Local history articles
WHO publications available as free PDFs
In addition the WHO has digitised versions of:
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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. (More details about the location of the Wolds 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.
Until 2020 the principal activities of the WHO had been talks on the third Tuesday of most months, with a guided walk in the summer. These will resume as soon as sensible.
WHO committee members
Chair: Philip Thorpe
To contact the WHO committee please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Bob Trubshaw on 01476 565174.
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.
Programme for 2021[subject to any changes in government guidance]
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 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.
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 now 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.
Minutes of Wymeswold Parochial Charities
All the pages have been digitised and, once current restrictions are relaxed, the documents themselves will be deposited with the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland.
One of the WHO members has generously volunteered to index the contents – there are several thousand people mentioned, including trustees (feoffees before 1906) but mostly the names of recipients of the annual Christmas gift. When completed this index will be made available via this web site.
These records shed considerable light on Victorian and Edwardian Wymeswold – both the 'great and the good' who functioned as trustees and the often lost-to-history people at the lower end of the social spectrum.
The Public Trustee Act of 1906 had profound implications for such village charities and there was seemingly endless correspondence with the Charity Commissioners. Some insight into how contentious this Act was at the time can be gleaned from this entry in Hansard.
Advice on indexingWhen 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) which 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.
Does anyone have a copy of either R.F. Hunnisett's Editing Records for Publication (1st edn 1977; 2nd edn 1995) or P.D.A. Harvey's Editing Historical Records (2000)? If so, would you be willing to allow me to borrow it? I'd be most grateful as copies are very hard to obtain and darned expensive when they do appear. Please email email@example.com if you can assist.
Charnwood Borough Council ArchiveWhen looking for something else (ain't it always the way… ) I discovered heritage assessments of the Wolds villages prepared by Charnwood Borough Council around 15 to 20 years ago. They don't go into any great detail but do have a comprehensive scope and lots of good photographs.
Leicestershire Historian and Transactions of Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society onlineAll but the most recent issues of TLAHS and the Leicestershire Historian are now available online.
Recollections of the WHOWere you a member of the WHO in the last century? Well that's over twenty years ago so it's becoming history in its own right!
Before the winter nights get too much shorter could you write a few hundred words – more if you wish – about some WHO event in the twentieth century which you especially recall? The significance of the event might be personal rather than because of the importance to local history.
I am especially interested in recollections of the commemoration of 650 years since the Wymeswold fair charter was issued in 1337.
Or were you on an especially interesting guided walk which opened your eyes to something you never knew about before?
Were you at any of the first few meetings of the WHO? Can you recall what the back room in The Windmill was like back then?
I plan to include such recollections as part of this web site. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to submit one or more contributions. Any relevant old photographs would be especially welcome.
This photograph appeared in the Loughborough Echo dated 28 October 2020. It was clearly taken in the Stockwell with St Mary's church behind. Indeed this is the best photograph of the pump in the Stockwell that I know of, as usually it is in the distance or not visible.
However the person taking the photograph was not aware that within a few decades the village's water supply would become piped and the pump dismantled.
The gentleman on the left, with silk hat, is presumably the Master of the Hounds while the man on the right with a rather impressive whip, the Whipper In.
Probably taken in the 1930s but maybe the 1950s.
If anyone knows the names of anyone in this photograph, or can assist with dating it then please email email@example.com.
Thanks to John Harrison and Christine Taylor for making this page of the Echo available and to Anthony Weldon and Richard Herrick for their information about the hounds.
Christmas at Walton
Photograph taken Christmas 1906 by Rev Monty Bird on the Walton rectory lawn
In 1918 it was the girls' turn:
From the Loughborough Echo 3rd January 1919.
Thanks to Jack Shaw for providing the scan.
Burton, Hoton and Prestwold Amateur Band
If you thought that Christmas in a small village in the 1930s would be quiet and perhaps a bit dull, you might like to think again.
Burton on the Wolds, with a population of less than 300 souls, celebrated Christmas in 1933 by upwards of 70 residents sitting down to the parochial tea that year and, in all, the occasion attracted 200 people.
There are still those who can remember the Countess's annual Christmas party which continued until she was a very old lady. The Earl and Countess of Huntingdon lived at Burton Hall and were, to all intents and purposes, Lord and Lady of the Manor, although they never actually held that honour.
From the Loughborough Echo 5 January 1934.
