Laughton-en-le-Morthen shown within South Yorkshire
|OS grid reference|
|Metropolitan county||South Yorkshire|
|Region||Yorkshire and the Humber|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||Yorkshire and the Humber|
|UK Parliament||Rother Valley|
Laughton-en-le-Morthen is a small dormitory village and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham lying to the south of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England, and its main attraction is the All Saints Church with its huge spire. It has a population of 1,185.
There are several theories for the origin of Morthen. One theory is that Morthen derives from the Old Norse terms Morthing meaning moorland district with a common assembly.
Another theory is that it comes from the old French for "place of death" (en le morthen). This theory is based on information that the area around Laughton was part of the site of the Battle of Brunanburh around 937 AD. It is commemorated in Celtic legend as the last chance they had to regain the mainland from the Saxons. In truth it was more a case of the various Celtic and Viking chieftains and lords (this was part of Yorvik) versus resurgent Saxon power. Approximately 50,000 warriors are reputed to have died in the most decisive battle for the control of the future history of the British Isles. If so, it is a well-deserved name, as the death toll was comparable to Britain's entire World War II death toll as a proportion of the population.
Before 1066 Laughton belonged to Earl Edwin who had a hall there. Held by Roger de Busli in 1086, Laughton was the head of a large soke within the honour of Tickhill. Laughton was a thriving village. Roger de Busli had 5 plough teams of his own and the population of 33 villeins and 6 small holders had ten plough teams between them. Eventually the de Busli honour of Tickhill passed to King Henry I, who gave the church of Laughton to the Canon of York.
Until the 13th century The Manor of Laughton remained in the hands of the crown. The Manor was then given to Geoffrey de Lusignan by Prince Edward, son of Henry III.
Drogo de Merlawe was Lord of the Manor in the reign of Edward II. In 1332 the lordship had passed to the Frenchman Ralph, Earl of Eu.
In 1332 Vicar of Laughton, James de Brampton was fined for beating Hugh de Lindesay, one of the Earl of Eu servants. The estates of the Earl were seized at the outbreak of the 100 Year War and returned into the hands of the crown.
Together with the Honour of Tickhill it was passed to the King's son, John of Gaunt. When his son ascended the throne as Henry the IV, Laughton once again passed into the hands of the crown.
In the poll tax of 1379 Laughton lists 232 people assessed for the tax, representing a population of 450. The Laughton entry includes tax payers living in nearby townships. The most prosperous inhabitant was John de Kirke who was described as a "Marchant Sufficant" (literally "supply merchant"). He was assessed at the sum of 13s 4d, showing that he was a very wealthy man indeed. A draper and a cattle merchant were assessed at 1s while 13 tradesmen paid 6d.
In 1577 The Manor of Laughton was in the hands of the Queen. By the 17th century it had passed to the Lords of Kiveton, the Eyre family. In 1644 Sir Gervas Eyre was killed fighting for the King at the siege of Newark. In 1767 Anthony Eyre his great grandson sold the manor to Anthony St Ledger of Parkhill, Firbeck. In Laughton the Hatfeilds were the main rivals of the Eire's. The Hatfeilds came to Laughton when Ralph Hatfeild married a daughter of Robert Mirfield of Thurcroft.
By 1607, however, the Mirfin family (sometimes spelled Mirfield) was apparently in some financial distress. In a deed of that year "Robert Mirfin of Thurcroft, yeoman," conveyed to "Anthony Eyre of Laughton, esquire, and Thomas Levet (Levett) of Melton on the Hill, gentleman, and his heirs" several parcels of land formerly held by the Mirfin family in Laughton and surrounding areas.
In 1652 Martha, the 12 year old daughter of Anthony and Faith Hatfeild, gained national notoriety when she was seized by an illness which caused her to have fits which prevented her from moving or seeing. During these fits she was able to speak and astonished people with the piety and wisdom of her utterances. Visitors and pilgrims came from far and wide to see her. Between 1653 and 1664 a book about her, "The Wise Virgin", ran to 5 editions. After 8 months the fits passed and normality returned to Laughton. The Hatfeild dynasty of Laughton lasted until 1791 when the unmarried John Hatfeild died.
In the Hearth Tax return of 1672, the parish of Laughton lists 105 houses, of which 94 paid the tax, of these over half had only 1 hearth. Schoolmaster John Broomhead occupied a house with 5 hearths while Nicholas Pearson's house boasted 14, William Hatfeild had 13 and William Beckwith at Thurcroft Hall had 11. The Hearth Tax was a shilling a hearth collected twice a year at Michelmas and Lady Day. Rev Robert Browne reported in the 1743 Visitation Returns that there were 107 families in the parish.
