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Burton on the Wolds




Six Hills

Walton on the Wolds

Willoughby on the Wolds


Wymeswold Airfield

Walton on the Wolds records

early C17th Wymeswold constable's accounts

Wymeswold census returns 1841 to 1901

Wymeswold parish registers 1560 onwards

Wymeswold marriage registers 1560 to 1916

Wymeswold Village Design Statement 2002

WHO archive catalogue

the WHO's 'virtual museum'

WHO publications available as free PDFs

The Wolds Historian 2004–2008

2000 Years of the Wolds

A walk Around Wymeswold

Wymeswold fieldwalking report 1993

In addition the WHO has digitised versions of:

Email bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk to discuss access to these.

This website does not gather or store any visitor information.

The Wolds Historical Organisation

The Wolds Historical Organisation (WHO) was founded in 1987 to promote interest in the local history of the villages on the western side of the Leicestershire Wolds, specifically Wymeswold, Burton on the Wolds, Hoton, Prestwold and Cotes.
    More details about the location of the Wolds here.
    More details about the history of the WHO here.
In the 1980s there were other groups researching the history of Walton and Willoughby but sadly they folded so in recent years the WHO 'adopted' these villages too.

Over the decades WHO members have written a substantial number of articles and transcribed most of the relevant records, such as census returns. There are well over a hundred such 'pages' on this web site, all accessible via links on the left-hand side of this screen. A significant number of more substantial contributions are available as free PDFs. The 'search this site' feature (at the top of the left hand column) helps find specific information.

WHO talks

The principal activities of the WHO are talks on the third Tuesday of September, October, November, February, March, April, May and June. During the summer there is a trip to a local place of interest while in January there is an annual meal followed by a short AGM.

Meetings take place in the Jubilee Room of Wymeswold Memorial Hall, Clay Street, Wymeswold, LE12 6TY and start promptly at 7.45 pm.

Non-members most welcome but will be asked to contribute 3.00. There is a lift to the Jubilee Room if visitors have difficulty with stairs.

For further information about WHO activities please telephone Bob Trubshaw on 01476 565174 or email bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk

Programme for 2021

[subject to any changes in government guidance]

21st SeptemberPhilip Thorpe A Small Selection of Toys from Yesteryear
19th OctoberMartin Tingle Archaeological Frauds
16th NovemberRichard Knight Wymeswold Airfield Operations
14th December
Note this is the second not the third Tuesday in the month
Martin Speight Charnwood Water Supply, From Fearon to Present

WHO committee members

Chair: Philip Thorpe
Vice Chair: Bob Trubshaw
Hon Secretary: David Keene
Hon Treasurer: Debbie Bilham

committee members:
Patricia Baker, Phil Deniff, Richard Ellison, Viv Marshall

To contact the WHO committee please email bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk or phone Bob Trubshaw on 01476 565174.

WHO updates

If you're not already on the WHO's email update list and would like to receive news of what's happening then please email bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk with the message 'Add to WHO update list'. Your email address will not be revealed to anyone else or used for any other purpose.


When James Ella 'went to ground'

    '… this year has robbed us of another veteran of the Chase, James Ella of Wymeswold, who, after seventy-two winters – more than fifty of which he had been known in the field – "went to ground" last month.'
So commenced T.R. Potter's effusive obituary for someone who had clearly been a good friend, published anonymously as 'The Hermit in Leicestershire' in the August 1834 edition of Sporting Magazine. See james_ella_obit.pdf for the full text. Worth reading for T.R. Potter's writing style!

Thanks to Philip Denniff for using Google to track down a digitised copy of the relevant Sporting Magazine held by the New York Library.


Charnwood slates and trade routes

Some of the Charnwood slate gravestones in Barrowby churchyard.

About twelve years ago, when living in Market Harborough, I discovered a surprising number of Charnwood slate gravestones throughout north Northamptonshire. These seem to be evidence of a trade route between Leicester and the limestone quarries in Northamptonshire.

