Early Landmarks of Brierley

In 1597 Lord Talbot commissioned the map maker Christopher Saxton to produce a plan of the village of Shafton. This plan shows the village in great detail. There were then five town fields-these being Lydgate Field to the north-west of the village, Eshbarrowe Field to the north, and Townend Field to the north-east of the village. The two other fields were on each side of the road to Ferry Moor which was then Shafton Common. These we.-e Nether Field to the west of the road and Heade Field to the east. The fields were mainly open plan but there were some freehold enclosures belonging mostly to a Mr. Edward Jenkinson. The village had two gates called Lydgates, one at the start of Lydgate Lane and the other on the lower west corner of Shafton Green. Near to this was a small bridge over a stream called Sandal Bridge, being on the road to Sandal Castle. This is now corrupted to Sandy Bridge. Shafton Manor House or Hall stood on its present site close to four cottages. There were nine more cottages on what is now Chapel Street and ten more on Hawthorne Street. The pinfold stood at the south corner of the village green, where it remains today. Ferry Moor Farm is shown as the home of Ferius Rayne. The Rayne family had bought Ferry Moor Farm from John Byron in 1569 together with the farm at Tyers Hill Darfield. Ferry Moor Farm stands at the west of Ferry Moor Common between Shafton, Grime- thorpe and Cudworth.

At the end of the sixteenth century, we find the first mention of Ringstons Hill Farm, for in 1593, a Ralph Smith died there intestate. There is a record of this in the Doncaster Probate for that period. Standing between the common and Old Brarelay Park, on the Rotherham to Wakefield Road, Ringstone Hill Farm became an inn, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, serving soldiers training on Ringstone Hill. On Brierley Common, to the north-east of the farm, is a rectangular enclosure of about nine acres. This enclosure is detached from the other walls and hedges in the area and is surrounded by ditch and low bank. This field is known as Oak Royd and may well have been the site of the military camp, for it is one of the earliest enclosures in Briarley. Today, it is the field in which the Good Friday Fair is held. We are able to date the period in which Ringstone Hill was used as a military camp, for in 1588, the men of Brierley were summoned to assemble at Woolley Edge to prepare for the coming Armada, and in 1855, the Army decided to discontinue use of Ringstone Hill as a military camp, on the grounds that it was too small for their purposes. There are several references to Ringstone Hill as a military camp between these dates. The first is a reference to Sir Godfrey Rhodes of Great Houghton Hall holding a military camp there in 1642. Then, in 1645, four pounds thirteen shillings and three- pence was paid for a military guard at Ringstone Hill, by the towns- people of Sheffield. Again, when the Dutch Invasion was expected in 1665, the man of Brierley were ordered to meet at Ringstone Hill to train with the regular soldiers. Four shillings and two pence was paid to soldiers training at Ringstone Hill that year.

Also on the Common, is the site of an old oak tree known as 'Old Adam'. The tree stood where the tracks from the manor house and Ringstone Hill now meet the Rotherham road. It was described as having been twenty-seven feet round its trunk. It was hollow, and on the north side a large branch had been blown off by the wind, whilst on- the other side were vigorous limbs. The tree was the last of a small wood called the Well-Bred Oaks, which dwindled down to two trees called the 'Adam and Eve' oaks and then to just 'Old Adam'. The tree became a dead trunk in the twenties and had gone by 1930.

On the third of December, 1666, john Holgate of Grimethorpe married Helen Seaton, thus introducing the Seaton family to the village. In January of 1669, Robort Seaton married Thoodicia Adwick of Arksey and built Grimethorpe Hall as their home.

It is one of the earliest classical buildings in the area. The north wall is all stone and the doorway has a segmental head; the rest of the building is of combined brick and stone with tall pilasters framing the south door. The ceiling of the entrance hall is supported by three stout Doric columns.

Ringstone Hill with the site of the Old Adam Oak in the foreground.
Another member of the Holgate family, George Holgate, seems to have had his name in the charts in quite a different way. In 1665, when freeholders of Brierley were summoned to assemble at Ring- stone Hill with the militia, to prepare for the Dutch Invasion, Thomas Wood, Thomas Dymond and John Hellilay did as they were bid, but George Holgate refused. It is thought that he refused on religious grounds because he was a Puritan.

Meanwhile, at Grimethorpe, Robert Holgate was also in trouble, being unable to pay his debts. In a deed of conveyance, dated 1685, for lands in Grimethorpe from John Hall of Hull and John Arthur of Doncaster, mention is made of an earlier dealing for the same land, on the 17th May, 1680, between William Spencer of Thurnscoe and Robert Holgate of Grirnethorpe. The land in question was a farm at Grimethorpe with land at Tom Royd Ing, Moss Close, Dyott Roods, Judd Croft, Grey Croft, Nether Croft and several cottages. Robert failed to pay two hundred pounds for this land to Daniel and Thomas Hall. The land then passed to John Hail who sold it for nine hundred pounds.

In the mid-seventeenth century Widow Speight of Grimethorpe held 1 1 6 acres of land in the hamlet and was tenant of the water mill, a horse driven mill, and the w'!nd mill on the hill top between Grime- thorpe and Brierley. Then in 1CG2 William Speight paid f:7 rent to Brierley Manor for the mills.

The water mill stood at Grimethorpe Green and the complex system of water courses at Grimethorpe owes its origin to the problem of getting a good flow of water to the mill over relatively flat land there being a difference of only forty feet or so between the level of the upper dam at Tom Bank, and Ferry Moor into which the mill stream drains, a distance of one mile separating the two points. The remains of this upper mill dam can still be seen spanning the valley at the corner of Tom Bank Wood. Four hundred yards downstream are the rema;ns of a second darn which held the lower mill pond.

Lord Talbot enlarged the park at Brierley by enclosing land to the south-west of the old park. This new park included most of the village of Grimethorpe and its common which caused the village to shrink almost out of existence. A similar thing had happened at nearby Kinsley where the mansion and park of the Burtons engulfed the village in the 15th century. The site of the Burtons hall is ncw marked by a moat close to the modern village of Kinsley. Nearby is Newstead Hall which replaced the old mansion in the late 17th century. By the, time of the early Saviles New Park Brierley had become firmly estab- lished and its name appears on several Savile documents.

Soon after the turn of the century, in 1617, Lord Talbot died, and as he had no heirs, the manor of Brierley passed to the Savile family. New Hall at Pontefract gradually became Old Hall and was pulled down earlier this century.

The Savile family came from Thornhill, Dewsbury.

Sir George Savile, of Thornhill, died in 1622 and Lady Ann Savile became guardian of the Lord of the Manor, William Savile until he came of age. In a document, dated 2nd October, 1631, she is described as being 'farmer to the King of the Manor of Brearley'. Sir William Savile did much for the Manor of Brierley during his lifetime. The manor house was extensively repaired and the coal mine in Gill Croft was developed. He also re-established the rights of the Lord of Brierley Manor for lands, in outlying districts, which had been the property of the Harryngtons.

It is likely that the role of Brierley Manor had been growing less and less important since the Harryngtons had left the village. For the Stanleys, it had been the manor controlling their Yorkshire estate; under Lord Talbot it was the manor of just the local areas.

During the Savile period, in 1632, considerable sums of money were spent on the repair of Brierley Manor House; it is probable that the earliest surviving walls are from this period.