Many thanks to Joan Shaw for writing and collating all these images and accounts.
If you would like a copy please email firstname.lastname@example.org – we can accept payment by cheque or PayPal.
As with the previous WHO publication, Discovering the Wolds, there are a variety of articles in roughly chronological order. However, in People and Places of the Wolds a great many of the contributions are about the people who were born or lived in this part of north Leicestershire.
Herein are the 'great and the good' and all types in between. They include a locally- famous schoolmaster-cum-antiquarian; two men who both collected plants and climbed mountains; a soldier involved in the Charge of the Light Brigade; a man transported to Australia; the 'gentry' who built Burton Hall; all the owners and occupiers of one of the manor farms; a Second World War airman who miraculously survived; a once-famous speedway rider; and a girl with a passion for riding horses.
Paperback, 245 x 175 mm, 113 + iv pages, 19 colour photos, 84 b&w photos; 2 maps,
£9.95 (plus £2.00 postage to UK addresses if applicable).
Indices of WHO booksFor the benefit of those family historians and other researchers who do not yet own copies of the three books still in print, here is a list of key names and selected topics.
Old photograph not by Philip Brown
This photograph of the cottages at the southern end of The Stockwell must have been taken before they were demolished prior to the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. The triangular green created became known as 'Queen's Park'. However, the photographer is not Philip Brown. Instead it is John William Taylor II of the John Taylor bell foundry in Loughborough. Seems he too was a keen pioneer photographer and a great number of his glass negatives have survived – recently many have been scanned.
Special thanks to George Dawson, Co-Archivist at the John Taylor Bellfoundry Archives, for bringing this photograph to my attention and giving permission to use on this website. George also informed me that the John Taylor Bellfoundry Archives do not have any photographs of the bells at Wymeswold, Hoton, Walton on the Wolds, Prestwold or Willoughby.
Some time ago Paul Matthews sent me this photograph of Turnpost Farm taken about 1892. Does anyone know anything about any of the people in the photo?
Please email email@example.com if you can help in any way.
Fording Brook Street
Early September the water level fell in the part of the River Mantle running through Brook Street, Wymeswold. The watercourse had been recently cleared by Severn Trent and this 'ford' of granite setts re-appeared. It would have helped getting across the street before the 1950s, when the water was channelled into the current ditch-like arrangement. The willow trees were planted soon after these changes to the roadway.
In the mid-twentieth century the building in line with the ford was the local bus garage. Quite possibly the setts were installed to ensure the buses could get across the brook without too many problems. The third photograph was taken May 2008 shortly before the garage was converted to a house.
Thanks to David Keene for spotting this and letting me know.
Fountain House, Burton on the Wolds
Harry A. Shaw took this photograph of the initials of J. Holworthy on the side of Fountain House, Burton on the Wolds. On the left are the initially 'L.H.'. 'I.H.' might be a variant of 'J.H.' rather than two different people. But there seems to be E.H. and T.H. too.
Fountain House is opposite the fountain, on the east corner of Seymour Road at the top of what was known as Water Lane. On the other side of Water Lane was the pond and sheep dip (now the village hall gardens).
Fountain house was part of the Burton Hall Estate when it was put on the market in 1834 and is listed in the sales catalogue as cottage and lands belonging to C.J.H. Mundy (the son of the then-owner of Burton Hall). At that time it was in the tenure of Samuel Jackson and his wife Elizabeth.
Thanks to Joan Shaw for forwarding the photograph and providing background information. Joan has some information about Holworths living in Wymeswold – if anyone fancies a research project then please email me and I will put you in contact with Joan.
The Grange at Burton on the Wolds
The field to the east of Burton's allotments contains the earthworks of an early medieval grange or farm that belonged to the Cistercian Abbey of Garendon. In the middle of the field was a stone circle with a large stone in the centre that was known locally as the Grange Stone.
Joan and Peter Shaw have contributed an article about The Grange at Burton on the Wolds summarising surveys of the field before recent ploughing removed all evidence of the earthworks.
Ironstone Quarries of Leicestershire
A quarry at Woolsthorpe in July 1973, shortly before closure.
The dragline is a Ruston Bucyrus 5W.
September's WHO meeting was scheduled to be the premiere of Bob Trubshaw's talk about the ironstone quarries of Leicestershire. However as this meeting will not take place the talk is instead available online as a YouTube video.
