How does a town become a village?

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ajuk
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How does a town become a village?

Post by ajuk » Fri Sep 24, 2021 01:46

I think what we today think of as a town is bigger that what constituted a town until maybe 100 years ago.
Many towns today, when you look at them on a map 100 years ago were little more than one main street, normally on an important through route, with few side streets.
Yes, they look like quite big streets with larger buildings than in villages, but there's not a lot there. I'm not sure if despite there smaller size they were more densely populated than they are today.
I think a village becomes a town when it's granted a market charter, but quite a few villages I go to do seem to have a market charter or a least did, but are no longer considered towns.
Colerne, Castle Combe, Marshfield and Wickwar all come to mind, they all say they're villages, but I think there were all once classed as towns.
Marshfield even 100 years ago looks very town like for the era.

Have these places had their market charters revoked, or is it that mostly no longer identify as towns but technically still are?

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by Chris Bertram » Fri Sep 24, 2021 07:37

Do market charters have to be granted or revoked these days? The hierarchy, for E&W at least, used to be:

Hamlet - a small settlement with no Anglican church
Village - has an Anglican church but no market
Town - has a market charter
City - has a charter entitling it to be called a city (or has been so recognised since time immemorial).

In theory, size of settlement has little or nothing to do with it, though cities tend to be the largest. Does Milton Keynes have a market charter? Even if not, would anyone seriously not call it a town?
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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by trickstat » Fri Sep 24, 2021 08:00

Chris Bertram wrote:
Fri Sep 24, 2021 07:37
Do market charters have to be granted or revoked these days? The hierarchy, for E&W at least, used to be:

Hamlet - a small settlement with no Anglican church
Village - has an Anglican church but no market
Town - has a market charter
City - has a charter entitling it to be called a city (or has been so recognised since time immemorial).

In theory, size of settlement has little or nothing to do with it, though cities tend to be the largest. Does Milton Keynes have a market charter? Even if not, would anyone seriously not call it a town?
I'm not sure whether MK itself has been granted a market charter but I am pretty sure that constituent towns such as Stony Stratford and Wolverton had been.

Ashwell about 5 miles from me, is a village that apparently was considered a town in medieval times.

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by KeithW » Fri Sep 24, 2021 08:39

The distinction historically was based on having a market charter but that is no longer the case. Its rather complicated these days. See
https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/re ... /cbp-8322/

To take my town of Middlesbrough it is classed as a large town , there is at least one market locally but that is actually in North Ormesby which used to be a town its own right. Similarly I live in Marton-In-Cleveland which used to be a village but is no simply a part of Middlesbrough. The market place for Middlesbrough was in the old town which was basically abandoned in the 1970's. This is the old town hall.
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@54.58223 ... 6656?hl=en

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by Rob590 » Fri Sep 24, 2021 10:19

KeithW wrote:
Fri Sep 24, 2021 08:39
The distinction historically was based on having a market charter but that is no longer the case. Its rather complicated these days. See
https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/re ... /cbp-8322/
Interesting link. There are as well a range of statistical definitions of built-up areas, Travle to work areas etc... essentially the terms town/city/village are fluid ones to be defined differently based on your focus. The ceremonial (market charter, city charter) definitions are just one of the available ways of doing so, and arguably just about the most arbitrary!
ajuk wrote:
Fri Sep 24, 2021 01:46
Many towns today, when you look at them on a map 100 years ago were little more than one main street, normally on an important through route, with few side streets.
Yes, they look like quite big streets with larger buildings than in villages, but there's not a lot there. I'm not sure if despite there smaller size they were more densely populated than they are today.
The density point is important - our towns are much much less dense today than they were 100 years ago. Take Barrow-in-Furness - its population in the 1921 census was 73,394; in 2011 it was 69,100, ie, marginally smaller. But the 1920s Bartholemew map shows the town barely stretching north-east beyond the railway line - the contemporary town covers something like twice the physical area that the 1920s town did, despite having a lower population. That's probably an extreme example - Barrow town centre is unusually dense, almost exclusively terraced with even a few blocks of Glasgow-style-tenanments - but the pattern more or less holds for all towns/cities.

