Civil parish

In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government, they are a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below districts and counties, or their combined form, the unitary authority. Civil parishes can trace their origin to the ancient system of ecclesiastical parishes which historically played a role in both civil and ecclesiastical administration; civil and religious parishes were formally split into two types in the 19th century and are now entirely separate. The unit was devised and rolled out across England in the 1860s.

A civil parish can range in size from a large town with a population of about 75,000 to a single village with fewer than a hundred inhabitants. Eight parishes also have city status (a status granted by the monarch). A civil parish may be equally known as and confirmed as a town, village, neighbourhood or community by resolution of its parish council, a right reserved not conferred on other units of English local government. Approximately 35% of the English population live in a civil parish. As of 31 December 2015 there were 10,449 parishes in England.[1] The most populous is Weston super Mare and those with cathedral city status are Chichester, Ely, Hereford, Lichfield, Ripon, Salisbury, Truro and Wells.

On 1 April 2014, Queen's Park became the first civil parish in Greater London.[2] Before 2008 their creation was not permitted within a London borough.[3]

Wales was also divided into civil parishes until 1974, when they were replaced by communities, which are very similar to English parishes in the way they operate. Civil parishes in Scotland were abolished for local government purposes by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929, the Scottish equivalent of English civil parishes are community council areas, which were established by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.

Civil parish (England)
CategoryParish
LocationEngland
Found inDistricts
Created byVarious, see text
CreatedVarious, see text
Number10,449 (as of 2015[1])
Possible typesCity
Community
Neighbourhood
Parish
Town
Village
Populations0–75,000
GovernmentCity council
Community council
Neighbourhood council
Parish council
Town council
Village council
Uk parishes
Map of English parishes and Welsh communities

History

Ancient Parishes

The Parish system in Europe was established between the 8th and 12th centuries[4] and in England was already old by the time of the Conquest.

These areas were originally based on the territory of one or more manors,[5] areas which in some cases derived their bounds from Roman or Iron Age estates. Parish boundaries were very conservative, changing little, and after 1180 'froze' so that boundaries could no longer be changed at all, despite changes to manorial landholdings - though there were some examples of sub-division.[6]

The consistency of these boundaries, up until the 19th century is very useful to historians, and is also of cultural significance in terms of shaping local identities, a factor reinforced by the adoption of parish boundaries, often unchanged, by successor local government units. There was huge variation in size between parishes, for instance Writtle in Essex was 13,568 acres while neighbouring Shellow Bowells was just 469 acres, and Chignall Smealy 476 acres.

Until the break with Rome,[7] parishes managed ecclesiastical matters, while the manor was the principal unit of local administration and justice. Later the church replaced the manor court as the rural administrative centre, and levied a local tax on produce known as a tithe.[5] In the medieval period, responsibilities such as relief of the poor passed increasingly from the Lord of the Manor to the parish's rector, who in practice would delegate tasks among his vestry or the (often well-endowed) monasteries. After the dissolution of the monasteries, the power to levy a rate to fund relief of the poor was conferred on the parish authorities by the Act for the Relief of the Poor 1601. Both before and after this optional social change, local (vestry-administered) charities are well-documented.[8]

The parish authorities were known as vestries and consisted of all the ratepayers of the parish. As the number of ratepayers of some parishes grew, it became increasingly difficult to convene meetings as an open vestry. In some, mostly built up, areas the select vestry took over responsibility from the entire body of ratepayers. This innovation improved efficiency, but allowed governance by a self-perpetuating elite.[5] The administration of the parish system relied on the monopoly of the established English Church, which for a few years after Henry VIII alternated between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, before settling on the latter on the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558. By the 18th century, religious membership was becoming more fractured in some places, due for instance to the progress of Methodism. The legitimacy of the parish vestry came into question and the perceived inefficiency and corruption inherent in the system became a source for concern in some places.[5] For this reason, during the early 19th century the parish progressively lost its powers to ad hoc boards and other organisations, for example the loss of responsibility for poor relief through the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834. Sanitary districts covered England in 1875 and Ireland three years later. The replacement boards were each entitled to levy their own rate in the parish. The church rate ceased to be levied in many parishes and became voluntary from 1868.[5]

Civil and ecclesiastical split

The ancient parishes diverged into two distinct, nearly overlapping, systems of parishes during the 19th century. The Poor Law Amendment Act 1866 declared all areas that levied a separate rate: C of E ecclesiastical parishes (until then simply known as parishes), extra-parochial areas, townships and their analogue, chapelries, to be "civil parishes". To have collected rates this means these beforehand had their own vestries, boards or equivalent bodies.

