Braithwell, Micklebring and Clifton History and Heritage


A View towards Clifton



The village of Clifton was part of the Manor or Lordship of Conisbrough, a vast estate that may have been a royal estate of the Anglian kings of Northumberland. Before the Norman Conquest, it was in the hands of King Harold and afterwards it was the hub of the Yorkshire estates of William de Warenne, half-brother of King William the Conqueror.The Domesday Book of 1086 recorded that the estate encompassed 28 townships including Braithwell, Micklebring and Clifton.


  Conisbrough Castle, seat of the lords of the manor of Conisbrough

Any visit to, or historical survey of Clifton, therefore, should begin in Conisbrough, preferably after the long climb to the top of the spectacular 12th century Keep that dominates the castle and the town. (English Heritage). The mining villages of Conisbrough and Denaby grew up along the south bank of the River Don towards Mexborough, though the site of Denaby Main has been flattened for development. To the east the river is wide and runs between fields and under the viaduct that carried the coal, towards Doncaster. The view to the south is still mainly agricultural, with fields belonging largely to one farm, Conisbrough Parks Farm. The name indicates that this area was a medieval deer park for the recreation of the Lords of Conisbrough. As a hunting area Conisbrough Parks probably long pre-dates the Normans.Archaeological research has identified a Roman Villa within the park and it is possible that the boundaries of the Norman park followed those of a Roman estate.

The site of the villa will remain a secret until archaeologists have the funds for a dig!

The land rises to the cluster of houses and the three radio masts on the horizon. This is ClIFTON, from the Anglo-Saxon ‘tun’ or small settlement on a cliff (see Haigh Homestead). To reach it, descend from the Castle and cross the main Doncaster to Rotherham road to climb up the steep Clifton Hill.  

The Manor of Conisbrough

The manorial system was a method of controlling territory and population that is mainly associated with the Norman conquest in 1066. William needed to subdue future rebellion and establish his authority through centres where laws could be enforced. The system rested on the premise that all the conquered land belonged to the king, therefore he could reward and discipline his subjects by granting them land in return for service to the crown. Tenants-in-chief might be granted huge tracts of land for which they were to provide fighting men and revenue for the Crown. The Domesday survey was intended to establish how much useful and taxable land King William owned.

Manageable areas, usually based on one or two parishes, became Manors, with a Lord whose role was to oversee the manorial lands as if they were his or her own. Manorial courts were established in which the lord or his representative settled disputes and legal matters within the manor. According to the Domesday Book, The Manor of Conisbrough included lands in 28 villages and townships scattered throughout South Yorkshire, including Anston, Aston, Aughton, Barnburgh, Bilham, Braithwell, Bramley, Bramwith, Clifton, Cusworth, Dalton, Dinnington, Edenthorpe, Fishlake, Greasbrough, Hatfield, Harthill, Hoyland, Kirk Sandall, Long Sandall, Ravenfield, Stainforth, Thorne, Tudworth, Wales, Whiston and Wilsick.

Over the centuries, as local economic activity changed, many manors disappeared as legal entities, but the agricultural nature of Clifton, Micklebring and Braithwell saw various payments to the Lords and Ladies of Conisbrough continuing until the abolition in 1926. Land within the manor was Copyhold or Freehold, but both came to mean virtual ownership. They differed in the control that the Manor had over inheritance and obligations. Copyhold originally meant the tenancy was recorded in the Court Rolls and the tenant had a ‘copy’ to prove his or her legal occupation of the land. Each time the land changed hands either by sale or inheritance, there was a payment to the Lord or Lady. These dues or ‘fines’, paid by a tenant to his lord on the transfer of property to him or when the heir was underage, were part of the advantage of becoming Lord of the Manor. The Manor itself became freehold and could be sold to anyone who could pay. The following were Lords and Lady of the Manor of Conisbrough in the period when sources of wealth from colonial enterprise and slavery bolstered the economic standing of Gt Britain to the end of the attraction of Seigniory and agricultural income.

Edward Coke, esq (John Newton, guardian)

1705 - 1722

Edward Coke, esq

1722 - 1733

Penniston and Matthew Lamb

1733 - 1737

Thomas 4th duke of Leeds

1737 - 1789

George 6th duke of Leeds (Francis 5th duke, as guardian)

1789 - 1798

George 6th duke of Leeds

1798 - 1838

Sackville Walter Lane Fox, esq.

1838 - 1874

Sackville George, Lord Conyers

1874 - 1889

Charles Alfred Worsley, 4th earl of Yarborough and Marcia Amelia Mary, Countess of Yarborough and Baroness Conyers

1889 - 1935


Sale documents and Abstracts of title continued to use the manorial format of ‘Indenture’, ‘Lease and Release’ or ‘Surrender’ of copyhold land back to the Lord or lady before the new tenant was admitted, but by the end of the 19th century these had little legal meaning. By the 20th century. heirs to property were unwilling to take on large country houses and agricultural estates.