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Brierley is a small village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire England

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From Brierley and the surrounding area


Notorious Highwayman 

Local newspaper 2 February 1952


Old newspaper cuttings index page


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This news cutting is intended for enjoyment only and readers are advised not to use it for research purposes as some of the information is inaccurate.


   Brierley is situated six miles from Barnsley along Pontefract Road. The village stands on a hill, and the spire of the 70-years-old church forms a landmark within a considerable radius.

The village as expanded considerably during recent years, and redbrick Council houses now stand where corn once grew, whilst some of the older buildings have entirely disappeared.

Brierley's one public house, the Three Horse Shoes, is amongst the oldest buildings in the village, and popular legend tells us that it did on one occasion in its history, shelter the famous Dick Turpin.

On the opposite side to the Three Horse Shoes, a small triangle patch of grass is all that remains of the site where, at the beginning of the century, the shop of the village blacksmith stood. The last blacksmith, Mr Charles Hanson, took over the shop on the death of his brother George in 1912. It was the last of the three blacksmiths' shops, the other two being at Shafton and South Hiendley, to fall a victim to the march of time. It was pulled down to make room for the widening of the road at the Three Horse Shoes Corner nearly twenty years ago. The old gentlemen protested vigorously, and appealed against the insufficient compensation paid him, and finally obtained permission to re-build the shop a little further back in the orchard behind. Unfortunately, Mr Hanson died before this could be accomplished and about three years after his original shop had been taken down.

As we turn the double bend by the Co-operative, we find that for the rest of Church Street, the divisions between ancient and modern becomes more marked. Excepting the school, half of which is modern, two houses of red brick, and the church that is comparatively modern, all the buildings on the right hand side of the road are all modern except for one.



The building now used as a Methodist Church has perhaps the most unique history of any place of worship in the district. It began its life an indefinite number of years ago as a mistle and housed the cows of nearby Hall Farm. Later it had other portions built onto it and became the Working Men's Club. When Methodist Union took place about twenty years ago, the two branches of Methodism in the village, both worshipping in tumbledown buildings bought the place and joined forces. The buildings they vacated are now used as the Women's Social Services Club and a greengrocery storehouse respectively.

Brierley, in common with most small villages has its reputedly haunted house. This is Lindley House, which stands at the junction between Church Street and Common road. This house, which has the appearance of a grim fortress from the Common road angle, but is surprisingly lovely when viewed from its own front garden, is said to be haunted by a ghost wearing the livery of a footman. A somewhat humorous story is told of a housemaid, who, on the first, and indeed, the only night she spent in the house, rushed from her bedroom crying that she had seen the Devil, whom she asserted was exactly like her mother. She left the following day.

The village is not dependent on Dick Turpin's brief visit for its association with the highwayman. It has in fact its own highwayman. One John Nevison, who lived and hid his treasures in the Old Adam Oak on Ringstone-Hill. This tree, which was hollow, was said to be 27 feet in girth at a distance of one yard from the ground, and was no doubt quite equal to a highwayman's needs.

Nevison, who had a quite attractive Robin Hood kind of reputation, was once captured and sentenced to death, but reprieved on condition he joined the army. He did so, but apparently, army life did meet with his approval, for he soon deserted and returned to his trade.


It is on record that an innkeeper, Adam Hawkesworth, of Ringstone-Hill, had his sign taken down in 1676 as a punishment for giving shelter to Nevison. The highwayman was eventually captured and paid the fixed penalty a few years later. Oak tree and Inn have both passed on and Ringstone-hill, about 15 minutes walk from the village across the common is now occupied by one solitary farm.

Burntwood Hall is probably the oldest house that Brierley can claim, though its origin is wrapped in mystery and even the date of its being built is uncertain. The present owner is Mr Dymond, whose Uncle Thomas Dymond, bought the house from a Mr Taylor, of Middlewood Hall, Darfield, in 1886. Robert Dymond, who was then residing at Fieldhead house, which stands next to Brierley Hall, and had been the home of the Dymonds for 300 years, inherited it from his cousin John Dymond in 1940. The house as a rather strange water system. Drinking water is obtained from a well in the garden, but water for all other purposes is pumped from a lake in the wood behind the house into a cistern in the roof. It is heated there and drawn from a tap in the ordinary way.

Brierley is one of the few places in England where a Court Leet still functions. The original use of these courts was to deal with petty crime, but most of their functions were taken over by the Courts of Justice, and Court Leets began to die out in the fourteenth century. The Brierley Court Leet, which has been in existence for over 600 years, has amongst its duties the care of the local common land and defends the rights of the commoners, people who's privilege it is to use the common lands for grazing. Mr William Makings, of Grimethorpe, is the Court Bailiff. He inherited that post from his father 15 years ago, and his duties include calling the meetings and collecting the rents which include sums ranging from 1d to 5. The last meeting of the Court Leet was held about two years ago. It has had nine meetings in 45 years.  


Old newspaper cuttings index page


Also see Local news stories index