The Church of England parishes, which cover more than 99% of England, became officially termed "ecclesiastical parishes" and the boundaries of these soon diverged from those of the Ancient Parishes in order to reflect modern circumstances. After 1921 each ecclesiastical parish has been the responsibility of the parochial church councils (PCCs).

In the late 19th century, most of the ancient irregularities inherited by the civil parish system were cleaned up, and the majority of exclaves were abolished. The United Kingdom Census 1911 noted that 8,322 (58%) of parishes in England and Wales were not identical for civil and ecclesiastical purposes.

Reform

In 1894 civil parishes were reformed by the Local Government Act 1894 to become the smallest geographical area for local government in rural areas. The act abolished the civil (non-ecclesiastical) duties of vestries, set up urban districts and rural districts, established elected civil parish councils as to all rural parishes with more than 300 electors, and established annual parish meetings in all rural parishes. Civil parishes were grouped to form either rural or urban districts which are thereafter classified as either type. The law coincided with negligible boundary changes overall save that further progress was made at the time to deal with the growing problem of the remaining cross-county parishes (see List of county exclaves in England and Wales 1844–1974).

Urban civil parishes continued of sorts; most being smaller than or co-terminous (geographically identical) with the urban district or municipal borough in which they lay, which took over almost all of their functions. Large towns usually split between civil parishes were generally consolidated into one. In urban areas ad-hoc, unelected parish councils became most common, convened only for electing guardians to the poor law unions. The unions took in areas in multiple parishes and had a set number of guardians for each parish, hence a final purpose of urban civil parishes. With the abolition of the Poor Law system in 1930, urban parishes which were co-terminous had virtually no function and most others also became defunct.

In 1965 civil parishes in London were formally abolished when Greater London was created, as the legislative framework for Greater London did not make provision for any local government body below a London borough. (Since the new county was beforehand a mixture of metropolitan boroughs, municipal boroughs and urban districts, no live parish councils were abolished.)

In 1974 the Local Government Act 1972 retained civil parishes in rural areas and low-population urban districts, but abolished them in larger urban districts, especially boroughs. In non-metropolitan counties, smaller urban districts and municipal boroughs were abolished and succeeded by establishment of new successor parishes, with a boundary coterminous with an existing urban district or borough, or if divided by a district boundary as much as was comprised in a single district. In urban areas that were considered too large to be single parishes, the parishes were simply abolished, and they became unparished areas. The Act, however, permitted sub-division of all districts (apart from London boroughs, reformed in 1965) into civil parishes. For example, Oxford, whilst entirely unparished in 1974, now has four civil parishes, which together cover part of its area.

Revival

Nowadays the creation of town and parish councils is encouraged in unparished areas. The Local Government and Rating Act 1997 created a procedure which gave residents in unparished areas the right to demand that a new parish and parish council be created.[9] This right was extended to London boroughs by the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007[10] – with this, the City of London is at present the only part of England where civil parishes cannot be created.

If enough electors in the area of a proposed new parish (ranging from 50% in an area with less than 500 electors to 10% in one with more than 2,500) sign a petition demanding its creation, then the local district council or unitary authority must consider the proposal.[3] Recently established parish councils include Daventry (2003), Folkestone (2004), and Brixham (2007). In 2003 seven new parish councils were set up for Burton upon Trent, and in 2001 the Milton Keynes urban area became entirely parished, with ten new parishes being created. In 2003, the village of Great Coates in mainly urban North East Lincolnshire regained parish status. Parishes can also be abolished where there is evidence that this in response to "justified, clear and sustained local support" from the area's inhabitants.[3] Examples are Birtley, which was abolished in 2006, and Southsea, abolished in 2010.[11][12]

Governance

Every civil parish has a parish meeting, which all the electors of the parish are entitled to attend. Generally a meeting is held once a year. A civil parish may have a parish council which exercises various local responsibilities prescribed by statute. Parishes with fewer than 200 electors are usually deemed too small to have a parish council, and instead will only have a parish meeting: an example of direct democracy. Alternatively several small parishes can be grouped together and share a common parish council, or even a common parish meeting. According to the Department for Communities and Local Government, in England in 2011 there were 9,946 parishes.[13] Since 1997 around 100 new civil parishes have been created, in some cases by splitting existing civil parishes, but mostly by creating new ones from unparished areas.

