Local history articles
WHO publications available as free PDFs
In addition the WHO has digitised versions of:
This website does not gather or store any visitor information.
Older news from the WHO
Help needed updated again
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.'
update to the update: Phil Denniff has compiled a four page PDF with details of how the cottages were located.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com – 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
update 2023: this field is now a housing estate
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 email@example.com 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