A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 5, Gartree Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.
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Kibworth ancient parish consisted of three townships, Kibworth Beauchamp, Kibworth Harcourt, and Smeeton Westerby. So far as can be discovered, each parish has always formed a separate unit for civil purposes. Ecclesiastically, all three townships were included in Kibworth Beauchamp parish, though Kibworth Harcourt possessed its own chapel from the 13th to the early 16th centuries. Smeeton Westerby became a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1852.
In this account the history of each township has been treated separately. The mother church of Kibworth, and the charities that concern the whole ancient parish, have been dealt with under Kibworth Beauchamp. So far as is known, the boundaries of the townships have never undergone any change.
Surviving population statistics suggest that the ancient parish of Kibworth may have been one of the most populous in the hundred of Gartree since the 11th century. Domesday lists 72 inhabitants: 28 in Kibworth Beauchamp, 28 in Kibworth Harcourt, and 16 in Smeeton Westerby. The respective numbers of taxpayers for each of these three places in 1377 were 134, 122, and 122. There were 444 communicants in 1603. The number of households in 1563 was 82, and in 1670 197 (66 in Kibworth Beauchamp, 63 in Kibworth Harcourt, and 69 in Smeeton Westerby). There were 551 communicants in 1676, (fn. 1) and about 150 families in the early 18th century. (fn. 2) During the 19th century the population in all three places rose steadily, from a total for the ancient parish of 1,232 in 1801 to 1,975 in 1871. The population of Smeeton Westerby reached a peak figure of 567 in 1841, which it has not attained since; the population in 1951 was 321. That of Kibworth Harcourt rose slowly to its highest total, 578, in 1951. In Kibworth Beauchamp there was a much more rapid increase, which was most marked in the years 1851-81 and, after a sudden decrease, 1891-1921. In 1951 Kibworth Beauchamp held nearly twothirds of the combined population of the three civil parishes. (fn. 3)
The township of Kibworth Beauchamp is in shape long and narrow, running approximately north-west to south-east. The western boundary, separating Kibworth from Wistow and Fleckney parishes, follows a small brook and, for a short distance, the Grand Union Canal. The long south-west boundary runs at its western end along the south side of the ridge which largely fills the western part of the township, then curves round to the north of Smeeton Westerby village, and runs to the south-west along a small brook. The north-eastern boundary runs for most of its length near the main Harborough- Leicester road, and for about 400 yds. immediately south of Kibworth Harcourt village follows the line of the road itself.
The western end of the township is mostly occupied by a ridge, rising to about 480 ft. above sea level. To the south-east the ground falls away gradually, to about 250 ft. on the south-east boundary. The surface soil is mostly boulder clay. The area of the township is 1,312 a. (fn. 4) The Midland Railway opened a line running through the middle of the parish in 1857, with a station at Kibworth Beauchamp; it forms part of the main line from Leicester to London. (fn. 5)
Kibworth Beauchamp village, sometimes known as Lower Kibworth, lies at the centre of the township, its main axis running east and west. The parish church stands to the north of it, near the main Leicester-Harborough road and the boundary with Kibworth Harcourt. The focal point of the village is a triangular open space, known as the Square, formerly Cross Bank. (fn. 6) It is now occupied by a small traffic roundabout. From this point High Street, which contains most of the village shops, runs westwards and later becomes Fleckney Road. To the south of High Street a road branches off to Smeeton Westerby. To the north School Road is a cul-de-sac, ending at the grammar school (fn. 7) and being continued northwards as a footpath to Kibworth Harcourt. To the east of the Square the continuation of High Street dates from the inclosure (fn. 8) and is known as New Road. It passes under the railway beyond the gasworks and joins the main road in Kibworth Harcourt parish. Station Road leads northwards from the Square and passes across the small valley in which the railway lies by means of a bridge and an embankment. As Church Road it continues uphill, past the Rectory (fn. 9) and the church, to join the main road on the Kibworth Harcourt boundary.