Powers and functions

Parish or town councils may exercise a number of powers at their discretion which have been defined by various pieces of legislation, the role they play can vary significantly depending on the size, resources and ability of the council, but their activities can include:[14][15][16]

  • The provision and maintenance of certain local facilities such as allotments, bus shelters, litter bins, parks, playgrounds, public seats, public toilets, public clocks, street lights, village or town halls, and various leisure and recreation facilities.
  • Maintenance of footpaths, cemeteries, village greens and war memorials.
  • Parish councils are supposed to act as a channel of local opinion to larger local government bodies, and as such have the right to be consulted on any planning decisions affecting the parish.
  • Since 1997 parish councils have had new powers to spend money on crime prevention measures, and to contribute money towards traffic calming schemes.
  • Giving of grants to local voluntary organisations, and sponsoring public events, including entering Britain in Bloom.
  • The Localism Act 2011 allowed eligible parish councils to be granted a "general power of competence" which allows them within certain limits the freedom to do anything an individual can do provided it is not prohibited by other legislation, as opposed to being limited to the powers explicitly granted to them by law.[17] To be eligible for this, a parish council must meet certain conditions such as having a clerk with suitable qualifications.[18]

Funding

Parish councils receive funding by levying a "precept" on the council tax paid by the residents of the parish (or parishes) served by the parish council. In a civil parish which has no parish council, the parish meeting may levy a council tax precept for expenditure relating to specific functions, powers and rights which have been conferred on it by legislation. In places where there is no civil parish (unparished areas), the administration of the activities normally undertaken by the parish becomes the responsibility of the district or borough council. The district council may make an additional council tax charge, known as a Special Expense, to residents of the unparished area to fund those activities.[19] If the district council does not opt to make a Special Expenses charge, there is an element of double taxation of residents of parished areas, because services provided to residents of the unparished area are funded by council tax paid by residents of the whole district, rather than only by residents of the unparished area.

Councillors and elections

Parish councils comprise volunteer councillors who are elected to serve for four years. Decisions of the council are carried out by a paid officer, typically known as a parish clerk. Councils may employ additional people (including bodies corporate, provided where necessary, by tender) to carry out specific tasks dictated by the council. Some councils have chosen to pay their elected members an allowance, as permitted under part 5 of the Local Authorities (Members' Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003.[20]

The number of councillors varies roughly in proportion to the population of the parish. Most rural parish councillors are elected to represent the entire parish, though in parishes with larger populations or those that cover larger areas, the parish can be divided into wards. Each of these wards then returns councillors to the parish council (the numbers depending on their population). Only if there are more candidates standing for election than there are seats on the council will an election be held. However, sometimes there are fewer candidates than seats. When this happens, the vacant seats have to be filled by co-option by the council. If a vacancy arises for a seat mid-term, an election is only held if a certain number (usually ten) of parish residents request an election. Otherwise the council will co-opt someone to be the replacement councillor.

The Localism Act 2011 introduced new arrangements which replaced the 'Standards Board regime' with local monitoring by district, unitary or equivalent authorities. Under new regulations which came into effect in 2012 all parish councils in England are required to adopt a code of conduct with which parish councillors must comply, and to promote and maintain high standards. A new criminal offence of failing to comply with statutory requirements was introduced. More than one 'model code' has been published, and councils are free to modify an existing code or adopt a new code. In either case the code must comply with the Nolan Principles of Public Life.[21]

Status and styles

A parish can gain city status but only if that is granted by the Crown. In England, as at 2019 are eight parishes with city status. All have long-established Anglican cathedrals: Chichester, Ely, Hereford, Lichfield, Ripon, Salisbury, Truro and Wells.

The council of an ungrouped parish may unilaterally pass a resolution giving the parish the status of a town.[22] The parish council becomes a "town council".[23] Around 400 parish councils are called town councils.

