January 21st Brooksby: Deserted mediaeval village to 21st century college.
Brooksby is one of many Danish settlements along the Wreake Valley in Leicestershire. Probably the first settlers chose the site for Brooksby because it was just far enough up the slope to get out of the way of the floodwater, which still spills over the banks of the Wreake several times a year. The same people probably selected a neighbouring site for a church, but it was not until the 13th century that money and manpower were available to replace the first small building with the handsome stone and steeple edifice that we see today.
Later again, the owners of Brooksby Hall and land, the Villiers family, extended their profitable sheep-rearing operations at the expense of their tenants’ small holdings. Sheep produce fat profits, but they were not labour-intensive, and Brooksby, like many others in Leicestershire, became a “deserted village”. For many years Brooksby consisted of the hall, one farmhouse, and the church. Nowadays the hall is part of Brooksby Melton College which covers most of the former mediaeval village.
Many of the descendants of the Villiers family and later occupants of the Hall have made significant contributions to the history of England.
In his talk, Malcolm Britton takes a look at look at some of these people. With the 100 year anniversary of the battle of Jutland this could not be more appropriate.
March 18th “Little known records for Leicestershire Village History” By Dr. Pamela Fisher
Have you ever wanted to find out about the history of the place where you live and not known where to start?
Dr. Pamela Fisher from Leicester University will give this talk on “Little known records for Leicestershire Village History”. Using examples from a number of Leicestershire villages, but mainly Hoby and its neighbours, this talk will be about a number of lesser-known sources available within the county which can be easy to overlook. These range chronologically from the medieval period to the 20th century, and will help you to fill gaps in your knowledge of land ownership, farming and other occupations, the village school and religious life. Some are especially suitable for engaging wider audiences, from primary school age upwards, in the history of your village. The talk will give us ideas and fresh sources of information to pursue.
Pamela is the Leicestershire Victoria County History Volunteer Coordinator. The Victoria County History project is the first port of call for anyone wanting to know more about the history of a specific town or village. In addition her research interests are: Leicestershire history – all places and periods; history of coroners and sudden death investigations; social and cultural history of death and dying; histories of crime and of medicine in the 18th and 19th centuries; medical ethics and the doctor-patient relationship, c. 1750-1880.
May 13th “The history of Kirby Bellars” by Dr Alan Fox
Despite an influx of new housing in the 1960s and more recently, Kirby Bellars is a small village. It no longer has a shop and it never had a state-run school. Yet in the Middle Ages it had many inhabitants and it still has one of the largest parish churches in the area. One of the most important people was Sir Roger Beler, who founded the forerunner of a priory in 1316. He met an untimely end when he was murdered in 1326. Another significant person was Sir Erasmus de la Fontaine, who was responsible for a major population loss in c1630. He built the stone-built mansion called Park Farm (now The Manor) and created the surrounding park enclosed by a stone wall. In doing so he destroyed a large part of the village. Other important past inhabitants include John of Kirby, who was both lord of the manor and rector, and went on to be Bishop of Ely in the late 13th century. Another lord of the manor was Lord John Grey of Pirgo, uncle of Lady Jane Grey, the nine-day queen of England. In the late 18th century the lordship was acquired by Captain Edward Manners, the illegitimate son of the 3rd Duke of Rutland, and it stayed with his descendants down to 1918, when the manor was split into lots and sold.
Alan Fox has lived in the village of Kirby Bellars since 1988. In 1994 he enrolled on the part-time M.A. course at the Department (now Centre) for English Local History at the University of Leicester and was awarded the degree in 1997. He went on to successfully complete a part-time Ph.D. at the Centre in 2003. He is an honorary visiting fellow of the university. Publications include A Lost Frontier Revealed: Regional Separation in the East Midlands (2010). Recently he has completed an account of the history of Kirby Bellars for the Victoria County History of Leicestershire. It can be viewed online under ‘Work in Progress’ at: www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/counties/leicestershire
May 16th “Hoby’s Great War” – Theatrical Interpretation
As part of the commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the first death of a Hoby resident engaged in the War, we are presenting a Multi-Media theatical interpretation about how the Hoby community was affected during WW1. Performed in the church with scenes in the church, pubs, chapel, institute, farms, school, shops, street, houses, river and fields. There will be stories Photographs Music Films Poems showing how this community was affected.