The buildings in Kibworth Beauchamp are almost entirely of red brick and many of them date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries after the construction of the railway and when the village became a small centre of the mechanized hosiery industry. Doubtless a large number of the older buildings, including mud cottages, (fn. 10) disappeared at this time. The oldest surviving house is probably the Manor House which lies on the south side of High Street. It dates from the 16th century when it was probably occupied by the steward or bailiff of the manor. (fn. 11) It is H-shaped in plan, the lower part of the walls being of ironstone and the upper story timber-framed. The hall, with a room above it, occupies the central block. The hall is lit by a stone-mullioned window in the front wall, and has a stone chimney at its west end. Behind the chimney is the former crosspassage, its front entrance now blocked. The service wing, which lies beyond the passage, has an early fire-place on its back wall which was originally surmounted by a large flue of timber and plaster construction. This was cleared away in 1911 (fn. 12) and the space which it occupied on the first floor has been converted into a bathroom. The remains of the flue are visible in the roof. The parlour is in the east wing, which was altered, probably in the 18th century, to accommodate an entrance hall and staircase. The roof contains original trusses with curved principals. The stables with their small clock tower were built early in the 20th century, replacing older outbuildings.
Stuart House, set back behind the east side of Station Road, contains a carved beam of 1627 and a stone chimney of the same date. The house itself was rebuilt in brick in the 18th century. In High Street and School Road there are several cottages of the late 17th or early 18th centuries, mostly built of brick but retaining traces of timber and mud construction. Nos. 1 and 3 Fleckney Road once formed a farm-house of this period. The building is largely of brick but its back wall contains timber-framing of a late type. The steeply-pitched gable-ends have brick parapets and the roof was formerly thatched. No. 41 High Street retains its thatched roof and has the same characteristic steep gables. No. 33 High Street is a large L-shaped brick house, built in the early 18th century but with a later stucco front and altered windows. It was formerly known as Beauchamp House and was a boarding school c. 1865. (fn. 13) Later in the 19th century it was occupied by W. W. Underwood who was largely responsible for founding the Baptist chapel. (fn. 14) On the south side of High Street there are several substantial 18th-century brick houses whose frontages form a dignified group facing the Square. No. 14 is a tall two-story building with a moulded brick cornice, keystones to the windows, and a pedimented door-case. Willoughby House (no. 22) is of the later 18th century; its doorway has an open pediment and a lead fanlight. The two-story range which adjoins it probably dates from the time when much of this property was occupied by John Loveday, a large-scale building contractor. (fn. 15) No. 4, at the east end of High Street, has a well-designed front of the late 18th century, its features including a central 'Gothic' window to the first floor.
Many of the brick cottages in the village date from the early and mid-19th century. Nos. 1-11 Smeeton Road, a row of low two-story dwellings of this period, have unusually large first-floor windows and may have been designed to accommodate knitting frames in the upper rooms. In Weir Road, a cul-desac leading south at the east end of High Street, a mid-19th-century frame-shop, which had proved unsuccessful, was subsequently converted into tenements. (fn. 16) These (nos. 28, 30, 32, and 34) are still known as the 'Factory Houses'. A good mid-19thcentury brick building is the former National school on the north-west side of the Square. The single-story front range, which is surmounted by a bell cupola, has a central gable and six tall windows with diagonal glazing-bars. Above the entrance are tablets commemorating the foundation of the school in 1812 and its rebuilding in 1842. The railway station, incorporating the stationmaster's house, is a good example of a comparatively unaltered village station of its period (1857). It is of yellow brick with red- and blue-brick dressings. It is entered by a small gabled porch and the paired round-headed windows have ornamental glazingbars. North of the railway is a row of late-19thcentury middle-class houses, built in pairs, known as Beauchamp Villas.
