HOME

TheInfoList



In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for
local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration within a particular sovereign state. This particular usage of the word government refers specifically to a level of administration that is both geographically-locali ...
. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below
districts A district is a type of administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic na ...
and
counties A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposes Chambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain modern nations. The term is derived from the Old French ...
, or their combined form, the
unitary authority A unitary authority is a local authority Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration within a particular sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity that is represented by one centralized gove ...
. Civil parishes can trace their origin to the ancient system of
ecclesiastical parish A parish is a territorial entity in many Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Tes ...
es 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 sparsely populated rural area with fewer than a hundred inhabitants, to a large
town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than city, cities, though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably in different parts of the world. Origin and use The word "town" ...

town
with a population in the tens of thousands. Eight parishes also have
city statusCity status is a symbolic and legal designation given by a national or subnational government. A municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-governmen ...
(a status granted by the
monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and therefore the head of state of a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority a ...
). A civil parish may be equally known as and confirmed as a town, village,
neighbourhood A neighbourhood (British English, Hiberno-English, Hibernian English, Australian English and Canadian English) or neighborhood (American English; American and British English spelling differences, see spelling differences) is a geographically ...
or
community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target. "Level of analysis" is distinct from the term " unit of observation" in that the former refer ...

community
by resolution of its parish council, a right not conferred on other units of English local government. Civil parishes predominantly cover rural areas, with many urban districts being wholly or partly unparished; approximately 35% of the English population live in a civil parish. As of 31 December 2015 there were 10,449 parishes in England. On 1 April 2014,
Queen's ParkThere are a number of places in the world called Queen's Park or Queens Park. Australia New South Wales * Queens Park, New South Wales, a Sydney suburb * Centennial Parklands#Queens Park, Queens Park, Sydney, the urban park, part of Centennial ...
became the first civil parish in
Greater London Greater London is an Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England, administrative area governed by the Greater London Authority, and a Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county of England that covers the bulk of the same area, ...

Greater London
. Before 2008 their creation was not permitted within a
London borough The London boroughs are the 32 districts of England, local authority districts that make up the Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county of Greater London; each is governed by a London borough council. The present London boroughs were ...
. The governing body of a civil parish is usually an elected parish council (which can decide to call itself a Town Council, Village Council, Community Council or a Neighbourhood Council, or a City Council if the parish has city status). Alternatively, in parishes with low populations, governance is by a
parish meeting A parish meeting, in England, is a meeting to which all the electors in a civil parishes in England, civil parish are entitled to attend. In some cases, where a parish or group of parishes has fewer than 200 electors, the parish meeting can take on ...
which all electors may attend.
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is Countries of the United Kingdom, part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
was also divided into civil parishes until 1974, when they were replaced by
communities A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as norms, religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, wor ...
, which are similar to English parishes in the way they operate.
Civil parishes in ScotlandCivil parishes are small divisions used for statistical purposes and formerly for local government in Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the ...
were abolished for local government purposes by the
Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929 The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929 (19 & 20 Geo 5 c. 25) reorganised local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration within a particular sovereign state. This particular usage of the word ...
; the Scottish equivalent of English civil parishes are the established by the
Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (c. 65) is an Act of Parliament, Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that altered local government of Scotland, local government in Scotland on 16 May 1975. The Act followed and largely implemented t ...
.


History


Ancient parishes

The parish system in Europe was established between the 8th and 12th centuries, and an early form was long established in England by the time of the
Norman Conquest The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and ...
. These areas were originally based on the territory of manors, which, in some cases, derived their bounds from Roman or Iron Age estates; some large manors were sub-divided into several parishes. Initially, churches and their priests were the gift and continued patronage (benefaction) of the
lord of the manor Lord of the manor is a title that, in Anglo-Saxon England, referred to the landholder of a rural estate. The lord enjoyed Manorialism, manorial rights (the rights to establish and occupy a residence, known as the manor house and demesne) as wel ...
, but not all were willing and able to provide, so residents would be expected to attend the church of the nearest manor with a church. Later, the churches and priests became to a greater extent the responsibility of the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . As the wor ...

