Memories of Old Cantley

Cantley Poor Land’s Trust

The first provisions for the poor in Cantley would have been in 1597 when the Poor Law Act authorised the levy of a rate to be paid by those who could afford to. Overseer's were appointed to collect the rate and use it to give relief to the poor.

In 1674 John Dickenson, a poor man, was buried from the Almshouses of Brampton (Branton). There was no mention of Almshouses in Archbishop Herring's Visitation of 1743, but housing for the poor must have continued as the accounts of the Overseer's of the Poor show that the Parish Houses were sold to the Doncaster Workhouse in 1842.

The Cantley Poor Land's Trust was founded in the Enclosure Award of 1779. Before the award most of the land was owned in strips in the open fields, some of which were allocated to the poor. In the Enclosure Award an area of 13 acres 20 perches in the White Hill Field and part of Wetslaides was allotted to the Overseer's of the Poor for the use of the poor. In 1796 the land was let to Francis Elways for a rent of £3 per annum. There was also 4 acres of land allotted in Gatewood Lane.

In 1837 the land was let for £7, which was paid to the master of the national School, but this seems to have been discontinued by 1878.

In accordance with the Local Government Act of 1894, in November 1913 the Rev. W.M. Tatham transferred the administration of the Poor's Land to the Parish Council, who appointed the Vicar and Church Wardens with two Councillors to be elected each year, to be Trustees. The accounts show that the field was rented to George Tinker for £10 p.a. from 1914 to 1925. Colonel Shaw paid £3 for shooting rights and the parish Council distributed £10.15s in Dole. This has traditionally been at Christmas.

When the Doncaster Borough began the extensive housing developments in Cantley in the 1950's, they purchased the north west corner of the Poor's Land field, and area of 2.855 acres for £100. It was then that the Charity Commission instructed that the Trust monies were to be kept in a separate account from the Parish Council's and indicated that the Trust should not really be administered by the Council.

In the mid 1970's the plans for the M18 Motorway meant that the Poor's Land would be affected again and in 1977 1.63 acres was sliced off the south east corner. Then in the 1980's Doncaster Council bought the rest of the land for housing development. The Trust now has a vast sum of money in assets.

Old Cantley

In this piece on Cantley we see how part of an old estate has survived, despite a massive development in the area. Additionally, we will learn that a squire still resides at the Hall. Cantley is recorded as Canteleia in the Domesday book of 1086, and it is suggested by Eric Smith (1961) that the meaning of this name may relate to a person called 'Canta' of Celtic origin. The suffix 'eia' means 'glade' or 'forest clearing'. Consequently, Canteleia may have been Canta's glade or forest clearing and the person was, perhaps, the leader of a group of settlers who made it their home around the 7th or 8th century. Throughout successive periods, the place-name has changed. During 1209, it was noted as Kanteleia and in 1246 as Cauntele. However, by the early 15th century, the current title of Cantley seems to be well established.

Cantley Church was in existence at the time of the Norman Conquest, although its origins of patronage are uncertain. However, early records note that it was dedicated to St Nicholas. Today it is called St Wilfred's, and a burial record of 1504 shows it to be of that dedication. The church stands alongside a former country road (now Church Lane), linking Cantley with Bessacarr and High Ellers.

Prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066, parts of Canteleia and the adjoining settlement of Brantone (now Branton), both of which were linked in the one Manor or Lordship of Brantone, belonged to a Saxon called Tochi. Additional sections of the Manor were owned by another Sax'on called Alsi. Interestingly, at the time of the Conquest, the Manor of Brantone and Canteleia was valued at £8, yet it is recorded as only being worth 30 shillings (£1.50p) in the Domesday Survey.

Around 1280, Kanteleia was in the possession of Robert de Everingham, who was described as 'Chief Lord of Cantley', under whom the Abbot of Kirkstall Abbey, the Prior of the Hospital of St Catherine of Lincoln, and the Prioress of Hampole, held half a fee in Cantley. However, from this time until 1610, it becomes difficult to unravel those who had interests in Cantley. In that year Hugh Childers of Carr House began his family's long association with the village. He bought the Court Leet or Lordship of Branton, which included Cantley, from the Stapleton family. Hugh died in 1660 and was succeded by his second son Francis, who six years later decided to enlarge the Carr House Estate by purchasing property in Cantley. At that time Cantley was probably little more than an agricultural settlement, though Francis may have been responsible for building a substantial farmhouse called Cantley Lodge. On his death in 1669, he was succeeded by his son Thomas, who only lived another seven years and then his offspring Leonard took control.

Around 1715, Leonard bred a famous racehorse, which was known as both Bay Childers and Flying Childers. Evidently, he never actually trained the horse, nor was he aware of the qualities it possessed. Before the horse gained a reputation, it was employed on the mundane task of carrying the letter bag between Cantley and Doncaster. Around, 1719 the horse was sent to Newmarket blood stock sales and was purchased by the Duke of Devonshire.