The expansion of Kibworth Beauchamp in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is particularly noticeable in Station Road, in Paget Street (formerly Pudding Bag Lane), (fn. 17) and in Fleckney Road. At the west end of Fleckney Road almost a new small town sprang up after the establishment of Johnson & Barnes's hosiery factory there in 1901. (fn. 18) Near it, the Kibworth Working Men's Club and Institute appears to be of about the same date. Other public buildings in Kibworth Beauchamp are the village hall, built in Station Road in 1866 (fn. 19) and enlarged later, and the Oddfellows' Hall in Paget Street, formerly the Liberal Club, built about 1875. (fn. 20) The fire station at the west end of Fleckney Road was opened in 1955. (fn. 21)
There is a Council housing estate near the gasworks in New Road. Opposite the parish church the large Hillcrest Avenue estate, containing nearly 150 Council houses, was laid out after the Second World War. A new building to house the Church of England school was opened there in 1959.
Groups of houses to the north of the church and for some distance along the south side of the main road lie in Kibworth Beauchamp township, although they appear to be part of Kibworth Harcourt village. They include the Coach and Horses Inn, an 18thor early-19th-century building with a curved frontage at the junction of Church Road and the main road. In the main road itself a row of mid-19thcentury cottages is known as Navigation or Navvies Row and is said to have been built to house workers during the construction of the railway. (fn. 22) To the west of it is the Gables, a large mid-Victorian house in its own grounds. The Grange is a square stucco house near the main road in the extreme south-east corner of the parish. It dates from c. 1845 and formerly had substantial outbuildings and well-planted grounds. In 1959 it was in use as a farm and the twin lodges at the gates were unoccupied and derelict.
In 1086 11 carucates and 6 bovates in Kibworth Beauchamp were held by Robert dispensator. Under Edward the Confessor 5 carucates and 6 bovates there had been held by Edwin and Alferd, and 6 carucates by Ailmar. (fn. 23) In 1130 11 carucates were held by Walter de Beauchamp, and one carucate by Richard Basset. (fn. 24) Walter had acquired much land held in 1086 by Robert dispensator, who was the uncle of Walter's wife. (fn. 25) The single carucate held by Richard Basset was described in 1130 as being de feodo Matildis Ridel, (fn. 26) and Richard must therefore have acquired it through his marriage with Maud, daughter of Geoffrey Ridel. It may be deduced from this that Geoffrey had held it before his death in 1121. (fn. 27)
The Basset holding at Kibworth Beauchamp cannot be traced further, though a carucate there belonging to the Basset Fee is mentioned in a document which may belong to Henry III's reign, (fn. 28) but Walter de Beauchamp's descendants long remained lords of KIBWORTH BEAUCHAMP manor. In 1298 William de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, died possessed of the manor, (fn. 29) and it continued to be held by his descendants (fn. 30) until all the lands of Thomas, Earl of Warwick, were forfeited in 1397 as a result of his hostility to Richard II. (fn. 31) In the same year the king granted the manor in tail male to one of his knights, Henry Green. (fn. 32) The Countess of Warwick was, however, allowed to hold the manor for life, to sustain her in view of the forfeiture of her husband's lands, and new letters patent were issued granting the manor jointly to Green and the countess, with reversion after the countess's death to Green and his heirs. (fn. 33) On the overthrow of Richard II in 1399 the forfeiture of Earl Thomas's lands was annulled, and he was in possession of the manor at his death in 1401. (fn. 34) The manor was then held by his widow in dower, but after her death it reverted to his son and heir Richard de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. (fn. 35) In 1425 the earl conveyed the manor to feoffees, who were in possession when he died in 1439. (fn. 36) There was some litigation