East Hardwick is a small village located in the valley of the river Went in West Yorkshire. It is an ancient community, adjoining the line of the Roman Great North Road now linking Pontefract to the North with the A1 and Doncaster in the south.
The village name does not appear in the Domesday Book of 1086, but is referred to in a deed dated 1120 as Herdwica, and in 1296 as Herdwyk. The name means herd farm – an area used for livestock rather than arable farming. The name East Hardwick had appeared by 1424.
The township, later civil parish of East Hardwick lies in the ecclesiastical parish of Pontefract, and was small at 528 acres. It became an independent parish in 1876 and its church record dates from 1874.
The earliest map dates from 1800 when the open fields were being enclosed. Two farms: Manor Farm and Norman’s farm extended over 150 acres and records show cattle farming as well as wheat, oats, barley, potatoes and pea production.
The layout of the village changed when the turnpike or toll-charging road from Leeds to Barnsdale Bar for fast horse-drawn traffic was built running through East Hardwick. Tolls were charged until 1878.
Until 1974 the village was part of Osgoldcross Rural District. It is now part of Wakefield Metropolitan District.
The population in 1811 was 81, rising to 213 in 1861 probably as a result of the success of the two boarding schools. By 1911 it was 150. The village primary school was closed in the 1980s. There is a small church, St Stephen’s, and a village hall but no village shop or post office. The population is now 173 (2011 Census).
Today East Hardwick consists of three main areas: the Kennels, around Doncaster Road , the hamlet of Hundhill, and the main part of the village located along Darrington road, a small winding road leading to the what is known locally as ‘the Moor’. The village is still based around farming, although it is now a mixed community of residents.
Adapted from East Hardwick Past and Present, East Hardwick Millennium Book Project group 2000.