Since moving to Barrowby I've discovered another suprising 'crop' of Charnwood slate gravestones around Grantham. These seem to be previously-unrecognised evidence for a trade route bringing salt from along a well-known 'salt road' from Kings Lynn via Grantham and part of what is now the A607, then to Six Hills to Barrow on Soar.

In both cases the slate seems to have been a profitable return load for the carriers. But, after selling the slates in Grantham, what did they buy that could be sold profitably in north Norfolk?

More details here: www.hoap.co.uk/barrowby/charnwood_slates.htm

Bob Trubshaw


Wymeswold School Logbook 1876–1918

Keith James has kindly provided a summary of the first thirty-or-so years of the Wymeswold School Logbook.

The Zeppelin raid on Loughborough which took place on 31st Jan 1916 is mentioned in the log book.

The Zeppelin which bombed Loughborough made another bombing raid on Britain but crashed off the Norwegian coast, near Stavenger. This newspaper photograph is in the collection of Stavenger city archive.


Farming the Wolds in the 1930s

In the 1930s Dudley Stamp formed the Land Utilisation Survey of Britain, a major project to survey of the whole country using volunteers, who included colleagues, students, school teachers and pupils. Publication of maps and reports began in 1933 and was completed in 1948, after interruption by the Second World War.

Because of the need for more arable farming during and after the war, and the increasing mechanisation of farming, this survey provides significant detail about agricultural activities just at the time farming practices began to transform rapidly.

The report on Leicestershire was published in 1943. This is the section on the Wolds.


Olympic Torch

Olympic torch

Remember when the Gary Lineaker carried the Olympic Torch through Wymeswold back in July 2012? Well someone uploaded a video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXb1r6z2kEg.


Memories of a Country Girlhood

nell smith book covers

It's nearly forty years since 'Nell' Smith published the first of her four books recounting life in Wymeswold from the 1920s onwards. Just to remind people of how much information she provided the opening chapter of her first book as been added to this web site.

The WHO has stocks of all four books written by Ellen 'Nell' Smith and illustrated by Susan Jalland. These were published in the early 1980s and describe life in Wymeswold during the seventy years from around the First World War until nearly fifty years ago.

Sets of all four books cost 10 per set (the first two volumes are editions printed in 2005; the third and fourth volumes are the original 1980s editions) plus p&p. Email bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk for details of how to pay.

The Oddfellows of Willoughby

A rare photograph of members of the Willoughby Fallow Field Lodge of the Nottingham Ancient Imperial United Order of Oddfellows (to give them their fulsome title) taken in 1896 has inspired David Bailey to research the cottages on Main Street in Willoughby which they used as a 'clubhouse'.

Willoughby Oddfellows

Enclosure and wayside grazing rights in Burton

Joan Shaw has contibuted two new articles:–

The articles look at the way Burton's Enclosure and wayside grazing rights came about – and how they are different to similar arrangements in Wymeswold and other nearby villages.

The history of Willoughby

Several PDFs about the history of Willoughby (written by the late Brian Thornally) are online. They cover such topics as the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Willoughby Manor, Enclosure and aspects of nineteenth century life in the village.

To read them go to Willoughby Village History.

Thanks to David Bailey for bringing these to the attention of WHO members.

'My Dear Archie'

Luke Danes has summarised the correspondence between Sir Edward Hussey Packe and the Air Minister (his friend Sir 'Archie' Sinclair) in the wake of the construction of Wymeswold airfield.


Left: Sir Edward Hussey Packe. Right: Sir 'Archie' Sinclair.

Their tale is told in 'My Dear Archie'.

Wymeswold's 1988 Carnival

After the very successful fair in June 1987 to celebrate 650 years since the granting of Wymeswold's market charter there was another carnival at the end of June the next year. Or at least we think it was 1988. Presumably the garden walkabouts started the following year, 1989.

Cath Perry has kindly allowed me to copy photographs taken by Ray Perry.

Can anyone reading this confirm these dates? Can you put names to any of the people in these photos? Can you provide any details about the historic vehicles? If so please email bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk.

Willoughby's errant Parish Clerk

More Willoughby history kindly supplied by David Bailey and available as a free PDF.

