I STARTED WITH A PUZZLE THAT HAD BOTHERED ME FOR SOME TIME:WHAT WERE THE BUILDINGS THAT ARE NOW OVERGROWN FOUNDATIONS AND PILES OF STONES AT THE END OF THE ODD (TODD) HILL COMMON LAND?
Looking up, out of the hollow. Looking towards the stile and lane. Looking at remains of the barn?
If you follow the footpath sign on Common Lane between Beacon House and New House Farm, and walk to the end of the wall you will find these ruins in the dip after the stile.
Beacon House Lane leading to Haig Homestead Stile
(Barn Lane), Odd Hills
THE 1838 TITHE MAP WAS A USEFUL START ON MY QUEST
This map was drawn up to assess the Commutation of Tithes under the 1836 Act, which substituted an annual cash payment for the one tenth of crops that landholders had to contribute to the rector of the parish. There was no church in Clifton and the tithes were paid to the Rector of the Parish of Conisbrough. Geographically, Clifton would have more links with Braithwell, but the cliff was part of the Norman ‘park’ belonging to the lords of Conisbrough Castle and hence belonged to the parish of Conisbrough.
EXTRACT FROM TITHE MAP OF CLIFTON (surveyed 1838, printed 1840)
The Doncaster Archives were able to produce both map and records of owners and tenants. The Tithe Map of Clifton shows substantial farm buildings in plots numbered 34, 23 and 24. These were accessed via 35 “Waste called Todd Hill”, along a lane past the present Beacon House, or along Well Lane and up what appears to have been a steep track.
The village pinfold (for corralling strayed animals) is indicated at the end of Todd Hill and the overgrown walls can still be seen by the lower stile and gate onto what is now called the Beacon Field (Plots 21, 22, 23 and 24 combined). The fact that the pinfold was close to the farm and that the track led down to the village well at the end of Well lane seems to indicate that this farm had some status.
Consulting the index for the Tithe Map reveals that in 1838 the buildings in enclosures 24 were known as Haig Homestead and Garden, while fields 22 and 23 were known as Haigh High Clints, probably indicating the outcropping of limestone.
Unfortunately, it will be difficult to discover who the Haig/h family were and whether they were connected to Mary Haigh who in 1838 was the tenant of 7 strips in “3 Rood Field”. She might be the Mary Hague who was living at part of what is now South Farm, which then was the property of the Dukes of Leeds (Plot 28).
Some answers lay in the records accompanying the Tithe Map. The plots would be demarcated and numbered according to those paying the tithes, but it is likely that villagers used smaller plots as was convenient.
By 1838 the bulk of the Haig Homestead and fields was owned by John Staveley who was a major land owner and also owned much of the property that made up the village. He did not reside in the village, but rented out most of his land to James Roberts, a substantial landholder, who sublet Plots 24 and 29 to William Crabtree, an agricultural labourer. He probably lived at the Haig Homestead with his wife and 4 children (1841 Census).
The 2 plots 29 were part of the Clifton Homestead to the west of the Front Lane (now Common Lane), which was a jumble of plots and buildings mainly owned by Staveley and used by Roberts. James Roberts probably lived at the Elizabethan/Georgian house on Front Lane (Plot 51, ‘2 gardens, cottage and orchard’), now known as Holly House, which had a long garden with access to the Back Lane. His household on the census day consisted of James (56 yrs, Farmer), his wife, 5 children, 1 grandchild, 4 male agricultural labourers and 2 female labourers.
Plot 34, ‘a croft, cottage and garden’ must have been closely connected to the Haig buildings. By 1838 it was the property of the Woodyeare family of Crookhill Hall, situated a mile to the north, and part of the other significant landholding in the village.The cottage was occupied by Henry Peace (wheelwright) and John Nettleship (agricultural labourer).
Crookhill Hall 1920s
Stable on foundations of cottage on plot 34.
By 1841 Henry Peace was no longer living with the Nettleships and seems to have used the good quality stone from the the Haigh Homestead to build the cottage on Plot 50. This would explain the inclusion of a cottage on the Tithe index, but no sign of it on the Tithe map. He needed room for himself, his wife and six children, plus an apprentice! In 1841 there also seems to have been a young couple called ‘Hague’ living at the Haig Homestead!
These surmises are based on the assumed route of the census enumerators, but, looking at the ruins that are left and allowing for people who were present when the enumerators called, it is possible that the families had at some time split the buildings on Plot 24 and Plot 34 between them, even though they paid rent to different owners.
