A History of the County of Leicester: Volume 4, the City of Leicester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1958.
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In 1956 the boundaries of Leicester included in the north-western section of the city a number of areas which were formerly extra-parochial. (fn. 1) The existence of several small areas outside the usual parochial organization was due to the inclusion of the district in Leicester Forest (fn. 2) during the early Middle Ages. An entry in Domesday Book states that the woodland of the whole sheriffdom, (fn. 3) called 'Hereswode', (fn. 4) was four leagues in length and one league in breadth, (fn. 5) and this may refer either to Leicester Forest or to Charnwood Forest. Domesday Book does not state who held the forest, but in the late 11th century Leicester Forest may have been in the hands of Hugh de Grentemesnil. (fn. 6) At an inquest taken in 1253 it was stated that Robert de Beaumont, Count of Meulan and Earl of Leicester (d. 1118), who had acquired the rest of the Grentemesnil lands in Leicestershire, (fn. 7) had regulated the rights of the men of Leicester to collect wood in the forest; (fn. 8) certainly from before 1168 it was in the possession of the earls of Leicester, from whom it descended to the earls and dukes of Lancaster, and in 1399 it passed to the Crown as part of the Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 9)
The districts which form the north-west of the. city of Leicester were mostly in origin part of Leicester Forest, but were divided from it at different times. Until separation occurred, each district shared the history of the whole forest, and very little is known of the history of individual places before separation took place. The account given here of each extraparochial place will therefore in general begin with its separation from the rest of the forest.
Beaumont Leys, formerly an extra-parochial place, acquired the status of a civil parish under the Act of 1857. (fn. 10) It then had an area of 1,210 acres. In 1892 parts of the parishes of Belgrave and Leicester Abbey were transferred to Beaumont Leys. (fn. 11) In 1935 almost all Beaumont Leys was brought within the city of Leicester, the remainder being added to the parishes of Anstey and Thurcaston. (fn. 12) Beaumont Leys lay on the boundary between the hundreds of West Goscote and Sparkenhoe, and there seems little doubt that it was originally in Goscote hundred. (fn. 13) During the 17th and 18th centuries it seems at times to have been considered as being in Sparkenhoe. (fn. 14) Beaumont Leys contains Leicester's main sewage works, which occupy much of the area, but agriculture is still carried on. The soil is mostly Boulder Clay, with some sand and gravel in the small valley near Beaumont Leys Farm and on the slope leading to the Soar valley in the east of the area. (fn. 15)
Beaumont Leys was granted by Simon de Montfort to the Hospitallers, (fn. 16) probably in 1240, when Simon is known to have sold some forest land near Leicester. (fn. 17) In 1274–5 the Hospitallers possessed 8 carucates of land at Beaumont, attached to their preceptory at Dalby on the Wolds. (fn. 18) In the 13th century a small part of Beaumont Leys was transferred to Leicester Abbey, (fn. 19) and was apparently absorbed into the abbey's lands adjoining it to the south. (fn. 20) The Hospitallers' lands at Beaumont were administered by a separate bailiff in the 14th century, and seem to have consisted largely of meadow and pasture. (fn. 21)
In 1482 Beaumont Leys was acquired in exchange for the rectory of St. Botolph's, Boston, from the Hospitallers by the Duchy of Lancaster, (fn. 22) which already possessed Leicester Forest. Shortly afterwards Edward IV imparked Beaumont Leys, and it remained a royal deer park until Henry VIII removed the deer and disparked it in 1526. (fn. 23) In the same year much of Leicester Forest was inclosed, and the inhabitants of Leicester were given limited rights to pasture livestock in Beaumont Leys, in compensation for pasture rights lost through the inclosure. (fn. 24) This gave rise to a dispute between the town and John Corbet, who had leased Beaumont Leys from the duchy, and in 1551 Corbet was forced to agree that the town could pasture cattle and horses in the Leys. (fn. 25) More litigation followed, (fn. 26) and a further agreement about pasture rights was made in 1561. (fn. 27) How long these rights continued to be exercised is not known. They may have ceased when Elizabeth I granted Beaumont Leys to Sir Henry Skipwith, whose son and grandson sold it to Sir Edward Moseley, a Lancashire baronet, before 1639. (fn. 28) Moseley devised it to his nephew, another Edward Moseley, who in 1656 sold it to German Pole. (fn. 29) After being in the hands of William Rawlinson, who was in possession in 1686, Beaumont Leys was acquired early in the 18th century by William Aislabie, M.P., whose descendants continued to hold it until after 1832. (fn. 30) Aislabie's great-granddaughter, a Miss Lawrence, devised it to Admiral Sir Cornwallis Ricketts, Bt., who was the owner in 1846. (fn. 31) On Admiral Ricketts's death, in 1885, the property passed to Sir Robert Tempest. (fn. 32) In the same year Sir Robert agreed to sell 100 acres at Beaumont Leys, and to lease for 30 years about 1,260 acres (comprising practically the whole of Beaumont Leys and some land outside it) to Leicester Corporation, which required the land for sewage works. (fn. 33) From 1887 onwards very extensive works were carried out by the corporation, though the pumping of sewage did not begin until 1890. (fn. 34) The greater part of Beaumont Leys remained in the ownership of the Tempest family until it was bought by Leicester Corporation in 1901. (fn. 35) In 1956 the corporation were still the owners.