Under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, a civil parish may now be given an "alternative style" meaning one of the following:

  • community
  • neighbourhood
  • village

The chairman of a town council will have the title "town mayor" and that of a parish council which is a city will usually have the title of mayor. As a result, a parish council can also be called a town council, a community council, a village council or occasionally a city council (though most cities are not parishes but principal areas, or in England specifically metropolitan boroughs or non-metropolitan districts).[24][25]

Charter trustees

When a city or town has been abolished as a borough, and it is considered desirable to maintain continuity of the charter, the charter may be transferred to a parish council for its area. Where there is no such parish council, the district council may appoint charter trustees to whom the charter and the arms of the former borough will belong. The charter trustees (who consist of the councillor or councillors for the area of the former borough) maintain traditions such as mayoralty. An example of such a city was Hereford, whose city council was merged in 1998 to form a unitary Herefordshire. The area of the city of Hereford remained unparished until 2000 when a parish council was created for the city. The charter trustees for the City of Bath make up the majority of the councillors on Bath and North East Somerset Council.

Geography

Civil parishes cover 35% of England's population, with one in Greater London and very few in the other conurbations. Civil parishes vary greatly in size: many cover tiny hamlets with populations of less than 100, whereas some large parishes cover towns with populations of tens of thousands. Weston-super-Mare, with a population of 71,758, is the most populous civil parish. In many cases small settlements, today popularly termed villages, localities or suburbs, are in a single parish which had one original church, the smallest of which continue to be widely called hamlets. Large urban areas are mostly unparished, as the government at the time of the Local Government Act 1972 discouraged their creation for large towns or their suburbs, but there is generally nothing to stop their establishment. For example, Birmingham has just one parish, New Frankley, whilst Oxford has four, and Northampton has seven. Parishes could not however be established in London until the law was changed in 2007.

Area

A civil parish can range in area from a small village or town ward to a large tract of mostly uninhabited moorland in the Cheviots, Pennines or Dartmoor.

Deserted parishes

The 2001 census recorded several parishes with no inhabitants. These were Chester Castle (in the middle of Chester city centre), Newland with Woodhouse Moor, Beaumont Chase, Martinsthorpe, Meering, Stanground North (subsequently abolished), Sturston, Tottington, and Tyneham (subsequently merged). The lands of the last three were taken over by the British Armed Forces during World War II and remain deserted.

General abolition of anomalies as to extent

Virtually instances of parish detached parts; parishes in alien, unconnected counties; and of those straddling counties have been ended — as to civil parishes.

Direct predecessors of the civil parishes are most often known as the "ancient parishes" even though many date as late as the mid 19th century. Using a longer historial lens the better terms are "unseparated (civil and ecclesiastical) parish", "original ancient parishes" and "new parishes". A landmark collaborative historians' work which is incomplete, the Victoria County History series, mostly written in the 20th century groups all English land into its original ancient parishes which it simply brands "parishes". A minority of these had exclaves: such an exclave could be

  • an enclave within another parish,
  • surrounded by more than one other parish, or
  • a pene-enclave, partly surrounded by sea.

In some cases an exclave part of a parish (a "detached part") was in a different county. In other cases, counties surrounded a whole parish meaning it was in an unconnected, sometimes named "alien" county. These anomalies resulted in a highly localised difference in applicable representatives on the national level, justices of the peace, sheriffs, bailiffs with inconvenience to those people. If a parish was split then churchwardens, highway wardens and constables would also spend more time or money covering the entire ground. But so too would those with duties in rugged upland terrain. A few parishes, uninterrupted, straddled two or more counties, such as Todmorden: Lancashire and Yorkshire.[26]

Such anomalies mostly arose in the height of the feudal system which coincided with the founding or major alteration of most parishes. Major land interests (manor proper or church lands) by gift, lawful conquest or purchase were involved which owned the relevant non-contiguous parcel of land i.e. beyond the original parish/county bounds or what would become the boundaries of a new parish. That fact alone would be insufficient — the parcel's extent and nature must have, as was common, persuaded the church and diocese to agree parish boundaries to match. Thus where secular land, almost always manor, formed the exclave it is likely it hosted a well-inhabited farm (farmstead); stayed part of the manor for generations; the lord/lady of the manor held the right to appoint the parish priest (advowson); or co-founded the church as its patron. The scenario can also have arisen originally as a deliberate attempt to diversify the lord's (or overlord's) interests, or from a large burial ground in an urban setting but it could also arise from a chance inheritance. It caused inconvenience to the residents of most exclaves/enclaves (where not numerous or economically significant enough to have their own chapel of ease as to religious matters and a vestry as to civil matters): they would attend church and/or the manorial court for certain tithes, rates, baptisms, marriages, funerals and whenever or wherever it was compulsory or would confer them advantage such as to obtain regular poor relief and most forms of education, charitable alms and hospitalry. The end of manorial courts was coinciding with growing agricultural innovation, divorce by now of most parcels' ownership from their original holdings and housing growth. The church and vestries were reluctant to bring boundaries up to date. This meant such anomalies were irrelevant nuisances with a real economic cost in distance of administration and confusion. They began to be remedied nationally in statute by Parliament in the early 19th century in the Poor Law Reforms of 1834, and was more widely in 1844 when an Act moved most parishes found themselves partly or wholly in an alien county. The remaining exclaves of counties were transferred in the 1890s and in 1931, with one exception: an exclave of Tetworth, surrounded by Cambridgeshire, was removed in 1965 from Huntingdonshire.

