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Doncaster is a large minster town in South Yorkshire, England, named after the Don River, which runs through it. It is the largest settlement in the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster and the second largest in South Yorkshire, after Sheffield. Doncaster, founded by the Romans, is a major regional hub with good transportation, heritage sites, and recreation centers. Because of its large market center and market charter status from medieval times, it is also considered a market town. The town of Doncaster (identified as the built-up area subdivision) had a population of 109,805 in the 2011 census, while the wider built-up area had a population of 158,141.
The international Doncaster Sheffield Airport is 6 miles (10 kilometers) away in Finningley. Sheffield is 17 miles (27 kilometers) south-west, Leeds is 25 miles (40 kilometers) north-west, York is 30 miles (48 kilometers) north, Hull is 36 miles (58 kilometers) north-east, and Lincoln is 32 miles (51 kilometers) south-east. Armthorpe, Bessacarr, and Sprotbrough are among Doncaster’s suburbs. Within the metropolitan borough, the towns of Bawtry, Mexborough, Conisbrough, Hatfield, and Stainforth, among others, are only a short distance away. To the east are the Lincolnshire towns of Epworth and Haxey, and to the south is the Nottinghamshire town of Harworth Bircotes. Barnsley, Wakefield, Pontefract, Selby, Goole, Scunthorpe, Gainsborough, Retford, Worksop, and Rotherham are also nearby, with which Doncaster is connected by road and rail.
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Doncaster grew up on the site of a Roman fort from the first century CE, at a crossing of the River Don. The fort Danum was mentioned in the Antonine Itinerary of the second century and the Notitia Dignitatum (Register of Dignitaries) of the early fifth century. The first road to the Doncaster fort was most likely built in the early 1950s, while a route through the north Derbyshire hills was opened in the late 1st century, possibly by Governor Gn. Julius Agricola in the late 70s. Doncaster provided an alternate land route between Lincoln and York, whereas the main route Ermine Street required parties to split up and cross the Humber in boats. Doncaster was an important staging post for the Romans, despite the fact that this was not always practical. The Roman road is mentioned on two routes in the Antonine Itinerary. The route includes the same section of road between Lincoln and York, as well as three stations in between these two colonies. Routes 7 and 8 (Iter VII and VIII) are dubbed “the York-London route.”
Several areas of intense archaeological interest in the town have been identified, though many, such as St Sepulchre Gate, remain hidden beneath buildings. The Roman fort is thought to have stood on the current site of St George’s Minster, alongside the River Don. The Garrison Units of Doncaster are named in a Register produced near the end of Roman rule in Britain: it was the home of the Crispinian Horse, presumably named after the tribes living near Crispiana in Pannonia Superior (near present-day Zirc in western Hungary), but possibly after Crispus, son of Constantine the Great, who was headquartered there while his father was based in nearby York. The unit is commanded by the “Duke of the Britons,” according to the Register.
The Danum shield, a rectangular Roman shield dating from the first or second century CE, was discovered in 1971 on the site of the Danum fort.
In 1781, an inscribed altar dedicated to the Matres by Marcus Nantonius Orbiotalus was discovered at St Sepulchre Gate.
In 1856, this was given to the Yorkshire Museum.
Medieval Doncaster is commonly identified with Cair Daun, which is listed as one of 28 British cities in Nennius’ 9th-century History of the Britons.
It was undoubtedly an Anglo-Saxon burh, and it received its current name during that time period: “Don-” (Old English: Donne) from the settlement and river, and “-caster” (-ceaster) from an Old English version of the Latin castra (military camp; fort). It was mentioned in Wulfric Spott’s will in 1003. Nigel Fossard refortified the town and built Conisbrough Castle shortly after the Norman Conquest. Hexthorpe in the wapentake of Strafforth was said to have a church and two mills at the time of the Domesday Book. According to historian David Hey, these facilities represent the Doncaster settlement. He also claims that the street name Frenchgate refers to Fossard’s invitation to fellow Normans to trade in town. In the Treaty of Durham, Doncaster was ceded to Scotland and was never formally returned to England.
Doncaster grew into a bustling town by the 13th century. With the issuance of a town charter in 1194, King Richard I granted it national recognition. In 1204, it was destroyed by a devastating fire, from which it slowly recovered. Buildings were made of wood at the time, and open fireplaces were used for cooking and heating.
In 1846, the Norman church of St Mary Magdalene was demolished.
A charter was granted in 1248 for Doncaster Market to be held in the area surrounding the Norman Church of St Mary Magdalene. The church was converted into a town hall in the 16th century. In 1846, it was finally demolished. The market is still open after 750 years, with busy traders located under cover, at the 19th-century Corn Exchange building (1873), and in outside stalls. Following a major fire in 1994, the Corn Exchange was extensively rebuilt.