Beaumont Leys has always been agricultural, with a small population. In the late 18th century the land, though all owned by one person, was usually divided between five or six occupiers, but there seem to have been only two farm-houses. (fn. 36) In 1801 there were 20 persons living in Beaumont Leys, all engaged in agriculture; there were only 2 houses. (fn. 37) In 1831 the population was just under 30, and it remained at about that level until in 1891 the boundaries of Beaumont Leys were enlarged. (fn. 38)
For ecclesiastical purposes Beaumont Leys seems always to have been an extra-parochial area, and in 1956 it still remained one. (fn. 39) Like all other lands which had formed part of Leicester Forest in the 12th century, Beaumont Leys was liable to pay tithe to the Norman Abbey of St. Evroul. (fn. 40) In 1338 the Hospitallers were paying 26s. 8d. yearly in lieu of tithes to the Prior of Ware (Herts.), an English cell of St. Evroul. (fn. 41) At one time the tithes seem to have been farmed from Ware by Leicester Abbey. (fn. 42) In 1415 the possessions of Ware were granted to the Carthusian Priory of Sheen (Surr.), and subsequently Sheen seems to have received the tithes of Beaumont Leys. (fn. 43) There is no record of any tithes having been paid after the Dissolution, when Sheen's rights of tithe fell to the Crown, which was already the owner of the property.
Beaumont Leys has at times been described as a manor, (fn. 44) but there is no evidence that a manor court was ever held. In the north-west of the area there is a rectangular earthwork, known as Castle Hill, about 200 yards long and about 130 yards wide. It consists of a ditch and low bank, the distance between the bottom of the ditch and the top of the bank varying from 3 to 8 feet. The origin and purpose of this work are unknown. (fn. 45)
Braunstone Frith is a small district on the western fringe of Leicester. The district was formerly an extra-parochial place in Sparkenhoe hundred, but under an Act of 1857 it became a separate civil parish. (fn. 46) Its area was 232 acres. (fn. 47) In 1935 the area was absorbed into the city of Leicester. The soil is nearly all Boulder Clay; in 1956 most of the district was occupied by a housing estate belonging to Leicester Corporation.
Braunstone Frith was first separated from Leicester Forest in 1526, when the large district in the forest known as the Frith was inclosed and divided into a number of separate pastures. (fn. 48) After the inclosure the Dean and Canons of the College of St. Mary in the Newarke at Leicester, a foundation closely connected with the Duchy of Lancaster which owned the forest, claimed compensation for the loss of certain common rights that they had previously enjoyed in the uninclosed Frith, and in consequence Henry VIII allotted to the college certain rights in Braunstone Frith. (fn. 49) As early as the reign of Elizabeth I it was uncertain exactly what rights Henry VIII had granted to the college. (fn. 50) After the inclosure of 1526 Braunstone Frith was leased out by the Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 51) Towards the end of Elizabeth I's reign the corporation of Leicester, which was leasing from the Crown the grange in the South Fields formerly owned by the dissolved College of St. Mary, (fn. 52) claimed on the basis of Henry VIII's grant to have the right to lease certain closes, containing about 60 acres, as part of the grange. (fn. 53) The corporation succeeded for a time in making good its claim to lease the closes, (fn. 54) but its possession of them as part of the college grange was repeatedly challenged. In 1598 the corporation protested against the possibility of the closes being leased to Robert Worship. (fn. 55) In 1600, after some litigation, the corporation decided that it was necessary to place its claim to the closes on a secure basis, (fn. 56) but that was not achieved, and further litigation took place over the closes in 1609– 14. (fn. 57) Finally in 1613–14 the corporation, though it succeeded in buying the whole grange, gave up its claims in the closes in Braunstone Frith to John Sherman, who then acquired the disputed property. (fn. 58)
Meanwhile the Duchy of Lancaster presumably remained the owner of the rest of Braunstone Frith. It is not known when the duchy disposed of this remaining part, but by 1705 the whole of Braunstone Frith was being held in fee farm by William Inge. (fn. 59) The property remained in the hands of his descendants, the Inges of Thorpe Constantine (Staffs.), until 1795. (fn. 60) Braunstone Frith was then acquired by John Kirk, who remained the owner for only three years. (fn. 61) From 1799 to 1804 the owner was William Hook, who had previously occupied the land as Kirk's tenant. (fn. 62) The property then came into the hands of Clement Winstanley, a large landowner in the adjacent parishes of Braunstone and Kirby Muxloe. (fn. 63) Braunstone Frith remained in the hands of Winstanley's descendants until it was bought by Leicester City Corporation in 1925. (fn. 64) The corporation was still the owner in 1956.
