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.
The WHO is now over thirty years old. Over the decades 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. The 'search this site' feature (at the bottom of the left hand column) helps find specific information.
WHO talks and trip 19th May, 16th June and 21st July postponed to 2021
Talks in September onwards to be confirmed
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 email@example.com with the message 'Add to WHO update list'. Your email address will not be revealed to anyone else or used for any other purpose.
Romans in Wymeswold
Part way through lockdown Richard and Lorraine Ellison decided to rebuild part of their rockery. And immediately revealed a rather large piece of grey pot.
Combined investigations confirmed that this was 'only' the side and part of the rim and there were no 'contents' other than soil. The shape of the rim, colour and texture of the ceramic all said 'Roman' loud and clear. Vessels of this size would be used for storing and cooking food.
To check that there was nothing else of interest the 'dig' went a little wider and deeper. Which revealed red soil to one side, in sharp contrast to the greyer soil associated with the pot. And the boundary was vertical. Digging down further the red soil turned towards the horizontal.
The black arrows indicate the boundary between the red soil (left) and the greyer ditch fill (right).
The greyer soil is almost certainly ditch fill while the red soil is the local glacial till (it used to be called 'boulder clay') into which the ditch was cut. Probably the ditch was Roman too. Which suggests some sort of settlement on this knoll at the east end of Brook Street. Further investigations are being discussed.
This is only the second known find of Roman pottery in Wymeswold village itself. During the construction of the second phase of Orchard Way in June 1990 a three-day excavation recovered a large number of smaller sherds of Roman pottery and an almost-complete late Iron Age pot. In the fields around Wymeswold more Roman sherds were collected in the late 1980s, including a substantial cluster just to the north of Wymeswold Meadow.
Digging Roman ditches the proper way. Leicestershire Museums Service staff at Orchard Way, June 1990.
Richard reported his find to the Portable Antiquities Scheme officer for Leicestershire and Rutland, who promptly uploaded
Thanks to Richard and Lorraine for sharing this find.
Keep your eyes out!
If you come across 'boring grey pot' in your garden too it could well be Roman. If it's boring, brown and easily broken then it may be Iron Age or Anglo-Saxon. Around here the more distinctive types of medieval pots have green glaze on a creamy yellow body ('Stamford ware') or a rather purple shade of glaze on a dark red body ('Midland Purple'). Please let the WHO know if you come across any. Most other pot with glaze on is from the last couple of hundred years so usually of less interest.
The Fox from the air
The recent post (see below) about Wymeswold's pubs resulted in the current owners of the former Fox emailing an aerial photograph, thought to have been taken in 1968.
click on photo for a higher-resolution version
The WHO are aware of two other aerial photographs taken at the same time – one of the former antique shop on Far Street and one of the Smith's pig farm (later developed as Cross Hill Close).
Can you help?
Can anyone confirm which year these aerial photos were taken?
If you have any more of these aerial photos then please let the WHO know as we would like to digitise as many as possible.
This photograph shows William Tuckwood and his family. It was taken outside the Greyhound around 1892, shortly after the death of his first wife Mary (née Wootton). His son John William stands behind him, and he is surrounded by his daughters. Beside him, from the left on the front row, we have Alice Maud Mary (born 1883), Eliza (1874), and Annie (1879), and standing at the back are Elizabeth (1869) and Mary Jane (Ginnie) (1871).
The Tuckwoods were a Willoughby family. Willliam's father moved to the Greyhound in the 1860s, having previously run a public house in Lowdham. William took over after he died in 1877. He and his wife Mary were already living in Burton, he was working as an agricultural labourer but doubtless helped his parents at the Greyhound as well.
The second photograph shows John William Tuckwood during his service with the Leicestershire Yeomanry. The story within the family is that John William was so fond of his horse, which he kept until it reached old age, that when it eventually died he buried it in a grave which he and friends dug at the back of the Greyhound. We wonder if it was John William's horse that gave rise to the tale we have heard about a civil war soldier and his horse being found in Burton Hall park?
Contributed by Joan Shaw
Early seventeenth century constable's accounts
Ever wanted to know how much your fellow villagers are worth? And how much more – or less – they pay in local 'taxes' than you?
Well, all is revealed. At least for 1608 and 1611. At a time when registers of births, marriages and deaths can be scarce then the Parish Constables' Accounts provide a list of parishoners' names (at least for those who owned land or livestock) and their comparative wealth.
