A civil parish, also known simply as a parish, is the smallest administrative unit in England. The equivalent in Wales and Scotland is known as a community, but there is no such unit in Northern Ireland.[1] ParishesAncient or ancient ecclesiastical parishes encompassed groups of villages and hamlets and their adjacent lands, over which a clergyman had jurisdiction., as groups of villages and hamletsRural settlement smaller than a village. and their adjacent lands, over which a clergyman had civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, existed from pre-Norman Conquest times until the dissolution of the monasteries between 1536 and 1541.[2] Civil parishes were subsequently created to look after civil matters, and after 1845 the boundaries between civil and ecclestiastical parishes began to diverge.[3]

The functions of modern civil parishes are limited to providing facilities such as village halls, war memorials, cemeteries, leisure facilities and playgrounds, and the maintenance of public footpaths. As at 2015 there were 10,449 civil parishes in England.[1]