Keys to the Past



Every county is divided into area called 'parishes', each served by a parish church and a priest. Some large parishes may have more than one church, with the smaller ones called chapels-of-ease. The pattern of parishes is often complicated. Many of the larger old parishes have been divided to form several new parishes. In more recent times some small parishes have been combined to make larger ones.

Until 1866 these church parishes were also used as units of local government, but from this date a new unit known as the 'civil parish' was established. Sometimes these were identical to the older church parishes, but more often they were based around smaller divisions of church parishes known as townships. Since 1866 these two types of parish have followed separate patterns of change, so in most cases the boundaries of these two units do not coincide. In this website the parishes used are the modern civil parishes, rather than the old church parishes.

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