Doncaster -- In the Right Place at the Right Time
Sep 12, 2010
|The Nottingham Marathon was on today, so I had to take a roundabout way (and yes, we did have to go around a few of them!) to get to the rail station. It still only cost £5 by taxi, so well worth it in my view.
The train to Doncaster required a change in Sheffield after the first hour. I will be returning to Sheffield tomorrow as I have found out that the Doncaster Archives are closed for a training session. Arriving in Doncaster after the 30-minute trip from Sheffield, I sort of found the hotel by feel -- I remembered (sort of) where the tourist information was, but they are closed on Sundays. But I had looked at the location of the hotel on a map and stumbled across the street with no trouble. I must be getting the feel for these non-grid cities. Or maybe it’s because this is my 'hood! :)
I’m staying at the Caribbean Hotel (no palm trees OR beach!) on Thorne Road. The last place that the Kendalls were before emigrating to Ontario was Thorne, and of course, the bus that goes by my hotel goes to the town of Thorne [cue music to Twilight Zone -- do do do-do, do do do-do].
It was only 2 o’clock, and since it’s Sunday, I thought it would be a good day to visit a church, in this case Tickhill, where I have placed the Kendalls at the earliest date. Oh, and by the way, the Yorkshire pronunciation is more like "Tickle" than "Tick Hill". Tickle was 1 of the most important towns in Medieval Yorkshire in the 1330s and was the second wealthiest settlement in southern Yorkshire.
After unpacking a bit, I walked to the bus station (across from the train station) and asked which bus I needed to take to Tickle. He looked up the schedule, and said, "It only runs once an hour, and you just missed it. The next bus is at 3:50." Oh well, I decided to wander around and find the bus for the Doncaster Archives that I would use Tuesday through Friday, and maybe get a coffee. Passing by the Tickle bus stop, there was the bus! Seems that he was running 10 minutes behind, so I was right on time [cue music to Twilight Zone -- do do do-do, do do do-do].
It was about a 20-minute ride. Tickle lies only 8 miles from Doncaster, but it is definitely separated from the city, the ride going through rolling farmland before arriving at the newer side of the town. It seemed to be a fairly middle-class village. No supermarkets, but a number of smaller shops, nice looking residential streets, and a very large cricket pitch. The bus driver told me where to get off to go to St. Mary’s Church and I walked up Church Lane. The church used to be within the outer walls of Tickle Castle, a Norman fortification built soon after 1066. However, the area itself is described in the Domesday book of 1086 as already having a church and a priest, so the village is undoubtedly much older.
On arriving at the church door, I found it open and there was a greeter with a pamphlet. Seems it is their annual open house, and it was only open for another hour, meaning that if I HAD missed that bus, I would have been too late. [cue music to Twilight Zone -- do do do-do, do do do-do]
I was meant to be here today, obviously!
There were numerous signs around the church describing the various highlights, including:
-- The old gravestone from about 1350 that is thought to be that of Hugh de Darfield, Vicar at the time (this was before names were put on gravestones, instead with symbols to indicate who was buried there, in this case a cross and chalice indicating the priesthood).
-- The pulpit, made from ancient woodwork from some of the chantry chapels around the church.
-- An elm chest from about 1500 that came from Roche Abbey when Henry VIII ordered all of the abbeys closed.
-- You can still see where the old church roof line was (see the picture). There is a plaque that states that, on December 14, 1825, the parish church was "greatly injured by lightening and much dilapidated by age". It was re-roofed the following year at an expense of almost £2000.
-- A listing of St. Mary’s vicars starts with Allan de Thirnum in 1289, and you can see that they start using surnames in 1427 with Thomas Woderove.
The vicar told me that "if I hadn’t had open heart surgery within the past 2 weeks, and was interested", that I could climb the almost 100 stairs with about a dozen others to the bell tower. I did, and made my way up the tight spiral staircase. The stairs were very steep and narrow, and there was a rope on 1 side to hang onto (and it was necessary) as we climbed up to the top. Once there, the bellringers (they have a society and practice their routines and attend all weddings and Sunday services) gave us a special demonstration, then showed us the carillon that plays a song every 4 hours. The song changes every day (the movement of the metal parts automatically does this). We stayed up there to hear "O Worship The King", Sunday’s tune.
Then we made our way back down for scones and clotted cream and tea. The woman greeter pointed out a book for purchase -- only £3.50 -- "Tickhill: Portrait of an English Country Town". I couldn’t resist (and would have bought an extra copy for my father but for the weight of it!).
They almost had to kick me out, as I could have stayed much longer, but I left about 4:30 and I was led by the woman greeter to where Tickhill Castle used to be. The property is closed to the public (owned by an American), and I could tell that it was a sore point as the owner has removed a bit more of the old walls "to improve the views". Ouch!! I took what pictures I could of the castle gate, the moat, the remaining bit of the last tower, and the mill pond and then headed back to the bus.
On the bus, I glanced through the book I had just purchased and found the following:
A feature of the [1379 Poll Tax] list is the number of surnames denoting a place of personal or family origin. In all 85 surnames can be counted under this heading. Many surnames were from locations near to Tickhill itself – John de Stansale, Amicia and Agnes de Wellingley, … Henry and John de Woltwayt and Joanne de Letwell. Others came from further afield – Richard, Roger and Idonia de Leverton, John Misterton, … William de Rouenfield, William de Maltby. Long distance migration was suggested by Thomas de Boston, Robert Holland, John and Robert de Galway, Cecilia Halifax, Thomas Kendal, Walter Horncastle, William Rypon, John de Kerre and Sibilla de Kerre. The Names such as Kendal, Denby, Denbigh and Lonsdale occur from time to time in the records of Medieval Tickhill suggesting a migration from the northwestern uplands to southern Yorkshire with its outlets through river ports like Bawtry to the North Sea and the east coast. [page 73-74] [my emphasis]
St. Mary’s Nicholas Kendall had been succeeded by William Marsh while at the Blessed Trinity George Ranby had been succeeded by the former monk from Roche Abbey, Nicolas Colley or Collys, the friend of Henry Cundal the last abbot, on the presentation of the Vicar of Tickhill and parishioners on 16th October 1538. [page 85] [This was the time of Henry VIII’s act of disbanding the Catholic Church and transferring its property.]
Although the chantries’ acreage was only a small proportion of that of the parish as a whole it was scattered through the great open fields and they owned houses, crofts, cottages and orchards within the town. Thus they touched many families. There were 63 tenants under the chantries in the 1550’s including substantial farmers like the Turvins who provided three widows and heirs of former tenants. Some like John Leeston, Thomas Vessey and Hugh Holmes were influential enough to join with the vicar in presenting chantry priests when vacancies occurred. The Kendall family provided both tenants, Elizabeth and Richard and in 1535 a chantry priest, Nicholas, at St. Mary’s Chantry. [page 85] [my emphasis][I do show a Nicholas Kendall in the family tree, but it is a child born in 1610. I also have a record for a burial of a Nicholas Kendall in 1544, which is probably the chantry priest mentioned above. Unfortunately, I can’t connect him to the tree as parish records only started in the 1530s and until 1576 they were haphazard.]
All I can say is "WOW!" It was an incredible first day in Yorkshire. I’m not sure that I could top this one, but I’m definitely going to be open to the possibility that my ancestors could have more stories to reveal during my stay.