Successors to Leonard, after his death in 1748, included his daughter Mildred Childers and then her son Childers Walbanke-Childers, who probably moved from Carr House to Cantley later in the century. It was Childers who transformed Cantley Lodge c.1787 into an impressive country mansion. He was also involved, together with several others, in banking. They formed Ellison & Co. and operated from Doncaster High Street. After Childers' death, his son John Walbanke-Childers constructed the elegant Elmfield House in 1805 for his mother. This was also about the time that Carr House was sold. Additionally, John Walbanke-Childers made improvements to Cantley Lodge, employing local architect William Lindley. The Lodge subsequently became titled Cantley Hall. John's son, who was also called John, took control after his father's death in 1812. The latter was a Liberal and took an active part in politics, becoming an M.P.

From the early part of his life, John leased the Cantley Estate to various tenants: Michael Angelo TaylorM.P.; George Greaves; and Charles Ramsden. After John's demise in 1886, Rowlanda Frances Childers, his only surviving grand-daughter, had the following lessees: Colonel Paley, and William Champion. In 1901, the link with the Childers family was broken when Rowlanda sold the Cantley Estate to the Grassmoor Company Ltd, Grassmoor Collieries, Derbyshire. It might have been presumed that the Cantley Estate was destined to become engulfed by a new sprawling mining community. But, this was not the case, as an alternative site was chosen in the neighbouring village of Armthorpe.

The Hall was tenanted for a short time by Douglas Vickers, then in 1904, the Estate was sold to the Rt Hon. William Charles De Meuron, Earl Fitzwilliam of Wentworth Woodhouse near Rotherham. More lessees followed to add to the already growing list, including John Reginald Shaw; James Peach, and Thome brewer Thomas Darley. The largest upheaval in Canttey's history probably occurred in the 1950s and 1960s. The Doncaster Chronicle of 27 April 1950, in an article titled 'New town plan in the Cantley area taking shape', informed:

The new "town" which in the next few years will spring up at Cantley and Bessacarr- the plans were approved in principal by Doncaster Town Council in committee on Tuesday - will cost between six and seven million pounds. It will eventually house 13,000 people in a total of 3,276 houses built at a cost estimated at £3,500,000. Under various Acts, the Doncaster County Borough compulsorily purchased land in Cantley from several sources including the Metropolitan Railway Country Estates Ltd, Thomas Darley; and Cantley Parish Council. During the previous year, the Fitzwilliarns had sold land to M.R.C. Estates in order to pay death duties. In turn, this company sold Cantley land in lots during 1950. One lot included Cantley Hall, which was acquired by Thomas Darley

At a public inquiry held in 1951 to investigate the Corporation's Cantley housing scheme, farmer William Jackson urged a curtailment of the proposal. W. R. Wormald, Deputy Town Clerk replied: "... there comes a time when the static position of the countryside must be interfered with in the interests of the developing town".

Before this time, apart from the Rose Hill Cemetery (opened in 1933) and a large rifle range, Cantley was a vista of woods, scrubland and fields. The following decade saw the birth of a huge, well laid out, housing estate. It was developed in four phases. The first was in the area between Rosehill Cemetery and the nearby railway line. An area north of Cantley Lane was then developed, and the third phase covered land south of Cantley Lane, and extending into Church Lane. The final development took place east of Church Lane. Many of the people displaced by slum clearance in Doncaster's town centre were rehoused at Cantley. Some of the new streets took their names from the horse-racing world, whilst others were titled after football grounds and trees. Amenities provided on the estate included shopping units; churches and chapels, with hall facilities, for various denominations; a park and children's playground, library, working-men's club, doctor's surgery, health clinic and four schools.

F.K. Annable (1960) tells of an important discovery whilst work on the new estate was in progress:

During the preliminary cutting of deep sewer trenches on Stages II and III of the estate, mechanical excavators cut through a number of clay structures, at the same time exposing areas of thick ash, large quantities of fired clay debris, and pottery fragments of Romano-British date, all of which pointed conclusively to a flourishing pottery industry having existed here in Romano-British times ... This was the first time that Roman kilns had been found in this part of Yorkshire; thus the discovery was of some importance. Accordingly the Ministry of Works (Ancient Monuments department) ... directed that excavations should be carried out under the direction of the writer. Digging began on 6th July, and continued until September 4th, 1953, a period of eight weeks. On 18 May 1961 the Doncaster Chronicle reported on another project:

Doncaster Corporation have started on the groundwork for one ofthe biggest private housing development schemes in the town. They are at present laying the roads, service roads, drainage and other services which will ultimately provide about 300 housing units at Cantley in an area bordered by Bawtry Road, Church Lane, Goodison Boulevard and St Wilfred's Road. As the plots are completed they will be offered to contractors and private individuals for housing development.

Information concerning Cantley's development frequently appeared in the local newspapers. The Doncaster Chronicle of 5 March 1953 had stated:

The largest water tower in the Doncaster district - ! 60 feet high, and with a half-million gallon capacity - is to be built at Cantley and will be connected to the Rossington Bridge water supply borehole. It is hoped that work will be started on the new tower this year.

The Doncaster Chronicle of 6 September 1962 reported thai: the Two Palfreys public house was opening. The Yorkshire Evening Post of 29 July and 9 December 1964 announced the opening of the Paddock, and the Beecher's Brook, respectively.

Thomas Darley died in 1982, and his wife five years later. The Hall and parkland was purchased by entrepreneur John Carnell in 1989. But, this was short lived and he sold it to furniture magnate Graham Kirkham. The latter has done much to improve the Hall and its grounds, so that some of Cantley's traditions, nurtured over the centuries, are maintained today.