After its inclosure in 1526 Braunstone Frith was used as pasture. (fn. 65) From the late 18th century until after the purchase of the land by Leicester corporation in 1925 the parish formed a single farm. (fn. 66) In 1930 the corporation decided to use Braunstone Frith as the site for an airfield, which was opened in 1935. (fn. 67) In 1950 it was decided to appropriate 125 acres at the Frith, including a large part of the airfield, for a municipal golf course. Most of the remainder of the parish was laid out shortly afterwards as a housing estate. (fn. 68) Since 1945 much of the eastern part of the parish has become a housing estate owned by Leicester corporation.
For ecclesiastical purposes Braunstone Frith has always been, and in 1954 still remained, extraparochial. (fn. 69)
Freak's Ground was until 1891 a separate civil parish, immediately to the west of the borough of Leicester. The status of Freak's Ground as an administrative unit is for a long period obscure. A small and almost uninhabited area, it seems to have remained in an indeterminate position until the late 19th century. A map of 1828 marks Freak's Ground as an extra-parochial liberty. (fn. 70) In the census of 1841 it was returned as part of the Augustine Friars liberty, in the borough of Leicester. (fn. 71) In 1851 and 1861 Freak's Ground was listed as an extraparochial place outside the borough, (fn. 72) and in 1871 and 1881 as a separate civil parish. (fn. 73) It seems certain that Freak's Ground was not included in the borough until 1891, though as late as 1877 it was by some oversight not assessed for the county rate at all. (fn. 74) Under an Act of 1891 the whole of Freak's Ground was brought within the borough of Leicester, and included in Leicester Abbey parish. (fn. 75) The area of the former civil parish was 49 acres. (fn. 76)
The southern part of the former parish is occupied by several streets of 20th-century houses, but the northern part is covered by allotments. The soil is mostly Keuper Marl. Freak's Ground forms a rough rectangle of 48 acres on the western slope of the Soar valley and the land rises to some 230 ft. above sea-level at the western boundary. The line of the Leicester and Swannington Railway, built in 1830–2, (fn. 77) runs through Freak's Ground; the line was in 1956 controlled by British Railways Eastern Region, but was little used. The northern boundary of the parish is formed by the road from Leicester to Ashby de la Zouch. This road was placed under the care of a turnpike trust in 1753, (fn. 78) and in 1810 some land which formed part of Freak's Ground was sold to the trustees for road improvement. (fn. 79) The eastern boundary is formed by the medieval track known as the Fosse Road. (fn. 80)
It is not known when Freak's Ground was first separated from Leicester Forest, but it seems to have been inclosed before 1526, when further large inclosures took place in the northern part of the forest. (fn. 81) By 1577 Freak's Ground was owned by Henry, Earl of Huntingdon, who in 1589 sold it to Philip Freake, a prominent Leicester butcher. (fn. 82) Freake devised the property to his son John, (fn. 83) who in 1625 sold it to Leicester corporation. (fn. 84) In 1956 the corporation was still the owner of almost the entire parish.
Philip Freake presumably used his land for grazing stock for his large butchering business, (fn. 85) though when he acquired the property from the Earl of Huntingdon it included some arable. (fn. 86) The parish remained agricultural until well into the 19th century. (fn. 87) In 1871 a small fever hospital was built in Freak's Ground by Leicester corporation. The buildings were of corrugated iron and covered 2 acres. (fn. 88) The hospital was enlarged in 1893, but some years later it was replaced by a new hospital at Gilroes, opened in 1900. (fn. 89) Most of the remaining land was by the end of the 19th century laid out by the corporation in garden plots, (fn. 90) which in 1956 still occupied much of the parish. In the 1870's the corporation made use of Freak's Ground for loading the borough's night soil upon the railway. This practice led in 1878 to the prosecution of the corporation by Blaby sanitary authority, and the county magistrates ordered the corporation to abate the nuisance that had been caused. (fn. 91) In 1933 the corporation decided to build several streets of houses in the southern half of Freak's Ground, to provide accommodation for people displaced by street improvements and by the clearance of unhealthy districts in other parts of the city, mainly in St. Margaret's parish. (fn. 92)
Freak's Ground was extra-parochial for ecclesiastical purposes until 1904, when it became part of the newly established parish of St. Augustine, Newfoundpool. (fn. 97) It still remained in that parish in 1956.
Gilroes (fn. 98)
Gilroes, successively an extra-parochial place (fn. 99) and a civil parish, lies to the north-west of Leicester. The area became a civil parish under the Extra-Parochial Places Act of 1857, and the civil parish was dissolved in 1935 when Gilroes was transferred to Leicester county borough. (fn. 100) Its area in 1885 was 185 acres. (fn. 101) The soil is Boulder Clay, overlying gravel and red marl.
