Located in the heart of the Industrial West Riding of Yorkshire, Darrington is a village of some 2000 or so residents.
It lies on the southern edge of the Vale of York 3 miles south of Pontefract, 12 miles north of Doncaster.
The surrounding strata is predominantly Limestone and Sandstone with good arable topsoil, consequently the land has been farmed throughout history.
At one time bisected by the Great North Road, a fly-over erected in the 1970’s has now seen the colloquially termed ‘Bottom Enders ‘and ‘Top Enders’ re united into one community, and this community extends into the surrounding villages of Wentbridge, Carleton, Grove Hall and West Park, parts of which fall inside the Darrington Parish boundary.
Surrounded on all sides by open fields Darrington remains a picturesque, well regarded village much respected in the local area.
The village of Darrington is truly ancient; a Roman Road is known to have passed through the Parish. There was a Church, Manor House, Farmsteads and Dwelling Houses here before the Norman Conquest. The Doomsday book shows that Darrington was the largest manor in the district with an annual value of 100 shillings.
Darrington, Wentbridge, Carleton and Grove Hall, have all played their part in English history.
The Great North road bisected the village and at the height of the coaching days during the 18th century 70 to 80 coaches a day would hurtle through the village on their way to one of the coaching houses at Doncaster or Ferrybridge, some stopping off for refreshment at the Crown or Ship Inn which sat at the Darrington crossing.
The steep decent into and out of Wentbridge and the isolation of the stretch of road on either side made the area a favourite for Highwaymen; Nevison and Turpin are both known to have worked the area.
The village was by-passed by the industrial revolution, the only industry it has ever known has been associated with agriculture. At the turn of the 19th/20th century 11 farms existed within the parish boundary.
Darrington’s 13th century St Luke’s church is one of the top 100 listed buildings in England, some of the glass dates back to the 15th century.
There are a number of listed buildings in the parish, the major one being Darrington Hall.
The original Darrington hall was a large rambling manorial hall which served as a recuperation hospital after the First World War. Successive owners have demolished wings on both sides leaving a very attractive large private house, which is steeped in history.
Wentbridge boasts a fine Victorian Church built in 1878 in the Gothic Revival style.
Up to the 1960’s Darrington remained a sparsely populated rural backwater reliant on farming and associated trades for its survival; the 1970’s saw expansion on a large scale, an area of parkland by the Old Vicarage was developed; the houses which were erected were high quality buildings with large gardens. The old trees that were in the park are still there today thanks to sympathetic planning which ensured their preservation. Though a relatively modern development this area retains an opulent rural character. Further developments throughout the village at this time seem to have taken the old park as a standard and all were built with land, one of the main features of the village is the predominance of large well kept gardens. This is reflected in the annual Village Garden Competition organised by the Parish Council.
Unfortunately the 1970’s saw destruction as well as development. J S Fletcher, in his book “Darrington A Yorkshire Parish“ describes the central part of the village which encompasses the Church, Old School, Dove Cote and Tythe Barn as “unique in England, all being in one tight group in the heart of the village”. In a move which would seem incredible today the medieval Tythe Barn, (one of very few left in the country), was allowed to be destroyed. Though a campaign was mounted to save the ancient building, it eventually failed and an important piece of English History was destroyed.
Though the site in which the old barn stood has now been turned into a tranquil seating area inside the remaining stone walls of the barn, this kind of destruction must never be allowed to happen again. Many buildings of historical interest remain in the village and any future developments must take into account the need to preserve the remarkable and precious history of the village.
Memorials of a Yorkshire Parish
The Archaeology of the A1(M) Darrington to Dishforth.
Darrington In Coronation Year 1953.
M. Britton MA
Available from the author at:
4, New Row, Estcourt Road
Darrington, WF8 3AX
To what extent can an archaeological study of St. Luke’s and All Saints Church, Darrington contribute to our understanding of the development of the site?
Introducing Archaeology in the Landscape. Aspects of Went Hill, Darrington