The 1920s and then rapdily in the 1930s was when that started to change, and our contemporary low-density housing can be dated back to that era.

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by KeithW » Fri Sep 24, 2021 11:12

ajuk wrote:
Fri Sep 24, 2021 01:46
I think what we today think of as a town is bigger that what constituted a town until maybe 100 years ago.
Many towns today, when you look at them on a map 100 years ago were little more than one main street,
My home town of Middlesbrough was rather more rapid in its growth. In 1824 all that was there was a farm and a population of 25. Its growth started in earnest in 1828 when the Stockton and Darlington railway terminated there so that coal be loaded onto ships.

By 1830 a new town was being born. By 1851 the population was around 8,000 and the town charter was issued in 1853. The rapid growth was the result of the iron industry moving in as everything needed could be sourced locally. Coal and limestone from Durham, iron ore from the hills of South Cleveland. This explains why Middlesbrough is home to a large population of descendants of Irish Catholics and has an RC Cathedral but not an Anglican one. There was a second influx of catholics after WW2 and they were mostly Polish. It also has a large number of people who hailed from Wales so the largest church in early Middlesbrough was the Wesleyan Chapel. My dad's family moved up from the Weald which at the time was a declining steel making family. My mums family hailed from Hartlepool and had been in the fishing industry. The town is still growing. In the 1960's its population was 70,000 now its over 120,000.

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by fras » Fri Sep 24, 2021 12:44

Is the title of this thread deliberately the other way round to the content ?

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by M4Simon » Fri Sep 24, 2021 13:21

fras wrote:
Fri Sep 24, 2021 12:44
Is the title of this thread deliberately the other way round to the content ?
I don't think so - it is about towns that are no longer large or important in their area and are more like villages.

Many towns want to become cities, but I think most villages are happy to hold on to that status, and some small towns might prefer to be known as villages as it better describes the sort of place they are.

Welwyn (not Welwyn Garden City) is a village with a population of 8,400 and is the same size as Sawbridgeworth, but the latter is proud of its status as a town whereas Welwyn is perfectly happy to be a village.

Just writing this down shows me that names can be deceiving - Welwyn Garden City is not a city in legal terms.

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by PeterA5145 » Fri Sep 24, 2021 13:25

Surely it's more about function than population size as such. I actually wrote a blogpost on this subject a couple of years ago, prompted by a visit to Shifnal in Shropshire:

When is a town not a town?
So how can we tell what is a town and what isn’t? The first thing to consider is what it looks like: for example, does it have a market place, a prominent town hall or other civic building, and one or more streets of closely-packed commercial buildings dating back at least to the 19th century? It also needs to fulfil a role as a centre for the surrounding area beyond its own population, through such things as the number of shops, the presence of an active street market, branches of the major clearing banks (although those are now a vanishing species) and a significant number of pubs. A long-established coaching inn-type hotel can also be a good indicator.
A good example is Machynlleth in Montgomeryshire, which is unquestionably a town in appearance and function despite having a population of only 2,235.
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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by KeithW » Fri Sep 24, 2021 13:43

fras wrote:
Fri Sep 24, 2021 12:44
Is the title of this thread deliberately the other way round to the content ?
Well it can work both ways of course and villages can be absorbed into towns or cities as happened on a massive scale in the case of London. In fact many of the villages that later became towns did so as the result of railways and tube lines extending their service there. In 1931 Stag Lane Edgware was a De Havilland factory and Airfield and all that was at Stanmore was the station. The trading strategy of the Metropolitan line was buy up agricultural land outside London, extend the rail head to new stations and then start building houses.

Settlements in my area that once were small towns in their own right and now have become either villages or simply local authority subdivisions include Eston where the town hall was demolished in 2012. Supposedly to save money but the land was snapped for housing development. The shopping centre will probably be next as it has been neglected and left to decay.
http://www.hidden-teesside.co.uk/2012/0 ... all-eston/

Nunthorpe is an odd one. It started out as a village, became a town and now it has been artificially divided between Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland. Some boundaries commissioner simply drew lines on map without even considering what happens when the school is Redcar and Cleveland and most of the pupils live a couple of hundred yards away in Middlesbrough.