Gilroes is first mentioned in 1322, when it was in Leicester Forest. (fn. 102) The pasture between the roads from Leicester to Groby and to Anstey, given to Leicester Abbey by Robert FitzParnell, Earl of Leicester, and recovered from the abbey by his successor, Simon de Montfort, (fn. 103) may have included Gilroes. It is uncertain whether in 1322 the area was fully inclosed, though it was then at least partly hedged. (fn. 104) Gilroes appears then to have been partly woodland, as timber from the coppice of Gilwro is mentioned. (fn. 105) In 1354 Henry, Earl of Lancaster, the Lord of Leicester Forest, allowed Henry Dowel to inclose Gilroes, in return for a yearly rent of £4. (fn. 106) It was probably as a result of this grant that the area was finally cleared of timber and became permanent pasture. In 1585–6 Gilroes was being leased out by the Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 107) It is not known when the duchy disposed of the property, but by 1639 it had come into the possession of Sir Edward Moseley, (fn. 108) who possibly acquired Gilroes in 1628, when much land in Leicester Forest was sold by the duchy. (fn. 109) Moseley, at his death in 1639, devised Gilroes to his nephew, also called Edward Moseley, who in 1656 sold a great deal of property, including some, and probably all, of Gilroes, to German Pole. (fn. 110) By 1705 Gilroes was owned by Sir Nathaniel Curzon, Bt., (fn. 111) and it remained in the hands of the Curzon family until after 1795. (fn. 112) Subsequently Gilroes was sold, and by 1811 it was in the hands of three owners, of whom Henry Harrison, of Leicester, was much the most important. (fn. 113) The Harrison family remained in possession of most of Gilroes until 1896, when nearly all of Gilroes was purchased by Leicester corporation, (fn. 114) which in 1956 was still the principal owner.
Gilroes was for long a purely rural area, despite its nearness to Leicester. It seems unlikely that any of the Curzon family lived there, and during the late 18th century the property was in occupation of one or two tenants of theirs. (fn. 115) The Harrison family, too, though they seem to have farmed the land themselves, and not let it to tenants, (fn. 116) did not live at Gilroes, but left the land to be occupied by their labourers. (fn. 117) In 1811 the population was 4. In 1851 there were 8 inhabitants, and in 1871 10. (fn. 118) Leicester corporation began to lay out a cemetery in the western part of Gilroes immediately after their purchase of it in 1897, (fn. 119) and in 1956 much of the area was occupied by this municipal cemetery. A hospital for infectious diseases was opened by the corporation at Gilroes in 1900, (fn. 120) and subsequently very extensive hospital buildings have been erected. Originally the property of Leicester corporation, the hospitals were transferred to the Ministry of Health under the National Health Act of 1946.
For ecclesiastical purposes Gilroes remained extraparochial in 1954. (fn. 121)
Leicester Abbey Parish
Leicester Abbey, an extra parochial place which acquired the status of a civil parish under the ExtraParochial Places Act of 1857, lies on the west bank of the Soar, to the north-west of the ancient borough of Leicester. In 1892 a small part of the parish was transferred to Beaumont Leys, and the rest was incorporated in Leicester county borough. (fn. 122) In 1896 the civil parish of Leicester Abbey was merged in the civil parish of Leicester. (fn. 123) The area of the parish was 838 acres. (fn. 124) The site of the abbey itself, with some adjacent land, is now a public park, but the rest of the former parish had in 1956 nearly all been built over. The district is largely residential, and includes in the north Leicester corporation's Stocking Farm housing estate which was begun after 1948 and where large-scale building was still continuing in 1955. In the eastern part of the former parish, however, there are a number of factories, many of them concerned in the preparation of foodstuffs. The only buildings of historic interest in the parish are those on the site of Leicester Abbey. (fn. 125) Of the abbey buildings virtually nothing survives, owing to their destruction shortly after the surrender of the abbey to the crown in 1538. (fn. 126) In 1923 and 1928 the site of the abbey was partially excavated, and some foundations were discovered. Subsequently a reconstruction of the foundations of the chief abbey buildings has been laid out. To some extent this reconstruction is based on the extant remains, but for the rest it is conjectural. (fn. 127) A survey of the buildings, apparently drawn up shortly after the Dissolution, has survived, but it is difficult to reconcile the statements made in it with the existing remains. (fn. 128) The medieval wall, partly brick and partly stone, around the abbey precincts, still survives. The brick portion is known to have been built by John Penny, abbot 1496–1509. (fn. 129)
Within the grounds of the abbey are the remains of a large mansion, said to have been built by Henry, Earl of Huntingdon (d. 1595), and usually called Cavendish House. (fn. 130) In 1645 it was destroyed by the royalists, shortly after Charles I's capture of Leicester. (fn. 131) Fairly extensive remains of the mansion still exist, (fn. 132) and from them it is evident that the house was partly constructed with stone from the abbey buildings. (fn. 133)
In a close to the north-west of the abbey precincts there formerly stood a stone, once about 7 ft. high, known as St. John's stone. For a long time previously to the 19th century it was customary on St. John's Day to pay visits to the stone, which was vaguely supposed to have magical properties. Presumably the beliefs connected with the stone were survivals from the midsummer rites of pagan antiquity. In the 19th century the stone was destroyed by the occupier of the close. (fn. 134)
