Laughton-en-le-Morthen is a small dormitory village and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham lying to the south of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England, and its main attraction is the All Saints Church with its huge spire. It has a population of 1,185.
Before 1066 Laughton belonged to Earl Edwin who had a hall there. Held by Roger de Busli in 1086, Laughton was the head of a large soke within the honour of Tickhill. Laughton was a thriving village. Roger de Busli had 5 plough teams of his own and the population of 33 villeins and 6 small holders had ten plough teams between them. Eventually the de Busli honour of Tickhill passed to King Henry I, who gave the church of Laughton to the Canon of York.
Until the 13th century The Manor of Laughton remained in the hands of the crown. The Manor was then given to Geoffrey de Lusignan by Prince Edward, son of Henry III.
Drogo de Merlawe was Lord of the Manor in the reign of Edward II. In 1332 the lordship had passed to the Frenchman Ralph, Earl of Eu.
In 1332 Vicar of Laughton, James de Brampton was fined for beating Hugh de Lindesay, one of the Earl of Eu servants. The estates of the Earl were seized at the outbreak of the 100 Year War and returned into the hands of the crown.
Together with the Honour of Tickhill it was passed to the King's son, John of Gaunt. When his son ascended the throne as Henry the IV, Laughton once again passed into the hands of the crown.
In the poll tax of 1379 Laughton lists 232 people assessed for the tax, representing a population of 450. The Laughton entry includes tax payers living in nearby townships. The most prosperous inhabitant was John de Kirke who was described as a "Marchant Sufficant" (literally "supply merchant"). He was assessed at the sum of 13s 4d, showing that he was a very wealthy man indeed. A draper and a cattle merchant were assessed at 1s while 13 tradesmen paid 6d.
In 1577 The Manor of Laughton was in the hands of the Queen. By the 17th century it had passed to the Lords of Kiveton, the Eyre family. In 1644 Sir Gervas Eyre was killed fighting for the King at the siege of Newark. In 1767 Anthony Eyre his great grandson sold the manor to Anthony St Ledger of Parkhill, Firbeck. In Laughton the Hatfeilds were the main rivals of the Eire's. The Hatfeilds came to Laughton when Ralph Hatfeild married a daughter of Robert Mirfield of Thurcroft.
By 1607, however, the Mirfin family (sometimes spelled Mirfield) was apparently in some financial distress. In a deed of that year "Robert Mirfin of Thurcroft, yeoman," conveyed to "Anthony Eyre of Laughton, esquire, and Thomas Levet (Levett) of Melton on the Hill, gentleman, and his heirs" several parcels of land formerly held by the Mirfin family in Laughton and surrounding areas.
In 1652 Martha, the 12 year old daughter of Anthony and Faith Hatfeild, gained national notoriety when she was seized by an illness which caused her to have fits which prevented her from moving or seeing. During these fits she was able to speak and astonished people with the piety and wisdom of her utterances. Visitors and pilgrims came from far and wide to see her. Between 1653 and 1664 a book about her, "The Wise Virgin", ran to 5 editions. After 8 months the fits passed and normality returned to Laughton. The Hatfeild dynasty of Laughton lasted until 1791 when the unmarried John Hatfeild died.
In the Hearth Tax return of 1672, the parish of Laughton lists 105 houses, of which 94 paid the tax, of these over half had only 1 hearth. Schoolmaster John Broomhead occupied a house with 5 hearths while Nicholas Pearson's house boasted 14, William Hatfeild had 13 and William Beckwith at Thurcroft Hall had 11. The Hearth Tax was a shilling a hearth collected twice a year at Michelmas and Lady Day. Rev Robert Browne reported in the 1743 Visitation Returns that there were 107 families in the parish.
Laughton All Saints Church was Mother church to a large area, an indication of Laughton's importance in Anglo-Saxon times. The original Saxon church was of a simple rectangular construction. It is suggested that this church was destroyed following Earl Edwin's unsuccessful rebellion against William I in 1069–70, but there is no evidence to support this. Rebuilding in Norman style began in 1190 when a North aisle was added. The church was rebuilt again in 1377 and it was at this time that the tower and spire were added. The architect for this work was probably William of Wykeham as he had been appointed Prebend of Laughton en le Morthen in York Minster in 1363. Salisbury Cathedral is another of Williams' works. The North arcade of the nave retains its Norman columns, while in the lower courses of the chancel walls Saxon stonework can be seen.
A pre-Reformation stone altar table which was found buried in the South aisle during the 19th century is contained in the Lady Chapel. In 1857 considerable alterations and repairs to the church were carried out and paid for by AFB St Ledger, the Lord of the Manor.
In 1693 the vicarage was described as "a dwelling containing about three bays of building". It had been enlarged to 5 bays by 1716. As late as 1817 most of the downstairs rooms still had earth floors. The present vicarage dates from 1840.
In 1610 Edmund Laughton of Throapham and Anthony Eyre gave adjoining plots of land for the construction of the Laughton Endowed School "for the learning and instruction in learning of the children of the inhabitants of the township and parish of Laughton". Endowments were also made by John West, William Beckwith and William Laughton. A house for the school master was erected 1670. Local trustees had the power to levy rates on the inhabitants for the support of the school. In 1820 the school was found to be in "ruin and decay" by Charity Commissioners and the trust deeds had been lost. By the mid-19th century the school was accepted as a Church of England Aided School. In 1850 the building was extended. The 1865 Visitation Returns state that there was a boys' and girl's school, the boys' school being supported by the endowments and the other by public subscription.
Moves were made to enclose the remaining open fields and commons shortly after Anthony St Ledger purchased the manor of Laughton. In 1769 The Act of Parliament for the enclosure was passed and the process was completed in 1771. Over the years a considerable portion of the parish had already been enclosed. Almost of the of newly enclosed land was allotted to Anthony St Ledger as Lord of the Manor, to Doctor Hugh Thomas prebend of Laughton and to John Hatfield.
The enclosure award replaced the payment of tithes in kind on the newly enclosed lands, replacing them with a rent charge. Tithes remained payable on the old enclosures until they were converted by the Tithe Award of 1840.