Civil parish

Civil parish

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Encyclopedia
In England, a civil parish is a territorial designation and, where they are found, the lowest tier of local government below districts and counties
Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England
Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties are one of the four levels of subdivisions of England used for the purposes of local government outside Greater London. As originally constituted, the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties each consisted of multiple districts, had a county council and...

. It is an administrative parish, in comparison to an ecclesiastical parish
Parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

.

A civil parish can alternatively be known as a town
Town
A town is a human settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city. The size a settlement must be in order to be called a "town" varies considerably in different parts of the world, so that, for example, many American "small towns" seem to British people to be no more than villages, while...

, village
Village
A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand , Though often located in rural areas, the term urban village is also applied to certain urban neighbourhoods, such as the West Village in Manhattan, New...

, neighbourhood
Neighbourhood
A neighbourhood or neighborhood is a geographically localised community within a larger city, town or suburb. Neighbourhoods are often social communities with considerable face-to-face interaction among members. "Researchers have not agreed on an exact definition...

or community
Community
The term community has two distinct meanings:*a group of interacting people, possibly living in close proximity, and often refers to a group that shares some common values, and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household...

by resolution of its parish council; and in a limited number of cases has city status
City status in the United Kingdom
City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the British monarch to a select group of communities. The holding of city status gives a settlement no special rights other than that of calling itself a "city". Nonetheless, this appellation carries its own prestige and, consequently, competitions...

 granted by the monarch. They cover only part of England, corresponding to 35% of the population.

There are currently no civil parishes in Greater London
Greater London
Greater London is the top-level administrative division of England covering London. It was created in 1965 and spans the City of London, including Middle Temple and Inner Temple, and the 32 London boroughs. This territory is coterminate with the London Government Office Region and the London...

 and before 2008 their creation was not permitted within a London borough
London borough
The administrative area of Greater London contains thirty-two London boroughs. Inner London comprises twelve of these boroughs plus the City of London. Outer London comprises the twenty remaining boroughs of Greater London.-Functions:...

.

Ancient origins


The division into ancient parish
Parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

es was linked to the manorial system
Manorialism
Manorialism, an essential element of feudal society, was the organizing principle of rural economy that originated in the villa system of the Late Roman Empire, was widely practiced in medieval western and parts of central Europe, and was slowly replaced by the advent of a money-based market...

, with parishes and manors often sharing the same boundaries. Initially the manor was the principal unit of local administration and justice in the early rural economy. Eventually the church replaced the manor court as the rural administrative centre and levied a local tax on produce known as a tithe
Tithe
A tithe is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory tax to government. Today, tithes are normally voluntary and paid in cash, cheques, or stocks, whereas historically tithes were required and paid in kind, such as agricultural products...

. Responsibilities such as relief of the poor passed from the Lord of the Manor to the church, although in practice it was administered by monasteries. Following the dissolution of the monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries
The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...

, the power to levy a rate
Rates (tax)
Rates are a type of property tax system in the United Kingdom, and in places with systems deriving from the British one, the proceeds of which are used to fund local government...

 to fund relief of the poor was conferred on the parish authorities by the 1601 Act for the Relief of the Poor
Elizabethan Poor Law (1601)
The Act for the Relief of the Poor 1601, popularly known as the "Elizabethan Poor Law", "43rd Elizabeth" or the "Old Poor Law" was an Act of Parliament passed in 1601 which created a national poor law system for England and Wales....

.

The parish authorities were known as vestries
Vestry
A vestry is a room in or attached to a church or synagogue in which the vestments, vessels, records, etc., are kept , and in which the clergy and choir robe or don their vestments for divine service....

 and consisted of all the inhabitants of the parish. As the population was growing 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 community at large. This innovation improved efficiency, but allowed governance by a self-perpetuating elite. The administration of the parish system relied on the monopoly of the English church. As religious membership became more fractured, such as through the revival of Methodism
Methodism
Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley's evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. His younger brother...