Leicester Abbey was founded in 1143 by Robert le Bossu, Earl of Leicester, who presumably gave to the new monastery its site and the immediately adjacent land. (fn. 135) In the 13th century, probably in 1240, (fn. 136) Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, granted to the canons of Leicester 320 acres of land near the abbey. (fn. 137) The land thus granted was the estate later known as Stocking Farm, which formed the northern part of Leicester Abbey parish, (fn. 138) and after this addition to its possessions the abbey held most, if not all, of the land in the area of the later civil parish. In 1484 the abbot was granted the right to hold a weekly market, and a yearly fair for five days, at the abbey. (fn. 139)
In 1538 Leicester Abbey was surrendered to the king, (fn. 140) who in 1539 leased it to Francis Cave for 21 years. (fn. 141) In 1550 the site of the abbey, with other nearby property which apparently included Stocking Farm, and which probably included most if not all of the area of the civil parish, was granted by the Crown to William Parr, Marquess of Northampton. (fn. 142) In 1553 the abbey property came into the Crown's hands again through Northampton's attainder, (fn. 143) and most of it was granted in the same year to Sir Edward Hastings, later Lord Hastings of Loughborough. (fn. 144) The change of ownership from Northampton to Hastings reflected the political circumstances of the age, for Northampton had been influential under Edward VI, while Hastings was Queen Mary's Master of the Horse and one of her Privy Council. (fn. 145) In 1558 Hastings obtained from the Crown two woods, which had not been granted to him in 1553, though they had been included in Northampton's grant of 1550. (fn. 146) One at least of the two, Stockinge Wood, was probably within the area of the civil parish, for it was presumably adjacent to Stocking Farm. (fn. 147) In 1561 Hastings of Loughborough was imprisoned, and the site of Leicester Abbey, with the adjacent lands, is said to have been granted in 1562 to his kinsman, Henry Hastings, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon, who in turn sold it back to Hastings of Loughborough. (fn. 148) Early in 1572 Hastings of Loughborough returned the abbey lands to the queen, who granted them to Sir Christopher Hatton; before the end of the year he in turn granted them to the Earl of Huntingdon. (fn. 149) The motives for this complex series of transactions are not clear. The abbey property remained in the hands of the earl and of other members of the Hastings family until 1613, when it was sold to William Cavendish, Earl of Devon. (fn. 150) The Cavendish family owned the land until the 3rd Duke of Devonshire sold it to Lord William Manners in 1733. (fn. 151) From Lord William the land descended to his illegitimate son John Manners, who married Louisa, later Countess of Dysart in her own right. (fn. 152) John Manners was succeeded by his son, Sir William Manners, Bt., and after Sir William's death in 1833 the ownership passed to his descendants, the earls of Dysart. (fn. 153) In 1815 Sir William Manners's property at Leicester Abbey was said to amount to 1,500 acres. (fn. 154) This must have included practically the whole parish, and it is probable that the property had descended undivided to Sir William from the Hastings and Cavendish families. The property remained in the hands of the earls of Dysart until after 1918. (fn. 155) About 1920 the last Earl of Dysart (fn. 156) sold much of his property in the parish to William Parker. (fn. 157) In 1919 the earl offered to give 32 acres in the parish, including the site of Leicester Abbey, to the city corporation. This offer was accepted, and the abbey precincts became a public park. (fn. 158) In 1948 much land at Stocking Farm was acquired by the corporation for housing purposes. (fn. 159)
It is not clear whether the abbey's site, when originally granted by the Earl of Leicester, was wooded, or whether it was meadow land, as is perhaps more probable from its proximity to the Soar. The name of St. Mary in the Meadows which the abbey acquired shows that at a later date the land around it must have been meadow. The 320 acres given to the abbey by Simon de Montfort were partly woodland. (fn. 160) In 1352 the canons of Leicester imparked a wood near their monastery, (fn. 161) but it is not certain exactly where this new park was situated. Until the Dissolution much land close to the abbey was retained in demesne by the canons, and used to produce food for the monastery's needs. (fn. 162) At the Dissolution, the demesne around the abbey included 56 acres of arable, 10 closes of pasture totalling 157½ acres, 103 acres of meadow, and a park totalling 180 acres. (fn. 163) Of this property the 56 acres of arable was in two fields which lay outside the area of the later civil parish, (fn. 164) while the park, which at the Dissolution was being used as pasture and was stocked with deer, (fn. 165) was no doubt that adjacent to the abbey buildings. (fn. 166) Of the closes, one covering 3 acres lay within the great wall surrounding the conventual buildings, (fn. 167) and two others, Ashe Close and Pinders Close, with Ashe Meadow, lay within the later parish, in its south-east portion near the river Soar. (fn. 168) The location of the other closes and meadow is unknown; some at least of them may have been outside the parish area. It seems, however, that by the 16th century much land in the parish consisted of closes used as pasture, and it is likely that the whole area was enclosed by the Dissolution. (fn. 169)
Until well into the 19th century Leicester Abbey remained free from urban development. For many years from the 18th to the early 20th centuries the former abbey precincts were used as a nursery garden. (fn. 170) As late as 1891 the parish was almost entirely agricultural land, and the population was only 76; (fn. 171) a pumping station had been built near the Soar under the Leicester Sewerage Act of 1851. (fn. 172) By 1920, how ever, the south-eastern part of the parish had largely become a residential area, and new streets were being built along both sides of Abbey Lane which runs from north to south through the parish. (fn. 173) Further building followed, and by 1938 only the north and north-west parts of the parish remained open ground. (fn. 174) Since 1948 Leicester Corporation have constructed a large housing estate in the northern part of the parish.
