Ancient or ancient ecclesiastical parishes encompassed groups of villages and hamlets and their adjacent lands over which a clergyman had jurisdiction. They existed for ecclesiastical functions, baptisms, marriages and funerals, from pre-Norman Conquest times until the dissolution of the monasteries between 1536 and 1541 and England’s break with Rome.
VillsA vill was the smallest administrative unit of the state in feudal England, equivalent to a modern civil parish. or townships and manors within the parish administered local secular government. The adoption of the ancient parish to administer poor relief after the first Poor Relief Act of 1597 meant that they performed secular and ecclesiastical roles, and began the development of public services in urban and rural areas.
Urban parishes were replaced by urban districts and boroughs at the end of the 19th century, but rural parishes retained some administrative roles as parish councils.