Catholic Church
thus this was formalised; the grouping of manors into one parish was recorded, as was a manor-parish existing in its own right. Boundaries changed little, and for centuries after 1180 'froze', despite changes to manors' extents. However, by
subinfeudation In English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written op ...
, making a new smaller manor, there was a means of making a chapel which if generating or endowed with enough funds would generally justify foundation of a parish, with its own parish priest (and in latter centuries
vestry A vestry was a committee for the local secular and ecclesiastical government for a parish in England and Wales, which originally met in the vestry or sacristy A sacristy is a room for keeping vestments (such as the alb and chasuble) and other chu ...

vestry
).History of the Countryside by Oliver Rackham, 1986 p19 This consistency was a result of
canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical jurisdiction, ecclesiastical authority (Church leadership), for the government of a Christian organization or churc ...
which prized the
status quo or is a Latin phrase meaning the existing state of affairs, particularly with regard to social or political issues. In the sociological Sociology is the study of society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved i ...
in issues between local churches and so made boundary changes and sub-division difficult. The consistency of these boundaries until the 19th century is useful to historians, and is also of cultural significance in terms of shaping local identities; reinforced by the use of grouped parish boundaries, often, by successive local authority areas; and in a very rough, operations-geared way by most postcode districts. There was (and is) wide disparity in parish size.
Writtle The village and civil parish of Writtle lies west of Chelmsford Chelmsford () is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and the county town of Essex, in the East of England. It is located in the London commuter belt, approximately nort ...
, Essex traditionally measures – two parishes neighbouring are Shellow Bowells at , and Chignall Smealy at Until the break with Rome, 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 A tithe (; from Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early m ...
. In the medieval period, responsibilities such as relief of the poor passed increasingly from the lord of the manor to the parish's
rector Rector (Latin for the member of a vessel's crew who steers) may refer to: Style or title *Rector (ecclesiastical), a cleric who functions as an administrative leader in some Christian denominations *Rector (academia), a senior official in an educ ...
, who in practice would delegate tasks among his
vestry A vestry was a committee for the local secular and ecclesiastical government for a parish in England and Wales, which originally met in the vestry or sacristy A sacristy is a room for keeping vestments (such as the alb and chasuble) and other chu ...

vestry
or the (often well-endowed) monasteries. After the
dissolution of the monasteries#REDIRECT Dissolution of the monasteries {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
, 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 The Poor Relief Act 1601 (43 Eliz 1 c 2) was an Act of the Parliament of England. The Act for the Relief of the Poor 1601, popularly known as the Elizabethan Poor Law, "43rd Elizabeth" or the Old Poor Law was passed in 1601 and created a poor law ...
. Both before and after this optional social change, local (vestry-administered)
charities A charitable organization or charity is an organization whose primary objectives are philanthropy and social well-being (e.g. educational, religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, b ...
are well-documented. 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 A vestry was a committee for the local secular and ecclesiastical government for a parish in England and Wales, which originally met in the vestry or sacristy of the parish church, and consequently became known colloquially as the "vestry". For m ...
took over responsibility from the entire body of ratepayers. This innovation improved efficiency, but allowed governance by a self-perpetuating elite. The administration of the parish system relied on the monopoly of the established English Church, which for a few years after
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 12 July 927, when it emerged fro ...
alternated between the Roman Catholic Church and the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church which is the established church of England. The archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior clergy, cleric, although the Monarchy of the United Kingdom, monarch is the Supreme Governor of t ...
, before settling on the latter on the accession of
Elizabeth I Elizabeth I (7 September 153324 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_an ...
in 1558. By the 18th century, religious membership was becoming more fractured in some places, due in part to the progress of
Methodism Methodism, also called the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related denominations Denomination may refer to: * Religious denomination, such as a: ** Christian denomination ** Jewish denomination ** Islamic denomination ** Hindu de ...
. 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. For this reason, during the early 19th century the parish progressively lost its powers to ''ad hoc'' boards and other organisations, such as the boards of guardians given responsibility for poor relief through the
Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 The Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 (PLAA) known widely as the New Poor Law, was an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed by the British Whig Party, Whig government of Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, Earl Grey. It comple ...
.
Sanitary district Sanitary districts were established in England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constituti ...
s 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.