Leicester Abbey Mill was almost certainly the new mill between Leicester and Belgrave mentioned in 1274. (fn. 175) There is no earlier record of the mill, which was presumably only built shortly before 1274. The abbey mill was a watermill standing on the west bank of the Soar, a little to the north of the abbey buildings. (fn. 176) The mill was owned by Leicester Abbey until the Dissolution, after which it was granted away with the abbey site. (fn. 177) So far as is known, the mill was in the possession of the owners of the abbey site for the rest of its existence. In 1690 part of the mill was in use for fulling and scouring cloth. (fn. 178) It is not known when the abbey mill fell into disuse; it is not marked on the detailed and precise map of Leicester published in 1828, (fn. 179) and it had definitely ceased to exist by 1852. (fn. 180)
As an extra-parochial area with a small population the administrative needs of Leicester Abbey were insignificant. During the 18th and early 19th centuries the expenditure on poor relief seems to have been negligible. (fn. 181)
Before the Dissolution the site of the abbey and the other lands which later formed the civil parish were not included in any parish, and after the Dissolution the precincts and the lands attached to them formed an extra-parochial liberty. (fn. 182) In 1904 a small part of Leicester Abbey was placed in the newly created parish of St. Augustine, Newfoundpool, (fn. 183) but in 1954 the remainder was still extraparochial for ecclesiastical purposes; (fn. 184) the Church of England then possessed on the Stocking Farm estate a site, purchased from Leicester Corporation, for the building of a church.
A Methodist chapel was erected in Fosse Road North, in the southern part of Leicester Abbey civil parish, in 1903. (fn. 185) The Baptist Archdeacon Lane Memorial church in Buckminster Road was built in 1936, in place of the older chapel in Archdeacon Lane. (fn. 186) In 1954 Leicester Corporation decided to sell a site on the Stocking Farm estate for the building of a Baptist chapel.
The former extra-parochial place known as Leicester Frith was not co-extensive with the larger area in Leicester Forest known by the same name up to the 16th century. (fn. 187) The extra-parochial place was known as Sherman's Lodge or Sherman's Grounds in the 17th and 18th centuries after the principal landowning family. It was also known as Markham's Close. (fn. 188) For many years it lay in West Goscote hundred, having apparently been considered as extraparochial ever since it was separated from Leicester Forest. (fn. 189) Under the Act of 1857 it acquired the status of a civil parish. In 1935 nearly all of Leicester Frith was absorbed into the city of Leicester, and the small remaining part was placed in Glenfield parish. (fn. 190) For ecclesiastical purposes Leicester Frith seems to have been extra-parochial until it was placed in Glenfield ecclesiastical parish in 1887. (fn. 191) The area of the parish as it existed in 1935 was 256 acres. (fn. 192) The north-west boundary of the parish is formed by the ancient road between Leicester and Anstey known as Anstey Gorse, which still remained in 1955 a broad track with wide unenclosed verges. The southern boundary of the parish is formed by the road from Leicester to Groby, which from 1753 onwards was part of the turnpike between Leicester and Ashby de la Zouch. (fn. 193) This road was, until the 19th century, a broad open ride, similar to Anstey Gorse. (fn. 194) Both these boundary roads were mentioned about 1200. (fn. 195) The soil is chiefly Boulder Clay with small patches of sand and gravel. Leicester Frith House is a brick mansion, built for Thomas Taylor in 1873. (fn. 196) It is now (1956) part of the premises of Glenfrith Hospital.
An enclosure called 'le Marclose', which is mentioned in 1322, may perhaps have been the area which later became Leicester Frith parish, (fn. 197) but this is very uncertain. The first definite reference to the later parish as a distinct unit occurs in 1610, when it was an inclosure under lease from the Duchy of Lancaster to John Sherman. (fn. 198) The property was held by members of the Sherman family at fee farm from the 17th century until the 19th. (fn. 199) In 1812 Leicester Frith was held by Mrs. Elizabeth Sherman, but in 1812 or 1813 it was acquired by William Oldham, the Leicester architect and builder, (fn. 200) whose family retained it until it was sold in 1861 to Isaac Harrison. (fn. 201) By 1870 much of the property had been acquired by Thomas Swift Taylor, a Leicester cotton manufacturer. (fn. 202) A large part of the parish remained in the hands first of Taylor, and then after his death of his trustees, for some 40 years. (fn. 203) Taylor's trustees were still in possession in 1909, when 93 acres of Leicester Frith were bought by Leicester Corporation. (fn. 204) Ten years later the corporation bought a further 118 acres. (fn. 205) In 1956 the corporation was still the principal owner, although that part of Leicester Frith which was used for hospital purposes was vested in the Ministry of Health.
