Local history articles
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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 February, March, April, May, June, September, October and November. The December talk is usually on the second Tuesday to avoid 'clashing' with pre-Christmas preparations. In July there is a trip to a local place of interest. The annual meal followed by a short AGM takes place on the third Tuesday in January. There may be an informal social on the third Tuesday in August.
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 email@example.com
Programme for 2024
WHO committee members
Chair: Philip Thorpe
To contact the WHO committee please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Bob Trubshaw on 01949 850631.
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LATEST WHO NEWS
Rempstone Steam FairA few months ago the WHO were given a programme for the 1983 Rempstone Steam Fair, along with several dozen photographs presumably taken the same year.
This prompted David Morley, of of the current committee members for the Rempstone Steam and Country Show, to send in scans of the programme for the very first such event in 1956 and a short history of those pioneering days.
From 1956 to date Rempstone Steam and Country Show has the distinction of being the oldest continuous steam rally in the Midlands, if not the country and continues from strength to strength. It has always been associated with the Beeby family of Rempstone and Mike Beeby continued the tradition, being the club’s Honorary President until his death on 21st December 2020 . Mike recalled the early days of the event:
"The first event was not easy to organise. There were a number of hurdles to overcome, for example: Entertainment Tax, Lord's Day Observance Society and various other obstructions. The RNIB Appeals Officer was a great help on these matters. For the first few years we were unable to have ring activity on the Sunday, it was static exhibition only. Fortunately we were able to charge admission.
"The event moved venues regularly in the early years. From 1956 to 1962 the rally was held on Rempstone farm. When grandfather died the farming practices changed, which then did not lend to having the field available. The event then moved to Lings farm, belonging to Les Burton, next to Stanford Hall, and sometimes across the road to John Jenks' farm, depending on the crop rotation. On one memorable occasion the fields finished being cut on the Friday afternoon prior to the start of the show!
"The location moved to Turn Post Farm in 1981 and has remained there ever since. One of the most memorable events at the show took place in 1994 when Paul and Angie Appleton held their wedding blessing in the show ring followed by their reception celebrations in a Belgian Picture Palace brought to the show for the purpose. For two years we were blessed by having the only portable pub in Britain – ‘The Black Bull’ – a solid structure which rocked to the sounds of local bands in the evenings, a tradition which continues today."
The show began in 1956 as a fund raiser for good causes and we are proud that the tradition has continued seamlessly ever since with more than £18,000 donated annually to local and national good causes in recent years, profits being divided between four or five charities each year.
This advert, dated 18th November 1808, starts:
Workhouses in the Wolds villages become redundant when a Union Workhouse was erected in Loughborough in 1838. This 'Union' included two dozen parishes in the Loughborough area. See this article for details of the Loughborough Workhouse.
Workhouses were despised places and perhaps at some time after 1838 the Wymeswold one was demolished.
Thanks to Joan Shaw for sending a scan of the advertisment.
Old WymeswoldiansThis email was received early in February 2024:~
First, I should say that Bill Sime not only played first-class cricket, he captained Notts for three years. I must say that he scored only one century and his bowling average was close to 50 runs per wicket. More important, he played for Wymeswold in a team which included Harry "Snooky" Jalland (Ivor's uncle), Arnold Eggleston, Norman Rimmer (his brother Jim, who packed a terrific punch at boxing, emigrated to Canada where he became a park ranger out west), Bill Wootton (my mother's brother, who was a superb tennis player along with Madge Peel) and won some championship against a Loughborough team.
Arnold, Bill + ?? Smith (Florrie Tyler's husband) and my brother Sidney were stalwarts of a men's badminton team that also won at least one championship against a Leicester team. The latter was not used to the low roof of the memorial hall!
Modesty does not forbid me from mentioning that I, too, have a Wiki article. The link is: David W. Smith.
David's Wiki page is written in French but Chrome should automatically offer Google Translate. No idea about other web browsers.
If you've not already guessed David Smith is one of the childen of Ellen 'Nell' Smith and indeed was key to Nell's four books about Wymeswold appearing in the 1980s.
