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Saturday, June 16, 2018

The parish of Elkesley lies on the east side of Clumber Park and on both sides of the Poulter, the actual village is situated on the north bank of the river. The parish today consists of about 2016 acres of land the greater part of which is said to have formed a wild track of forest until the latter part of the 18th century when enclosure took place. In the mid-seventeenth century the parish seems to have consisted of about 65 houses, suggesting a population of about 272. In the centuries that followed modest growth took place, with the population remaining fairly static.

Unlike Retford, Elkesley is mentioned in the Domesday Book, where it’s referred to as Elkesleigh or Elchersleigh. It’s been suggested that the name means “Ealac wood or clearing.” At the time of the Norman Conquest many of the Saxon land owners were dispossessed. One of King William’s supporters, Roger de Busli (Builli) was made overlord having been awarded the greater part of the old Saxon kingdom of Mercia. Roger de Busli was responsible for building the castle at Tickhill as a means of securing the area. At that date the future parish of Elkesley fell in two manors both of which he owned. It comprised four vills: that is, four hamlets. These were held by “Erwin the Priest.”

At the time of Domesday (1080), there was a church, a mill, a small wood and about 160-180 acres under plough. There were no windmills in the country at the time of Domesday, so the mill was presumably water driven, with the Domesday Book recording the presence of 6,000 water-mills.  Assuming that early development bears some resemblance to what we see at present, then the location for the original village is likely to have been in the vicinity of Park Lane, as this is the only place where the village and the river meet. Monastic documentation of the 14th century seems to support this notion; this speaks of a gift of meadow land situated between Twyford Bridge and the mill, suggesting that these two locations were in close proximity.

Given the probable location of the village, in the Park Lane area or at least close to the river, the church and cemetery are likely to have been removed from the main centre of population when they were first established. Situated on an incline in respect to the village, the church, however humble, would have dominated the surrounding area. Anyone disputing this, need only go to Park Lane and look towards the church.

What we perceive today as the front of the village and the front of the church was in fact the back. It was the building of the A1 that gave the village it’s present perspective. In keeping with this understanding the village’s most northerly lane that ran parallel with High Street was known as “Back Lane.” This was obliterated with the construction of the A1 dual carriageway.

Elkesley – a brief history