Local history articles
WHO publications available as free PDFs
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The Wolds Historical OrganisationThe 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.
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.
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 p.m..
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 01949 850631 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Programme for 2022subject to any changes in government guidance
WHO committee members
Chair: Philip Thorpe
To contact the WHO committee please email email@example.com or phone Bob Trubshaw on 01949 850631.
WHO updatesIf you're not already on the WHO's email update list and would like to receive news of what's happening then please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the message 'Add to WHO update list'. Your email address will not be revealed to anyone else or used for any other purpose.
Wysall Lane windmills enigma
Hand-coloured lantern slide by Philip Brown thought to show
the windmill on Wysall Lane circa 1900.
Joan Hubbard, who has lived in Mill Cottage on Wysall Lane, Wymeswold, since 1981 kindly allowed the deeds of her property to be digitised. These clearly state that a windmill once stood on the west side of the lane, roughly where the cottage is.
Two maps prepared around the time of the Enclosure Award in 1758 show two mills, one to the west and one to the east of Wysall Lane. By 1777 only the eastern one still stood.
More details in this PDF.
When the windmill shown above was demolished in the 1950s one of the millstones was used to cap a well. Thanks to Paul Howitt for the photograph (taken March 2022) and to the landowner for permission to include on this web site.
Help needed updated
update: Thanks to Richard Ellison checking old maps this email from John Bairstow: 'I visited the occupants of the houses below the Packe Arms in Hoton… One of them knew the history… the four cottages in my photo were there. They were demolished in 1969 and replaced by the house on the roadside.'
The message on the back of this postcard, dated 1920, implies this is a building in Wymeswold. So far John has estblished that is neither Ella's Farm nor Church Site Farm at Thorpe in the Glebe. If you have any suggestions please email email@example.com and I will forward to John.
Pioneering gargoyle at Old Dalby
Photograph by Steve Harris
Wymeswold parish church is a fine example of early Gothic Revival architecture. But it wasn't the earliest in the Wolds as Old Dalby church was rebuilt in 1835. And was 'kitted out' with a decidedly unusual looking gargoyle. Here's the details.
The twenty-first birthday of Charles John Henry Mundy in 1829
Joan Shaw has discovered more about the lives of the Mundy family while they owned Burton Hall. Here's the details.
1941 gas mask
Max Blood has kindly donated a Second World War gas mask to the WHO. The manufacturer's stamp inside the carrying bag cover includes '1941' and the user's name and service number were added in black ink '1380773 Millard.N.K.'. There is no reason to think N.K. Millard is from this area.
This equipment is being stored by a member of the WHO committee. It may get an 'outing' each year for the Great Central Railway's 1940s-themed event days.
'Lost' Anglo-Saxon church in the Wolds now 'found'?
Part of an eleventh century sculpture depicting a bishop,
now in Ragdale church. Photograph by Steve Harris.
Well, maybe 'merely' three fragments of a lost Anglo-Saxon church! Here's the details.
Advice on indexing revised againWhen preparing some specific advice about indexing the charity minutes I came across an article I wrote for The Indexer back in 2005. A PDF version is here. The readers of The Indexer are experienced indexers so my article concerns what is odd about indexing local history publications.
If you need an introduction to indexing books then Nancy C. Mulvany's Indexing Books (University of Chicago Press 2005) will get you up to speed as it's an excellent text book. With one exception – none of her advice relates to indexing local interest books.
Her omission is however well and truly covered by R.F. Hunnisett's Indexing for Editors (1972) I have been able to obtain a copy and have produced a readable (though not very 'polished') PDF version. While I cannot publish this PDF it is legal to make copies available for personal use. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to read this.
R.F. Hunnisett's Editing Records for Publication (1st edn 1977; 2nd edn 1995) and P.D.A. Harvey's Editing Historical Records (2001) both offer further practical advice. I am willing to loan my copies of both these. Email email@example.com.
Wymeswold Bowls Club histories
Wymeswold Bowls Club was founded in 1937. Members have written two accounts of its history – one in 1987 for its Golden Jubilee and another in 2000 to record the decisions and events which led up to the green and club house being relocated.
The Cross at Willoughby and the nearby Cross Hill
'The Cross', Willoughby, circa 1920.
David Bailey has once again shed light on aspects of Willoughby's history, looking at the now-lost cross and the equally lost Cross Hill (now under the bridge over the A46). Confusingly, the latter gave its name to a modern housing estate at the former. More details of Willoughby's crosses in this PDF.
When James Ella 'went to ground'
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 along a well-known 'salt road' from Kings Lynn via Grantham and part of what is now the A607, then to Six Hills and on 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
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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'.
Enclosure and wayside grazing rights in Burton
Joan Shaw has contibuted two new articles:–
The history of WilloughbySeveral 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 CarnivalAfter 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 email@example.com.
Willoughby's errant Parish Clerk
More Willoughby history kindly supplied by David Bailey and available as a free PDF.
Willoughby's Civil War skirmishWhile 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 2021.
If anyone has photographs of properties in the Wolds before restorations or conversions then please email email@example.com.
Bailey's Croft, Willoughby on the WoldsUsing 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to buy a copy.
RAF Wymeswold post-WWIIA 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.
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
Copies of these books (except Bringing Them Home) are available. Please email email@example.com 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 PDFsThe 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 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 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.
For further information – without making any commitment! – please email firstname.lastname@example.org