During the 14th century, a swarm of friars arrived in Doncaster, known for their religious zeal and preaching. Franciscan friars (Greyfriars) arrived in 1307, followed by Carmelites (Whitefriars) in the mid-14th century. Other notable medieval features included the Hospital of St Nicholas and the Hospital of St James’ leper colony, a moot hall, a grammar school, and a five-arched stone town bridge with a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Bridge. Doncaster was the wealthiest town in southern Yorkshire and the sixth in Yorkshire overall by 1334, with its own banker. It had recovered from the Black Death, which had reduced its population to 1,500 by 1379. The Pilgrimage of Grace came to an end in Doncaster in October 1536. In protest of Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, the lawyer Robert Aske led a rebellion of 40,000 Yorkshire people against him. Many of Doncaster’s streets are named with the suffix “-gate,” which is derived from the old Danish word gata, which means “street.” Craftsmen or tradesmen with similar skills tended to live in the same street in medieval times. Baxter is an ancient word for baker, and Baxtergate was a street for bakers. Historians believe Frenchgate was named after the French-speaking Normans who lived there.
The medieval township was known to have been fortified with earthen ramparts and ditches, with four substantial gates serving as town entrances. Hall Gate, St Mary’s Bridge (old), St Sepulchre Gate, and Sunny Bar all had them. Today, huge “Boar Gates” commemorate the gates at Sunny Bar, and white marble “Roman Gates” commemorate the entrance to St Sepulchre Gate. The town’s boundaries mainly extended from the Don along a route now known as Market Road, Silver Street, Cleveland Street, and Printing Office Street.
Doncaster District’s population is based on census data.
Access to the town was restricted, and some elected officials obtained charters to collect tolls. King James I granted the right to levy tolls at Friar’s and St Mary’s bridges to William Levett of Doncaster, brother of York merchant Percival Levett, in 1605. The Levetts, having served as mayors and aldermen in Doncaster, most likely believed they could control a monopoly. The family began enforcing it in 1618, but by 1628, the populace had revolted. Percival’s son, Capt. Christopher Levett, petitioned Parliament to enforce the tolls, but Parliament refused, calling them “a grievance to the subjects, both in creation and execution,” and abolishing the Levett monopoly. Doncaster’s Levet Road is named after the family, as are the nearby hamlets of Hooton Levitt and the now-defunct Levitt Hagg, which supplied much of the town’s early limestone.
Doncaster continued to grow in the 16th and 17th centuries, but it was plagued by several outbreaks between 1562 and 1606. Each claimed a large number of victims.
During the First English Civil War, King Charles I marched through Bridgnorth, Lichfield, and Ashbourne to Doncaster, where he was met by a large number of Yorkshire gentlemen who had rallied to his cause on August 18, 1645. Doncaster was granted the title of Free Borough on May 2, 1664, as a way for the King (Charles I’s son, King Charles II) to express gratitude for the allegiance.
Doncaster was connected to the rail network in 1848, and in 1853, the Great Northern Railway built a plant and carriage works in the town.
The Doncaster Carr rail depot first opened its doors in 1876.
From the 1850s onwards, the area to the east of Doncaster began to develop settlements where coal miners lived, exploiting coal near Barnsley. Deneby is one such settlement.
Doncaster and its surrounding settlements were incorporated into the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1899. It was incorporated into a new metropolitan borough under the Local Government Act of 1972 in 1974 and became part of the new county of South Yorkshire.
Cusworth Hall front Doncaster has a long history of prosperity within the wapentake of Stafford and Tickhill.
Rich landowners and massive stately homes such as Brodsworth Hall, Cantley Hall, Cusworth Hall, Hickleton Hall, Nether Hall, and Wheatley Hall were common in the borough (demolished 1934). This wealth can be seen in the opulent, gilded 18th-century Mansion House on High Street. This land ownership developed over an ancient market place, and large buildings, such as the Market Hall and Corn Exchange, were built in the nineteenth century. The old Doncaster Guildhall in Frenchgate was designed by John Butterfield and completed in 1847, with a tetrastyle portico; it was demolished during the 1960s redevelopment.
Sir George Gilbert Scott designed St George’s Minster in the 1850s, and it is a grade I listed building.
St George’s Minster, built in the nineteenth century and elevated from a parish church in 2004, is perhaps the most striking surviving structure.
By this time, Doncaster had become a communications hub. It was strategically important because it straddled the Great North Road, or A1, which was the main route for traffic between London and Edinburgh.
Geography of people
Doncaster is the second most populous town in South Yorkshire and the largest metropolitan district in England in terms of land area. With the development of coal mining, its population grew dramatically. The closure of coal mines in the 1970s and early 1980s caused economic difficulties; the town then developed its service industry, leveraging its excellent communication links with the rest of the UK.
The skyline of Doncaster, with St George’s Minster in the foreground.
Doncaster’s skyline is dominated by the minster in the heart of the city. Along with the Doncaster College Hub building, the Frenchgate Shopping Centre dominates the skyline.
Following the demolition of the old Doncaster College and surrounding buildings, Cartwright Pickard designed and built a new Doncaster Civic Office for Doncaster Council at a cost of £20 million, which was completed in 2012.