Peter Leadbetter has kindly transcribed two of these accounts for Wymeswold (for 1608 and 1611) and provided a short introduction to the constable's role in early sevententh century rural England.
If any of your ancestors are in the lists please let me know.
Appointing the 1885 village constable in Walton
Parish Constables continued to be elected through the nineteenth century. Joan Shaw passed on a notice issued for a parish meeting to appoint the village constable to be held in Walton on 26 February 1885 . One of the signatories is Phil Thorpe's ancestor George Loseby (whose photograph appears on page 64 of Discovering The Wolds).
Thanks to both Phil and Joan.
Burton's most notorious resident?
An article by Joan Shaw's originally published in 1998 is now online:
John Wildman of Burton.
Could this seventeenth century resident of Burton have been the infamous 'Leader of the Levellers', Sir John Wildman?
Although given the official office of Postmaster-General in 1689, and not knighted until 1692, in 1654 [Sir] John had been arrested for plotting the overthrow of Lord Protector Cromwell by means of a combined rising of Royalists and Levellers. He seemed to spend most of his life organising 'intrigues' against Cromwell and the monarchs. 'He preferred money-making to fighting and became one of the greatest speculators in the forfeited lands of Royalists, clergy and Papists. His purchases of land, either for himself or for others, were scattered over at least twenty counties.'
There is no proof that the John Wildman who held land in Burton at this time is the same person. But there is an absence of any other people of that name who might have held the land. And plenty of reasons to suspect that the yet-to-be-knighted Sir John could have held the land.
Read both articles and decide for yourself!
Alice Armstrong, District Nurse and Midwife
While exloring the updated Loughborough history and heritage web site (more information below) Patricia Baker discovered an article about Alice Armstrong, a District Nurse and Midwife who travelled round this part of Leicestershire on her son's motorbike.
Born in Malta 1941, her maiden name was Eggleston and there is mention of her at Clay Street, Wymeswold, and at Hoton. She later lived on Beacon Road, Loughborough.
Thanks to everyone who let me know a copy of T.R. Potter's rhyme about the nine pubs formerly in Wymeswold is now in the pharmacy. Of course… where else?
The White Horse shall chase the Bull,
The Bull became Collington's butchers (and, presumably, was once a combined butchers and pub) and faced the White Horse. The Shoulder of Mutton was a few doors west of the Bull and now known as Lindum House. The Fox was on the south side of Brook Street, almost opposite the Windmill.
And make the Three Crowns fly,
Turn the Shoulder of Mutton upside down,
And make the Fox cry.
My White Horse shall smash the Gate,
And make the Windmill spin,
Knock the Hammer and Pincers down,
And make the Red Lion grin.
Once upon a time the Fox…
But where were the Gate and the Red Lion? Hint: Probably not the Rose and Crown (which presumably opened after Potter wrote his ditty) which is shown on some of Philip Brown's photographs two doors to the west of the Three Crowns.
Some online resources for history and archaeology
You may all be finding plenty to occupy you while staying at home, but if you'd like to
explore some archaeological or historical sources online, you might like to dip into a few of these links compiled by Cynthia Brown and Matthew Morris for LAHS Newsletter May 2020.
Nick Hando, a WHO member, has resumed fieldwalking around Wymeswold. And discovered several prehistoric flint tools. Most of these are from the Neolithic to the Iron Age – such as the superb example of a scraper shown on the left.
But on the right is something else. It's not a 'tool' but instead the core from which small 'bladelets' were struck. It's the Stone Age counterpart to a box cutter with snap-off blades – just 'break off' a new piece of flint when the old one gets blunt or breaks. Flint cores are usually Mesolithic in date, making them about 11,550–6,500 years old.
Thes finds indicate that for millennia people were camping in the same area (probably a clearing in the woodland) on a hill ridge looking down on the River Mantle – which may have been more like a shallow lake at the time (perhaps enhanced by beaver dam-making activities). An excellent base camp for hunting and fishing. So long as the bears, wolves, aurochs (massive cattle, now extinct) and wild boars which would have lived in the woodland kept away. 'Normal' was different back then…
Many thanks to Nick for permission to share.