Other acts, including the Divided Parishes and Poor Law Amendment Act 1882 eliminated instances of civil parishes being split between many counties such that by 1901 Stanground in Huntingdonshire and the Isle of Ely was the last example;[27] it was split into two parishes, one in each county, in 1905.[28]

The Church of England has only abolished these where locally incepted (under the Anglican and the Catholic principle of subsidiarity). This means it has essentially kept, often divided in urban areas, the original parishes. This has been praised for local history studies but criticised as ad hoc and confusing to new residents by having many parishes with exclaves. The church today operates its main website with a freely accessible map, navigable church-by-church to see the parish boundaries.[29]

Cowley Civil Parish Map 1868

Eight exclaves of highly anomalous Cowley, all in Hillingdon, Middlesex.

East Barnet Valley Civil Parish Map 1863

The two tiny exclaves of Enfield.

Westminster Civil Parish Map 1870

Burial exclave of the 1724-created St George Hanover Square in Paddington. It remains only in the C of E. Used for burials 1763-1852.[30][31]

Middlesex parishes

Map of the other main enclaves and exclaves in Middlesex.

See also

References

  • Wright, R S; Hobhouse, Henry (1884). An Outline of Local Government and Local Taxation in England and Wales (Excluding the Metropolis). London: W Maxwell & Son.
  1. ^ a b ons.geography@ons.gsi.gov.uk, ONS Geography,. "Parishes and communities". www.ons.gov.uk.
  2. ^ "Queen's Park parish gets go-ahead". 29 May 2012 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  3. ^ a b c Guidance on Community Governance Reviews (PDF). London: Department for Communities and Local Government. 2010. ISBN 978-1-4098-2421-3.
  4. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica 1993
  5. ^ a b c d e Arnold-Baker, Charles (1989). Local Council Administration in English Parishes and Welsh Communities. Longcross Press. ISBN 978-0-902378-09-4.
  6. ^ History of the Countryside by Oliver Rackham, 1986 p19
  7. ^ Vision of Britain - http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/types/status_page.jsp?unit_status=AP
  8. ^ Victoria County Histories provides, for most parishes but not all, evidence of local private charities with details.
  9. ^ What is a parish or town council, National Association of Local Councils website, accessed 14 August 2010 Archived 3 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Sections 58-77 of the Act, which received Royal Assent on 30 October 2007: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/pabills/200607/local_government_and_public_involvement_in_health.htm
  11. ^ "Birtley Town Council – Annual Return 2005/2006". Gateshead Council. 29 September 2006. Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  12. ^ "The Portsmouth City Council (Reorganisation of Community Governance) Order 2010" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 November 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
  13. ^ Parishes and Charter Trustees in England 2011-12
  14. ^ "Powers and Duties of Local Councils". Cumbria Association of Local Councils. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  15. ^ "Parish council responsibilities". LocalGov.uk. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  16. ^ Full list of powers of parish councils (archived since 15 July 2007) nalc.gov.uk - Downloadable Microsoft Word Document
  17. ^ "The General Power of Competence" (PDF). Local government Association. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  18. ^ "The Parish Councils (General Power of Competence) (Prescribed Conditions) Order 2012". legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  19. ^ Local Government Finance Act 1992, section 35
  20. ^ "Local Government Act 2000 The Local Authorities (Members' Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003 Reg 30".
  21. ^ Local government: the standards regime in England - Commons Library Standard Note, Accessed 1 May 2015
  22. ^ "The council of a parish which is not grouped with any other parish may resolve that the parish shall have the status of a town""Local Government Act 1972 (c.70), Part XIII". Revised Statutes. Office of Public Sector Information. 1972. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
  23. ^ Local government in England and Wales: A Guide to the New System. London: HMSO. 1974. p. 158. ISBN 0-11-750847-0.
  24. ^ NALC - National Association of Local Councils Archived 26 September 2011 at the UK Government Web Archive Retrieved 26 December 2009
  25. ^ Guidance on Community Governance Reviews Archived 17 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine (April 2008), London: Department for Communities and Local Government. ISBN 978-1-8511-2917-1. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
  26. ^ Todmorden Civil Parish Council and Community website. Retrieved 27 November 2014
  27. ^ "Vision of Britain - 1901 Census: General - Areas". www.visionofbritain.org.uk.
  28. ^ Local Government Board Order No. 56410, made under the Local Government Act 1894 (56 & 57 Vict. c.73) s.36
  29. ^ Ecclesiastical parish still with detached part (example): Hascombe The Church of England. Retrieved 27 November 2014
  30. ^ It was sold in 1967 to the Utopian Housing Society who built 7 blocks, housing 300 flats and maisonettes, completed in 1973 having communal woodland gardens. Many of the site's mature trees, including a plane about 250 years old and a red oak, were retained; see http://londongardensonline.org.uk/gardens-online-record.php?ID=WST100
  31. ^ https://www.achurchnearyou.com/church/15772/