, the legitimacy of the parish vestry came into question and the perceived inefficiency and corruption inherent in the system became a source for concern. Because of this scepticism, during early the 19th century the parish progressively lost its powers to ad-hoc boards and other organisations, such as the loss of responsibility for poor relief through the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834
Poor Law Amendment Act 1834
The Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, sometimes abbreviated to PLAA, was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed by the Whig government of Lord Melbourne that reformed the country's poverty relief system . It was an Amendment Act that completely replaced earlier legislation based on the...

. The replacement boards were each able to levy their own rate in the parish. The church rate ceased to be levied in many areas and was abolished altogether in 1868.

Civil and ecclesiastical split


The ancient parishes diverged into two distinct units during the 19th century. The Poor Law Amendment Act 1866 declared all areas that levied a separate rate —extra-parochial area
Extra-parochial area
In the United Kingdom, an extra-parochial area or extra-parochial place was an area considered to be outside any parish. They were therefore exempt from payment of any poor or church rate and usually tithe...

s, township
Township (England)
In England, a township is a local division or district of a large parish containing a village or small town usually having its own church...

s, and chapelries— become civil parishes as well. The parishes for church use continued unchanged as ecclesiastical parishes. The latter part of the 19th century saw most of the ancient irregularities inherited by the civil system cleaned up, with the majority of exclaves abolished.

Reform


Civil parishes in their modern sense were established afresh in 1894, by the Local Government Act 1894
Local Government Act 1894
The Local Government Act 1894 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed local government in England and Wales outside the County of London. The Act followed the reforms carried out at county level under the Local Government Act 1888...

. The Act abolished vestries
Vestry
A vestry is a room in or attached to a church or synagogue in which the vestments, vessels, records, etc., are kept , and in which the clergy and choir robe or don their vestments for divine service....

, and established elected parish councils in all rural civil parishes with more than 300 electors. These were grouped into rural district
Rural district
Rural districts were a type of local government area – now superseded – established at the end of the 19th century in England, Wales, and Ireland for the administration of predominantly rural areas at a level lower than that of the administrative counties.-England and Wales:In England...

s. Boundaries were altered to avoid parishes being split between counties. Urban parishes continued to exist, and were generally coterminous with the urban district
Urban district
In the England, Wales and Ireland, an urban district was a type of local government district that covered an urbanised area. Urban districts had an elected Urban District Council , which shared local government responsibilities with a county council....

 or municipal borough
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...

 in which they were situated. Large towns originally split between multiple parishes were, for the most part, eventually consolidated into one parish. No parish councils were formed for urban parishes, and their only function was as areas electing guardians to Poor Law Union
Poor Law Union
A Poor Law Union was a unit used for local government in the United Kingdom from the 19th century. The administration of the Poor Law was the responsibility of parishes, which varied wildly in their size, populations, financial resources, rateable values and requirements...

s. With the abolition of the poor law system in 1930 the parishes had only a nominal existence.

In 1965 civil parishes in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 were formally abolished when Greater London
Greater London
Greater London is the top-level administrative division of England covering London. It was created in 1965 and spans the City of London, including Middle Temple and Inner Temple, and the 32 London boroughs. This territory is coterminate with the London Government Office Region and the London...

 was created, as the legislative framework for Greater London did not make provision for any local government body below a London borough
London borough
The administrative area of Greater London contains thirty-two London boroughs. Inner London comprises twelve of these boroughs plus the City of London. Outer London comprises the twenty remaining boroughs of Greater London.-Functions:...

 (since all of London was previously part of a metropolitan borough, municipal borough or urban district, no actual parish councils were abolished). In 1974 the Local Government Act 1972
Local Government Act 1972
The Local Government Act 1972 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom that reformed local government in England and Wales on 1 April 1974....

 retained civil parishes in rural areas and small urban areas, but abolished them in larger urban areas. Many former urban district
Urban district
In the England, Wales and Ireland, an urban district was a type of local government district that covered an urbanised area. Urban districts had an elected Urban District Council , which shared local government responsibilities with a county council....

s and municipal borough
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...

s that were being abolished rather than succeeded were continued as new parishes. Urban areas that were considered too large to be single parishes were refused this permission and became unparished area
Unparished area
In England, an unparished area is an area that is not covered by a civil parish. Most urbanised districts of England are either entirely or partly unparished. Many towns and some cities in otherwise rural districts are also unparished areas and therefore no longer have a town council or city...

s. The Act also led to the possibility of sub-division of all districts (apart from London boroughs, reformed in 1965), into multiple civil parishes. For example, Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

, whilst entirely unparished in 1974, now has four civil parishes, covering part of its area.

