The Etymology of the Name Gayton

There are several places in England called Gayton and for some of them the most likely origin is a combination of geit 'goat' and tun 'farmstead', therefore 'the farmstead of goats', but in this case it seems unlikely. Two other suggestions for the first element of the name are geat, the Saxon word for 'gateway', or in some cases 'roadway', and a hypothetical personal name Gæga, so its either 'the farmstead by the gateway/road' or 'the farmstead of Gæga'. The name has been recorded variously as Gaitone (1086A.D.), Gaytone (1227A.D.) and Gaytun (1272A.D.). (Gelling & Cole, p.171; Mills, p.149; Poulton-Smith, p.54)

Prehistoric and Roman Gayton (c.10,000B.C. - A.D.410)

There is no evidence for any human activity in Gayton prior to the early-Medieval or Anglo-Saxon period.

Early-Medieval Gayton (A.D.410 1066)

Physical evidence for the Anglo-saxon settlement of Gayton is sadly lacking, but we are assured that the village existed, at least during the latter part of this period, due to the documentary evidence presented in Domesday.

Domesday Gaitone (A.D.1086)

"[Land of Earl Roger] GAITONE (Gayton) and MERSETONE (Amerton). Wulfric and Gosbert hold from him. 1 hide. Land for 4 ploughs. In lordship 1. 10 villagers have 4 ploughs with 6 smallholders. Meadow, 6 acres; woodland 1 league long and ½ wide. Value 30s. Aelmer and Alric held them." (The Domesday Book, 1086, 8.13)

The Domesday entry for Gayton is conflated with that of its neighbouring village of Amerton, and together they had a tax assessment of one 'hide', with about 480 acres of cleared arable land between them. 120 acres of this land was in the possession of the lords of the manor, and we may assume that the Saxon ceorl Wulfric who had been granted the land formerly held by his Saxon countryman Ælmer, held about 60 acres of land in Gayton while his neighbour in Amerton held a similar amount of land. The two villages had ten land-owning villagers or 'villeins' and a further eight tenant farmers who leased land from the lords of the manor, who, between them, could muster the four plough-teams of oxen required to make full use of the available farmland. The two villages also shared six acres of common meadowland and an area of woodland amounting to ¾ of a square mile or 480 acres.

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Medieval Gayton (A.D.1066 - 1540)

There are several relics of the Medieval period in Gayton and the surrounding area. Located on the south-western edge of the village and labelled as a Moat on the O.S. Landranger map, Moat Farm (SJ 9783 2834) occupies the site of a moated manor house and the remains of its moat and an associated fishpond in the fields to the south-west between the Gayton Brook and Church Lane (SJ 9768 2832) are still visible as earthworks. Another post-Medieval manor house lies between Wetmore Green and Vicarage Bank in the centre of Gayton Village (SJ 9822 2861) which incorporates the shell of a Medieval 'cruck-trussed' house within its superstructure, the earthwork remains of an associated Fishpond nearby (SJ 9813 2870) is also marked on the O.S. Landranger. Nearby Weston Manor is another example of a late-Medieval moated manor house. (AHDS)

Saint Peter's Church

The oldest part of this church is the archway between the nave and the chancel, visible only from within, which dates from the 12th century. The body of the chancel dates to the 13th century, as do the four bay arcades in the south of the nave, the arcades in the north wall of the nave belong to the 15th century. The rest of the church is post-Medieval, the archways of the northern arcades were blocked up when the north aisle was removed in 1732, at the same time the tower at the west end was added. The south aisle of the nave and its porch, the east wall of the chancel and the vestry attached to its north wall all date from a rebuild undertaken during the 1870's. (Salter, tOPCoS, p.47)

In the eastern part of St. Peter's Churchyard in the centre of the village (SJ 9785 2840) lies the socket stone of a Medieval churchyard cross which is probably not in situ, and has very likely been moved here from elsewhere. Gayton is also the documented site of a Holy Well which is known to have been in use during Medieval and post-Medieval times but has since been lost, possibly through the source of the well 'drying out' due to changes in the local geology. The church of Saint Andrew in Weston is a 13th century foundation rebuilt during the late-19th. (AHDS)

Post-Medieval Gayton (A.D.1540 - 1901)

The most significant post-Medieval development in the area of Gayton occurred with the advent of the railways in the mid-19th century, the first of which, the North Staffordshire Railway opened in 1848 and passed about ¾-mile to the south-west of Gayton, stopping at Weston and Ingestre Station (SJ 977272) which closed completely in 1963 although the line remains in use. Another line, the Stafford and Uttoxeter Railway, opened in 1867 branching off the existing N.S.R. line one mile due south of Gayton (SJ 983267) but was closed in 1939 and finally dismantled in 1957. (AHDS)

Modern Gayton (A.D.1901 - Present day)

During the Second World War a Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post was situated south of Gayton just opposite the junction of Vicarage Bank with Wadden Lane in the fields of Waddon Farm (SJ 9813 2790), which was also in use during the following 'Cold War' period and still remains in good condition. The facility, which actually lies in the parish of Weston, was sited here to act as an early-warning system for Hixon Airfield about 1½ miles to the south-east. (AHDS; OS)


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Bibliography

Domesday Book - Staffordshire Ed. by John Morris (Phillimore, Chichester, 1976);
Staffordshire Place-Names including The Black Country by Anthony Poulton-Smith (Countryside, Berkshire, 1995);
The Old Parish Churches of Staffordshire by Mike Salter (Folly, Malvern, 1996);
Dictionary of English Place-Names by A.D. Mills (Oxford, 2nd Ed. 1998);
The Landscape of Place-Names by Margaret Gelling & Ann Cole (Shaun Tyas, Stamford, 2000);
Domesday Book - A Complete Translation Ed. by The Alecto Domesday Editorial Board (Penguin, London, 2002);

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