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by trickstat » Fri Sep 24, 2021 14:01

PeterA5145 wrote:
Fri Sep 24, 2021 13:25
Surely it's more about function than population size as such. I actually wrote a blogpost on this subject a couple of years ago, prompted by a visit to Shifnal in Shropshire:

When is a town not a town?
So how can we tell what is a town and what isn’t? The first thing to consider is what it looks like: for example, does it have a market place, a prominent town hall or other civic building, and one or more streets of closely-packed commercial buildings dating back at least to the 19th century? It also needs to fulfil a role as a centre for the surrounding area beyond its own population, through such things as the number of shops, the presence of an active street market, branches of the major clearing banks (although those are now a vanishing species) and a significant number of pubs. A long-established coaching inn-type hotel can also be a good indicator.
A good example is Machynlleth in Montgomeryshire, which is unquestionably a town in appearance and function despite having a population of only 2,235.
I think the point about being a centre for areas beyond its own population is particularly relevant for some of those places that have effectively changed from towns to villages. Some of them no longer have that status because of the growth of other nearby towns and/or changes in transport and travel patterns.

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by trickstat » Fri Sep 24, 2021 14:09

M4Simon wrote:
Fri Sep 24, 2021 13:21
fras wrote:
Fri Sep 24, 2021 12:44
Is the title of this thread deliberately the other way round to the content ?
I don't think so - it is about towns that are no longer large or important in their area and are more like villages.

Many towns want to become cities, but I think most villages are happy to hold on to that status, and some small towns might prefer to be known as villages as it better describes the sort of place they are.

Welwyn (not Welwyn Garden City) is a village with a population of 8,400 and is the same size as Sawbridgeworth, but the latter is proud of its status as a town whereas Welwyn is perfectly happy to be a village.

Just writing this down shows me that names can be deceiving - Welwyn Garden City is not a city in legal terms.

Simon
People often refer to Welwyn as "Welwyn Village" or "Old Welwyn" to differentiate it from Welwyn GC which is what many people think of first when they just hear "Welwyn".

Letchworth Garden City is also not a city. The Garden City part being less used as there is little need to differentiate from the original Letchworth which is one of the 3 villages that lie on the edge of the present town and have been absorbed into it in varying degrees.

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by Chris5156 » Fri Sep 24, 2021 14:31

KeithW wrote:
Fri Sep 24, 2021 08:39
The distinction historically was based on having a market charter but that is no longer the case. Its rather complicated these days. See
https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/re ... /cbp-8322/
I don’t think that’s an official classification intended to replace the old system of market charters etc - it’s just a way of grouping settlements by population for statistical analysis that’s been devised by the House of Commons Library. The page you linked to says:
This classification isn’t intended to resolve long-standing disputes about which settlements deserve to be called ‘cities’, ‘towns’, or ‘villages’. In fact, it takes no account of the ceremonial definition of ‘city’, using the term only as a way to identify larger settlements. For instance, St Albans is identified as a ‘large town’ here because its population is 86,000 – even though it has city status. Luton, on the other hand, doesn’t have city status, but is classified here as an ‘Other City’ because its population is 225,000.

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by Chris Bertram » Fri Sep 24, 2021 17:58

KeithW wrote:
Fri Sep 24, 2021 13:43
fras wrote:
Fri Sep 24, 2021 12:44
Is the title of this thread deliberately the other way round to the content ?
Well it can work both ways of course and villages can be absorbed into towns or cities as happened on a massive scale in the case of London. In fact many of the villages that later became towns did so as the result of railways and tube lines extending their service there. In 1931 Stag Lane Edgware was a De Havilland factory and Airfield and all that was at Stanmore was the station. The trading strategy of the Metropolitan line was buy up agricultural land outside London, extend the rail head to new stations and then start building houses.