between Earl Richard's heirs and John Huggeford, or Higford, son and heir of the last surviving feoffee. (fn. 37) Huggeford was still in possession of the manor when he died in 1485. (fn. 38) Not long after this the manor must have been secured by Earl Richard's heirs, for in 1492 Edward Grey, Viscount Lisle, died seised of it in right of his wife Elizabeth, who was the granddaughter of Margaret, Countess of Shrewsbury, one of Earl Richard's daughters, and eventually one of his co-heirs. (fn. 39) Edward Grey was succeeded by his son John, Viscount Lisle, and after John's death in 1504 the property descended to his posthumous daughter Elizabeth Grey, Baroness Lisle in her own right. (fn. 40) The baroness died without issue in 1519, and her heirs were her two aunts. (fn. 41) Kibworth Beauchamp seems to have descended to one of these, another Elizabeth, also Baroness Lisle, the wife first of Edmund Dudley, and secondly of Arthur Plantagenet, who was created Viscount Lisle in 1523. (fn. 42) After Elizabeth's death, about 1530, Kibworth was the subject of long negotiations between her son by her first marriage, John Dudley, and Arthur Plantagenet. (fn. 43) The latter was in possession for some years before his death in 1542, (fn. 44) but after that the manor came to Dudley. (fn. 45) In 1553 the manor was forfeited through the attainder and execution of Dudley, who had been created Duke of Northumberland. (fn. 46) In 1554 it was granted to his widow for life, (fn. 47) but in 1555 she died and the manor reverted to the queen, who shortly afterwards leased out much of the land in Kibworth Beauchamp. (fn. 48)
In 1559 Elizabeth I granted the manor in tail male to Ambrose Dudley, later Earl of Warwick, with remainder in tail male to his brother Robert. (fn. 49) Ambrose died without children in 1589, and as his brother was already dead without legitimate issue the manor escheated to the queen. (fn. 50) In 1610 it was granted to Sir Augustine Nicholls, Anthony Shugborough, and John Smith. (fn. 51) The descent after that time is not clear. The manor was acquired by John Berridge, before 1632, and seems to have been held by his relatives until 1660. (fn. 52) The manor was bought by Sir Thomas Halford, Bt., from Richard Davenport and his wife in 1687. (fn. 53) The Halfords retained the manor until the death without issue of Sir Charles Halford in 1780, when it passed to his relict Sarah, later the wife of Basil Fielding, Earl of Denbigh. (fn. 54) On the Countess Sarah's death in 1814 the manor passed under Sir Charles's will to his cousin, Sir Henry Halford, Bt. (fn. 55) It remained in the hands of his descendants until the death in 1897 of a later Sir Henry Halford, who devised it to the Hon. T. F. Fremantle, later Lord Cottesloe. (fn. 56) Lord Cottesloe was still lord in 1936. (fn. 57)
From the 13th century onwards the manor was frequently said to be held from the king in grand serjeanty by the performance of the office of king's pantler. (fn. 58) The first record of the manor's being held by such service seems to date from 1298, (fn. 59) but there is no evidence to show how the office of pantler came to be linked with Kibworth Beauchamp. In 1559 the manor was granted to Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, to hold by service as the royal pantler, (fn. 60) but on Dudley's death in 1589 the manor reverted to the Crown, and in 1610 it was granted away by James I in fee simple. (fn. 61) After that the connexion between the manor and pantler-ship ceased, and claims by later lords of the manor to be allowed to perform the office were disallowed.
In 1086 Robert dispensator held 11 carucates and 6 bovates at Kibworth Beauchamp. In demesne Robert had 3 servi, and as tenants he had 17 villeins and 8 bordars, but there were no socmen. There were 24 a. of meadow. (fn. 62) From at least the 13th century onwards, and probably from before the Domesday Survey, Kibworth Beauchamp manor was held in demesne by the tenants-in-chief. The position shown in Domesday, with a substantial body of villeins and bordars, suggests that there was then an extensive manorial demesne.
