24 ploughs,
and 31 burgesses
(townspeople); three mills with an income of 40/-
(£2.00), a priest and a church. There were two acres of meadow
and 30 acres of woodland pasture and whole area was
valued at £14.00,
The founding of
By the end of the 11th century,
Roger de Busli had built a motte and bailey castle (surrounded
by a ditch) on a sandstone hill, known as Tica’s Hill, about
half a mile south of Dadsley; this hill was to give its name to
a new settlement – Tickhill. (The name again derives from
an OE personal noun Tica, and hyll OE
meaning ‘hill’.) Collectively,
all de Busli’s estates were referred to as the Honour of
Tickhill, which emphasised the importance of this new town.
The first written reference to Tickhill - spelt Tykehil -
appears in the early 12th century in the Cartulary
of Nostell Priory 1109-19 (a
collection of deeds and charters). Over next 450 years, many
variant spellings were used: Tykehull, Ticahil, Thichehill,
Tickehill, Thykhyl and Tekil to name but a few. The first
reference to the present spelling appeared in the will of Thomas
Denbigh of Tickhill, dated October 15, 1559: a transcription of
which can be seen in the Surtees Society Journal, Vol.121:
North Country Wills, Vol. ll,
death of Roger de Busli at the end of the 11th
century, his estates passed to his kinsman, Robert de Belleme,
Earl of Shrewsbury; his tenure, however, was short lived: in
1102 he rebelled against King Henry 1, the castle passed to the
Crown and all his estates were lost.
The Medieval town
The expansion and development of the
medieval town is a matter of conjecture, and the main source of
research for this text has been the works of the eminent local
historians, Professor David Hey and the late Tom Beastall
working with Roland Hill.
Following the building of the castle, the
focal point for settlement in the area appears to have moved to
Tickhill, which is thought to have been a new ‘planned’ town.
Castlegate, with its burgage
plots – long, narrow strips
of land with a house and yard running at right angles to and
fronting onto the main street, is thought to be the earliest
part of the town. Further expansion saw Castlegate extend west
into Westgate and north into Northgate. The term ‘gate’ is from
the Old Norse gata, meaning ‘way, road or street’.
Another theory suggests that Market Place was the
original centre, with expansion developing outwards along
Castlegate, Northgate and Sunderland Street.
Excavations in the 1960s and 1970s revealed
the existence of a ditch, which possibly marked the perimeter of
the castle green – the outer earthworks of the castle bailey,
extending from Westgate, round the west side of the church then
north east along St Mary’s Gate towards Market Place and the
rear of the south side of Sunderland Street. The name
‘Sunderland’ is derived from the OE sundor-land, meaning
‘land set aside for a special purpose’,
which suggests this area may have originally been outside
or ‘set aside’ from the Norman town.
Tickhill continued to flourish: burgage
plots lined Northgate, Westgate and the Sunderland Street
approach to Market Place, street farms opened onto the main
highways with yards, garths, orchards and paddocks to the rear
and several capital messuages
- large houses, with yard, outbuildings and land -
were to be found, namely
Eastfield and Leeston Hall on Northgate, Sandford Hall on
Sunderland Street and Clarel Hall located between Westgate and
Pinfold Lane. The latter, a medieval manor house, was the home
of the Clarel family; about 1256, John Clarel, warden of Queen
Eleanor’s Chapel in Tickhill Castle, founded an Augustinian
Friary, which included a school, to the west of the town.
Religious orders also gave relief to the
poor and needy, provided work for the unemployed, hospitality to
travellers and care to the sick and elderly. About 1225 St
Leonard’s Hospital was founded primarily for the care of lepers,
and was maintained by Benedictine monks from Humberston Abbey
near Grimsby. It was, however, unusual for a leper hospital to
be located close to the town, and as the Benedictines had a
small religious house – the Monastery-in-the-Marsh – about one
mile to the east and responsibility for the nearby
Hospital-in-the-Marsh at Spital Hill, it is possible that this
was the site of the original St Leonard’s before the present
building on Northgate, dating from 1470, was constructed.
There is uncertainty over the date of the
foundation of a Maison de Dieu, (House of God), a row of
almshouses to the south of St Mary’s Church:
suggest 1199, others almost two
centuries later by John of Gaunt in the latter years of the 14th
century. (Please see the Society’s
Occasional Paper “Maison Dieu” which explains why the later
date of foundation is more likely).
With the movement of population from the
Anglo-Saxon settlement at Dadsley, the parish church of All
Hallows was now some distance from the heart of the new town. In
the early 13th century a new church, dedicated to St
Mary the Virgin, was built on land adjacent to the Castle Green,
however All Hallows may still have been used as a ‘daughter’
church for a short time after. There are known to have been at
least four chantry chapels attached to St Mary’s, these were
reserved for worship by the gild or families who endowed them; a
Grammar School associated with St Helen’s chapel is thought to
have been located in the south west churchyard.
At the beginning of the 14th
century, Tickhill had become a thriving town, surrounded by
arable and pasture land, with three water powered corn mills:
one at the Castle, West Mill near the Friary (later a paper
mill) and East Mill at the far end of Sunderland Street; a
weekly Tuesday market and an annual fair, established in the
late 12th century, added to the town’s growing
prosperity. Tickhill’s contribution of
£12.10s.0d to the national 1334 Lay Subsidy - a tax on all
moveable property in the town - was second only to that of
Doncaster in the South Yorkshire area.
