Laughton en le Morthen and Laughton Common

Laughton en le Morthen and Laughton Common

Laughton en le Morthen feels like a prosperous village with a medieval core plus lots of fairly expensive modern houses.

Laughton Common on the other hand still has a hint of ex pit village about it, see the mining heritage pages from this sites main menu for an inkling of its story. Some of Laughton Common’s houses are early and mid 20th century workers houses build for the miners at nearby pits such as dinnington and thurcroft. Although many were demolished between 1995-2008 and replaved by new redbrick townhouses, semis, and the like.

Laughton Common was before the 19th century common grazing land for all of the locals until the Enclosures Acts of the 19th century when they were fenced off. The 1760 map from the home page clearly shows the laughton common land that would one day be become Laughton Common, the hamlet.

One of the first mentions of Laughton is in the will of a Saxon called Wolfric in about 870 A.D. Laughtons name is possibly therefore derived from the Saxon for Law Town as evidence suggests that it was a centre of Saxon jurisdiction (there was a Saxon Great Hall and an earth and timber moat and baily fort on the top of castle hill next to the church).

There’s more than one theory for the origin of Morthen (a suffix also given to Brampton and the tiny settlement of Morthen).:

1. Maybe Morthen derives from the Old Norse terms MorThing meaning moorland district with a common assembly.

2. It is also possible that it was part of the site of the Battle of Brunanburh around 937AD, according to Davies in his history of the Isle it’s commemorated in Celtic legend as the last chance they had to regain the mainland from the Saxons – although 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 – either way 50,000 warriors are reputed to have died in the most decisive battle for the control of the future history of the British Isles – in which case in the Old French speaking Normans gave it a name derived from the old french for place of death – en le Morthen. If so it’s a well deserved name as the death toll was comparable to Britains entire WW 2 death toll as a proportion of the population.

In the Domesday Book Laughton was reported to have 33 villains, 6 smallholders and 15 plough teams, which was pretty impressive for those days and along with its church, castle and hall indicates that Laughton was an very important place 1,000 and more years ago.

The current stone church, in Perpendicular style with an impressive 185 foot high octagonal section spire, dates from 1377 but incorporates elements from earlier stone churches on the site dating from 1080, and on the same site was a Saxon church and its doorway is incorporated into the north entrance. The Saxon church was probably destroyed by William the Conqueror’s Normans as they systematically replaced Saxon shrines with Norman ones (Winchester Cathederal is a good example, the foundation’s outline still lays alongside its outsized Norman replacement). Laughton Church was therefore possibly rebuilt in about 1080. It and the village was laid waste in 1322 during a war in which some barons rose in rebellion against king Edward II. It wasn’t rebuilt untill 1377 (so presumably it was a partial ruin in a forest glade, next to a ruined fort, for over 50 years – a lifetime then).

Back in 1080, when the Saxons had finally been subjugated, the area was given to Roger de Busli whos’ home was at nearby Tickhill, a place with its own ruined motte and bailey castle. The lands included the towns on this site of Aston, Anston, Todwick, Dinnington and Thorpe. Laughton church was the mother church for these villages, whos churches were simple square chapels then (the evidence is in their photographs) and its registers (records) go back to 1547 – some of the earliest in England.