In 1279, when detailed information about the manor is first available, its lord, the Earl of Warwick, had 16 virgates in demesne, and 16 held in villeinage. There were two free holdings, each of 4 virgates. As there were said to be 40 virgates in all at Kibworth Beauchamp it seems that there were no other holdings. (fn. 63) In 1315 the earl had 13½ virgates in demesne, each virgate containing 15 a.; there were 24 villeins, each holding a virgate, and 18 other tenants described as nativi, each holding half a virgate. The villeins and nativi thus held in all 33 virgates, or more than twice as many as had been held in villeinage in 1279. In addition there were in 1315 3 cottars, whose holdings were not described but were probably small, and 4 free tenants, holding a total of 7½ virgates. The villeins each paid 14s. rent yearly, the nativi 7s., and the cottars 1s. 8d. No labour services are mentioned. The free tenants all paid rents; one of them in addition held his land by the service of making the summonses, attachments, and other executions throughout Leicestershire of the earl's court at Kibworth. The capital messuage of the manor was said to have fallen into ruin, to have been rebuilt as a cottage, and to have been let to farm. There was a common oven, worth 5 marks yearly, and the total value of the earl's property at Kibworth was estimated to be £53 7s. 6d. a year. (fn. 64) Arable land in 1315 amounted to 53 virgates, suggesting that there had been a considerable extension of cultivation since 1279. (fn. 65) Earlier in 1315, before the extent from which the above details are taken was made, the earl had leased out the manor for 10 years. (fn. 66) The 1381 poll tax returns for Kibworth Beauchamp list 32 tenants at will, one free tenant, 5 cottagers, and 8 persons described as labourers or servants. (fn. 67) It may be deduced that by 1381 both the demesne and the land which had previously been held by customary tenants was being rented by tenants at will.
In 1223 Walter de Beauchamp was granted the right to hold a weekly market at Kibworth on Wednesdays. This grant, like others made during Henry III's minority, was to last only until the king came of age. (fn. 68) It has been suggested (fn. 69) that the grant was connected with the development in the late 12th or early 13th centuries of the highway running from Leicester through Kibworth to Harborough. No further mention of the market has been found.
John Dudley, Lord Lisle and later Duke of Northumberland, while lord of the manor, had a bailiff at Kibworth to collect rents and see to property repairs. (fn. 70) In 1554-5 (fn. 71) there were 18 tenants at will, holding 37¾ virgates amongst them. There were also 6 free tenants, who each paid a small chief rent to the lord. At Smeeton Westerby the lands attached to the manor comprised 14 virgates, held by 7 tenants at will and one leaseholder. The lord still had a common oven, now valued at 3s. 4d. a year. After Dudley's attainder a royal collector was appointed to deal with his property at Kibworth and Burton Lazars. (fn. 72) In 1555 the Crown leased out some of the property formerly held by Dudley on 21-year leases. In all 11¾ virgates were leased, besides several messuages and a number of small crofts. (fn. 73)
Nothing is known of the state of the manor while it was in the hands of Ambrose Dudley, but in 1591, when the Crown leased the manor to John Cary, there were 38 virgates belonging to the manor in Kibworth Beauchamp, 15 virgates in Smeeton Westerby, and one-quarter virgate in Kibworth Harcourt. (fn. 74) Subsequently much of the land attached to the manor was alienated, and in 1687 that which remained was said to consist of less than 150 a., most of it furze and heath. (fn. 75)
From at least the early 17th century onwards each of the township's open fields contained some leys, apparently usually concentrated in one or two furlongs in each field; two cases have, however, been noted in which a single furlong is stated to have contained both ley and arable. (fn. 76) During the 17th century the proportion of ley to arable seems to have been fairly constant, about one-quarter of each field being ley. (fn. 77) The practice of laying part of the open fields down to grass lasted certainly until the early 18th century, and probably until the township was inclosed, despite a statement in 1797 that before the inclosure the open fields of Kibworth were used solely for growing grain. (fn. 78)
The whole ancient parish of Kibworth was inclosed by Act in 1779. (fn. 79) There was some opposition to the inclosure, as the owners of 8¾ yardlands declared themselves against the bill, though they did not appear before the Commons committee which considered it, and the owners of 4½ yardlands were neutral. The whole parish was estimated to contain 148 yardlands. (fn. 80) Under the award (fn. 81) 27 proprietors were allotted land at Kibworth Beauchamp. The rector was allotted 231 a. in respect of glebe and in commutation of tithe. (fn. 82) Four other owners were each awarded more than 100 a., one of them receiving 190 a. Five owners were allotted between 50 a. and 100 a. and 7 between 10 a. and 50 a. Nine received between one and 10 a. and 2 less than an acre. By the time of the inclosure all the land at Kibworth Beauchamp was freehold, in contrast to Kibworth Harcourt where much was still copyhold.
