Village History

The first National Land Register for England is the Doomsday book which was compiled in 1086 whilst England was under NORMAN rule.

The Village of Notton is listed as the Villata De Notton with Notton spelled in various ways e.g. Nortune, Nortone.  The village is registered as 6 carucates of land worth 20 shillings.

The village was part of a SAXON manor pre 1086 with a Saxon lord, Godric in charge and in tenancy of Notton Manor House.  The manor house was also tenanted by Normans before falling into decay and ruin in the 16th century.  The position of the manor house, based upon old land registry documents, would be where the four new houses are now built in the small cul de sac on George Lane.

The place name Notton means “wether sheep farm” most probably from the old English hnoc “wether sheep” and old English tun meaning “enclosure”.  The village has progressed through the ages being recognised as a holding, village, township and back to a village in recent times.  The area is mainly recognised as agricultural, but this has not always been so.  The lands were imparked in the mid 16th century before being brought back to agricultural use early 19th century which was consolidated with the outbreak of two world wars early 20th Century.  However more of this later.

Before I present the details of the village history via ownerships it is opportune to firstly recognise other important place names associated with Notton.

Applehaigh Lane 

The meaning being “Land leading to or from Applehaigh”.  It is most likely derived from a combination of the old English names of “haga” for hedge and “Eadbald” a person’s name.  The literal meaning would be Eadbalds Enclosure.  There does not appear to be a first date of recording for the lane, however the name Applehaigh is recorded within CHARTERS held in the Bodleian library with alternative spelling shown as Adbaldeshage or Adbaldehage. There are Iron Age workings and footpaths in the vicinity of Applehaigh enclosure i.e. the region of the farmhouses at the end of the present lane.

Chevet Lane

The meaning being “land leading to or from Chevet”.  The most likely meaning of Chevet is “the ridge” from an old Welsh term CEMET for ridge, which has survived in modern Welsh language as “cefn” meaning “back.”

Again one cannot find a first date of recording of the name.  The name Chevet however is in the Doomsday Book with other spellings shown as Cevet and Ceuet.


The meaning being “a well or spring in a pasture.”  It is a combination of Old Norse “eng” for meadow, water meadow and/or pasture, and old English “wella” for well or spring.  I cannot determine any conclusive date for the first recording of the name.


The meaning being “a small well or spring” being a combination of either old English “smoel” or old Norse sma(r), for “small” and old English “wella” for well or spring.  Once again one cannot determine any conclusive date for the first recording of the name.

There are five listed buildings within the village boundary namely: – Joiners Cottage, Bushcliffe House, 70 George Lane, Gill Bridge (George Stephenson design) and a milestone in Mucky Lane (Keepers Lane?).

When attempting to interpret old place names one must be very careful, warning the reader that they are the most probable or likely use, but there are other possible interpretations.  To give my interpretations some credence I have discussed them with Dr. Margaret Faul, Director of Caphouse Mining Museum, a recognised world authority, who assures me they are reasonably sound.

The chronological history of the village which now follows is extracts from various sources and again I would not wish the reader to consider it as a definitive history, IT IS NOT.

Pre 1086  –  Notton Village administered by a Saxon lord Godric who resided in Notton Manor.  Notton village is first registered as were all villages, towns etc. in England in the Doomsday Book as the Villata de Notton.

1086  –  The registered administrator/owner was the Norman Baron Ilbert De Laci (Lacy).  De Laci resided in Tan Shelf Manor (Tatashella) and placed minor lords in both Notton and Woolley Manors.  As De Laci was not a highborn lord his success must have been due to his prowess as a soldier and later an administrator.

1166 – The Manor is now administered by Henry De Laci with Notton under the specific jurisdiction of Robert, son of Leofwine, son of AElfeat.  Robert’s brother Eburhard may have also held part of Notton as a half knight’s fee at this time, but it is unclear.