Until after its acquisition by Leicester Corporation the area was purely agricultural. In 1811 it contained one house and seven inhabitants. (fn. 206) During the 19th century the population slowly increased: there were 33 inhabitants in 1851, 47 in 1871, and 119 in 1921. (fn. 207)
During the First World War Leicester Frith House was enlarged and converted into a hospital for servicemen suffering from neurasthenia. It continued to be used for that purpose until in 1924 it was handed back to Leicester corporation. The corporation used it for a short time as a convalescent home attached to Leicester Royal Infirmary, and then as a hospital for the mentally deficient. (fn. 208) It was still being used for that purpose in 1956, when it was known as Glenfrith Hospital. Under the National Health Act of 1946 it was transferred from the corporation to the Ministry of Health, being administered by the Sheffield Regional Hospital Board. In 1956 the hospital and its grounds occupied a large area in the southern part of Leicester Frith.
New Parks (fn. 209)
New Parks originally formed part of the large section of Leicester Forest known as the Frith, in which the population of Leicester had certain rights of common. In the 14th century the area contained a forester's lodge, known as Bird's Nest Lodge, which was rebuilt in 1377–8. (fn. 210) In 1525–6 the lodge was again extensively repaired; it was then a moated building with a drawbridge. (fn. 211) By 1790 the house had altogether disappeared; (fn. 212) it was still in existence in 1560, (fn. 213) but it was apparently allowed to decay after New Parks had been inclosed in 1526. The moat which surrounded the lodge survived until the area was built over about 1950.
For civil purposes New Parks was for many years after its creation an extra-parochial place. (fn. 214) From 1871 New Parks was referred to as a civil parish. (fn. 215) In 1935 nearly all of New Parks was absorbed into the city of Leicester, and the remainder was placed in the parish of Glenfields. (fn. 216) The area of the original civil parish was 812 acres. (fn. 217)
New Parks was in 1956 almost entirely covered by a large modern housing estate owned by Leicester corporation. The estate consists predominantly of two-storied houses, including some of the prefabricated type, but some large blocks of flats have been built. In 1956 almost the whole parish had been built over. Near the northern boundary of the parish stands New Parks House, an undistinguished brick mansion built by a Leicester hosiery manufacturer in 1845–6, (fn. 218) but now possessed by Leicester Corporation and used as part of a school. In the south-west of the parish there is a large public park.
New Parks stands on the plateau of Boulder Clay that borders the Soar valley on the west. The eastern boundary of the parish coincides very approximately with the edge of the plateau. The surface soil is mostly Boulder Clay, overlying gravel and limestone. The area of New Parks, when it existed as a separate civil parish, was 789 acres. (fn. 219)
In 1526 the Frith was inclosed, and New Parks was then first separated from the rest of the forest, and surrounded by a pale. (fn. 220) It was reported in 1526 that New Parks would bring in a yearly rental of £70 7s. 6d. (fn. 221) and presumably the intention was to rent or lease out the estate, and to retain it as part of the lands of the Duchy of Lancaster, to which with the rest of Leicester Forest it then belonged. In 1550 New Parks was granted to William Parr, Marquess of Northampton, (fn. 222) who obtained other grants of land in the same district from the Crown. (fn. 223) Northampton was attainted in 1553, (fn. 224) and all his property was forfeited to the Crown, which presumably then regained New Parks. Bird's Nest Lodge itself was certainly in the Crown's hands in 1560, when it was surveyed by a commission set up by the Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 225) By 1571 New Parks was in the hands of William, Lord Cobham, (fn. 226) and it remained in the ownership of his family until it was forfeited to the king through the attainder of Henry, Lord Cobham, in 1603. (fn. 227) In May 1604 New Parks was granted to Sir William Woodhouse, (fn. 228) but in the following June the same property was granted to Sir Thomas Knyvet and to Edward, George, and Nathaniel Bacon, (fn. 229) to whom Woodhouse may possibly have transferred his rights. Neither of these grants can have taken immediate effect, as in 1603 James I granted a large part of the forfeited Cobham estates to the wife of the attainted Lord Cobham, and she was in possession of New Parks, for life, in 1606. (fn. 230) For more than a century after 1606 the descent of the property is obscure. (fn. 231) William Mitchell is said to have died possessed of New Parks in 1745. (fn. 232) The descent of the property becomes clear again in 1781, when it was in the hands of a Mr. Clarke. (fn. 233) The Clarke family remained the owners of New Parks until 1843, (fn. 234) but subsequently it was divided between various owners. In 1843 a good deal of land in the northern part of New Parks was acquired by Thomas Stokes, a Leicester hosiery manufacturer, and most of the remaining land went to another hosier, J. O. Harris; (fn. 235) in 1863, though Stokes was an important landowner, the largest single landlord in the parish was John Mellor. (fn. 236) For many years the greater part of New Parks continued to be owned by Mellor and Stokes, and later by their trustees, though there were a number of minor owners. (fn. 237) Nearly all of New Parks was eventually acquired by Leicester corporation. In 1897 the corporation purchased 183 acres in the south-west of the parish for use as a public park, (fn. 238) and in 1933–7 it bought most of the remainder. (fn. 239) In 1956 the corporation was still the owner of almost all the land.