External links

Civil parishes in Cheshire

A civil parish is a country subdivision, forming the lowest unit of local government in England. There are 333 civil parishes in the ceremonial county of Cheshire, most of the county being parished. At the 2001 census, there were 565,259 people living in 332 parishes, accounting for 57.5 per cent of the county's population.

Civil parishes in Cornwall

A civil parish is a country subdivision, forming the lowest unit of local government in England. There are 218 civil parishes in the ceremonial county of Cornwall (Cornish: Kernow), which includes the Isles of Scilly. The county is effectively parished in its entirety; only the unpopulated Wolf Rock is unparished. At the 2001 census, there were 501,267 people living in the current parishes, accounting for the whole of the county's population. The final unparished areas of mainland Cornwall, around St Austell, were parished on 1 April 2009 to coincide with the structural changes to local government in England.

Population sizes within the county vary considerably, Falmouth is the most populous with a population of 25,223, recorded in 2001, and St Michael's Mount the least with 29 residents. The county is governed by two separate unitary authorities; Cornwall Council covers mainland Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are administered by their own unitary authority.

Civil parishes in Cumbria

A civil parish in England is the lowest unit of local government. There are 284 civil parishes in the ceremonial county of Cumbria, with most of the county being parished, and Allerdale, Copeland, Eden and South Lakeland being entirely parished. At the 2001 census, there were 359,692 people living in those 284 parishes, accounting for 73.8 per cent of the county's population.

The extent of modern Civil parishes are largely geographically based on historic Church of England parish boundaries, which were ecclesiastical divisions that had acquired civil administration powers managed by the Vestry committee.

Civil parishes in Ireland

Civil parishes (Irish: paróistí sibhialta, paróistí dlí) are units of territory in the island of Ireland that have their origins in old Gaelic territorial divisions. They were adopted by the Anglo-Norman Lordship of Ireland and then by the Elizabethan Kingdom of Ireland, and were formalised as land divisions at the time of the Plantations of Ireland. They no longer correspond to the boundaries of Roman Catholic or Church of Ireland parishes, which are generally larger. Their use as administrative units was gradually replaced by Poor Law Divisions in the 19th century, although they were not formally abolished. Today they are still sometimes used for legal purposes.

Civil parishes in Lancashire

A civil parish is a subnational entity, forming the lowest unit of local government in England. There are 219 civil parishes in the ceremonial county of Lancashire; Blackpool is completely unparished; Pendle and Ribble Valley are entirely parished. At the 2001 census, there were 587,074 people living in the 219 parishes, accounting for 41.5 per cent of the county's population.

Donegore

Donegore (historically Dunogcurra, from Irish Dún Ó gCorra, meaning 'stronghold of the O'Corra') is the name of a hill, a townland, a small cluster of residences, and a civil parish in the historic barony of Antrim Upper, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Donegore lies approximately 5 miles (8 km) east of Antrim town. 154 acres of the townland lies in the civil parish of Grange of Nilteen (also in Antrim Upper).The largest settlement in the parish is the village of Parkgate. Donegore Hill stands prominently above the Six Mile Water valley, enjoying panoramic views to the east, south, and most notably the west, where it overlooks Lough Neagh and the Sperrins beyond.