Revival


The creation of town and parish councils is encouraged in unparished area
Unparished area
In England, an unparished area is an area that is not covered by a civil parish. Most urbanised districts of England are either entirely or partly unparished. Many towns and some cities in otherwise rural districts are also unparished areas and therefore no longer have a town council or city...

s. The Local Government and Rating Act 1997
Local Government and Rating Act 1997
The Local Government and Rating Act 1997 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 within England and outside of Greater London...

 created a procedure which gave local residents the right to demand that a new parish and council be created in unparished areas. This was extended to London borough
London borough
The administrative area of Greater London contains thirty-two London boroughs. Inner London comprises twelve of these boroughs plus the City of London. Outer London comprises the twenty remaining boroughs of Greater London.-Functions:...

s by the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007
Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007
The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.The Act allows for the implementation of many provisions outlined in the Government white paper Strong and Prosperous Communities including changes to local government in England...

 - with this, the City of London
City of London
The City of London is a small area within Greater London, England. It is the historic core of London around which the modern conurbation grew and has held city status since time immemorial. The City’s boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, and it is now only a tiny part of...

 is at present the only part of England where civil parishes cannot be created.

If a sufficient number of electors in an 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
Petition
A petition is a request to do something, most commonly addressed to a government official or public entity. Petitions to a deity are a form of prayer....

 demanding its creation, then the local district council or unitary authority must consider the proposal. Recently established parish councils include Daventry
Daventry
Daventry is a market town in Northamptonshire, England, with a population of 22,367 .-Geography:The town is also the administrative centre of the larger Daventry district, which has a population of 71,838. The town is 77 miles north-northwest of London, 13.9 miles west of Northampton and 10.2...

 (2003), Folkestone
Folkestone
Folkestone is the principal town in the Shepway District of Kent, England. Its original site was in a valley in the sea cliffs and it developed through fishing and its closeness to the Continent as a landing place and trading port. The coming of the railways, the building of a ferry port, and its...

 (2004), and Brixham
Brixham
Brixham is a small fishing town and civil parish in the county of Devon, in the south-west of England. Brixham is at the southern end of Torbay, across the bay from Torquay, and is a fishing port. Fishing and tourism are its major industries. At the time of the 2001 census it had a population of...

 (2007). In 2003 seven new parish councils were set up for Burton upon Trent
Burton upon Trent
Burton upon Trent, also known as Burton-on-Trent or simply Burton, is a town straddling the River Trent in the east of Staffordshire, England. Its associated adjective is "Burtonian"....

, and in 2001 the Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes , sometimes abbreviated MK, is a large town in Buckinghamshire, in the south east of England, about north-west of London. It is the administrative centre of the Borough of Milton Keynes...

 urban area became entirely parished, with ten new parishes being created. In 2003, the village of Great Coates
Great Coates
Great Coates is a village and civil parish in North East Lincolnshire, England. It is to the north-west of the Grimsby urban area, and is served by Great Coates railway station...

 (Grimsby
Grimsby
Grimsby is a seaport on the Humber Estuary in Lincolnshire, England. It has been the administrative centre of the unitary authority area of North East Lincolnshire since 1996...

) 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. Examples include Birtley
Birtley, Tyne and Wear
Birtley is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead, in Tyne and Wear, England. It is situated to the south of Gateshead town and is physically linked to Chester-le-Street across the County boundary in County Durham. Until 1974, Birtley and the adjoining areas of Barley Mow, Vigo and...

, which was abolished in 2006 and Southsea
Southsea
Southsea is a seaside resort located in Portsmouth at the southern end of Portsea Island in the county of Hampshire in England. Southsea is within a mile of Portsmouth's city centre....

 abolished in 2010.