  1. –  1190  Robert granted part of Notton to Asulfr De Notton.
  2. –  1200  Robert’s part of Notton passed to his nephew Gilbert, son of Reginald De Notton.  Robert gifted Notton mill to Monk Bretton Priory.  Gilbert later gifted 18 acres and one bovate of land owned by Margery wife of Asulfr to Monk Bretton priory.
  3. –  1210  Warin, church chaplin, administered Notton on behalf of Prior Roger in life tenancy.  On Warin’s death, Prior Roger gave the lands of Notton to John Page.
  4. –  1234  Gilbert De Notton gave Notton Manor and all lands owned by his father Gilbert to his cousin Roger De Notton as part of a fine.
  5. The lands passed to Roger De Notton’s heirs, however as they were minors, custody was given to Mathew Bezil on their behalf.
  6. Geoffrey De Notton son of Roger De Notton was granted free warrant over Demensne lands of Notton and Bushcliffe.
  7. Geoffrey de Notton died without an heir.  The Manor i.e. the lands passed to William Heron who had married Geoffrey’s sister, Christina.
  8. William Heron died. His lands passed to his grandaughter, Emiline who married John Darcy.
  9. John Darcy was given permission from the crown to “impark” the lands of Notton.  He changed the use of the land from mainly agriculture to woods.  Darcy formed Notton Park and Notton Woods.  John Darcy died in 1356.
  10. Queen Phillipa granted Notton Manor to Peter De Routhe, her Yeomen User to administer on behalf of John Darcy’s son, also John Darcy.
  11. John Darcy died and the Manor passed to his son Philip.
  12. Philip died leaving the Manor to his son John Darcy.  John died in 1411  passing the Manor to his son Philip.
  13. Philip holds two thirds of the Manor with the remaining third held by his mother Margaret.
  14. Control of Notton Manor now begins to fragment.  The Manor in parts was held by James Strangeways who had married Philip’s (1402) daughter Elizabeth.  John Darcy of Aston, Philip’s (1402) brother, Thomas Swynford, Helen widow of Thomas Tunstale and her two daughters Elizabeth and Helen.
  15. –  1750  Control of all lands eventually passed to the church on reformation.  Firstly Monk Bretton Priory, then Nostell Priory and finally the Hospital of St. Johns of Jerusalem.

Through the period 1200 to 1750 there were several minor holdings which confuses the picture of overall ownership.  Some are too small to be mentioned and indeed some were too small to be recorded.  The significant ones appear to be:- 1185 – 1205 Arnold de Notton granted two bovates of land to Hugh son of Gamall.  1365 – 1366 William De Notton granted land to William Fyncheden.  In 1400 Oliver Woodrove held one and a half bovates of land in Notton and Woolley.  In 1431 – 1432 Richard Woodrove son of Oliver held the family land which passed to his son Thomas in 1520. 

To gain a better understanding of land usage some understanding of how land was measured at this time may be useful.

Manor  –  This was the largest holding of land and where the Lord of the Manor derived.  The word comes from Manere meaning to stay or abide.  The Manerium is the chief seat.

Berewick  –  A section of land within the Lords ownership.  Berewick means Barley Farm.  It carries the connotation of an outlying settlement feeding the Manerium.

Inland –  A section of land owned by the Lord which despite its name could be distant from the main seat.  In most aspects the same as Berewick.

Sokelands  –  A section of land NOT owned by the Lord of the Manor but under his control.  Sokemen owned the land but gave allegiance to the Lord in return for protection.

Carucate  –  Accepted as the area which eight oxen could plough in a year.  The size varied greatly and depended very much on what type of land was under plough and the condition of your oxen. The word is derived from Caruca to plough.

Carucages  –  Generally accepted as being 2 : 1 ratio of Carucate.

Bovate  –  The area of land which could be ploughed by an ox in a year.  It could then be assumed that eight bovates equalled one Carucate.  However due to the wide variances of land and ploughing resulting in large differences to the same measure, there was not much sense in comparing.

Acre  –  Equally, it was difficult to compare Bovates with Acres. A Bovate is recorded as 6 acres in one reference and 30 acres in another.

