(Text moved from deleted category page "England Ancient Parishes")
Ancient parishes were divisions linked with the manorial system, in use in feudal times, with ancient parishes and manors often sharing the same boundaries.
In England, regional churches were founded, generally under the sponsorship of a local Lord, in the 7th and 8th centuries. These became home to groups of priests who served large parochiae (ecclesiastical Latin: church provinces).
From the 10th to 12th centuries, aligned with the change in land tenure of the Nobility, these large provinces were often broken up into as many as 5 to 15 smaller areas as feudal landowners built local churches to serve their needs and those of their families and their tenants. These smaller territories, often sharing boundaries with the manorial holdings, developed into a formal parochial system in the 12th century.
After the dissolution of the monasteries (Henry VIII), the power to levy a rate to fund relief of the poor was conferred on the parish authorities by the Act for the Relief of the Poor 1601. Local (vestry-administered) charities are well-documented. At this point Parishes became administrative rather than ecclesiastical.
During the 19th century ancient parishes diverged into two distinct units. The Poor Law Amendment Act 1866 declared all areas that levied a separate rate — extra-parochial areas, townships, and chapelries — were to become Civil Parishes as well. The parishes for church use continued as Ecclesiastical Parishes.
In England today, a civil parish is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below districts and counties, or their combined form, the unitary authority. It is an administrative parish, in contrast to an ecclesiastical parish.
- A Vision of Britain between 1801 and 2001 includes maps, statistical trends and historical descriptions;