The Domesday Book might reveal something.
Clifton was a ‘three field’ village, probably existing before the Norman Conquest but re-established as part of the settling of the area after the Harrying of the North (1069-70). The pattern of settlement on the flat area of the village, where the fields were easier to work, is illustrated by the outline of burgage plots, which can still be seen, from Front Lane (Common Lane) to Back Lane (Plots 55/54, 56, 60/59/57).
The Domesday Book of 1086 recorded that Conisbrough had belonged mainly to Earl Harold before the Conquest, but it was granted to Wlliam De Warenne, whose role was to keep down the Anglo- Saxon/Viking population of the area. Clifton was already established agriculturally with land for 4 ploughs belonging to the lord and 1 freeman with 1 plough’s worth of land. It was developed enough for there to be quarrels amongst the victors:
"The men of STRAFFORTH Wapentake testify to William de Warenne’s use of 2 carucates of Siward’s land in CLIFTON which Roger de Busli claimed".
"4 Bovates of land in CLIFTON of Brunn’s land, which William de Warenne had, they testify to the use of the King in lordship." (Probably the Royal parkland between Conisbrough and Clifton).
This picture taken down Common Lane from Barn Lane (Odd Hills)
with Hall Farm on the right shows the 1:7 hill down the 'Clif'.
The one advantage of the position of these buildings was the view! Haig or his family’s predecessors could see far over the valley of the Don, a major route for raiding parties landing on the east coast. The buildings overlook the site of what is believed to have been a Roman villa. They were also tucked into a hollow and, in their original wooden form would not be obvious from below or from Plots 25 and 26 above. The land is steep and rocky, forming a spur towards Rotherham, and not at all attractive for cultivation except grazing. Plots 23, 22, 21, 20 and19, including fields called the Haig Clints in 1838, dip down to the M18 and Micklebring.
From the topography of this part of the village, it would seem that the inhabitants of the homestead were fearful of attack from below or they were there to act as lookouts for the rest of the village. To the north, across the valley, can be seen Conisbrough, with its Norman castle, Hoober Stand at Wentworth and the Emley Moor TV Mast. The panorama stretches from the steelworks of Rotherham in the West to Doncaster and the power stations of East Yorkshire. To the south-east of the site the land begins to flatten out towards the ancient settlements of Braithwell, Tickhill and Maltby. According to the Tithe Map, the Medieval Beacon was sited to the south (Plot 5). It was used to summon men from the Don Valley to muster in Doncaster.
These are just ideas that come to mind. Only an archaeological dig could establish the age of the site. Where are Time Team when you need them? Perhaps some written evidence could be uncovered from the papers of later owners!
The next development concerning the ‘Haig’ properties and the croft was enshrined in the Conisbrough Enclosure Act of 1857.
The 1838 Tithe Map gives plenty of evidence of the three field pattern of strips, some still existing, while others had been amalgamated into more economically viable blocks, indicating private arrangements within the community. Most of the accumulations of land would be determined by the most powerful landholders, with the change from subsistence farming to a cash economy being driven by the demands of growing towns and industrial areas. There was also pressure to abandon the copyhold system for Leasehold, thus removing certain obligations to the Lords of the Manor of Conisbrough.
By 1857, there was little of the original village plan to be enclosed. The Act created fields below the cliff on land previously part of the Park and used as common land. In the village the only land not claimed was Todd Hill (the waste) and the track from the Haig buildings to Well Lane ( 35). The Act divided the track in two and split it between the owners of the land on either side: John Stavely Shirt and Rev J F Woodyeare.
1854 6 inch OS Map
The 1854 OS map (6 inch) shows the Haig Homestead as a substantial L-shaped range of buildings with a further plot of about ½ acre and outbuildings attached. The longest arm of the L backs onto the slope northwards towards the Don Valley, while the shorter arm creates a courtyard sheltered in the protective hollow. On the 1854 map the divided track appears as a wide strip called WELL HILL(No1) and, with the land leading to the pinfold from the main street, TOD HILL (No 2), is described as ‘Land over which the occupiers of certain messuages in Conisbrough and Clifton Divisions have the right of Intercommonage.’ This indicates that these tracks were originally important routes between the village, the homestead, the western field strips and the main village well. By 1857 it appears that WELL Hill was no longer in general use, which probably explains the gift of (T)odd Hills to the village as common land. Also, the Haig Homestead was no longer a separate farm, although the croft cottage and some of the Haig buildings were still being occupied (See the 1838 Tithe Map above, Plots 24 and 34).
