Billingley historical account in visitoruk

History of Billingley

The following is a Billingley historical account in visitoruk taken from [accessed 6/4/14].


History of Billingley

Just off the busy A635, seven miles from Barnsley and ten miles north of Rotherham, is the small, quiet village of Billingley.

Adam fitz Swein was the last Saxon Lord of Billingley, and the Chartulary of Monk Bretton contained early records showing that he was the same person who gave the Church of Silkstone to Pontefract. According to Charters relating to the village, the great Saxon House of Swein kept herds of brood mares here which fed on the rich pastures.

Approaching the village from the main road, there is a grassed area known as Billingley Green (near Flatt Lane), which used to be the village pond. This dried up about 25 years ago and, when rubbish began to be dumped there, it was filled in and grassed over by a local farmer, and daffodils were set. A seat was provided by the local Council, and almond trees were planted by the Parish Council.

The village stocks were situated where the War Memorial now stands, and is known locally as ‘Stocks Hill’. The forge, too, has long since gone, and the old slaughterhouse is now a private dwelling. Although there used to be two small general stores and a butcher’s shop, there are now no shopping facilities. For a few years, in the late 1920s, the village even had a fish and chip shop (fish 2p, chips 1p), but that closed when the owner moved away, and the pub, too, has gone. Billingley has never had a school, the children being educated in nearby Great Houghton. There was a cricket team in the 1920s, who played on a field near the main road. The point-to-point used to meet there too.

The Methodist chapel, built in 1818, still has a small weekly congregation. In 1986 it was licensed for weddings, and in 1986/7/8, weddings took place there. However, these were recorded in the Barnsley Register, as the chapel had no safe where the records could be securely kept. In 1990 a safe was installed, and the wedding solemnised that year was the first to be entered in the Billingley Register.

Beech House was at one time a farm and, together with Billingley Hall, were the two principal farms. There were also 12 smaller farms, but these have now gone. In recent years, Beech House has suffered from consider- able subsidence. It has been demolished stone by stone to be rebuilt on a nearby site, very close to the beech tree from whence the original house took its name.

Billingley Hall, a three storeyed dwelling, was built in 1744, and over the years has had many owners. It ceased to be a farm about ten years ago, when the Wentworth Estate built anew farm – Hall Farm – a short distance away. A previous owner tells of the gravestones kept in the cellar, but where they came from is not known, though it is thought there used to be a graveyard nearby. One of these grave stones is now inserted in the wall along Back Lane, and states that ‘Here lieth the body of John Shemeld died 1752 aged 37 also the body of Elizabeth 1758 aged 40 years.’

At one time there were four wells in the gardens of cottages north of the village, but the only one remaining is in the garden of a private residence along a footpath known as Well Lane. This used to be a communal well, and was used by the villagers for their supply of water. One older resident can remember her grandmother charging 1p for the use of her mangle – very popular on washday!

Many years ago villagers would keep a pig, and a few kept a cow. Butter was made from the milk, and taken to Wath-upon-Dearne to sell. A threshing machine was housed in the village, and, until the combine harvesters took over, did one day’s work on each farm – the farmers providing meals for the workers. In addition to the farm workers living in Billingley, miners also lived there, working at Hickleton, Houghton Main and Dearne Valley Mines. Now only one farm worker actually lives in the village, in a tied cottage.

Billingley is now very much a commuter village. Many of the barns have been tastefully converted into private dwellings, and six former council houses are now privately owned. Unlike some small villages, it does have a frequent daily bus service. ‘

The village information above is taken from The South & West Yorkshire Village Book, written by members of the South & West Yorkshire Federation of Women’s Institutes and published by Countryside Books. Click on the link Countryside Books to view Countryside’s range of other local titles.



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