This section deals with the various places that my family have lived in and around for several generations.
At present, the list of places is quite small as I am still researching them. Additional entries will be added as and when I get the time.
Before the industrial revolution the village of Rothwell was more important than Leeds. Now Leeds is a major city and Rothwell has grown into a small town of around 21,000 inhabitants according to the 2001 census.
Rothwell was first named by the Saxons due to a rapid and copious well near to where the church presently stands. Soon after the Norman conquest Rothwell was given with the castle of Pontefract to the Lacys. They had a baronial residence here, some traces are still visible near the church.
The remains of 'Rothwell Castle' in 1950
Back in the early 1820's, Rothwell was a parish town in the Agbrigg division of the liberty of Pontefract with a population in the region of 2,155. The parish church was dedicated to the Holy Trinity and was within the deanry of Pontefract.
By 1868, the parish of Rothwell covered a large extent. It was close to the river Aire and near the recently constructed Leeds canal and North Midland railway. The ancient town was irregularly laid out and now was home to some 3,220 inhabitants, with the parish itself containing just over 8,000 people.
Back then the principal public building was the gaol for the hundred of Pontefract, formerly used as the debtor's prison. The majority of the working population were chiefly employed in agriculture and in the collieries, and in the woollen cloth and hair sieve manufactures. There were also establishments for the making of rope and twine.
The entire district abounded with coal of excellent quality and there were numerous mines in operation within the surrounding area.
Mining has been carried out in the parish of Rothwell for over 600 years. The early mines were probably bell or bee-hive pits sunk to the seams very close to the surface, mere holes in the ground with no ventilation. The remains of some are in local woods. As they exhausted the potential of one bell-pit or they became impractical, perhaps because the roof became unsafe, the miners went on to dig another pit a few yards away.
This shallow type of mining continued until the beginning of the 1700's when pumping engines were invented. This meant that water levels could be controlled. Up to that time, the surface water table had determined the shaft depths.
There have been two major families in the Rothwell area responsible for over 250 deep pits. The first were the Fentons whose mining interests started in 1632 and began to decline after the sale of Rothwell Haigh Pit in 1820 to the Charlesworth family.
The Charlesworth family continued as owners up to the nationalisation of all coal mines in 1948. The Charlesworth family owned Rothwell Colliery and until 1948 the coal mine was known locally as Fanny Pit after one of the Charlesworth daughters. Two other pits, Rose and Jane were also named after his daughters.
There were twelve workable seams in the area and all have been mined to a lesser or greater degree. There are approximately 25 miles of underground roadways at Rothwell Colliery.
The Midland Pit was the first deep pit sunk on the site in 1867. A second shaft was sunk in 1911 and the coal mine was now known as Fanny Pit. In 1924/5 the shaft was further deepened. The pit was eventually closed in 1983.
Back before the days of mechanisation, most of the heavy hauling was done by pit ponies and shire horse. In 1922 there were 160 pit ponies stabled at Fanny Pit alone. These were used for hauling tubs of materials and props at this colliery until 1972 when the last one was brought up to spend his remaining days at a local farm.
The site stopped producing coal on December 9th 1983. Over the next two years all the buildings were demolished and the shafts capped.
A well manned shoeing and farriers shop circa 1920
The origins of Rothwell church are unknown. Though not mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086, a church may well have existed on this site before then.
Rothwell was part of the estate or honour of Pontefract, held by Ilbert de Lascy. His son, Robert, founded Nostell Priory, near Wakefield, which he and his tenants endowed with parish churches.
Hugh de Laval, a tenant of Robert de Lascy granted Rothwell church a right of patronage, to the Augustinian Canons of Nostell in about 1130.
Rothwell Parish Church as it appeared in 1905
A Vicarage was ordained in 1253. From that time to the Reformation, the Vicars of Rothwell were presented to the Archbishop of York, for institution to the living, by the prior and convent of Nostell.
The Church, which at first, was small and unpretentious, has undergone many enlargements. Although early sculptured stones and other features survive, the main structure was extensively altered and rebuilt in the 19th century such that little evidence of ancient work remains.
Without adequate written or pictorial record, it is difficult to learn what the church was like or to trace its architectural evolution before the year 1826.
Beside the north wall of the tower is the box tomb of John Blenkinsop (d. 1831), inventor of the rack railway and builder of the Middleton colliery line.Hide this content.
Snaith is a thriving town situated between Selby, Goole and Doncaster. It has held a market charter since 1223 although no market has been held for many years. Because the market has lapsed, the Court of Pie-Powder, which allowed the market to right any wronged there, has also lapsed.
Snaith and the surrounding area
The name Snaith is thought to mean 'enclosed by water' and the area is known locally as the Three Rivers area. The river Aire, which is tidal, runs through the centre of the town and in medieval times Snaith was a busy port with a harbour and ferry across the river to Selby.
The actual founding of Snaith is obscure, but it was well established as part of the Royal hunting lodge before 1066 and so has no separate entry in the Domesday Book.
In its hey-day Snaith had twelve pubs and four tailors, and although there is no tailor and the pubs are reduced to five, it is still a busy little shopping centre.
In 1777, in response to a public petition, Thomas Stapleton of 'Carlton Towers', built a bridge to encourage the flax trade and to ease the difficulty of transporting bodies from Carlton by ferry to be buried in Snaith churchyard.
Snaith, originally, was on the eastern fringe of the East Riding of Yorkshire. However, since the 1974 boundary reorganisation, it is on the western fringe of Britain's newest county, North Humberside.
Snaith and the surrounding area
The priory church of St. Lawrence at Snaith is a Saxon foundation, though very little of the Saxon church remains. The present building dates from 1086 and the report of its state in 1275 lists among its treasures four tropers (the Anglo-Saxon service book) and several part tropers, so it was a rich church.
The priory church of St. Lawrence
Near the chancel arch is a niche dedicated to St. Sitha - her only claim to fame, according to local tradition, is that she was martyred. Her head was cut off 'and she picked it up and ran three miles to the nearby (sic!) church to warn the other Christians.'
Snaith was a Peculiar, i.e. it had its own ecclesiastical court and in many ways it was exempt from the jurisdiction of the Bishop. This may explain the fact that the Bishop's inspectors came to interview the brothers at Snaith for reported `indiscretions' and were unable to carry out their inspection because the brothers had summoned the ferry to the Snaith bank so they could not cross the river!Hide this content.