The Medieval population
45 years later,
the 1379 Poll Tax Returns show this prosperity had been
maintained. The Poll Tax was a tax imposed on
non-churchmen; it was levied on all persons over fifteen years
of age. The amount paid varied according to the means of the
individual: the minimum payment being fourpence (one
groat). A man and wife appear to
have been counted as one person and were charged the same amount
as a single person.
returns, written in Latin, provide an insight into the status
and character of the town and, in particular, its population,
who contributed £6.3s.4d. to the Exchequer. They list everyone
by name, and reveal there were 458 people over the age of
fifteen living in Tickhill at the time; most paid the basic
fourpence rate, but 32 households, which employed servants paid
sixpence or more. Many of these were tradesmen or craftsmen,
whose occupations are recorded in the Returns: William Annot,
Robert Lauerock, Gilbert Sisser and John Grayne were tailors,
whilst William Michel, William de Boxouer, Richard de Melton,
John de Hyndagh, Simon Auty and John, son of Geoffrey and Alice
were souters (shoemakers), all paid the higher rate of
sixpence, as did websters (female weavers): Elena Coke,
Elizabeth Perkyn and Agnes Gobisid, spicers (grocers):
John of Stancil and Henry Schapman, together with, carpenter:
Hugo Hill, meller (a beekeeper or maker of honey) or
miller: Hugo Bell and masons
(skilled workers with
stone), Richard of
Brodsworth and Robert Hallam.
The more prosperous paid even higher rates:
ostlers (persons who looked after horses, usually at an
inn): Nicholas Coke and Agnes Sterappe paid one shilling, as did
goldsmith: John, son of Geoffrey and Cecilia, drapers: John, son
of Constantine and Joanna and John, son of Constantine and
Idonia, mercer (a merchant of fine cloth, particularly
silk): William of Bagley, smith: Michael of Audewarp and
carpenter: Thomas of Thwayt (Thwaite). The occupation of barker
or berker (a leather tanner) appears to have been extremely
profitable as four of the five in the town - Thomas of Beston,
Roger of Louerton, John Loutok and Richard of Leuerton - paid
sums of one shilling, two shillings or three shillings and
mark); the highest tax of thirteen shillings and fourpence
(one mark), however, was paid by Richard Reynerson,
described as a merchant.
origins of the surnames listed in the Returns are quite
interesting as many reflect the original occupation of their
ancestors, such as shepherds: Hugo Schephird, John Schepherd and
Robert Schepherd, gardeners: John Gardener and Matilda de
Gardener, cart maker and repairer: Thomas Cartewrigth (Cartwright),
goldsmiths: Hugo Goldsmyth and John Goldsmych, weavers:
Margaret, Richard and Henry Webster, butcher: Henry
Flesschewer, craftsman builder: John Wrygth (Wright),
barrelmaker: William Couper and, perhaps the most common name in
England, smith: John Smith. Whether these people were still
practising these occupations in 1379 is not known.
surnames reflect the personal or family place of origin. As
Tickhill was thought to be a ‘new’ town, it is reasonable to
assume that it would have attracted people from the local area
and beyond. Joanna Stansall (Stancil), William
Austerfield, Agnes Wellingley, William Styrap (Styrrup),
William of Wadworth, William of Maltby and John Conesborght
(Conisbrough), together with some people referred to previously
all have surnames relating to the local area. Residents from
farther afield included John Tuxford and Elias Elkeslay from
Nottinghamshire, Idonia of Leuerton (Leverton), Walter
Horncastell (Horncastle) and John Mistirton (Misterton)
from Lincolnshire, Yorkshire folk John Schefeld
(Sheffield), Cecilia Halifax and William Rypon and
Irishman, John of Galway.
[There is however, one surname that appears
in the Tickhill Poll Tax Returns and again almost 530 years
later in Tickhill directories. In 1379 Richard Crosseland and
his wife Alice are recorded as paying the standard rate of tax,
and from 1908-1915 George Crossland is listed as trading from
premises in Castlegate as a photographic goods and book dealer.
Was George Crossland a descendent of
Richard, or is this a mere coincidence?]
Post –Medieval decline
During the late
Middle Ages, national economic problems and a fall in population
led to the decline of market towns, such as Tickhill, and rural
settlements soon became deserted. The dissolution of the
monasteries at the beginning of the Reformation saw the
surrender of the Augustinian Friary to the King’s Commissioner,
Sir George Lawson in 1538. Two years later, the antiquary, John
Leland ,on his travels around England, wrote: ‘The market town
of Tikhill is very bare; but the chirch is fair and large…. All
the buildings withyn the [castle] area be down saving the old
haulle’. The Castle became a Royalist garrison during the Civil
War until its surrender to the Earl of Manchester in 1644; it
was demolished by order of Parliament five years later.
Tickhill over the next 100 years noted a similar decline: in
1751 Bishop Pococke described it as ‘a
poor market town’. Tickhill
never regained its medieval
prosperity and importance as the second town in South Yorkshire;
it was not on a main road and it had no industry; by the end of
the 18th century it could only be described as ‘a
Tickhill: portrait of an English country town. Waterdale
Vol. 30. Yorkshire, Part One; edited by Margaret L. Faull
& Marie Stinson. Phillimore & Co.Ltd. 1986.
The making of South
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John, The Doncaster District: an archaeological survey.
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The place names of the West Riding of
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English Place Name Society. 1961.
Country Wills, Vol.2. 1558-1604.
Surtees Society. 1912.
Archaeological Society, Returns of the West Riding of the
County of York of the Poll Tax….in the reign of Richard the
Second (AD1379). YAS. 1882.