Status details for Ancient Parish

Status:Ancient Parish
Number of units in system: 10383
Geographical Level: 11 (Parish)
ADL Feature Type:countries, 4th order divisions
Is a status within:Parish-level Unit

Full Description:

Preceding the Norman Conquest and until England's break with Rome (1533-7), ancient parishes (groups of villages or hamlets and their adjacent lands) existed for ecclesiastical functions, whilst Vills (townships) and Manors dealt with the secular government matters. These parishes could be identified as a conglomeration of ancient rights which became associated with a specific area, such as the area over which a clergyman had jurisdiction. As a result of the Hundred Years War there was a decline in the administrative status of England's feudal system, the Vill and Manor ceased their local government functions, but the parish, as a ecclesiastical unit, remained (Jackson, 1966, p.2). The dissolution of the monasteries led to the ancient parish being left with the duty of relieving its own poor, starting in Elizabeth I's reign with the first Poor Relief Act (1597). This involved the appointment of Overseers and levying parishioners and meant the ancient parish began performing both secular and ecclesiastical roles. The adoption of the parish as an administrative unit by the Government during the sixteenth century aided the development of public services for both urban and rural areas. Authority of urban parishes was ceded to urban districts and boroughs as they developed, but rural parishes still retain some administrative qualities, such as the parish council. There were, in 1965, around 111,00 parishes within England and Wales (Jackson, 1966, p.3).