Civil and ecclesiastical split

The ancient parishes diverged into two distinct, nearly exactly overlapping, systems of parishes during the 19th century. The
Poor Law Amendment Act 1866 Poverty is the state of not having enough material possessions or income for a person's basic needs. Poverty may include social, economic, and political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-maki ...
, which received royal assent on 10 August 1866, declared all areas that levied a separate rate or had their own
overseer of the poorAn overseer of the poor was an official who administered poor relief such as money, food, and clothing in England and various other countries which derived their law from England such as the United States. England In England, overseers of the poor a ...
to be parishes. This included the Church of England parishes (until then simply known as "parishes"),
extra-parochial area In England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom ...
s,
township A township is a kind of human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a small number of dwellings grou ...
s and chapelries. To have collected rates this means these beforehand had their own , boards or equivalent bodies. Parishes using this definition subsequently became known as "civil parishes" to distinguish them from the ecclesiastical parishes. The Church of England parishes, which cover more than 99% of England, have become officially (and to avoid ambiguity) termed ''ecclesiastical parishes''. The limits of many of these have diverged; most greatly through changes in population and church attendance (these factors can cause churches to be opened or closed). Since 1921, each has been the responsibility of its own
parochial church council A parochial church council (PCC) is the executive committee of a Church of England parish A parish is a territorial entity in many Christianity, Christian denominations, constituting a division within a diocese. A parish is under the pastoral ...
(PCC). In the late 19th century, most of the "ancient" (a legal term equivalent to
time immemorial Time immemorial ( la, Ab immemorabili) is a phrase meaning time extending beyond the reach of memory Memory is the faculty of the brain A brain is an organ (biology), organ that serves as the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate ...
) irregularities inherited by the civil parish system were cleaned up, and the majority of
exclave An enclave is a territory (or a part of one) that is entirely surrounded by the territory of one other state. Enclaves may also exist within territorial waters. ''Enclave'' is sometimes used improperly to denote a territory that is only partly s ...

exclave
s were abolished. The Census of 1911 noted that 8,322 (58%) of "parishes" in
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
were not geographically identical when comparing the ''civil'' to the ''ecclesiastical'' form.


Reform

In 1894, civil parishes were reformed by the
Local Government Act 1894 The Local Government Act 1894 (56 & 57 Vict. c. 73) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of th ...
to become the smallest geographical area for local government in rural areas. The act abolished the civil (non-ecclesiastical) duties of , set up urban districts and
rural district#REDIRECT Rural district Rural districts were a type of local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration within a particular sovereign state. This particular usage of the word government refers spe ...
s, established elected civil parish councils as to all rural parishes with more than 300 electors, and established annual
parish meeting A parish meeting, in England, is a meeting to which all the electors in a civil parishes in England, civil parish are entitled to attend. In some cases, where a parish or group of parishes has fewer than 200 electors, the parish meeting can take on ...
s 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 Until 1844, many of the counties in England and Wales had exclaves (detached parts) entirely surrounded by other counties. Under the Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844, many of these exclaves were absorbed by the counties within which they were loc ...
). Urban civil parishes continued of sorts; most being smaller than or coterminous (geographically identical) with the urban district or
municipal borough Municipal boroughs were a type of local government district which existed in England and Wales between 1835 and 1974, in Northern Ireland from 1840 to 1973 and in the Republic of Ireland from 1840 to 2002. Broadly similar structures existed in Sc ...
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 union A poor law union was a geographical territory, and early local government unit, in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Poor law unions existed in England and Wales from 1834 to 1930 for the administration of poor relief In Kingdom of England, Eng ...
s. 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 coterminous had virtually no function and most others also became defunct. In 1965 civil parishes in London were formally abolished when
Greater London Greater London is an Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England, administrative area governed by the Greater London Authority, and a Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county of England that covers the bulk of the same area, ...