Vernemetum in the seventh century
In a recent video uploaded to YouTube I explore Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire in the mid-seventh century. Specifically what might have been happening at the place the Romans called Ver Nemeton – indicating a Great or Especially Sacred Grove dating back to at least the Iron Age. This gave its name to the Roman small town of Vernemetum, located at the side of the Fosse Way near Willoughby on the Wolds. But the grove would have been much bigger, perhaps as big as all eight parishes which form a ring around Six Hills.
Until the death of Penda, the king of Mercia, in 655 Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire were still 'pagan'. So presumably the Ver Nemeton was still important. But what did the Anglo-Saxons called it? And does this shed light on two obscure 'lost' field names in Wymeswold parish: alhfleetford and alhfleetthorn? Was the River Mantle the eahl fleot – 'the stream assoicated with a sacred place'? Was the nemeton subsequently known by the obscure Old English word eahl? And was Penda its eahl mund – literally 'shrine protector' but meaning 'shrine guardian', so precursors to 'church wardens'? The descendants of such eahl munds alive today have the surname 'Almond'.
And there is the unanswerable question as to whether Wymeswold – originally Wigmund's Wald (note: 'g' is pronounced 'y' on Old English) – was named after someone called Wigmund. Or was originally the wig mund wald'. In other words, either the area of woodland protected by wigs or land for the benefit of the wig mund – the 'shrine guardian'. As an adjacent parish is called Prestwold – the priest's wood, i.e. land for the benefit of the priest (presumably based at a lost early church at Verementon) then continuity from pre- to post-conversion 'shrine guardians' seems plausible.
For the wider background to such speculations watch Penda – the last guardian of the Great Sacred Grove. It is linked at the hip to another recent video about Nottinghamshire's earliest churches.
John Bairstow sent a scan of this postcard. He thinks it was taken somewhere near Wymeswold.
When Wymeswold's Lord of the Manor was up for sale
Jackie James has kindly allowed the WHO to digitise two scrapbooks – and many photographs – of life in Wymeswold in the 1980s and 1990s. Among the many 'goodies' are these two newspaper cuttings from 1994. Click on the images to reveal bigger versions.
Back in 1997 Alec Moretti wrote this article.
1990s Wymeswold pantomimes
During the 1990s four pantomimes were performed in Wymeswold:
Chris Kirk's VHS tapes of three of these pantomimes have been digitised by Timeless Moments Ltd and uploaded to YouTube. Click on the images above to watch them. (Note that because of copyright problems associated with the music used it is not possible to find these videos using YouTube's 'search' function. The only way to find them is to click on the links above.)
Thanks to Nick Shaw, Jackie James and John Harrison for enabling Cinderella to be digitised. Thanks to Jackie for loaning programmes.
After a break Aladdin in Wymeswold was staged during January 2006 and Robin Hood and the Babes of Wymeswold in January 2008. Nick Hando kindly provided scans of the programmes for both of these and Nick Shaw (who produced them) has sent various computer files relating to the publicity.
If anyone has DVDs of Aladdin and/or Robin Hood (we know they were recorded but so far I've not been able to get my hands on either) then please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Original items will of course be returned.
Rempstone Steam Fair 1983
Philip Thorpe donated to the WHO a copy of the programme for the 1983 Rempstone Steam Fair and 39 colour prints of the traction engines, model traction engines and other classic vehicles taking part. They were given to him some years ago; sadly he can't recall who that was. The programme and all the photographs have been scanned and are available on request.
A Sentinel steam lorry advertising a 'Solid Fuel Avisory Service'.
Beeby Brother's advertisement includes 'laser level controlled machines' to install field drainage. And that was back in 1983. So presumably quite 'ground breaking' [groan] for the time.
Deeds for 27 Brook Street, Wymeswold
Anthony Lacey, the current owner of 27 Brook Street, Wymeswold – in recent years known as Lamb Cottage – kindly allowed the WHO to digitise the various legal documents (mostly deeds and mortgages) associated with property from 1876 until 1980. I have prepared a summary. If anyone is interested in any of the families named in this summary then please email me and I will send copies of relevant documents by email.