List of civil parishes in Devon

This is a list of civil parishes in the ceremonial county of Devon, England.

List of civil parishes in Hertfordshire

This is a list of civil parishes in the ceremonial county of Hertfordshire, England.

List of civil parishes in Somerset

The ceremonial county of Somerset, England is divided into 418 areas known as civil parishes, which are lowest unit of local government in England. Parishes arose from Church of England divisions, and were given their current powers and responsibilities by the Local Government Act 1894. The Local Government Act 1972 retained civil parishes in rural areas. Many former urban districts and municipal boroughs were replaced by new successor parishes; urban areas that were considered too large to be single parishes became unparished areas.The county of Somerset consists of a non-metropolitan county administered by Somerset County Council, divided into five districts and two unitary authorities. The districts of Somerset are West Somerset, South Somerset, Taunton Deane, Mendip and Sedgemoor. The two administratively independent unitary authorities, which were established on 1 April 1996 following the break-up of the county of Avon, are North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset. These unitary authorities include areas that were part of Somerset before the creation of Avon in 1974.The city of Bath is the largest centre of population in Bath and North East Somerset. Areas of the city that were formerly within the Bath County Borough are now unparished, but the rest of the authority is divided into 49 parishes. All of North Somerset, the other unitary authority, is covered by its 39 parishes ranging from the village Loxton with a population of 192, to the town of Weston-super-Mare with 76,143 inhabitants.South Somerset is the largest of Somerset's five districts, covering an area of 958 square kilometres (370 sq mi) from the borders with Devon and Dorset to the edge of the Somerset Levels. It has a population of about 156,100. The largest settlement in the district is Yeovil, with a population of 30,378. Part of Taunton formerly within Taunton Municipal Borough is unparished, but the rest of Taunton Deane is divided into 49 parishes. Tolland has just 81 residents, compared to the town of Wellington which has 12,979. West Somerset is a largely rural area, with a population of 35,712 in an area of 740 square kilometres (290 sq mi). According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics in 2009, the population of West Somerset has the highest average age of any district in the United Kingdom at 52, living in 43 parishes with 11,981 living in its most populous town, Minehead. Sedgemoor has 54 parishes ranging in population from Greinton with 71 to Bridgwater with 33,698. The Mendip district covers a largely rural area of 738 square kilometres (285 sq mi), ranging from the Mendip Hills through on to the Somerset Levels. It has a population of about 108,300, living in 62 parishes, the largest of which, Frome has 24,510 residents; the smallest, Sharpham has a population of 71.

List of civil parishes in the East Riding of Yorkshire

This is a list of civil parishes in the ceremonial county of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England.

List of places in Buckinghamshire

:See the list of places in England for places in other counties.

This is a list of places in the ceremonial county of Buckinghamshire, England. It does not include places which were formerly in Buckinghamshire. For places which were in Buckinghamshire until 1974, and were then transferred to Berkshire, and other places transferred from Buckinghamshire since 1844, see list of Buckinghamshire boundary changes.

List of towns and cities in Devon by population

This list is of towns and cities in Devon in order of their population, according to the 2011 census data from the Office for National Statistics. It comprises the Key Statistics for local authorities, civil parishes and wards that attempt to show their populations. The largest settlement in Devon is the city and unitary authority of Plymouth with a population of 256,720, whereas the smallest settlement was the town and civil parish of Beer with a population of 1,317. The city of Exeter, which is home to Exeter Cathedral, is the county town and headquarters of Devon County Council. The ceremonial county of Devon includes unitary authority areas such as Plymouth and Torbay, but the non-metropolitan county of Devon excludes such unitary authority areas. It is governed by Devon County Council, whereas Plymouth and Torbay can govern themselves on matters such as transport and education.

Traditionally a town is any settlement which has received a charter of incorporation, more commonly known as a town charter, approved by the monarch. However, since 1974, any civil parish has the right to declare itself as a town. Prior to 1888, city status was given to settlements home to a cathedral of the Church of England such as Exeter. After 1888 it was no longer a necessary condition, leading to Plymouth gaining city-status in 1928. Historical towns such as Plympton, Stonehouse and Devonport, which were merged into the city of Plymouth, have not been included, as well as Topsham, which became a part of Exeter's urban district, and St Marychurch, which was annexed by Torquay. However, the unitary authority area of Torbay recognises the three towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. The ward for Ottery St Mary is also included, as it is titled Ottery St Mary Town.

