Braithwell, Micklebring and Clifton History and Heritage

The Parish Church of Saint James, Braithwell

The laws and politics of the early church at our Parish 

by Thomas Best

The church is dedicated today to St. James the Apostle but earlier dedications were 'St Margaret' and 'All Hallows'.

In a newspaper cutting an article headed ‘Braithwell and Micklebring’ in 1688 the dedication is given as Saint Margaret. The exact date of the cutting is not known but it states that the present incumbent is the Rev. C.A.Stewart and the curate is the Rev. J.Sorby who was curate in 1834.

Hunter in his ‘South Yorkshire’, published in 1828, calls the church Saint James.

The Rev.G Needham, Rector in 1937 received letters addressed to ‘Rector of All Hallows, Braithwell. In Kelly’s Directory of the West Riding in 1877 it is described as Church of Saint James or All Saints. 

In ‘Village Sketches or Hints to Pedestrians’ from the Doncaster Gazette 1849-1850 there is the following comment on the dual dedication: "before the Reformation, the Wake was the parochial feast of the dedication of the church; and since that remarkable era in the Christian church, the village festival shorn of its ecclesiastical and sacred character has nevertheless almost invariably been on kept on that day.

  • The village holiday of Braithwell, commenced on the Sunday nearest to 20th July."
  • The feast day of St Margaret of Anitioch is July 20th.
04_1850 St James Parish church sketch_resized.jpg

1850 - Sketch of St.James Parish Church - note the high Chancel, railed vault area and window above the porch - the farm to the right and only farmland in the distance. 

  • The feast day of St. James the Apostle is July 25th. 

The Domesday Book entry for Braithwell reads:-

‘In BRADEUULLE there are 16 Freemen and 20 smallholds with 16 ploughs. There, a church and a priest. Woodland pasture, 1 furlong long and 1 wide.

This was in the land of William de Warenne. Nothing is known as to the location and nature of this church.  

William de Warenne 1st Earl of Surrey, Lord of Lewes, Seigneur de Varennes was a Norman nobleman created Earl of Surrey under William II (Rufus). He is amongst the few who are documented as having fought for William the Conqueror at the battle of Hastings. His son William, the 2nd Earl of Surrey, gave 11 churches in Yorkshire to the Prior and Convent of Lewes.

The monks nominated a clerk to the benefice till the Reformation. The Advowson (right of presentation to a benefice) passed to the Waterhouse’s. Bryan Sharpe was instituted on 8th December, 1565 at the presentation of Robert Waterhouse gent. The Waterhouses presented till the reign of James I, when the right fell to the Crown. Thomas Bosville M.A. was instituted 23rd July, 1638, at the King's presentation, (He was Vicar until 1664 and was followed by his son, also Thomas, who died Vicar in 1711). At some stage the advowson was acquired by the Fitz-Williams (of Wentworth) and in the 1990’s the Patron was Sir Stephen Hastings of Milton Hall, Peterborough. 

In 1248 the Archbishop of York (Walter de Gray) caused an inquisition to be taken at Doncaster as to whether the church at Bracewell (sic) was a mother church or only a chapel –  found it was a chapel to the church of Coningsborough (sic) – he consolidated the chapel to the church, ordained a vicarage, directing that the vicar should have for his ‘sustentation’ the tithe garbs of Bramley and the whole altarage of the Chapel and should pay the procurations and synodals. 

  • Vicarage ordained 22nd December 1557 by Archbishop Zouche.
  • Vicarage consolidated and declared appendant to Conisborough in 1557.  
  • Declared a Rectory on December 18th 1836.
01_St James Church and Low Farm_Date unknown_Resized.jpg

The Church with Low Farm where the new Church graveyard is now situated - date?


















Glossary of Terms

 Consolidate  Combine into one whole
 Appendant  Attached in a subordinate capacity
 Sustentation  support of life
 Tithe garbs  A garb in a wheat sheaf – hence he received every tenth sheaf. 
 Altarage  Payments made by parishioners on special occasions – e.g. Easter offerings.
 Procurations  Provision of entertainment for Bishops or other visitors by ‘incumbent’, now commuted to money payment. 
 Synodals  Payment made by the inferior clergy to the Bishop, properly on the occasion of a synod, and hence at a bishop's or       archdeacon's visitation. 








Tithes, Glebe, Curates, Rectors and Vicars

Tithes – Since biblical times a tax of a tenth part of the annual produce of land or labour has been levied to support the clergy and the church. There were three types of Tithes: praedial tithes (calculated on income from produce), mixed tithes (calculated on income from stock and labour combined) and personal tithes (calculated on income derived entirely from labour). Produce collected through tithes was stored in tithe barns. 

Glebe – From the Latin glaeba, meaning soil, glebe land was that which was set aside for the maintenance of the parish priest. The priest may have cultivated it or sub-let it for a tenant, The glebe land was not always in the parish, Braithwell had glebe land in Maltby. 

Curate – In the strict sense of the word, the incumbent himself is the curate of the parish for he has the 'cure' (or care) of souls. However, in the common speech the title has come to be reserved for the ordained assistant to the incumbent. 

Rector – A rector was originally an incumbent who received the ‘Great Tithes’; all the customary offerings and dues of his parish. He was responsible for the chancel and the rectory and for providing service books and vestments. Where benifices were annexed by corporate bodies such as monastic or collegiate foundations (Braithwell was given to Lewes Priory) who then received the Great (or rectorial) tithes. They then appointed a vicar (vice-rector) to administer the parish and he received the lesser (or vicarial) tithes. 


Following the dissolution of the monastaries (1536-40), many monastic estates became the property of laymen who also acquired the right to nominate vicars, subject to the approval of the bishop. They were known as lay-rectors and had the responsibility of maintaining the chancel and the vicarage, (the Earl of Scarbrough is the lay-rector of Braithwell and in 1845 the 8th Earl of Scarbrough was responsible for rebuilding the chancel. Vicarial tithes were generally those raised from labour and minor produce and as such were invariably the most difficult to collect. 

The Tithe Commutation Act of of 1836 substituted payment in cash for remaining tithes, whether collected in kind or in money compositions negotiated between farmers and tithe owners. 

Tithes were finally extinguished by the Tithe Act of 1936. 

In common parlance the house where a rector lives is called a Rectory or where a Vicar lives is called a Vicarage but strictly speaking they should be the Rectory House or the Vicarage House. Rectory and Vicarage are terms used to describe the parish.