After the inclosure most of the township was laid down to grass, and about 1797 it was said that ninetenths of the land in the whole ancient parish was pasture. (fn. 83) As a result there was at the end of the 18th century a serious shortage of work for farm labourers, and expenditure on poor relief increased greatly. In the year ending at Easter 1776, £72 was raised for poor relief in Kibworth Beauchamp township, while for the three years ending at Easter 1785 the annual average was £147. (fn. 84) In the year ending at Easter 1803 the amount raised was £423. (fn. 85) The shortage of agricultural employment was probably a factor in leading many of the inhabitants of the village to enter the hosiery industry and the occupations connected with it. There were at least 2 framework-knitters at Kibworth Beauchamp in 1750-70, (fn. 86) but since Sir Frederick Eden in his observations on the township as it was about 1797 does not mention framework-knitting (fn. 87) it is likely that the occupation was then still unimportant. Eden does, however, state that the women and children were engaged in spinning worsted thread, the raw material of the Leicester hosiery industry. (fn. 88) By 1830 it was said that many of the population were engaged in frameworkknitting, (fn. 89) and about 1860 there were several small workshops where hosiery was made on hand-powered frames. (fn. 90)
By the early 20th century there were two powerdriven hosiery factories in Kibworth Beauchamp, those of Johnson & Barnes in Fleckney Road and of R. H. Poynor & Co. in Smeeton Road. (fn. 91) Johnson & Barnes's factory was built in 1901 and enlarged in 1922. Subsequently it employed about 400 workpeople. It was still operating in 1959, although on a much reduced scale. (fn. 92) Poynor's factory ceased to operate in the mid-thirties, when it was acquired by J. E. Slater & Co., a firm of display designers and manufacturers. The buildings were extended in 1958 when the firm was employing about 120 people in Kibworth Beauchamp and Smeeton Westerby. (fn. 93)
In 1862 a small gasworks, largely financed by capital subscribed in the parish, was set up at Kibworth Beauchamp. (fn. 94) Since 1945 the accessibility of the village by road and railway has made it increasingly a place of residence for people employed in Leicester.
In 1315 there were a watermill and a windmill at Kibworth Beauchamp, both owned by Guy, Earl of Warwick, the lord of the manor. (fn. 95) In 1554-5 both mills still existed, and still formed part of the manor, then in the queen's hands. (fn. 96) A single mill, probably the windmill, is mentioned as forming part of the manor in 1591. (fn. 97) A windmill attached to the manor is mentioned in 1687, (fn. 98) but there is no later reference to a mill at Kibworth Beauchamp.
For the purposes of civil administration each of the three townships in Kibworth ancient parish seems always to have formed a separate unit. A constable for Kibworth Beauchamp township is mentioned in 1670, (fn. 99) and in 1690 there were two churchwardens for the township. (fn. 100) In 1814 there was only one warden for Kibworth Beauchamp, and apparently by that date a system had been established by which one warden was elected by each of the three townships. (fn. 101) A rector's warden, for the whole ancient parish, is first mentioned in 1845. (fn. 102) In 1958 there were two people's wardens, one each for Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt, and one rector's warden, Smeeton Westerby having become a separate ecclesiastical parish. (fn. 103)
Some buildings at Kibworth Beauchamp known as parish houses are mentioned in 1827, and again in 1836-7. (fn. 104) The houses were in the care of the township's warden, but their function is uncertain. (fn. 105) They may have been used to house the poor. In 1802-3 26 adults and 48 children in Kibworth Beauchamp received out-relief, and there is no evidence for the existence of a workhouse at that date. (fn. 106) After 1836 Kibworth was included in Market Harborough Union. (fn. 107) Church rates were last levied in the township for the year ending at Easter 1869. (fn. 108) In the first half of the 19th century it was usual for each of the three townships to pay one-third of the cost of maintaining the church fabric and furniture. (fn. 109) From 1825 onwards, and perhaps earlier, it was the practice for the three townships to hold joint general vestry meetings to discuss business about the church fabric and general church expenses. (fn. 110)
The townships of Kibworth Beauchamp, Kibworth Harcourt, and Smeeton Westerby once formed a single parish. During the Middle Ages there was a chapel at Kibworth Harcourt, (fn. 113) but whether there was one at Smeeton Westerby is uncertain. (fn. 114) In 1852 the township of Smeeton Westerby became a separate ecclesiastical parish, (fn. 115) and from that time Kibworth Beauchamp ecclesiastical parish has included the townships of Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt only.
