St Lawrence

Like many villages in the Doncaster area, the character of Adwick le Street changed considerably in the early years of the twentieth century following the arrival of coal mining. A small rural community suddenly found itself acquiring a different appearance, a greatly increased population and an altered employment base. A new housing estate, Woodlands, was built by the Brodsworth Main colliery company, an influx of mine workers and their families arrived from other parts of the country and mining replaced agriculture as the main source of employment.

Throughout the nineteenth century, the population of the parish, (again, like most others in the Doncaster area) had been low and essentially static. The first census of 1801 recorded 284 residents, rising to a high of 434 in 1841. This was followed (yet again a common trend locally) by decline over the next sixty years, reaching 294 by 1901. From the seventeenth century, the village had no resident squire, and by the early nineteenth century, Adwick Hall, the seat of the lord of the manor, was in ruins. However, between 1791 and 1795, a new mansion house, Woodlands Hall, was built by Thomas Bradford of Alverley Grange. After passing through the ownership of Christopher Waterton (the younger brother of Charles Waterton of Walton Hall, near Wakefield, well-known as an explorer of South America, naturalist and taxidermist), the Woodlands estate a purchased by the Thellusson family of Brodsworth Hall.

The sinking of Brodsworth Main colliery in 1905 began the transformation of the parish. By 1911, Adwick le Street Urban District (a larger area that the old parish) had a population of nearly seven thousand and by 1921 it had grown to nearly twelve thousand. The colliery company created a 'model' village to house its employees, commissioning a pioneering garden suburb from Percy Hufton, a Chesterfield architect. The houses were designed in cottage-style and given in a semi-rural setting of lawns and trees. Its imaginative layout contrasts favourably with the bleak, straight terraces of Denaby Main, a neighbouring colliery village built between the 1870s to the 1900s.The cost was, however, deterred the colliery company from further building of this kind, and at nearby Highfields, its next venture into house-building, the company followed less imaginative plans.

Charles Thellusson, the owner of the mining royalties of Brodsworth Main, provided Woodlands with a new church. The reason for its specific location in the plan of Woodlands village can be readily understood by any visitor to Brodsworth Hall, the Thellusson home now in the ownership of English Heritage. The church of Woodlands, All Saints, was obviously sited so that its spire could be clearly seen by its provider, and his guests, from the main driveway to the Hall.

The church of Adwick le Street, dedicated to St Lawrence, was in existence by the end of the twelfth century, but may be built on the site of a very much older structure. The church is oriented in the same unusual direction as St Wilfrid, Cantley, and may suggest that the site both of were influenced by some feature (perhaps a temple) of a Romano-British settlement. Certainly, both places have produced evidence of settlement from very early dates.

Visit St Laurence Church website