Laughton All Saints Church was Mother church to a large area, an indication of Laughton's importance in Anglo-Saxon times. The original Saxon church was of a simple rectangular construction. It is suggested that this church was destroyed following Earl Edwin's unsuccessful rebellion against William I in 1069–70, but there is no evidence to support this. Rebuilding in Norman style began in 1190 when a North aisle was added. The church was rebuilt again in 1377 and it was at this time that the 185-foot (56 m) tower and spire were added. The architect for this work was probably William of Wykeham as he had been appointed Prebend of Laughton en le Morthen in York Minster in 1363. Salisbury Cathedral is another of Williams' works. The North arcade of the nave retains its Norman columns, while in the lower courses of the chancel walls Saxon stonework can be seen.
A pre-Reformation stone altar table which was found buried in the South aisle during the 19th century is contained in the Lady Chapel. In 1857 considerable alterations and repairs to the church were carried out and paid for by AFB St Ledger, the Lord of the Manor.
In 1693 the vicarage was described as "a dwelling containing about three bays of building". It had been enlarged to 5 bays by 1716. As late as 1817 most of the downstairs rooms still had earth floors. The present vicarage dates from 1840.
In 1610 Edmund Laughton of Throapham and Anthony Eyre gave adjoining plots of land for the construction of the Laughton Endowed School "for the learning and instruction in learning of the children of the inhabitants of the township and parish of Laughton". Endowments were also made by John West, William Beckwith and William Laughton. A house for the school master was erected 1670. Local trustees had the power to levy rates on the inhabitants for the support of the school. In 1820 the school was found to be in "ruin and decay" by Charity Commissioners and the trust deeds had been lost. By the mid-19th century the school was accepted as a Church of England Aided School. In 1850 the building was extended. The 1865 Visitation Returns state that there was a boys' and girl's school, the boys' school being supported by the endowments and the other by public subscription.
Moves were made to enclose the remaining open fields and commons shortly after Anthony St Ledger purchased the manor of Laughton. In 1769 The Act of Parliament for the enclosure was passed and the process was completed in 1771. Over the years a considerable portion of the parish had already been enclosed. Almost 580 acres (2.3 km2) of the 1,172 acres (4.74 km2) of newly enclosed land was allotted to Anthony St Ledger as Lord of the Manor, 189 acres (0.76 km2) to Doctor Hugh Thomas prebend of Laughton and 173 acres (0.70 km2) to John Hatfield.
The enclosure award replaced the payment of tithes in kind on the newly enclosed lands, replacing them with a rent charge. Tithes remained payable on the old enclosures until they were converted by the Tithe Award of 1840.
Geography and demographics
To the North of Laughton lies the hamlet of Slade Hooton, which appears in the Domesday Book as a manor within the Soke of Laughton with 3 carucates of land. In the Middle Ages it was divided into two manors. The Ripers family, Lords of Loversall, gave their manor to Roche Abbey. At the Dissolution this manor was granted to Richard Turke, who sold it to Robert Saunderson, an ancestor of the Earls of Scarborough. William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton (d. 1542) held the other manor in the early 16th century. He gave Slade Hooton and other lands in the area to John Fitzwilliam of Kingsley (Hants). This grant was later challenged by the Earl's niece, wife of Sir James Foljambe and the case was settled in 1563 in favour of Godfrey Foljambe of Croxden. The main freeholders within the hamlet were the Mirfin family. Slade Hooton Hall was built in 1698 for John Mirfin. The stable block and barn were added in 1702 and 1705. The 1838 West Riding directory shows that the hamlet then had its own blacksmith, wheelwright and shopkeeper.
Laughton has two schools, the council-run Laughton Junior and Infant School, and the Laughton Church of England School, which is situated directly opposite All saints Church, whose distinctive spire is visible from Lincolnshire on a clear day, and is a local landmark dominating the area from the hill.
There are also two public houses in the village, the St Leger Arms (named after local landowners the St. leger family) which like many other village pubs closed in 2009, and is still derelict and the Hatfeild Arms, which is also named after a well known local family.
The village sits on the main bus route from Worksop to Rotherham (19 operated by Stagecoach) and the Dinnington to Doncaster service (18 operated by Powells buses).
In the Second World War, a German bomber on his way back from a raid on Sheffield dropped an unused bomb on the village, which failed to go off; local farmer Henry Turner, whose family recently still lived in the village, towed the bomb to safety across his fields. Notable residents include Steven "Russel" Stanley, the official Bryan Adams biographer.
- Office for National Statistics : Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Rotherham Retrieved 2009-08-28
- Thomas Levett was married to Thurcroft's daughter.
- 1607 deed, History of Thurcroft, Thurcroft online
- Mirfin family history, Mirfin/Myrfin of Slade Hooton, Thurcroft, Brookhouse, Thurcroftweb
Media related to Laughton-en-le-Morthen at Wikimedia Commons