Governance



Every civil parish has a parish meeting, consisting of all the electors of the parish. Generally a meeting is held once a year. A civil parish may have a parish council which exercises various local responsibilities given by statute. If a parish has fewer than 200 electors it is usually deemed too small to have a parish council, and instead will only have a parish meeting
Parish meeting
A parish meeting, in England, is a meeting to which all the electors in a 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 the role of the parish council itself, with statutory powers, and electing a...

; an example of direct democracy
Direct democracy
Direct democracy is a form of government in which people vote on policy initiatives directly, as opposed to a representative democracy in which people vote for representatives who then vote on policy initiatives. Direct democracy is classically termed "pure democracy"...

. Alternatively several small parishes can be grouped together and share a common parish council, or even a common parish meeting. 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. According to the Government's Department for Communities and Local Government, in England in 2011 there are 9,946 parishes. Since 1997 around 100 new civil parishes have been created, in some cases splitting existing civil parishes, but mostly by creating new ones from unparished areas.

Powers and functions


Typical activities undertaken by parish or town councils include:
  • The provision and upkeep of certain local facilities such as allotment
    Allotment (gardening)
    An allotment garden, often called simply an allotment, is a plot of land made available for individual, non-professional gardening. Such plots are formed by subdividing a piece of land into a few or up to several hundreds of land parcels that are assigned to individuals or families...

    s, bus shelters, parks, playgrounds, public seats, public toilets, public clocks, street light
    Street light
    A street light, lamppost, street lamp, light standard, or lamp standard is a raised source of light on the edge of a road or walkway, which is turned on or lit at a certain time every night. Modern lamps may also have light-sensitive photocells to turn them on at dusk, off at dawn, or activate...

    s, village or town halls, and various leisure and recreation facilities.
  • Maintenance of footpath
    Footpath
    A Footpath is a thoroughfare intended for by pedestrians but not by motorized vehicles. The term is often for paths within an urban area that offer shorter quieter routes for pedestrians, they may also provide access to the surrounding countryside or parks...

    s, cemeteries
    Cemetery
    A cemetery is a place in which dead bodies and cremated remains are buried. The term "cemetery" implies that the land is specifically designated as a burying ground. Cemeteries in the Western world are where the final ceremonies of death are observed...

     and village green
    Village green
    A village green is a common open area which is a part of a settlement. Traditionally, such an area was often common grass land at the centre of a small agricultural settlement, used for grazing and sometimes for community events...

    s
  • Since 1997 parish councils have had new powers to provide community transport (such as a minibus
    Minibus
    A minibus or minicoach is a passenger carrying motor vehicle that is designed to carry more people than a multi-purpose vehicle or minivan, but fewer people than a full-size bus. In the United Kingdom, the word "minibus" is used to describe any full-sized passenger carrying van. Minibuses have a...

    ), crime prevention measures (such as CCTV) and to contribute money towards traffic calming
    Traffic calming
    Traffic calming is intended to slow or reduce motor-vehicle traffic in order to improve the living conditions for residents as well as to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Urban planners and traffic engineers have many strategies for traffic calming...

     schemes.
  • 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.
  • Giving of grant
    Grant (money)
    Grants are funds disbursed by one party , often a Government Department, Corporation, Foundation or Trust, to a recipient, often a nonprofit entity, educational institution, business or an individual. In order to receive a grant, some form of "Grant Writing" often referred to as either a proposal...

    s to local voluntary organisations, and sponsoring public events, including entering Britain in Bloom
    Britain in Bloom
    RHS Britain in Bloom, supported by Anglian Home Improvements, 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. It has been organised by the Royal Horticultural Society ...

    .


The role played by parish councils varies. Smaller parish councils have only limited resources and generally play only a minor role, while some larger parish councils have a role similar to that of a small district council
Non-metropolitan district
Non-metropolitan districts, or colloquially shire districts, are a type of local government district in England. As created, they are sub-divisions of non-metropolitan counties in a so-called "two-tier" arrangement...

