Retro: Village link to St Leger

Laughton Common - Mrs and Mrs G. Gough in their garden overshadowed by the giant gas works - 1960
Laughton Common - Mrs and Mrs G. Gough in their garden overshadowed by the giant gas works - 1960
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We’ve reached the letter L in our Retro A to Z tour of Sheffield and surrounding areas and it’s a two for one deal on Laughton Common and its neighbouring hamlet, Laughton en le Morthen.

The area, rich in history, has key links to the famous Doncaster St Leger horse race.

Mr Harold Cherry of Rotherham Road, Laughton Common, busy in his back garden against the background of the steaming oil gas plant - 27th January 1960

Mr Harold Cherry of Rotherham Road, Laughton Common, busy in his back garden against the background of the steaming oil gas plant - 27th January 1960

The parish council describes Laughton-en-le-Morthen as “a small dormitory village and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham, lying to the south of Rotherham”.

The 11th-century Domesday Book lists the village name as Lastone but its Saxon name was ‘Law town’. Morthen may come from old Norse word Morthing, meaning ‘moorland district with a common assembly’.

Otherwise, it derives from the old French phrase ‘en le Morthen’, meaning ‘place of death’. That may be linked to the Battle of Brunanburh around 937, which the parish council says was “commemorated in Celtic legend as the last chance 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.”

What she said “astonished people with its piety and wisdom” and she attracted pilgrims

The dead may have numbered 50,000, a massive part of the population then.

However, the site of the battle is unknown and is disputed among historians.

In the 11th century, the village was controlled by Roger De Busli, or Roger the Bully, who was also the big man in Kimberworth, as mentioned earlier in this series.

The manor later passed through various hands including King Edward III’s son, John of Gaunt, who was first Duke of Lancaster. His lands and titles were seized by the crown on his death as he was declared a traitor by Richard II as part of the ongoing Wars of the Roses.

17th Century cottage in St. John Road, Laughton - 1986

17th Century cottage in St. John Road, Laughton - 1986

By the 17th century the manor was owned by the Lords of Kiveton, the Eyres, who sold it on to Anthony St Leger of Parkhill, Firbeck.

In 1777 Anthony St Leger had the honour of having the horse race that had begun a year before named after him. A year later it was first run at Town Moor, its home today.

In Laughton the Hatfeilds were rivals of the Eyres.

The parish website says that in 1652, Martha, the 12-year-old daughter of Anthony and Faith Hatfeild, suffered a temporary illness causing fits that prevented her from moving or seeing. What she said during those episodes “astonished people with its piety and wisdom” and soon attracted pilgrims.

Laughton Village - 20th October 1959

Laughton Village - 20th October 1959

There are village pubs named after both the St Legers and the Hatfeilds.

The new Laughton Common Social Club - 31st October 1961

The new Laughton Common Social Club - 31st October 1961

Landlord Michael Hewitt of the St Leger Arms, Laughton en le Morthen - 29th July 1995

Landlord Michael Hewitt of the St Leger Arms, Laughton en le Morthen - 29th July 1995

Laughton Church - July 1981

Laughton Church - July 1981