Loughborough History and Heritage Network
Some of you may recall the ambitious Loughborough History and Heritage Network, a collaborative project between Loughborough University and Charnwood Museum. The website went 'dormant' for a while but has now been taken over by Alison Mott who is revitalising and adding new articles and links. Among them is The Tale of the Plague at Cotes by Joan Shaw.
Also details of a book published early 2019 about Robert Bakewell the pioneering eighteenth century agriculturalist based at Dishley to the west of Loughborough.
Rev Henry Alford
Phil Denniff recently came across a digitised biography of Rev Henry Alford complied by his wife, Fanny Alford, after his death Life, Journals and Letters of Henry Alford, D.D.: Late Dean of Canterbury edited by His Widow . It is, to put it mildly, 'compleatist'. If anyone fancies writing a summary of no more than a couple of thousand words then please email firstname.lastname@example.org – don't just do it without letting me know else there might be several people working on this, unbeknown to each other.
Alford's own writings included editing an equally comprehensive collection of John Donne's sermons, The Works of John Donne, which appeared in six volumes during 1839. Digitised versions are available online – Phil has prepared this list to help.
Left: Henry Alford Right: John Donne.
Skipwiths of Prestwould, Virginia
Those will good memories may recall Philip White's article about Whatever happened to the Skipwiths of Prestwold and Cotes? in The Wolds Historian No.2 (pages 11–15).
One of the descendents, Beverly Craige "Bev" Skipwith, was caretaker for the Prestwould Plantation in Mecklenburg County, Virginia (named after the family home in England). He was the youngest son of Austin L. Skipwith mentioned at the end of the TWH article.
Bev died in 2015 and a link to his obituary was kindly sent to the WHO by Steve Riggan, whose 10x great grandmother was Diana Skipwith Dale.
Bev Skipwith at the Clarksville Sesquesentenial celebration in the late 1960s, where he won the contest for best beard.
2000 Years of the Wolds
Nearly twenty years have elapsed since the WHO publication 2000 Years of the Wolds appeared in print. Since then many of the articles have resurfaced as web pages on this web site. However Spring 2020 seemed a good time to make the original available again. I have made no attempt to update any information (except references to the WHO website) as this booklet is already part of the history of the Wolds villages. However, where possible, black-and-white photographs in the printed booklet have been replaced by the colour originals.
Even if you own a copy of 2000 Years of the Wolds then do download the PDF to 'renew acquaintance' and see many of the illustrations in colour.
Download 2000 Years of the Wolds as a free 10M byte PDF.
In case you are wondering, sadly older WHO publications cannot easily be converted to PDF.
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.
In total there is almost 70,000 words and about 440 photographs. To make this into manageable downloads there are six free PDFs:
1946 to 1954: Farewell Dakotas; 504 Sqn. Spitfires to Meteors
1954 to 1955: Rolls Royce test fleet and sonic bangs; 504 Sqn. Meteors; RAFA Air Display; 56 Sqn Hunters
1954 to 1955: Rolls Royce test fleet and sonic bangs; 504 Sqn. Meteors; RAFA Air Display; 56 Sqn Hunters
Memories from members of 504 Sqn: On the ground and in the air
1958 to 1970: Field Aircraft Services: civilian & military aircraft; No. 2 Flying Training School; Provosts & Jet Provosts
1944: Frederick Dixon's images: of accommodation, Wellingtons, Hampdens, Horsas and C47s
There are also four videos about RAF Wymeswold by Richard Knight:
Plus another video by Cerrighedd: youtube.com/watch?v=FTlMQkKvPkI
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 (see below).
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.
Several 'projects' are close to completion. Details will be announced on this web site in the next few weeks and an email will be sent out to everyone of the WHO email list. If you're not already on the WHO's email list then please join.
Stay safe and very best wishes
Chair, Wolds Historical Organisation
Sir Julien Kahn at Stanford Hall and a View from the Co-operative College by David Lazell
One of Heart of Albion's earliest booklets, first published in 1993, is now available as a free PDF.
When this booklet was first published in 1993 Stanford Hall was still in use as the International Co-operative College. And Sir Julien Kahn's impressive 'makeover' had been merely fifty years before. Now, after a £300 million transformation Stanford Hall has become the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre.
