Home Places Streets and Communities Round Your Way – Barnburgh

Round Your Way – Barnburgh

July 1949

South Yorkshire Times – Saturday 9 July 1949

Round Your Way – Barnburgh

I was standing in the shade of the trees by the Coach and Horses in Barnburgh when I met a man who became a travelling showman when he was eighteen. Born in Barnburgh, he travelled the length and breadth of the country – and can still take care of any animal you like to give him. If ever you drop across him in Barnburgh, he’ll probably tell you how to make a lion look fierce.

Events which shape one’s life hang on tiny threads, He joined them because the circus happened to run into a breakdown — and the spot was Barnburgh.

We looked across at High Street.

“There’s history for you, he said, “See those three houses? At one time they were all inns, the New Inn, the old Coach and Horses, and the Plumbers’ Arms . The last man to sell beer at the New Inn was “Seppie” Hopkinson; at the old Coach and Horses, Jim Bolton. The licence was transferred to the new inn close by in 1937. Last licensee of the Plumbers’ Arms, closed 20 years ago was Mrs. Greaves.” His eyes were filled with reminiscence. “They buried her only recently.”

The Plumbers’ Arms was a signal Corps H.Q during the war. You will still find the faded words, “O.C. signals” on the door.

Barnburgh, of course, is famous for the legend of the Cat and Man. In St Peter’s Church you will find the tomb of Percival Cresacre, a Knight who according to the Barnburgh legend, was killed by a wild cat, and in the act of dying fell on and killed the cat.

That was in 1477, during the reign of Henry VI. I was interested to find that other visitors come to Percival Cresacre’s  tomb: there was an offertory plate by the side of the inscription and at least four other gifts had been left there recently.

Two other features charmed me n St. Peter’s Church — the gravestones in the chancel which tell not merely the names and ages of those worshippers long since gone,  but much about their lives and thoughts, and the memorial to the four men of Barnburgh who gave their lives in the 1939-45 war.

It was the added inscription I found pleasing; I have seen no other similar inscription anywhere else in South Yorkshire. It reads—”and in gratitude for the safe return of those whose lives were spared. There was a faint scent of roses and sweet Williams as I sat beneath his plaque, brilliant sunshine filing the east window with light, and great calm about me, save for the distant whistle of a loco and the wittering of sparrows in the rafters.

Marks of the modern world have been superimposed on old Barnburgh. Electric power cables reach across the road to the church tower rid to old Barnburgh houses. Tractors, rather than horses, rumble along the roads with loads of hay. By the Coach and Horses a little girl with a yellow ribbon in her hair was playing with a toy tank.

My travelling showman friend picked up his bicycle. “There’s a remarkable old man,” he said, indicating an old man who was passing by. He told me how, in his eighties, this grand old man would set off to walk to Doncaster at 6-30 in the morning, see all there was to see in Doncaster then walk back to Barnburgh.

Seven miles in an hour and three-quarters each journey wasn’t bad going for a man in his eighties. Never been on a train; never seen the sea.

“Have you ever been abroad I asked my friend. “Isle of Wight – that’s all” he said. And he rode away into the sunshine.