John Staveley Shirt lived in the village of Wales, Rotherham. In 1851 he was recorded in the census as being born in Worksop in 1789 and being an army lieutenant. Research by descendants of the Staveley family reveals more! John married Matilda Shirt from Wales near Rotherham, whose parents, John and Mary Shirt, had ‘independent means,’ employing two female servants and 2 male servants, including a groom (1841 Census). John Staveley had married an heiress! He applied to the queen in 1852 to be allowed to take the name Shirt, which was a condition of inheriting John Shirt’s property. Was this where the Clifton property came from? Did he buy his Clifton estate with wealth from the Shirt Family?
The Staveleys were still around in 1903 when their Clifton properties were put up for sale by John Staveley Colton Fox Esquire. In 1900 the grandson of John Staveley Shirt, John Staveley Broomhead, applied to the Queen to change his name to John Staveley Colton Fox to benefit from the will of Mary Benson Fox of Todwick Grange, near Rotherham. The Fox family had amassed farms and property and had their own coat of arms. Perhaps John needed to sell the Clifton lands in order to finance his going up in the world! His daughter, Pamela, made the next step up by marrying the Second Viscount Marchwood in 1935.
WHO BOUGHT THE PROPERTIES IN 1903? DID THE AUCTION TAKE PLACE?
The Clifton Homestead did not sell in 1903 but it was eventually sold by John Staveley Colton Fox to the County Council of the West Riding of Yorkshire in a conveyance dated 19th June 1911. The Council had powers under the 1892 Small Holdings Act and the 1908 Small Holdings and Allotments Act to purchase agricultural land and the Clifton Homestead became three separate smallholdings: South Farm, Grange Farm and New House Farm. The intention of the Acts was to help young families to enter farming after the widespread agricultural depression. Landed estates were being broken up and the children of tenant farmers were more likely to take work in industry than to accept agricultural wages while waiting for the rare opportunity to lease a holding for themselves.
The Haig Homestead and the Clints were allocated to New House Farm, but I do not have the date when the first Local Authority tenant took over the 'New House'. The Haig buildings had been allowed to deteriorate, but they were probably still used for stock by the new tenants.
My mother-in –law, Joyce Green (ne Carson) came to live at Hall Farm in 1932. She was told that the cottage had been moved from further up the village. It is certainly not on the 1838 Tithe map, but it seems to be on its present site on the 1854 map. It is of a design common for agricultural cottages in the mid 19th century and has features that indicate it was originally thatched. It is a two bedroomed cottage, built of dressed limestone! The outbuildings are of the rough stone that may have been cleared from the fields. No one would use dressed limestone on a small cottage, unless it was free! If the materials for the house came from the Haig Homestead then there were buildings of some status there. There would still be outbuildings left after the limestone was removed to the site of Hall Farm between 1838 and 1854!
When I first asked about the piles of stones at the end of the common land I was told that there had been a school at the end of ‘Barn Lane’. It seemed a very odd place for a school, far from the main road and isolated from the rest of the village. Yet, I was assured, Mr Brammer, Dorothy Weyman’s father had attended a school up there in the hollow overlooking the Don Valley and Conisbrough Castle. The 1911 Census for the village revealed that Grace Appleyard, the 17 year old daughter of one of the substantial farmers in the village was a school teacher. On the 1903 Sale Map of the Estate of John Staveley Colton Fox only one building remained from the Haig Homestead, which could well have been a barn although the sale Particulars described the plot as 'Cottage, Outbuildings and Garden'. WAS THIS THE SCHOOL? I wish I had managed to talk to Dorothy about her long life in the Village. For many years she lived in Post Office Row and she knew everyone and everything that was going on! Perhaps she could have told me about the school and much more!
It seems that the Homestead was robbed soon after the village was mapped for the 1854 OS map, assuming that the maps are accurate. A single building was left that could have been the school and probably lasted until the creation of the local authority farms. The tenant of New House Farm finally demolished any free-standing walls in the 1960s.
Local History is like a jigsaw, but the pieces come to you from many sources and the picture will never be complete. There may be more to add to the history of the Haig Homestead and there are probably inaccuracies in my reconstruction!