The Nottinghamshire Bibliography Online
The aim of the Nottinghamshire Bibliography Online project is to provide a single web-based means of access to all bibliographical sources for the history of the city of Nottingham and county of Nottinghamshire, including published books, journal articles, unpublished theses/dissertations and 'grey' literature such as archaeological reports and local authority conservation appraisals.
Swithland slate cheese presses
Some of you may recall that in the 2003 WHO publication 2000 Years of the Wolds there was a short article about the distinctive bases of Swithland slate cheese presses, with photographs by Peter Shaw of four in Burton on the Wolds. See page 39 of the PDF edition of 2000 Years of the Wolds which is online here:- 2000yotw.pdf
So when I visited Old Dalby church recently I was intrigued to see the memorial in the photograph above. Seemingly an early eighteenth century gravestone was 'repurposed' to use as the base of a cheese press. Then, when the cheese press was no longer needed, it was returned to the graveyard.
I've looked at a great many Swithland slate grave markers in recent years. But this is the only one which I've seen which had a double life as a cheese press. Quite probably other slate gravestones were made into cheesepresses – but, unlike this one at Old Dalby – never came back to the churchyard.
By the way I 'know' this memorial is early eighteenth century even though I can't see the date of death because the inscription starts 'Here lies interred... '. Such wording (more typically 'Here lies the body of... ') was used at that time. A few decades later and inscriptions changed to 'In sacred memory of... ' and then to 'In memory of... '.
And, while we're on the subject of cheese presses, this broken example was on the edge of a field near Narrow Lane, Wymeswold, in June 2008. But I never saw it again…
Another mini project off my 'job list'. Just where were all the pubs mentioned in the doggerel 'poem' included in S.P. Potter's 1915 book? See Wymeswold pubs.
Index to S.P. Potter's A History of Wymeswold
I've finally got around to a 'chore' that's been on my to do list for some time.
This work, published in 1915, contains a wealth of personal names spanning the late eleventh century to the late nineteenth century. I've also indexed some of the main topics.
If you need scans of specific pages then please email email@example.com.
The lost mill pond on the Mantle
Anyone who has walked from Narrow Lane into the most westerly of the Wymeswold Meadow fields will have crossed the River Mantle. The water has cut deep into the boulder clay (now re-branded by geologists as 'glacial till') and continues to erode the clay, leaving steep sides. From the perspective of a hundred years this erosion is happening fast. What we see today must have shaped up in the last few centuries. So – why isn't the erosion much more stable? What was there before?
Read The lost mill pond on the Mantle to find out more.
The cricketing Packes
Joan Shaw has written a short account of local cricket teams during the nineteenth century. Seems Prestwold Hall, Burton Hall and Southfields Park all had cricket pitches. See The cricketing Packes.
Those interested in the history of local cricket can also read the chapter about Sir Julian Cahn's interest in the game. He lived at Stanford Hall in the 1930s and 40s. After his death in 1944 his love of cricket led to his ashes being scattered on the cricket ground at the Hall. See David Lazell's history of Stanford Hall www.hoap.co.uk/stanford_hall.pdf
This photograph of Burton Hall was kindly sent to the WHO by James Matthews. It was taken by his father, S.H. 'Charles' Matthews, who was a keen photographer and local historian. The view is now obscured by the bungalows in Hall Drive.
Thirty Years of Pound-Watching
top: 1991 bottom: 2023
Wymeswold's pound (or pinfold) still survives. Over the decades I've photographed it and also several other such pounds in nearby parishes.
See Wymeswold's pinfold's nearest 'rivals' for more details.
Esther 'Tess' Frechnollio (née Woolley) and Charles
Back in 2011 a lady who signed her name only as 'Helen' and living in Middlesex sent the WHO a photograph. She wrote that it was of 'granddad Woolleys' daughter Esther (known as Tess)' and the baby was 'uncle Charles'. She then added that Esther was Harry Frechnollio's first wife.
The 1901 Census has William Woolley and his wife, Elizabeth Anne, living in Far Street along with their children Lois (age 8), 'M---? Hames' (a son age 7), 'Ester' (presumably Esther; age 6), William (age 5) and Elizabeth Ann (age 1). William senior was born in Thrumpton, Nottinghamshire and his wife in Long Whatton.