  1. The next major change of land ownership was when the Wentworth family purchased land in Notton and Woolley from the church.  The Wentworth family lived in Woolley and Notton Manor house fell into ruin. N.B Manor now being used to describe a building rather than an area of land.

In the early part of the 19th century a “land register” was formed and hence reviewed at regular intervals.  To follow the more recent history of the village I have referred to the Land register but have chosen those entries with some significance.  It should be remembered that Notton was a small village and did not warrant much of an entry.  Another caution is when considering the population quoted. Not everyone who lived in the village was important enough to be registered. Only those who paid taxes and were registered property owners would be counted. 

  1. The land register has Notton first recorded with little comment other than the population was 339.
  2. A more accurate record lists Notton as a “scattered romantic village” of 317 inhabitants.  Godfrey Wentworth Esq. Is the Lord of the Manor and owner of the soil.
  3. Notton is recorded as a scattered village of 260 souls.  Godfrey Wentworth is the lord of the Manor residing in Woolley Manor.
  4. Notton is described as a farmship and scattered village.  The population is 269 and Godfrey Wentworth is Lord of the Manor.
  5. Notton is recorded as a scattered village of 286 souls.  The Midland Railway and the Wakefield to Barnsley canal intersect the village.  The local school is Woolley built in 1842.  Godfrey Wentworth is the owner of the lands.
  6. Notton is listed as a “township” in the South Riding of Yorkshire, in the influence of the rural Deanery of Pontefract, Diocese of York.  Godfrey Wentworth is the landowner and letters to be addresses via Barnsley.
  7. Still listed as a township.  The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincoln railways pass through the town.  The post office is now recorded and the village green recognised.  The post office is operated by Mrs Sarah Woodcock and the station master at Royston/Notton is Joseph Bowring.  Godfrey Wentworth is still the landowner.
  8. Notton Park is recorded.
  9. Godfrey Wentworth has passed away and his wife is the owner of the lands.  The post office sub postmaster is Joseph Paley and the station master is Henry Charles Lattey.  The schools are Woolley and Royston.  It is recorded that the township participates in the benefits of the Royston United Charities.
  10. William Jackson is the stationmaster.
  11. Mrs. Wentworth has passes away. Major Guy Edward Wentworth J.P. is the sole owner of the lands.  Mrs Mary Paley is sub postmistress.  The school is Royston Railway Station.  George Clarke is stationmaster.
  12. Major Wentworth still owner of the lands, Mrs Shaw is sub postmistress and G. Clarke is stationmaster.
  13. –  1945  The Kitson Family are first recorded as farmers owning farms bounding the village.  Mrs Bessie Kitson lived her final years in Joiners Cottage.  I remember her well as every ones idea of the archetype grandmother, her grey hair in a bun, a flowery pinny, rosy cheeks and stood as straight as an arrow.  An undoubted bueaty of her day.
  14. The Wentworth family had sold off most of the lands.  The village green was sold to Farmer Kitson for £5.  The green is still in the private ownership of the Kitson family.

1949  –  Present     Mrs Mollett’s Barn (Mrs Bessie Kitson’s mother)  was used for the village Gala and other social events.  A Gala queen was chosen each year.  A children’s Christmas party was held in the barn each year.

Woolley Dam was a focal point for villagers with picnics, boating and a small shop on site until the dam was drained for mine working.

Although there was a village shop, other traders peddled their wares.  Probably the best known of them was Herbert Wragg of Clayton West better known as the “Parafin man”.  Herbert sold paraffin from his bicycle and always carried some sweets for the children.

Finally, the village of Notton is unique, owning its own hall and lands and more recently its own shop. It does not have a pub, church or school; one or more of which usually signifies village status.

I have not attempted to complete the history in detail from 1950 to present.  When I gave a short presentation in the village hall to the gardening club most people there knew it in living memory.

 Bob Stevenson
(Very) Amateur Historian