Greater London
was created, as the legislative framework for Greater London did not make provision for any local government body below a
London borough The London boroughs are the 32 districts of England, local authority districts that make up the Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county of Greater London; each is governed by a London borough council. The present London boroughs were ...
. (Since the new county was beforehand a mixture of
metropolitan borough A metropolitan borough is a type of local government district The districts of England (also known as local authority districts or local government districts to distinguish from unofficial city districts) are a level of Subdivisions of Englan ...
s, municipal boroughs and urban districts, no extant parish councils were abolished.) In 1974, the
Local Government Act 1972 The Local Government Act 1972 (c. 70) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kin ...
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 borough Municipal boroughs were a type of local government district which existed in England and Wales between 1835 and 1974, in Northern Ireland from 1840 to 1973 and in the Republic of Ireland from 1840 to 2002. Broadly similar structures existed in Sc ...
s were abolished and succeeded by establishment of new
successor parish Successor parishes are civil parishes In England, a civil parish is a type of Parish (administrative division), administrative parish used for Local government in England, local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest ti ...
es, 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 area In England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to th ...
s. The Act, however, permitted sub-division of all districts (apart from London boroughs, reformed in 1965) into civil parishes. For example,
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Ki ...

Oxford
, whilst entirely unparished in 1974, now has four civil parishes, which together cover part of its area.


Sub-divisions

Some parishes were sub-divided into smaller territories known as
hamlets 300px, The hamlet at Oberwil, 3 km from Waldkirch, near St. Gallen (Switzerland) A hamlet is a small human settlement. In different jurisdictions and geographies, a hamlet may be the size of a town, village or parish A parish is a territorial ...

hamlets
,
tithing A tithing or tything was a historic English legal, administrative or territorial unit, originally ten hide (unit), hides (and hence, one tenth of a Hundred (country subdivision), hundred). Tithings later came to be seen as subdivisions of a Manoria ...
s or
townships ''Township'' refers to various kinds of settlements or administrative subdivisions in different countries. While a ''township'' may be associated with an urban area, this tends to be an exception to the rule. In Australia, Canada, Scotland and pa ...
.


Revival

Nowadays the creation of town and parish councils is encouraged in
unparished area In England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to th ...
s. The
Local Government and Rating Act 1997 The Local Government and Rating Act 1997 (c. 29) allows a community at the village, neighbourhood, town or similar level beneath a district or borough council to demand its own elected parish or town council. This right only applies to communities ...
created a procedure which gave residents in unparished areas the right to demand that a new parish and parish council be created. This right was extended to
London borough The London boroughs are the 32 districts of England, local authority districts that make up the Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county of Greater London; each is governed by a London borough council. The present London boroughs were ...
s by the
Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (c 28) is an Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act allows for the implementation of many provisions outlined in the Government ...
– with this, the
City of London The City of London is a City status in the United Kingdom, city, Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county and local government district that contains the historic centre and the primary central business district (CBD) of London. It co ...
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 A petition is a request to do something, most commonly addressed to a government official or public entity. Petitions to a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' ...

petition
demanding its creation, then the local district council or unitary authority must consider the proposal. Recently established parish councils include
Daventry Daventry ( , historically ) is a market town and civil parish in the West Northamptonshire unitary authority in Northamptonshire, England, close to the border with Warwickshire. At the United Kingdom census, 2011, 2011 Census Daventry had a po ...
(2003),
Folkestone Folkestone ( ) is a port town on the English Channel, in Kent, south-east England. The town lies on the southern edge of the North Downs at a valley between two cliffs. It was an important harbour and shipping port for most of the 19th and 20th ...

