This volume was originally intended to be merely a short history and description of the Parish Church in connection with its recent Restoration. It was afterwards thought best, however, to make it include those other branches of parochial history which more or less gather round the history of the Church.
It will be obvious to the reader that matters are frequently introduced into these pages which have no very immediate connection with Cawthorne or with Cawthorne more than any other Parish; that the pages are here and there loaded in an unusual manner with explanations; and also that some of the descriptions have been carried to great minuteness of detail, and matters mentioned which seem of very trivial importance.
This has not been done without a purpose. In the first place, it has been my wish to show in some measure how the chronicles of even a country Parish like our own interlace themselves with the most memorable events of our national life and history: how they bear traces of Saxon England's Conversion to Christianity, of the Norman Conquest and its Feudalism, of the Wars of the Roses, of the Dissolution of Religious Houses, of the Great Rebellion, and of other national crises.
The introduction of so many explanations of even familiar words and usages will shew that the author has not compiled his History for the learned antiquary or even the educated scholar, but rather for those who already feel some interest in Cawthorne, through residence, neighbourhood, or family connection, and who will feel an increased interest in its history from having the origin and meaning of familiar words and customs thus explained. The explanations are given in the text to avoid the distraction of foot-notes.
In defence of any wearisome minuteness, I would only give a remark of Pugin on Architecture: "Even the smallest details should have a meaning or serve a purpose." It is not without a meaning or purpose of some kind, that anything has been described at length or even mentioned at all in these pages. As for any lengthened descriptions in connection with the Church, the author fully agrees with one who has said, "If we place beautiful and costly ornaments and furniture in our Churches, the poorest person in the Parish should be taught the meaning of them."
The trivial and almost domestic details of Parish life are given under the impression that even such matters may not be altogether without interest to the Cawthorne people of the next century, if these pages should ever chance to fall into their hands.
It is obvious that a book written at intervals will shew signs of its fragmentary composition, nor can it be expected that it should be altogether free from errors or omissions. Some pains have been taken to make it as accurate as possible, and any omissions will, it is hoped, be gradually supplied by those who take an interest in the Parish. To encourage corrections and additions, several blank pages will be bound with each volume. It is suggested, that into these pages copies should be made of any inscriptions on family headstones; the dates of family Births, Baptisms, &c; personal recollections of any who are mentioned in the History, or of any others in the Parish, which are for any reason worth preserving; curious or amusing anecdotes of persons and places; old traditions or customs which seem likely to die out; alterations which are from time to time made in things mentioned in the volume; photographs of any home or birthplace. It has not been the intention of the author to make the History one of elaborate pedigrees or personal recollections, so much as merely a means of preserving ancient and modern records connected with the Parish, and making them more widely known among those who are likely to feel an interest in them.
It was intended at one time that an Index should be added which would include every Place and Person mentioned. The introduction of so many names has rendered it impossible within reasonable limits. The Headings of the several Chapters in the Table of Contents will, it is hoped, be found generally sufficient.
To those who have in any way assisted me I have the pleasant duty of thus publicly though generally expressing my best thanks.
The compilation of the following pages has been to me a source of increasing interest and pleasure. both in itself and in the historical and other researches into which it has led me: I can only hope that at least some small measure of the same kind of interest may be felt by some of its readers.
Cawthorne Vicarage: Oct., 1882.