. Parish councils receive funding by levying a "precept" on the council tax
Council tax
Council Tax is the system of local taxation used in England, Scotland and Wales to part fund the services provided by local government in each country. It was introduced in 1993 by the Local Government Finance Act 1992, as a successor to the unpopular Community Charge...

 paid by the residents of the parish.

Councillors and elections


Parish councils are run by volunteer councillor
Councillor
A councillor or councilor is a member of a local government council, such as a city council.Often in the United States, the title is councilman or councilwoman.-United Kingdom:...

s who are elected
Election
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...

 to serve for four years and are not paid. Some councils have chosen to pay their elected members a small allowance as permitted under Part 5 of the Local Government Act 2000 The Local Authorities (Members’ Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003. The number of councillors varies roughly in proportion to the population of the parish. Most parish councillors are elected to represent the entire parish, though in parishes with larger populations or those that cover large areas, the parish can be divided into wards. These wards then return a certain number of councillors each to the parish council (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
Co-option
A co-opting or less frequently co-optation most commonly refers to action performed in a number of fields whereby an opponent is nullified or neutralized by absorption but there are other distinct senses as well....

 by the council. When a vacancy arises for a seat mid-term, an election is only held if a certain number (usually 10) of parish residents request an election. Otherwise the council will co-opt someone to be the replacement councillor. Every Parish Council in England must adopt a code of conduct, and parish councillors must comply with its standards, enforced by the Standards Board for England
Standards Board for England
Standards for England, formerly known as the Standards Board for England, is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Established following the Local Government Act 2000, it is responsible for promoting high ethical standards in local democracy...

.

Status and styles


A parish can gain city status
City status in the United Kingdom
City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the British monarch to a select group of communities. The holding of city status gives a settlement no special rights other than that of calling itself a "city". Nonetheless, this appellation carries its own prestige and, consequently, competitions...

 but only if that is granted by the Crown
British monarchy
The monarchy of the United Kingdom is the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties...

. In England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, there are currently eight parishes with city status, all places with long-established Anglican cathedrals: Chichester
Chichester
Chichester is a cathedral city in West Sussex, within the historic County of Sussex, South-East England. It has a long history as a settlement; its Roman past and its subsequent importance in Anglo-Saxon times are only its beginnings...

, Ely
Ely, Cambridgeshire
Ely is a cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, England, 14 miles north-northeast of Cambridge and about by road from London. It is built on a Lower Greensand island, which at a maximum elevation of is the highest land in the Fens...

, Hereford
Hereford
Hereford is a cathedral city, civil parish and county town of Herefordshire, England. It lies on the River Wye, approximately east of the border with Wales, southwest of Worcester, and northwest of Gloucester...

, Lichfield
Lichfield
Lichfield is a cathedral city, civil parish and district in Staffordshire, England. One of eight civil parishes with city status in England, Lichfield is situated roughly north of Birmingham...

, Ripon
Ripon
Ripon is a cathedral city, market town and successor parish in the Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, located at the confluence of two streams of the River Ure in the form of the Laver and Skell. The city is noted for its main feature the Ripon Cathedral which is architecturally...

, Salisbury
Salisbury
Salisbury is a cathedral city in Wiltshire, England and the only city in the county. It is the second largest settlement in the county...

, Truro
Truro
Truro is a city and civil parish in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The city is the centre for administration, leisure and retail in Cornwall, with a population recorded in the 2001 census of 17,431. Truro urban statistical area, which includes parts of surrounding parishes, has a 2001 census...

 and Wells
Wells
Wells is a cathedral city and civil parish in the Mendip district of Somerset, England, on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills. Although the population recorded in the 2001 census is 10,406, it has had city status since 1205...

.

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

Under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007
Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007
The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.The Act allows for the implementation of many provisions outlined in the Government white paper Strong and Prosperous Communities including changes to local government in England...

, 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
Town council
A town council is a democratically elected form of government for small municipalities or civil parishes. A council may serve as both the representative and executive branch....