The idyllic grounds of Stanford Hall look out over the Soar valley near Loughborough (although the Hall is just over the Nottinghamshire county border between Rempstone and East Leake). Bought by the furnishing trade magnate and philanthropist, Sir Julien Cahn, before the War and transformed into a showplace home, the Hall subsequently became the home of the Co-operative College. The contrast between these two owners makes the history of this building full of interest.
David Lazell describes both these eras, drawing upon his own experiences as a student at the College in the 1950s, combined with accounts from various members of staff who helped establish the standards for work and pleasure which went hand-in-hand. He describes Sir Julien's elaborate taste in interior decoration, his fondness for staging conjuring tricks, the names of the long-gone sealions – although their pool still survives – and above all his devotion to cricket.
The early years of the Co-operative College, in its transition from Manchester to Stanford Hall, are brought to life with personal reminiscences and previously-unpublished photographs from the collections of the College and the author. They portray a vivid picture of an era of education that, to a great extent, has already been lost.
Download Sir Julien Kahn at Stanford Hall and a View from the Co-operative College for FREE (25 megabyte PDF)
Several of David Lazell's other booklets have also been republished as PDFs, including Spectacular at Stanford Hall, a precursor to Sir Julien Kahn at Stanford Hall and a View from the Co-operative College which contains some 'tales' not in the later publication.
Download Spectacular at Stanford Hall for FREE (3 megabyte PDF)
Download Sound of the Shawm – Recollections of East Leake and other kindly places nearby for FREE (6 megabyte PDF)
N.B. 'Other kindly places' include Wymeswold. (The link to the 1986 film about Charlie Firth is here www.macearchive.org/films/central-news-east-11081986-mini-museum.)
Download The Fairy Gift and other ways to find Lost Laughter – Faith in Fairies and other discoveries of green spirituality for FREE (7 megabyte PDF)
Download Rose Fyleman: Nottingham's ambassador from Fairyland
A salute to her verse and stories about fairies and remarkable circumstances for FREE (4 megabyte PDF)
Wymeswold Washdyke Community Orchard
Richard Ellison has compiled a short history of the development of the Washdyke field into a village amenity. No less than 63 committee meetings, mostly between between 2007 and 2015, involved a wide-range of villagers and funding organisations.
This is available as a free PDF: www.hoap.co.uk/who/washdyke.pdf
Planting day in autumn 2008 – it was very wet!
The minutes of AGMs, copies of questionnaires, spreadsheets about the trees, and a copy of a tree certificate will soon be added to the WHO archive.
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.
And a reminder from a year ago:
- 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?
- 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?
- Wymeswold was one of the places that refused to pay church rates. This seems to a rate 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?
Are you looking for a 'little project' to keep you amused? The WHO committee would like to increase the range of information available on this website and is aware of several opportunities to add information that will be of interest to members and those living 'wider afield'.
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!
- Indexing the main topics in St Mary's Wymeswold Church Council Minute Book.
- Indexing the main topics in the Wymeswold school log books.
- 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.
- 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.
For further information – without making any commitment! – please email email@example.com
The WHO has published five booklets and two books:
- A Portrait of Wymeswold Past and Present (1991)
- A Walk Around Wymeswold (1994)
- Wolds Reflections (1997)
- 2000 Years of the Wolds (2003)
- The WHO's What, When and Where (2007)
- Bringing Them Home: The story of the lost sons of Wymeswold (2014)
- Discovering the Wolds (2017)
A new book, People and Places of the Wolds, is expected to be published September 2020.
Copies of Bringing Them Home and Discovering the Wolds are still available. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
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.
Download Bob Trubshaw's extended look at Six Hills and Vernemetum The Especially Sacred Grove (2 megabyte PDF file)
WHO monthly meetings
MEETINGS CURRENTLY POSTPONED
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.
See details of this year's programme below.
Meetings now 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 phone 01509 881342.
Programme for 2020
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 phone 01509 881342.
||annual dinner and AGM|
|18th February||Martin Tingle
||Digging the dirt: archaeology in the East Midlands and beyond|
|18th August||informal social evening
||The Windmill, Brook Street, about 8 p.m.
|15th September||Bob Trubshaw
||Ironstone quarries of Leicestershire|
|20th October||Ross Parish
||Holy wells of Nottinghamshire|
|17th November||Phil Thorpe
||A selection of toys from yesteryear|
Note this is the second not the third Tuesday in the month
||Medieval medicine and herb lore|