Settlements in my area that once were small towns in their own right and now have become either villages or simply local authority subdivisions include Eston where the town hall was demolished in 2012. Supposedly to save money but the land was snapped for housing development. The shopping centre will probably be next as it has been neglected and left to decay.
http://www.hidden-teesside.co.uk/2012/0 ... all-eston/

Nunthorpe is an odd one. It started out as a village, became a town and now it has been artificially divided between Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland. Some boundaries commissioner simply drew lines on map without even considering what happens when the school is Redcar and Cleveland and most of the pupils live a couple of hundred yards away in Middlesbrough.
Education is usually a county function, where such a body exists. In the days of Cleveland County Council, it made no difference whether the pupils lived in Middlesbrough or Langbaurgh, as it was then called, as they all lived in the same county.
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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by Vierwielen » Fri Sep 24, 2021 18:42

Chris Bertram wrote:
Fri Sep 24, 2021 07:37
Do market charters have to be granted or revoked these days? The hierarchy, for E&W at least, used to be:

Hamlet - a small settlement with no Anglican church
Village - has an Anglican church but no market
Town - has a market charter
City - has a charter entitling it to be called a city (or has been so recognised since time immemorial).

In theory, size of settlement has little or nothing to do with it, though cities tend to be the largest. Does Milton Keynes have a market charter? Even if not, would anyone seriously not call it a town?
According to Wikipedia, towns with cathedrals were at one stage automatically given charters making them into cities.

It should be noted that the Americans have a totally different concept of a "city" - in fact I once saw Hartley Wespall given the status of "city" is an American publication on how to run a genealogy package. You will notice that I have not included its county - if it is a city, we all know where it is.

The concept of a "city" as opposed to a "town" is also unknown on the Continent - in much of modern-day Europe, a "town" had a wall and often a fort of one type or another (known as a "burg" in German, hence Regensburg, Hamburg, Duisburg etc) whereas a village did not have a wall.

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by Vierwielen » Fri Sep 24, 2021 18:45

In my view, the difference between a village and a hamlet is that a village must have four "ations" - in alphabetic order:

A place of damnation

A place of education

A place of recreation

A place of salvation.

I leave readers to work put what I mean.

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by Big Nick » Fri Sep 24, 2021 19:00

Can I point you at Grosmont in Wales? https://goo.gl/maps/ecGP6GzpPb2grfpM8

Grosmont was a medieval township that was granted a borough charter in the 13thC. They had a mayor until 1857 and held a twice weekly market under the town hall. It had a grand castle that is linked to several notable nobles including Queen Eleanor.
Today it's a village parish with one pub, one shop, a church and less than 1000 residents.

If you go 50 miles north you find Bishops Castle. This also holds a Royal Charter, has a castle, a church, a weekly market under the town hall, is managed by a mayor and town council. It has double the population, a school, sports clubs and is busy with plenty of shops and pubs.

I think it's a case of simply failing to thrive. By not expanding they get overtaken by other towns and relegate themselves to being villages. This might be down to poor transport links, lack of goods to trade and crucially, no jobs for the residents.

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by owen b » Fri Sep 24, 2021 22:10

A classic example of a town going into decline and becoming a village is Lavenham in Suffolk : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavenham
"Lavenham prospered from the wool trade in the 15th and 16th centuries, with the town's blue broadcloth being an export of note. By the late 15th century, the town was among the richest in the British Isles.... during the 16th century Lavenham's industry was badly affected by Dutch refugees settled in Colchester, who produced cloth that was cheaper and lighter than Lavenham's, and also more fashionable.[2] Cheaper imports from Europe also aided the settlement's decline, and by 1600 it had lost its reputation as a major trading town".
Owen

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by Fluid Dynamics » Fri Sep 24, 2021 22:32

The other strange example is Rochester that used to be a city until 1998 when it became part of Medway unitary authority, and lost is status due to an administrative error.

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Re: How does a town become a village?

Post by KeithW » Sat Sep 25, 2021 00:11

Chris Bertram wrote:
Fri Sep 24, 2021 17:58
Education is usually a county function, where such a body exists. In the days of Cleveland County Council, it made no difference whether the pupils lived in Middlesbrough or Langbaurgh, as it was then called, as they all lived in the same county.
It didnt make any difference before that. Nunthorpe and Marton both came under North Yorkshire.

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