Folkestone
(2004), and
Brixham Brixham is a fishing town and civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below districts and counti ...
(2007). In 2003 seven new parish councils were set up for
Burton upon Trent Burton upon Trent, also known as Burton-on-Trent or simply Burton, is a market town in Staffordshire, England, close to the border with Derbyshire. In United Kingdom Census 2011, 2011, it had a population of 72,299. The demonym for residents of ...
, and in 2001 the
Milton Keynes Milton Keynes ( ) is the largest settlement in Buckinghamshire, England, north-west of London. At the 2011 Census, the population of Milton Keynes urban area, its urban area was almost . The River Great Ouse forms its northern boundary; a tr ...
urban area became entirely parished, with ten new parishes being created. In 2003, the village of
Great Coates Great Coates is a village and civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below districts and counti ...
in mainly urban
North East Lincolnshire North East Lincolnshire is a unitary authority area in the ceremonial county The counties and areas for the purposes of the lieutenancies, also referred to as the lieutenancy areas of England and informally known as ceremonial counties, are ...
regained parish status. Parishes can also be abolished where there is evidence that this is in response to "justified, clear and sustained local support" from the area's inhabitants. Examples are Birtley, which was abolished in 2006, and
Southsea Southsea is a seaside resort and geographic area, located in Portsmouth Portsmouth () is a port city primarily built on Portsea Island in the county of Hampshire, South East England. It is also known colloquially as Pompey, a nickname share ...
, abolished in 2010.


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 A parish meeting, in England, is a meeting to which all the electors in a civil parishes in England, civil parish are entitled to attend. In some cases, where a parish or group of parishes has fewer than 200 electors, the parish meeting can take on ...
: an example of
direct democracy upright=1.5, A Landsgemeinde, or assembly, of the canton of Glarus, on 7 May 2006, Switzerland">canton_of_Glarus.html" ;"title="Landsgemeinde, or assembly, of the canton of Glarus">Landsgemeinde, or assembly, of the canton of Glarus, on 7 May 200 ...
. Alternatively several small parishes can be grouped together and share a common parish council, or even a common parish meeting. A parish council may decide to call itself a Town Council, Village Council, Community Council, Neighbourhood Council, or if the parish has city status, the parish council may call itself a City Council. According to the
Department for Communities and Local Government The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), formerly the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), is the UK Government department for housing Housing, or more generally living spaces, refers to t ...
, in England in 2011 there were 9,946 parishes. 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: * The provision and maintenance of certain local facilities such as allotments, bus shelters, litter bins,
markets Market may refer to: *Market (economics) *Market economy *Marketplace, a physical marketplace or public market Geography *Märket, an island shared by Finland and Sweden Art, entertainment, and media Films *Market (1965 film), ''Market'' (1965 ...

markets
, parks, playgrounds, public seats, public toilets, public clocks,
street light A street light, light pole, lamppost, street lamp, light standard or lamp standard is a raised source of light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that can be visual percep ...

street light
s, village or town halls, and various leisure and recreation facilities. * Maintenance of
footpath A footpath (also pedestrian way, walking trail, nature trail) is a type of thoroughfare that is intended for use only by pedestrians and not other forms of traffic such as Motor vehicle, motorized vehicles, cycles, and horseback, horses. They ...

footpath
s,
cemeteries A cemetery, burial ground or graveyard is a place where the remains of dead people are buried or otherwise interred. The word ''cemetery'' (from Greek , "sleeping place") implies that the land is specifically designated as a burial ground an ...
,
village green A village green is a commons, common open area within a village or other settlement. Historically, a village green was common pasture, grassland with a pond for watering cattle and other stock, often at the edge of a rural settlement, used for g ...
s and s. * Spending money on crime prevention measures, community transport schemes, and contributing money towards
traffic calming Traffic calming uses physical design and other measures to improve safety for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. It has become a tool to combat speeding and other unsafe behaviours of drivers in the neighbourhoods. It aims to encourage safer, ...