Most of the land either side of the 'ridge road' running from Holwell, through Eastwell and to beyond Belvoir Castle was once a quarry – although not all at the same time. There were other outlying quarries at Sproxton, Tilton and near Nevill Holt. After the band of ironstone had been extracted the fields were restored and now are distinctive for being very level and often a few feet below the road.
These once-extensive quarries were active between the 1870s and 1970s but few traces survive. In this video Bob Trubshaw summarises and updates the detailed research Eric Tonks published in the 1990s, shortly before his death.
A Walk Around Wymeswold
Long-standing WHO members may well recall one the group's early publications, A Walk Around Wymeswold, written by Alec Moretti with superb drawings by Susan Jalland and published in 1994.
Well, it's available again, though this time as a free-to-download PDF and with lots of photographs (mostly taken in April 1987 and October 1993) – many in colour – to add to the historic interest.
I hope this PDF encourages residents and visitors to take a more detailed – and slightly more informed – look at the streets and buildings of Wymeswold.
Sound map of Leicestershire and RutlandStudents at the University of Leicester School of Museum Studies have been working on a digital sound map of Leicestershire and Rutland as part of the British Library's Unlocking Our Sound Heritage Project. The map tells the story of the counties by using a mixture of oral histories and natural and ambient sounds to explore some of the important places and events that have defined life here over the years.
One of Philip Brown's photographs of the Quorn Hunt meeting in Wymeswold
(1890s to 1920s).
Included in the sound map is two minutes of Ellen ('Nell') Smith talking about the Quorn Hunt visiting Wymeswold and the Prince of Wales knowing a law which benefited the original London 'cabbies'.
Hoton war memorial
Was it always intended for Prestwold or did it originally hang in St Leonard's? And the candlesticks and the cross and the vases, were they just quietly and proudly placed on the altar at Hoton one Sunday morning, gleaming in their brand-newness, or were they handed over to the mother church with great ceremony?
Can you remember any of the people, or have you heard stories about them? It would be so much better if they had 'lives' rather than just remaining names on a piece of paper, however decorative.
Contributed by Joan Shaw.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help in any way.
Cumberdale 'moved'In several articles on this web site and in the WHO's printed publications I have discussed the survival of 'Celtic' place-names in the Wolds – even though these names must have been coined by the end of the seventh century and probably earlier.
One of the key examples is a twelfth century reference to 'Cumberdale' somewhere in Wymeswold. This translates as the 'valley of the Cymru' – the same word which the Welsh use to refer to Wales and also the origin of 'Cumbria'. In contrast, the incoming Anglo-Saxons referred to the Celtic-speaking 'locals' as wahl, the origin of Wales and Walton in the Wolds.
The old document does not say where Cumberdale was. But as Wymeswold seemingly only has one valley – the upper reaches of the Mantle to the east of the village – then this seemed a sensible match.
Sensible, maybe. But wrong. Ongoing research by Richard Ellison revealed a set of field names referring to Cumberdale. They were all in the very north of the parish, abutting the Nottinghamshire boundary, where a small stream arises and flows northwards towards Church Site Farm and the earthworks of Thorpe in the Glebe medieval village. This must have been where the Cymru settled, probably around the fifth to seventh centuries.
There may not have been any continuity between the Cymru and the 'planting' of a Thorpe (Scandinavian 'daughter settlement') a little further north around the tenth century. But no coincidence that a slightly inferior location – presumably with an unreliable water source – was utilised for both these 'secondary' settlements.
Looking north-east across the dale of the Cymru.
Photograph taken standing in one of the fields whose name continued to refer to Cumberdale. The building on the left in the middle distance is Church Site Farm at Thorpe in the Glebe. The watercourse flows right to left between the hedges and trees
(which include a large willow).
Burton on the Wolds alabaster
The first reference to alabaster being mined in Burton on the Wolds is in William Burton's book on Leicestershire, published in 1622, but written about 1597.
Joan and Peter Shaw have contributed an article about what is known about Burton on the Wolds alabaster.
The 1905 Ordnance Survey map with the location of 'plaster pits' (later filled with rubbish) known from an 1834 schedule.
Part of a sepulchral effigy in Quorn church carved from alabaster.
A brief history of gypsum and alabaster extraction
Point cloud laser scan survey of part of British Gypsum's mine at East Leake showing the 'pillar and room' configuration. source
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
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