, 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
Metropolitan borough
A metropolitan borough is a type of local government district in England, and is a subdivision of a metropolitan county. Created in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972, metropolitan boroughs are defined in English law as metropolitan districts, however all of them have been granted or regranted...

s, non-metropolitan district
Non-metropolitan district
Non-metropolitan districts, or colloquially shire districts, are a type of local government district in England. As created, they are sub-divisions of non-metropolitan counties in a so-called "two-tier" arrangement...

s).

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
Mayors in the United Kingdom
In England, the office of mayor or lord mayor had long been ceremonial posts, with few or no duties attached to it. A mayor's term of office denotes the municipal year. The most famous example is that of the Lord Mayor of the City of London....

. An example of such a city was Hereford
Hereford
Hereford is a cathedral city, civil parish and county town of Herefordshire, England. It lies on the River Wye, approximately east of the border with Wales, southwest of Worcester, and northwest of Gloucester...

, whose city council was merged in 1998 to form a unitary Herefordshire
Herefordshire
Herefordshire is a historic and ceremonial county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire" NUTS 2 region. It also forms a unitary district known as the...

. 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
Bath and North East Somerset
Bath and North East Somerset is a unitary authority that was created on 1 April 1996 following the abolition of the County of Avon. It is part of the Ceremonial county of Somerset...

 Council.

Geography


Civil parishes do not cover the whole of England, with none in Greater London
Greater London
Greater London is the top-level administrative division of England covering London. It was created in 1965 and spans the City of London, including Middle Temple and Inner Temple, and the 32 London boroughs. This territory is coterminate with the London Government Office Region and the London...

 and very few in the other conurbations. Civil parishes vary greatly in size: many cover tiny hamlets
Hamlet (place)
A hamlet is usually a rural settlement which is too small to be considered a village, though sometimes the word is used for a different sort of community. Historically, when a hamlet became large enough to justify building a church, it was then classified as a village...

 with populations of less than 100, whereas some large parishes cover towns with populations of tens of thousands. Weston-super-Mare
Weston-super-Mare
Weston-super-Mare is a seaside resort, town and civil parish in the unitary authority of North Somerset, which is within the ceremonial county of Somerset, England. It is located on the Bristol Channel coast, south west of Bristol, spanning the coast between the bounding high ground of Worlebury...

, with a population of 71,758, is the most populous civil parish. In many cases, several small village
Village
A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand , Though often located in rural areas, the term urban village is also applied to certain urban neighbourhoods, such as the West Village in Manhattan, New...

s are located in a single parish. Large urban areas are mostly unparished, as the government at the time of the Local Government Act 1972
Local Government Act 1972
The Local Government Act 1972 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom that reformed local government in England and Wales on 1 April 1974....

 discouraged their creation for large towns or their suburbs, but there is generally nothing to stop their establishment. For example, Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 has just one parish, New Frankley
New Frankley
New Frankley in Birmingham is the only civil parish in Birmingham, England. As such, it has its own parish council.It was established in 2000 in an area in the south-west of the city, around Bartley Reservoir, transferred from Bromsgrove in 1995, which had previously been part of the Frankley parish...

, whilst Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

 has four, and Northampton
Northampton
Northampton is a large market town and local government district in the East Midlands region of England. Situated about north-west of London and around south-east of Birmingham, Northampton lies on the River Nene and is the county town of Northamptonshire. The demonym of Northampton is...

 has seven. Parishes could not however be established in London until the changing of the law in 2007 and as yet none have been established there.

Deserted parishes


The 2001 census recorded several parishes with no inhabitants. These were Chester Castle
Chester Castle (parish)
Chester Castle is an area around the castle in Chester. It was historically an extra-parochial area and today remains a civil parish,although with no inhabitants....

 (in the middle of Chester
Chester
Chester is a city in Cheshire, England. Lying on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales, it is home to 77,040 inhabitants, and is the largest and most populous settlement of the wider unitary authority area of Cheshire West and Chester, which had a population of 328,100 according to the...

 city centre), Newland with Woodhouse Moor, Beaumont Chase
Beaumont Chase
Beaumont Chase is a civil parish in the county of Rutland in the East Midlands of England. It is situated to the west of Uppingham and north of Stoke Dry on a steep hillside overlooking Leicestershire. Formerly an extra-parochial area, it was created a separate parish in 1858.There is one...

