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Barrowby's Reading Room

The former reading room is situated on the corner of Church Street and Rectory Lane. It is constructed of yellow brick with a gabled slate roof. A small clock tower graces the south gable. Over the front door is a sign stating 'Barrowby Reading Room'.

The building was paid for by Canon Welby at a cost of £456 – which rather puts it in the 'no expense spared' class at the time. He chose to erect it in 1899 'in remembrance' of his first fifty-one years as rector. The land was given by the eighth Duke of Devonshire who, at the time, was patron of the church.

The building of reading rooms in this manner was quite typical of the times. According to Carole King, 'Reading rooms were originally imposed upon the working classes by the upper classes, mainly the church and local landowners. Their establishment reflected contemporary attitudes to philanthropy, recreation and self-help and confirmed the great class divide.' Such rooms were intended to offer a much-needed alternative to the public house for the working classes. However they appealed more to the lower middle classes. In any event membership was usually restricted to men. (King 2009)

Barrowby's Reading Room seems to have roots going back to 1858, nine years after Rev Welby had become Rector. L.R. Cryer wrote:

    'A copy [of the Grantham Journal] for 27 March 1858 recorded the inauguration of a circulating library formed by the villagers themselves with the Vicar taking a pre-eminent part. The paper said it still survived in 1874.'
    (Cryer 1979 p68)

As 'reading rooms' and libraries both stock books what is the difference? A library has a librarian. Who not merely issues loans and reshelves books but is trained to help members find information.

When Barrowby's Reading Room ceased to be used as such is unclear. L.R. Cryer in 1979 does not say whether or not it is still functioning. If you know or have any ideas then please email me:– bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk.

In 1977 L.R. Cryer discovered a large map – about twelve feet long – which had once hung in the Reading Room 'showing the roads, houses and fields... It was often consulted by villagers, particularly by farmers checking on their boundaries.' (Cryer 1979 p32). By 1977 it was in poor condition. Whether or not it has survived is currently unknown.

The Reading Room is currently (2021) run by the parish council who advertise it as 'A light and airy room available for hire to parties, groups and meetings. It can accommodate up to 60 people, with seating and folding tables provided. [...] Street car parking in close proximity to the building.' Source

If you think I've got something wrong – or can add additional information or photographs – then please email me:– bobtrubs@indigogroup.co.uk.

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what's new?

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summary of prehistoric Barrowby

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Seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

Nineteenth century

nineteenth and twentieth century population

Twentieth century

guided walks in and around Barrowby

there's more could be said...


index of surnames in Cryer 1979

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rare seventeenth fonts at Muston, Bottesford and Orston from Project Gargoyle Newsletter 2020

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Wyville's wells

Harston's Anglo-Saxon carvings

Bottesford's effigies

Grantham Canal Society

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photos and brief details from Leicester Mercury.
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Harlaxton History Society

Bottesford History Group

Grantham Civic Society

Grantham Museum

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