Willoughby's Civil War skirmish

While fact-checking for the next item I came across two online sources for the last major Civil War skirmish in Nottinghamshire which took place close to Willoughby on 5th July 1648.

Sir Philip Monckton led some eight hundred Royalists from Yorkshire, including Gilbert Byron of Strelley and Michael Stanhope of Shelford, plundering and pillaging as they made their way south. Colonel Edward Rossiter and his Roundheads were soon in hot pursuit and the inevitable clash took place at Willoughby in a field to the north-west of the church. source

In the church is a brass plate in the floor marking the burial place of Michael Stanhope, a Royalist soldier killed in Willoughby field at the age of 24.

There is a 1908 article about the battle from the Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society online as a free PDF. Most of the article comprises transcriptions of contemporary accounts.

WHO's history

An early WHO outing to Swithland pumping station in 1991. Photograph by Alex Moretti.

Has to be said for a local history the WHO have been pretty poor at keeping an archive of their own activities (other than summaries of talks). Too much has now been lost to the proverbial mists of time but I have put together a brief overview of the early years and highlights of the following three decades.

If anyone can improve on any of the details, add some recollections or provide photographs of WHO events from the 1980s and 1990s please email bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk

    update October 2021

    An extra section has been added to the end of the article with details of the WHO's archive – thanks to Joan Shaw for the suggestion.

The Hermitage, Wymeswold, in the 1930s

Shena Lewington's great-grandfather William Johnstone (1872–1965) lived at The Hermitage (now Wymeswold House) Far Street, Wymeswold, in the 1920s and 1930s. And she has discovered a photograph of the house – and portraits of her relatives – taken about 1932. More details here.

What a difference a decade makes!

The Google StreetView photograph taken in July 2011 of what was then still Margaret Morris's home on Far Street, Wymeswold. It was sold soon after, done up, and sold again late 2020.

The white blobs under the right-hand window are an artefact of Google's software for merging images.

Photograph taken July 2011.

If anyone has photographs of properties in the Wolds before restorations or conversions then please email bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk.

Bailey's Croft, Willoughby on the Wolds

Using maps, old photographs and family history David Bailey has shed considerable light on life on the farm towards the north-eastern part of the village where several generations of his ancestors lived and worked.

In recent years the farm was demolished and a small development of houses erected, appropriately named Bailey's Croft. David's article, entitled 'Bailey's Croft', is available as a free PDF.

This is the inaugural article concerning Willoughby on this web site. Here's to many more contributions from anyone who has knowledge of this parish.

printed edition of RAF Wymeswold

RAF Wymeswold cover
A small number of copies of Richard Knight's detailed account of RAF Wymeswold (see details below) have been printed. This is mostly to allow copies to be deposited with national and local archives.

A few extra copies are still available. They cost 15 each (plus 2.00 p&p to UK addresses if you are not resident in the Wolds area). First come, first served! If you've not done so already please email bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk to buy a copy.

RAF Wymeswold post-WWII

A detailed history of activities at Wymeswold airfield in the 1950s and 1960s has been prepared by Richard Knight, who grew up at the western end of the runways.

Most of the information is about the activities of the RAF and Fields Aircraft Services, although there is also lots of previously-unseen photographs taken in the winter of 1944 and during the build up to D-Day, and photographs taken during public open days.

RAF Wymeswold cover

In total there is almost 70,000 words and about 440 photographs. This is available as a free PDF: www.hoap.co.uk/who/raf_wymeswold.pdf

Note the file size is 38 Mbytes so may take a while to download on slow connections.

This PDF includes corrections made for the short run of printed books produced in April 2012.

There are also four videos about RAF Wymeswold by Richard Knight:





Plus another video by Cerrighedd: youtube.com/watch?v=FTlMQkKvPkI


lots of older news from the WHO


WHO booklets

All booklets are out of print. However two of these booklets are now available as free PDFs – just click on the links above.

WHO books

  • Bringing Them Home: The story of the lost sons of Wymeswold (2014)
  • Discovering the Wolds (2017)
  • People and Places of the Wolds (2020)
  • RAF Wymeswold: Post-war flying 1948 to 1970 (2021)

Copies of these books (except Bringing Them Home) are available. Please email bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk for further details.