, Martinsthorpe
Martinsthorpe
Martinsthorpe is a civil parish in the county of Rutland in the East Midlands of England and a deserted village.It is located about four miles south of Oakham near the village of Manton. It is the only parish in Rutland to have a population of zero, although according to the 2001 census,...

, Meering
Meering
Meering is a geographically small civil parish in the Newark and Sherwood district of Nottinghamshire, England. With a population of zero , it is grouped with Girton to form a parish meeting. The parish was originally an extra-parochial area, and was once populated, although not in more than...

, Stanground North
Stanground North
Stanground North was a civil parish in the City of Peterborough, England. The 2001 census recorded a population of zero. The parish, which covered open fields on a flood plain of the River Ouse, has since been abolished as redundant...

 (subsequently abolished), Sturston
Sturston, Norfolk
Sturston is a deserted village and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It is situated some 10 km north of the town of Thetford and 40 km south-west of the city of Norwich....

, Tottington
Tottington, Norfolk
Tottington is a deserted village and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It is situated some north of the town of Thetford and south-west of the city of Norwich.-Name:...

, and Tyneham
Tyneham
Tyneham is a ghost village in south Dorset, England, near Lulworth on the Isle of Purbeck. It remains a civil parish.-Location:The village is situated northeast of Worbarrow Bay on the Jurassic Coast, about south of Wareham and about west of Swanage. It is part of the Lulworth Estate. Tyneham is...

. The last three had been taken over by the British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
The British Armed Forces are the armed forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.Also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces and sometimes legally the Armed Forces of the Crown, the British Armed Forces encompasses three professional uniformed services, the Royal Navy, the...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and remain deserted.

Detached parts and divided parishes


Ancient parishes often had detached parts, exclaves and enclaves which were not contiguous with the rest of the parish. In some cases the detached part was in a different county. In other cases, an entire parish was in a detached part of the county to which it belonged. There were also many examples of parishes divided between two or more counties.

These anomalies were mostly addressed in the 19th century. Before civil parishes were introduced, the Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844
Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844
The Counties Act 1844 , which came into effect on 20 October 1844, was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom which eliminated many outliers or exclaves of counties in England and Wales for civil purposes....

 transferred many (but not all) parishes which were detached parts of a county to the county in which they were geographically located. The remaining detached parishes were transferred in the 1890s and in 1931. The detached part of the parish of Tetworth
Tetworth
Tetworth – in Huntingdonshire , England – is a small village near Waresley south of St Neots.Tetworth is in the ward of Gransden and the Offords in the District of Huntingdonshire.-History:...

, Huntingdonshire
Huntingdonshire
Huntingdonshire is a local government district of Cambridgeshire, covering the area around Huntingdon. Traditionally it is a county in its own right...

, surrounded by Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire is a county in England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the northeast, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to the west...

, remained until the boundaries were changed in 1965.

Other legislation, including the Divided Parishes and Poor Law Amendment Act 1882
Divided Parishes and Poor Law Amendment Act 1882
Divided Parishes and Poor Law Amendment Act 1882 was an Act of Parliament in Britain which gave the Local Government Board increased powers relating to dissolving and creating Poor Law Unions. It followed the Divided Parishes and Poor Law Amendment Act 1876 ....

, eliminated most instances of civil parish
Civil parish
In England, a civil parish is a territorial designation and, where they are found, the lowest tier of local government below districts and counties...

es belonging to two (or more) counties, and by 1901 Stanground in Huntingdonshire
Huntingdonshire
Huntingdonshire is a local government district of Cambridgeshire, covering the area around Huntingdon. Traditionally it is a county in its own right...

 and the Isle of Ely
Isle of Ely
The Isle of Ely is a historic region around the city of Ely now in Cambridgeshire, England but previously a county in its own right.-Etymology:...

was the sole remaining example. Stanground was split into two parishes, one in each county, in 1905.

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