Changes to population structures have, however, led to explosions in non-traditional settlements that do not fall into traditional, bureaucratic definitions of 'towns'. Several villages, which are not included in this list, have grown steadily and are more populous than many towns. For example, the ward of Fremington, with a population of 4,310. would be ranked 34 whilst its neighbour Braunton civil parish, with a population of 8,128, would be ranked 21.

Mendip District

Mendip is a local government district of Somerset in England. The district covers a largely rural area of 285 square miles (738 km2) with a population of approximately 112,500, ranging from the Wiltshire border in the east to part of the Somerset Levels in the west. The district takes its name from the Mendip Hills which lie in its northwest. The administrative centre of the district is Shepton Mallet but the largest town (three times larger than Shepton Mallet) is Frome.

The district was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, by a merger of the municipal boroughs of Glastonbury and Wells, along with Frome, Shepton Mallet, Street urban districts, and Frome Rural District, Shepton Mallet Rural District, Wells Rural District, part of Axbridge Rural District and part of Clutton Rural District.

North Somerset

North Somerset () is a unitary authority area in England. Its area covers part of the ceremonial county of Somerset but it is administered independently of the non-metropolitan county. Its administrative headquarters is in the town hall in Weston-super-Mare.

North Somerset borders the local government areas of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, Mendip and Sedgemoor. The area comprises the parliamentary constituencies of Weston-super-Mare and North Somerset.

Oxfordshire

Oxfordshire (abbreviated Oxon, from Oxonium, the Latin name for Oxford) is a county in South East England. The ceremonial county borders Warwickshire to the north-west, Northamptonshire to the north-east, Buckinghamshire to the east, Berkshire to the south, Wiltshire to the south-west and Gloucestershire to the west.

The county has major education and tourist industries and is noted for the concentration of performance motorsport companies and facilities. Oxford University Press is the largest firm among a concentration of print and publishing firms; the University of Oxford is also linked to the concentration of local biotechnology companies.

As well as the city of Oxford, other centres of population are Banbury, Bicester, Kidlington and Chipping Norton to the north of Oxford; Carterton and Witney to the west; Thame and Chinnor to the east; and Abingdon-on-Thames, Wantage, Didcot, Wallingford and Henley-on-Thames to the south. The areas south of the Thames, the Vale of White Horse and parts of South Oxfordshire, are in the historic county of Berkshire, as is the highest point, the 261 metres (856 ft) White Horse Hill.Oxfordshire's county flower is the snake's-head fritillary.

Sedgemoor

Sedgemoor is a low-lying area of land in Somerset, England. It lies close to sea level south of the Polden Hills, historically largely marsh (or "moor" in its older sense). The eastern part is known as King's Sedgemoor, and the western part West Sedgemoor. Sedgemoor is part of the area now known as the Somerset Levels and Moors. Historically the area was known as the site of the Battle of Sedgemoor.

Sedgemoor has given its name to a local government district formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, by a merger of the municipal borough of Bridgwater, the Burnham-on-Sea urban district, Bridgwater Rural District and part of Axbridge Rural District. The district covers a larger area than the historical Sedgemoor, extending north of the Polden Hills across the Somerset Levels and Moors to the Mendip Hills.

South Somerset

South Somerset is a local government district in Somerset, England.

The South Somerset district covers and area of 370 square miles (958 km2) ranging from the borders with Devon, Wiltshire and Dorset to the edge of the Somerset Levels. It has a population of approximately 158,000. The administrative centre of the district is Yeovil.

The district was formed on 1 April 1974, and was originally known as Yeovil, adopting its present name in 1985. It was formed by the merger of the municipal boroughs of Chard, Yeovil, along with Crewkerne and Ilminster urban districts and the Chard Rural District, Langport Rural District, Wincanton Rural District and Yeovil Rural District.

The district covers the whole of the Yeovil constituency, and part of Somerton and Frome. The district is governed by the South Somerset District Council.

It is currently Liberal Democrat controlled, and has Beacon Council status.

Stirlingshire

Stirlingshire or the County of Stirling (Scots: Coontie o Stirlin, Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Sruighlea) is a historic county and registration county of Scotland. Its county town is Stirling.

It borders Perthshire to the north, Clackmannanshire and West Lothian to the east, Lanarkshire to the south, and Dunbartonshire to the south-west.

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