May 19th Muffled peal of bells
A muffled peal of bells sounded from All Saints Church Hoby on the 100th anniversary of the death of each person who died in action, beginning on 19th May 2015.
May 23rd-25th “Forget-me not” Exhibition :More information
The aim of this is to capture the stories of the people who live in Hoby now about what their ancestors did in the First World War. We already know there are some fascinating tales out there and we want to collect together as many of them as we can to make our exhibition a real tribute to them all. What ever their relationship to you and what ever they did we want to hear about them. Did they serve in the forces, were they in reserve occupations, or on the home front nursing, farming, working in jobs left by the men, knitting socks, raising funds?
To put these into some context we also want to have some descriptive panels on various aspects of that time. Eg Panels about Recruitment Fairs, Medical Supply Depots, Remounting centres all occurred around Hoby. In addition we would want to cover reserve occupations, the impact on farming, VADs, etc.
July 15th “Stoneywell and the philosophy behind the Arts and Crafts Movement”
Rowan Roenisch, Architectural Historian will give a talk on “Stoneywell and the philosophy behind the Arts and Crafts Movement”. Stoneywell is a National Trust property in Ulverscroft, a dispersed settlement in Charnwood Forest, Leicestershire. Stoneywell is the largest of a small group of cottages designed in the Arts and Crafts style by Ernest Gimson. It was built with supervision by Detmar Blow in 1899 for Ernest’s brother Sydney Gimson as a summer residence, and along with much original furniture, it remained in the Gimson family for over a century. Stoneywell zigzags from its rocky outcrop, amid rhododendrons and heather. Every turn conjures childhood memories of holiday excitement, dashing down the winding steps –– one way to the fort, the other to the woods beyond. As part of a highly influential vernacular movement, it has become well known within Arts and Crafts circles.
In spring 2013 the National Trust announced that following a year-long appeal, it had been able to acquire the house with its Arts and Crafts contents, gardens and woodland. It was opened to the public in February 2015. This talk is an excellent precursor to a visit to Stoneywell later in the summer.
September 23rd “Ragdale – A history” By Tony Geary
The History of a Rural Village and a Country Estate
Tony Geary moved to Ragdale in 1979 and immediately became Churchwarden of All Saints, a position he would only relinquish 26 years later when moving to Syston. However, it did enable him to become steeped in the history of the village, the Church and the ancient estate of Ragdale.
He has uncovered tales of Norman ancestry, including a surfeit of Ralphs; the Old Hall, a magnificent country house; an aristocratic murder with the ultimate penalty; illegitimacy, estrangement and final atonement and the uniting of two great European families.
The story of All Saints Church is one of belief and commitment and survival against all odds and that of the New Hall is one of ultimate success after a string of failures.
26th October to 22nd November “Forget-me not” Exhibition :More information
A chance to see the Forget-me-not exhibition again. This time it is being staged in Melton Mowbray Library.
November 18th ““The Rise and decline of the Medieval Village” by Peter Liddle
Villages have been the main rural settlement type in Leicestershire for over a thousand years. This talk looks at what came before and how villages developed and sometimes disappeared. As well as a general information on medieval villages Peter will talk specifically about Brooksby and Willowes (just south west of Ragdale), two local villages that no longer exist.
Peter has worked in Leicestershire Archaeology for over 40 years as an excavator, survey officer, museum curator, community archaeologist and Head of the County’s archaeological team. He was awarded an MBE for services to community archaeology and is an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester.
December 9th Christmas social and friends evening.
The Members Evening is an opportunity for the membership to give short presentations, about 10 minutes in length, on any relevant subject they choose. This is a good opportunity to reflect on the second year of the society; we will end the evening with a buffet and wine.
We will be asking for volunteers for presentations and items for the buffet at the October meeting.