Barton-under-Needwood. This village is situated on the south-east side of the forest, half a mile west of the Roman road called Ikenild-street, and the same distance from the Grand Trunk Canal, four miles from Burton, and eight from Lichfield.
The original name of this village was Berton, a Saxon word, signifying a farm-yard, with the usual barns and other buildings.
In Doomsday-book it is expressly mentioned as the property of the Crown. "The King holds Bertune: Earl Algar formerly held it. Here are three hides, with their appurtenances; the arable land is 18 carucates; in demesne are two carucates, and two servants and 17 villans, and eight bordars have nine carucates; there are 20 acres of meadow; a wood two miles in length and one in breadth; and a mill of six shillings rent. At the time of Edward the Confessor the whole was worth six pounds, and now seven pounds."
This manor was granted by the King to Henry de Ferrers. Afterwards it was for some time in the tenure of Walter de Somerville, who gave it to William de Ferrer, Earl of Derby, in exchange for Dunstall and Newbold. It continued in this family till it was forfeited by Robert, Earl of Derby, who rebelled against Henry III in 1263; in consequence of which it was given to Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, the King's youngest son, and continued with other estates in the Duchy of Lancaster. It was forfeited to the Crown by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and Edward II. in the 19th year of his reign, leased this manor for seven years to Philip de Somerville, at the rent of £55 per annum to be paid into the Exchequer.
This manor continued in the Crown, in the right of the Duchy of Lancaster, till the time of Charles I. who, in 1629, sold it with the park to the city of London, in trustees' names; and they soon afterwards passed to Sir Edward Bromfield, Alderman of London. Dr. Plott, in his map of Staffordshire, in 1682, gives the arms of Bromfield, then living at Barton; and Hurdman, who wrote in 1692, thus describes the village: "Barton is a good country town; hath several gentlemen and freeholders in it. The present owner of it is Charles Bromfield, Esq. who hath a copyhold court here.
The most remarkable thing is a very fine chapel, built by John Taylor, LLd 29 Henry VIII. this being the place of his nativity." From this period it was possessed by several proprietors in succession: the present owner is Eusebius Horton, Esq. The soil of this parish is generally light and gravelly.
On the north side of the village stands Barton-hall, a good modern mansion. In the street leading to the church is a curious ancient building, with yew trees in front. This mansion was formerly inhabited by a gentleman of the ancient family of Sanders.
Barton Church is a chapel of ease to Tatenhill, and is dedicated to St. James. The origin of this chapel is curious. In the sixteenth century, a man named Taylor dwelt in a small cottage near the place where the chapel now stands. His wife was delivered of three sons at a birth, and the infants were shewn as a curiosity to Henry the Seventh, who accidentally passed that way. The King ordered that care should be taken to have the boys educated: they all lived to be men, and as the tradition goes, all came to be doctors, and to good preferment. The eldest son, John, however, not only rose to eminence as a scholar and divine, but gratefully founded this chapel in the place of his nativity. The chapel is neatly built of durable stone, and contains several monuments.
Barton Free School was founded in 1595, by Thomas Russel, of London, who bequeathed £50 for that purpose, and a certain landcharge for the endowment of the same. The annual produce is £19 and the trustees the Draper's Company. The school-house is an ancient fabric, situated at the eastern extremity of the village.
By the benevolence of the Rev. Thomas Gisborne, the schoolmaster's salary has been increased to £50 a year; and the present teacher, the Rev. Mr. Kirk, obtained a subscription towards repairs, and engaged a classical assistant. His public spirit deserves commendation, and he will probably be enabled to establish a respectable seminary of education.
A little southward of Barton stands Blakenhall, once the principal seat of the ancient family of Mynors.