Presumably New Parks was until its inclosure in 1526 largely woodland. (fn. 240) After the inclosure the area was evidently cleared, for a survey of 1606 reports New Parks as consisting of rather less than 702 acres of pasture, and just over 112 acres of meadow. There was a small quarry of freestone, but it was considered valueless. The stock then on the property consisted of 1,000 sheep, and 40 milch cows, besides some store cattle and horses. The annual value of New Parks as a whole was estimated at over £400, though it was then being rented for only £260 a year. (fn. 241) New Parks remained purely agricultural until the late 19th century. In 1801 the population was only three, and there were only two houses. (fn. 242) In 1871 there was a population of 69, with 11 houses. (fn. 243) In 1898 Leicester corporation bought a large area in the south-west of New Parks to form a public park. (fn. 244) In 1906 a home for incurable patients was established by the Dominican Order near the border of the parish. (fn. 245) By 1938 the city of Leicester had begun to spread into New Parks, and the south-east of the parish had become a residential area. (fn. 246) Since 1945 most of the remainder has become a housing estate owned by Leicester corporation.
For ecclesiastical purposes New Parks remained extra-parochial until 1904, when it was included in the newly created parish of St. Augustine, Newfoundpool. (fn. 247) In 1947 New Parks, with a small part of Glenfields and part of the parish of St. Anne, Letchworth Road, was formed into a new ecclesiastical district, St. Aidan's. (fn. 248) The church and parish hall were begun in 1954 on a site in New Parks.
The origins of the extra-parochial place of New- foundpool (fn. 249) are unknown, and the area does not appear in any records until the 19th century. It first appears on a map of 1828, (fn. 250) where it is marked as an area of open land measuring about 650 yards from east to west, and about 400 yards from north to south, situated between Fosse Road North and the borough boundary as it then existed. In the census report of 1841 Newfoundpool was listed as part of the Augustine Friars liberty in Leicester borough, (fn. 251) and in early census returns its population may have been included under Augustine Friars. In the reports of 1851 and 1861 Newfoundpool was listed as a separate extra-parochial place, (fn. 252) and in 1871 and 1881 as a civil parish. (fn. 253) Under the Leicester Extension Act of 1891 Newfoundpool became part of Leicester county borough, and in 1896 with the creation of a new civil parish which included the whole borough Newfoundpool ceased to exist as a separate unit. (fn. 254) Although Newfoundpool was part of the administrative county of Leicester until it was brought within the borough, as late as 1877 county rates were not being levied in the area. (fn. 255)
By about 1830 Newfoundpool belonged to Isaac Harrison, a member of a Leicester firm of market gardeners, (fn. 256) who discovered and decided to exploit a spring of medicinal water on the land. (fn. 257) He built a large house as a hydropathic institution, with houses for the doctor and his attendants, and for a time the institution seems to have flourished. (fn. 258) It failed, however, probably before 1835, (fn. 259) and in 1836 Harrison began to look for coal measures under the site. He converted the house into one for himself, and may have sold or leased some of the land to his brother Henry, who seems to have owned it in 1845, when some of it was surveyed by the Midland Railway with a view to the construction of a line. (fn. 260) After the death of both the brothers the property descended to their nephew, Isaac Harrison, and then to his daughter Beatrice, who about 1885 sold the land to Orson Wright, a Leicester builder. (fn. 261) He laid out the area in streets, building some small houses himself and selling some of the land in building plots. (fn. 262) The initials of the streets which join Pool Road and Beatrice Road form an acrostic on the name 'Isaac Harrison'. By 1891 the development of the area was almost complete, and the population had risen from 56 in 1881 to 2,160. (fn. 263)
In 1894 the ecclesiastical parish of St. Augustine, Newfoundpool, was created. A temporary mission church had been built in 1888. (fn. 264) A red brick church was begun in 1901 and completed in 1912. The architect was W. M. Cowdell. (fn. 265) The ecclesiastical parish originally included Newfoundpool itself, Freak's Ground, New Parks, and part of Leicester Abbey parish. In 1947 a conventional district was formed for New Parks. (fn. 266)
Newfoundpool had a separate school board, which was responsible for the construction of the Ingle Street board school in 1891. This came under the Leicester school board when Newfoundpool was included in the borough. (fn. 267)