traffic calming
schemes. * Giving of
grant Grant or Grants may refer to: Places *Grant County (disambiguation)Grant County may refer to: Places ;Australia * County of Grant, Victoria ;United States *Grant County, Arkansas *Grant County, Indiana *Grant County, Kansas *Grant County, K ...
s to local voluntary organisations, and sponsoring public events, including entering
Britain in Bloom RHS Britain in Bloom is the largest horticultural campaign in the United Kingdom. It was first held in 1963, initiated by the British Tourist Board based on the example set by Fleurissement de France (now Conseil national de villes et villages ...
. * 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 Planning is the process A process is a series or set of Action (philosophy), activities that interact to produce a result; it may occur once-only or be recurrent or periodic. Things called a process include: Business and management *Business pro ...
decisions affecting the parish. They may also create a neighbourhood plan to influence development in the parish. * The
Localism Act 2011 The Localism Act 2011 (c. 20) is an Act of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation, are texts of law passed by the Legislature, legislative body of a jurisdiction (often a parliament or council). In most countr ...
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. To be eligible for this, a parish council must meet certain conditions such as having a clerk with suitable qualifications.


Funding

Parish councils receive funding by levying a "
precept A precept (from the la, præcipere, to teach) is a commandment, instruction, or order intended as an authoritative rule of action. Religious law In religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behav ...
" on the
council tax Council Tax is a taxation, local taxation system used in England, Scotland and Wales. It is a Property tax, tax on domestic property, which was introduced in 1993 by the Local Government Finance Act 1992, replacing the short-lived Poll tax (Great ...
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 A parish meeting, in England, is a meeting to which all the electors in a civil parishes in England, civil parish are entitled to attend. In some cases, where a parish or group of parishes has fewer than 200 electors, the parish meeting can take on ...
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 In England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to th ...
), 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. 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 election, 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. 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 The Localism Act 2011 (c. 20) is an Act of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation, are texts of law passed by the Legislature, legislative body of a jurisdiction (often a parliament or council). In most countr ...
introduced new arrangements which replaced the Standards Board for England, '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.


Status and styles

A parish can be granted
city statusCity status is a symbolic and legal designation given by a national or subnational government. A municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-governmen ...
by British monarchy, the Crown. , eight parishes in England have city status, each having a long-established Anglican cathedral: Chichester, Ely, Cambridgeshire, Ely, Hereford, Lichfield, Ripon, Salisbury, Truro and Wells, Somerset, Wells. The council of an ungrouped parish may pass a resolution giving the parish the status of a town, at which point the council becomes a town council. Around 400 parish councils are called town councils. Under the
Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (c 28) is an Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act allows for the implementation of many provisions outlined in the Government ...
, a civil parish may be given one of the following alternative styles: *community *neighbourhood *village As a result, a parish council can 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 borough A metropolitan borough is a type of local government district The districts of England (also known as local authority districts or local government districts to distinguish from unofficial city districts) are a level of Subdivisions of Englan ...
s or non-metropolitan districts). 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 Mayors in England, mayor.


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 Mayors in the United Kingdom, 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. As another example, 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 Greater London is an Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England, administrative area governed by the Greater London Authority, and a Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county of England that covers the bulk of the same area, ...

Greater London
and very few in the other conurbations. Civil parishes vary greatly in size: many cover tiny hamlet (place), 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 hamlet (place), hamlets. Large urban areas are mostly unparished, as the government at the time of the
Local Government Act 1972 The Local Government Act 1972 (c. 70) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kin ...
discouraged their creation for large towns or their suburbs, but there is generally nothing to stop their establishment. For example, Birmingham has two parishes, New Frankley and Sutton Coldfield, whilst
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Ki ...

Oxford
has four, and the Milton Keynes urban area has 24. 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 (parish), Chester Castle (in the middle of Chester city centre), Newland with Woodhouse Moor, Beaumont Chase, Martinsthorpe, Meering, Stanground North (subsequently abolished), Sturston, Norfolk, Sturston, Tottington, Norfolk, 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. In the 2011 census, Newland with Woodhouse Moor and Beaumont Chase reported inhabitants, and there were no new deserted parishes recorded.


