Domesday 1086 and 1986 Back to the Main Historical Society page
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From the Barwicker No.2
June 1986

From a modern version (Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol XIV)

The original was written in 1086.
Nine hundred years later the children of Barwick-in-Elmet Junior School made a survey of present-day life - Domesday 1986.


It seemed impossible that 10,000 schools and numerous volunteer community groups, between them and in conjunction with the B.B.C., could complete a survey of modern Britain during the spring and summer of 1985, to commemorate the 900th. Anniversary of William the conqueror's Domesday Survey. The seemingly impossible became a reality and work was completed by the summer of 1985.

Each participating school or community group was allocated a Domesday Block of 4km. by 3km. or a D- Block for short. A school could be solely responsible for a D- Block or various schools in the area could be working together to form a joint entry.

Barwick-in-Elmet C. of E. Junior School joined with other schools in the working of two D- Blocks. On the Ordnance Survey Maps, Barwick-in-Elmet is split into two parts, the western part being on the Leeds-Bradford sheet and the eastern part on the York sheet. The principal job to be done with each D- Block, 3km. to the East and West of Barwick-in-Elmet, was to complete four tasks:-

  1. To write up to 20 screen pages of a computer monitor, which give the flavour of life to-day in that part of the country.
  2. To provide four colour slides which illustrate what the area is like.
  3. To describe the principal features of land cover, farmland, industrial sites, parks, residential housing, etc. in your D- Block.
  4. To survey the amenities; hospitals, banks, schools, etc.
After a meeting of the schools involved, Barwick-in-Elmet C.of E. Junior School began its task of compiling the necessary information.

First, in the western half, pupils provided information about the maypole, its history and the present-day Triennial Maypole Festival. A description was written of Maypole Day itself through the eyes of a pupil of the school. A photograph of the maypole was also included. Another pupil provided a description of the old Rectory and compared it with the modern version

For a small village Barwick-in-Elmet has a surprisingly large number of clubs and organisations. So one pupil compiled a list of these and then did a survey among the whole school, finding out how many people, parents and children, attended these interest groups. Most families had one member or more who participated in one or more of them.

Discussion took place with the children as to why people came to live in Barwick-in-Elmet, and someone suggested that it was probably to do with where their fathers worked. So another pupil conducted a survey throughout the school finding out in which specific place each father worked. All these places were then plotted on a chart and the result was that Barwick-in-Elmet seemed to be a central point for travelling to places in all directions of the compass. The majority of them, of course, worked in and around the City of Leeds. The road network seemed to be important, the fact that the Al, Ml, and M62 motorways were within easy reach.

Of secondary importance was the fact that Barwick-in-Elmet was a village with good amenities and where there was peace and quiet away from the clamour of the big city.

In the eastern half of the survey, different topics were covered. The most important building in this section was the church. A photograph was included, showing the uniquely patterned two-colour stone tower. One pupil wrote a description of the church from the outside and another described two of the stained glass windows, the Lumb family window and the main window at the eastern end of the church, above the altar.

The theme of jobs was followed up and it was discovered that of the majority of people living in Barwick-in-Elmet, 96% worked in service industries, 2% in manufacturing and 2% in farming.

A lighter vein was followed and it was thought that people of the future might like to know what kind of games children played in 1986. A list was made of twenty-seven different games played by children in the school and then a pupil set about finding which was most popular. Non-stop cricket game came top of the list, followed very closely by football and cricket. This may have had something to do with the fact that the survey was carried out in the summer months. Some of the games had very peculiar names, so it was thought that a description of these games and how to play them would be appropriate.

The land use in both D- Blocks was the same, setting it out in majority order:-
  • farmland- crops other than grass.
  • farmland- enclosed rough grazing.
  • recreational open space.
  • residential building.
  • farmland- intensively managed grassland.
  • woodland- dominantly with deciduous trees.
All the information, having been collected by the co-ordinators, was put onto floppy discs using the school micro- computers. These discs were then sent to the B.B.C. along with all the information from the 10,000 other sources.

This information is now being put onto what is known as an inter active videodisc. The disc looks like a long playing gramophone record but its silver surface, protected by a layer of plastic, can hold up to one million pages of information. The disc will be read by a laser beam. so that any photograph, page, graph or moving film can be focussed onto the screen within seconds.

The technology on this disc will know no bounds and it can be used by Government or tourist alike to gain any kind of information which is required on a particular area of Britain. Though the machines at present are expensive, it is hoped that places like libraries or tourist information centres will provide the source of information to the public.

Perhaps in 2086, the 1000th anniversary of the Domesday Book, future generations will easily read information about Barwick-in-Elmet which will describe life as it was a century earlier.

Margaret P. Berry
May 1986.

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