Come the 1911 Census and we discover that the Woolleys are farmers and graziers.
Presumably the photograph of Tess and Charles was taken in the early 1920s.
update from Hellen Jarvis
Primrose products labels and Bartram's bread pencil
Apparently about 18 months ago one of the speakers at a WHO meeting generously donated some unused labels for some of the Primrose range of products produced by the Brown family in Church Street. And also a promotional pencil for Bartram's bread. These have all been added to the WHO archive and the WHO's 'virtual museum'. Many thanks to Peter Blanchard for donating to the WHO.
Several people have informed me that Bartram's bakery was in Church Street.
Sgt John (Jack) Harrison DCM (1910–1970)
Jack Harrison enlisted in the 11th Hussars Regiment in 1930 and saw active service in Palestine before being involved in several battles during the Second World War. During one of these offensives he earned a DCM. He was demobbed in 1945 and returned to Wymeswold.
His grandson, Danny, prepared a detailed account of Jack's life and prepared it as a 32 page document. Sadly the original files have been lost. However I've scanned a print out and compiled these scans as a free PDF. Apologies that it does not look anything like as good as Danny's print out.
Replicas of Jack's medals are in St Mary's church, underneath the war memorial in the south aisle.
Grateful thanks to Danny and John Harrison for enabling this addition to the WHO website.
Wymeswold Enclosure Commissioners
Ever wondered exactly who was 'commissioned' to Enclose Wymeswold in the 1750s? No, me neither. But Alec Moretti, former Chair of the WHO, was curious. And published an article in a 1997 issue of the Leicestershire Historian. You can read it here.
Thanks to Joan Shaw for bringing this article to my attention and for providing scans.
Broughton Lodge Anglo-Saxon cemetery excavations
In August 2022 the WHO were given thirty black and white photographs of the 1964–8 archaeological excavations at Broughton Lodge. They were seemingly taken by Rex Satterthwaite.
The photographs show excavated human skeletons prior to being lifted, cobbled surfaces (presumably parts of the Roman Fosse Way), several excavators at work, and various visitors, some presumably members of the Satterthwaite family.
Several images are 'general views' of the area being excavated. In the background several buildings can be discerned, including a café and the sign for a petrol station (see above). These were demolished to make room for the widened road. The site of the excavation became the western approach road to the bridge over the A46. The yard of Broughton Lodge Farm became the kart race track and a motel was built to the south.
Martha Ada Clarke (1861–1933)
This large (355 x 280 mm) hand-coloured photograph was taken in early July 1884 and depicts Martha Ada Clarke when age 23. She was born in 1861 and baptised on 2nd March 1862 at Wymeswold. Her parents were William Clarke (1829–1891) and Sarah Ann Rebecca Harrison (?1834–1909). Martha married Peter Brooks (?1859–1907) on 17 August 1895 in Loughborough and she died on died 8 July 1933, age 71, in Loughborough. But we know no more! Can anyone provide more information about her family?
Martha did not marry until the age of 34, quite late in life by the expectations of her time. Her father had died about four years before, seemingly at the age of 62. Had Martha stayed at home to look after her father if he suffered from some debilitating illness which her mother could not cope with alone? Did Martha and her parents remain in Wymeswold until at least her father's death?
Martha's husband died young, when about 48 years old. Had he been married before? Did he have children, meaning Martha became a stepmother? Was he already not in the best of health when he married Martha? All we can deduce with confidence is that Peter and Martha were married for twelve years before she was widowed.
Thanks to Martha's distant relative for donating this portrait to the WHO.
The evidence for an Anglo-Saxon horse cult
The sixth century Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Broughton Lodge, right on the border of Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire includes five horses buried among the 120-or-so humans. Does this suggest there may have been some sort of ‘horse cult’ in early Anglo-Saxon England? Or is something English people still don’t usually do even more convincing evidence of such a cult?
Bob Trubshaw explores the evidence in a YouTube video.
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. 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com