General abolition of anomalies

Virtually all instances of detached parts of civil parishes; parishes in alien, unconnected counties; and of those straddling counties have been ended. Direct predecessors of civil parishes are most often known as "ancient parishes", although many date only from the mid 19th century. Using a longer historial lens the better terms are "pre-separation (civil and ecclesiastical) parish", "original medieval parishes" and "new parishes". The ''Victoria County History'', a landmark collaborative work mostly written in the 20th century (although incomplete), summarises the history of each English "parish", roughly meaning late medieval parish. A minority of these had enclave and exclave, exclaves: such an exclave could be * an enclave within another parish, * surrounded by more than one other parish, or * a enclave and exclave, pene-enclave, partly surrounded by sea. In some cases an exclave of a parish (a "detached part") was in a different counties of England, county. In other cases, counties surrounded a whole parish meaning it was in an unconnected, "alien" county. These anomalies resulted in a highly localised difference in applicable Knight of the shire, representatives on the national level, justices of the peace, sheriffs, bailiffs with inconvenience to the inhabitants. If a parish was split then churchwardens, highway wardens and constables would also spend more time or money travelling large distances. Some parishes straddled two or more counties, Todmorden of Lancashire and Yorkshire. Such anomalies mostly arose in the height of the feudal system, when parishes evolved. Major land interests (Manorialism, manor proper or Catholic Church, church lands) may have acquired non-contiguous parcels of land i.e. beyond the original parish/county bounds or what would become the boundaries of a new parish. Those extraterritorial land parcels influenced the formation of parish boundaries where the parcels were significant to the parish. Thus secular land in an exclave, almost always manor, may have been the site of a prosperous farmstead, or remained part of the manor for generations, or the lord of the manor, lord/lady of the manor may have held the right to appoint the parish priest (advowson) or co-founded the church as its patron. The scenario may also have arisen originally as an attempt to Agricultural diversification, diversify the lord's (or overlord's) interests, or from a large burial ground in an urban setting. 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 had to attend a distant church and/or the manorial court for certain
tithe A tithe (; from Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early m ...
s, rates, baptisms, marriages, funerals, or to obtain regular poor relief and most forms of education, charitable alms and hospitalry. The end of manorial courts coincided with growing agricultural innovation, fragmentation of land ownership and housing growth. The church and vestries were reluctant to bring boundaries up to date. This meant such anomalies were irrelevant mischief rule, 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 Amendment Act 1834, Poor Law Reforms of 1834, and was more widely in 1844 when Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844, an Act moved most parishes which were partly or wholly in an alien county. The List of county exclaves in England and Wales 1844–1974, 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 counties, so that by 1901 Stanground, Peterborough, Stanground in Huntingdonshire and the Isle of Ely was the last example; it was split into two parishes, one in each county, in 1905. The
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church which is the established church of England. The archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior clergy, cleric, although the Monarchy of the United Kingdom, monarch is the Supreme Governor of t ...
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. The church's main website now has an accessible map, showing parish boundaries church-by-church. File:Cowley_Civil_Parish_Map_1868.svg, Eight exclaves of highly anomalous Cowley, London, Cowley, all in Hillingdon, then in Middlesex. File:East_Barnet_Valley_Civil_Parish_Map_1863.svg, The two tiny exclaves of Municipal Borough of Enfield, Enfield. File:Westminster_Civil_Parish_Map_1870.png, Burial exclave of the 1724-created St George Hanover Square in Paddington. It remains only in the Church of England, C of E. Used for burials 1763–1852. File:Middlesex_parishes.jpg, Map of the other main enclaves and exclaves in Middlesex.


References

*


External links


In praise of ... civil parishes
Editorial in ''The Guardian'', 16 May 2011. {{Subdivisions of England Civil parishes in England, Types of subdivision in the United Kingdom