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A Place Called Barwick

Barwicker No 6
July 1987

"The Barwicker" is the name of this journal and also of a person born and bred in Barwick. But Barwick what? Barwick village? Barwick parish? Barwick manor or township or ward? Each place-name points to some aspect of Barwick history much of which has yet to be unravelled.

The easiest term to define is the village, that collection of houses and businesses which has grown up around Barwick church. The precise details of its origin are lost, but one can speculate on the reasons for its position. It is a well-drained site, free from flooding, with a good water supply from wells. Being on higher ground, it would be more easily defended than the immediate surroundings. Security would also be increased by living close together rather than in scattered dwellings, and this is in keeping with man's gregarious nature.

Early plans of Barwick show that it had some features of what is called a linear village. The dwellings on the west side of Main street were built on narrow plots running back from the street. These were bounded by Back Lane, now Elmwood Lane. Extending beyond this were longer strips, called crofts, which could be used for grazing a cow or horse. A similar system of plots occurs on the north side of The Boyle and The Cross with the crofts running over Wendel Hill, parallel to Potterton Lane.

Barwick manor goes back to Saxon times. The Domesday survey of 1086 linked Barwick with Kippax and Ledston, together with several other villages in the district, as land held by Edwin, Earl of Mercia, before the Conquest.

In Norman times, there appears to have been some fragmentation into smaller units. The boundaries of the manor of Barwick cannot be drawn with accuracy, but as it was enclosed by the manors of Scholes, Shippen, Garforth, Parlington , Potterton, Kiddal and Thorner, its approximate limits can be imagined, (see map below).

Colman's History of Barwick-in-Elmet includes some details of Barwick and neighbouring manors, but knowledge of what was a constantly changing situation is scanty. There is some source material in the Gascoigne Papers in Leeds District Archives. This requires researching so that a definitive history of the manor can be written.

The manor was concerned with economic, administrative and military affairs. Religious matters were organised within the parish, which was in the charge of one priest or parson. Parishes are thought to have originated when lords of manors built churches for themselves and their tenants, and introduced a system of tithes to support the incumbents. Churchwardens were appointed to administer parish affairs. Parish boundaries were determined by tr.ose of the manor or several manors. The original Barwick parish included Barwick itself, the hamlets of Barnbow, Kiddal, Potterton, Scholes, Grimsdike, Stanks, Whinmoor, Morwick, Crossgates and part of Manston, and also surprisingly Roundhay. This situation remained until the nineteenth century.

As the importance of the manor declined with the end of its military aspect, civil administration passed into the hands of the parish. Where parishes were large, especially in the north, they were divided into several townships which carried out these civil functions. Barwick parish was divided into two townships, namely Roundhay and the remainder of the parish, which made up Barwick township. An important township official was the constable, responsible for enforcing the law. Overseers of the poor were elected by the townships to collect the poor rate and to use it to relieve the poor.

The parish and township officials were elected and other business was conducted at gatherings of ratepayers called vestry meetings. Barwick has a fine collection of parish and township records, including those of the churchwardens, overseers, constables and surveyors of the highways.

The independence from each other of the two townships was demonstrated when Roundhay became, in 1807, a founder member of the Great Preston Gilbert Union or Incorporation, which administered Poor Law affairs. Barwick township waited until 1822, when the Barwick-in-Elmet Gilbert Incorporation, which eventually comprised 42 townships, was formed with its workhouse in Rakehill Road. The Incorporation was dissolved in 1869 and Barwick township was added to the Tadcaster poor Law union. This formed the basis of the Tadcaster Rural District Council established in 1894.

In this year, local government by vestry meeting was replaced by the elected Barwick Parish Council. Elections were conducted in three wards, those of Barwick, Scholes and Crossgates adding another geographic unit to the Barwick collection. In 1912, Crossgates was taken into the City of Leeds. At the local government reorganisation of 1974, the Tadcaster Rural District Council was abolished, and Barwick and Scholes became part of the Leeds Metropolitan District.

Changes occurred also in Barwick parish. In 1826, St. John's Church in Roundhay was consecrated. It was not assigned a district, and its separation from Barwick was a gradual one. The last act appears to have been the institution of the incumbent for the first time as Vicar of Roundhay in 1925.

In 1840, the Church of St. James the Great, Manston, was built at Rector Bathurst's expense to serve the western part of the parish. In 1856, Manston became a separate parish.

St. Philip's Church in Scholes was built in 1875 and was replaced by a modern construction in 1966. Scholes remains within the present parish of Barwick-in-Elmet.

What, then, is Barwick and what is a Barwicker?

For the historian, what we mean by Barwick is determined by the source of information available to us, whether it refers to Barwick village, manor, parish O~ township. And a Barwicker? May we modestly suggest that an essential ingredient is that he or she reads "The Barwicker".
Arthur Bantoft

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