For the benefit of those family historians and other researchers who do not yet own copies of the first three books, here is a list of key names and selected topics. RAF Wymeswold is also available as a free-to-download PDF which can be searched using Ctrl+F.

other WHO publications available as free PDFs

The Wolds Historian

In addition, between 1991 and 2002 an annual WHO Newsletter recorded details of the organisation's activities and research by members. All articles relating to Wymeswold from the WHO Newsletter are included in this Web site (see articles about Wymeswold's history).

In 2004 the WHO Newsletter was replaced by The Wolds Historian which appeared annually until 2008. All issues of The Wolds Historian can be downloaded as free PDFs.

The Especially Sacred Grove

Although not published by the WHO, also available as a free PDF is The Especially Sacred Grove, Bob Trubshaw's extended look at Six Hills and Vernemetum.

Things to do [2020]

While the WHO's monthly meetings are in hiatus there is plenty to do!

This web site has over 100 web articles going back to 1990 and about 20 PDFs – including all four issues of The Wolds Historian. Simply scrolling down through this page will reveal more recent additions. Use the navigation column on the left of every page or the Google-powered search box to seek out something specific.

If you want to initiate some research then there's transcripts of the registers of who has been 'hatched, matched and dispatched' in Wymeswold. Or search through the WHO archive catalogue. Most of these files are in Word DOC format so use the 'find' function from within your word processing software.

If you need prompting for some ideas for projects then jump to here. We're still seeking recollections of Ivor Brown in his speedway days and shortly after.

Thanks to good 'sleuthing' by Phil Denniff several books written by Henry Alford, Wymeswold's most famous vicar, have been tracked down as available for free online. As has a biography written by his widow. Anyone want to write a short article summarising his life and achievements? Most of Alford's published writings concerned the metaphysical poet, John Donne (1572–1631).

Did you know that there was once an Especially Sacred Grove somewhere along the Fosse Way to the east of Wymeswold? More details here.

And if all that reading is too much then there are YouTube videos about the Wolds and Leicestershire more generally.

WHO projects [2019]

Joan Shaw has picked up preliminary information on some local interest topics. Do any WHO members want to delve a bit deeper? Just the sort of amusement you might be looking for as the evenings draw in! You do not have to be a member of the WHO, or even live in the area, to help.

  1. The Sporting Magazine for August 1834 contains fragments from the life of James Ella of Wymeswold. No idea if The Sporting Magazine is available on line anywhere, there certainly isn't a copy in Loughborough Library. Anyone fancy tracking down a copy? Sorted!
  2. In 1834 Joseph Perry took over the Three Crowns, John Tyers was probably the previous licensee. Can we find out more about these landlords and/or others at the Three Crowns?
  3. Wymeswold was one of the places that refused to pay church rates. This rate was intended to be paid by all residents, whether C or E or Nonconformist. It seems some Wymeswold residents felt that the congregation of St Mary's should pay for its upkeep. Is any more information available?
  4. Indexing the main topics in St Mary's Wymeswold Church Council Minute Book (already digitised).
  5. Indexing the names and main topics in the Wymeswold school log books (already digitised).
  6. The WHO has a photocopy of a printed broadside with the headline 'Horrid murder'. The dreadful deed took place somewhere in Wymeswold and the names of the alleged perpetrators are given, though not the name of the victim – a child. But we don't know which year this was published. Internet search engines shed no light. If you fancy a spot of 'sleuthing' through relevant parish registers and court records then please get in touch with Bob Trubshaw. This would make a good project for someone new to doing local history research – Joan Shaw will happily provide advice.
  7. Contact the Women's Institute office in Leicester to establish what records they hold for the disbanded Wymeswold WI. As a follow up a short history of the branch's activities could be prepared. Ideally the person doing this would be a former member of this WI branch; if not Bob can put you in contact with one of the long-standing committee members.
And, last but not least, can you think of anything else which the WHO has yet to research? Especially if it relates to villages in the Wolds other than Wymeswold!

For further information – without making any commitment! – please email bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk

lots of older news from the WHO