About 1220 it was said that besides the Rector of Kibworth Beauchamp there was a vicar, who had been instituted by Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln (1186- 1200), and who was paying a pension of 20 marks a year to the rector, while receiving all the revenues of the church. (fn. 116) It is doubtful how long this arrangement lasted; when a new rector was instituted in 1239-40 no mention was made of the existence of a vicar. (fn. 117)
About 1220 the patron of Kibworth Beauchamp church was Walter de Beauchamp. (fn. 118) The advowson remained in the hands of the Beauchamp family until at least 1435, when Richard de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, presented. (fn. 119) The descent of the advowson after that date is not clear. The Crown presented in 1542, (fn. 120) and again in 1554. (fn. 121) Elizabeth I granted the advowson to Ambrose Dudley. (fn. 122) After Dudley's death the advowson should have reverted to the Crown, like the manor, but it is uncertain that it did so. John Cary presented in 1601, (fn. 123) but the king in 1612. (fn. 124) Subsequently the patronage was acquired by John Berridge, himself Rector of Kibworth, (fn. 125) whose family retained it until 1660. (fn. 126) The king presented in 1640, by lapse, (fn. 127) and during the Interregnum the parliamentary sequestrators exercised the patronage. (fn. 128) In 1660 Samuel Bordman presented, (fn. 129) but it is not clear whether he possessed the advowson, or had merely acquired the right of presenting for one turn.
In 1687 Sir Thomas Halford bought the advowson from Richard and Dorothy Davenport. (fn. 130) About 1708 the advowson was bought by a Dr. Vernon, and later sold by him to the Revd. William Vincent, who was himself the rector. (fn. 131) After Vincent's death the advowson came into the hands of the Revd. Peter Shuter, also the rector; Shuter died in 1769, and in 1771 the advowson was bought by Merton College, Oxford, (fn. 132) who were still the patrons in 1956.
The benefice was valued at £17 6s. 8d. in 1259, (fn. 133) and at £37 6s. 8d., less certain pensions, in 1291. (fn. 134) In 1535 the net value was £39 14s. 11d. (fn. 135) In 1291 a yearly payment of 13s. 4d. was being made to the Rector of Saddington. (fn. 136) It is not known how this arrangement originated, but it is possible that the pension was paid in return for the abandonment by the Rector of Saddington of claims over Smeeton Westerby, which Saddington adjoins. In 1535 a yearly payment of 14s. was being made to Saddington. (fn. 137)
In 1779 it was stated that the rector's glebe consisted of 2 yardlands in Kibworth Beauchamp, and small parcels of land in Kibworth Harcourt and Smeeton Westerby. (fn. 138) Under the Kibworth Inclosure Act of that year the rector was allotted about 37 a. in respect of glebe, about 577 a. in commutation of tithes from the open fields of the whole ancient parish, and about 16 a. in commutation of tithes from certain old inclosure that had land in the open fields attached to them. The tithes of the remaining old inclosures, houses, and homesteads were commuted for £2 4s. 0¾d. (fn. 139)
In or shortly before 1542 the rector, Richard Pates, forfeited his benefice, probably because he failed to accommodate himself to the varying beliefs of those in authority. (fn. 140) In 1553 the rector, William Watkyn, was in prison, (fn. 141) and in 1554 the benefice was vacant by deprivation. (fn. 142)
Under Elizabeth I and James I the incumbents often seem to have been pluralists and absentees. In 1576 the rector, William Berridge, was living in Bedfordshire. (fn. 143) In 1585 Berridge was apparently still absent, but he had a curate at Kibworth. (fn. 144) His successor, John Berridge, was noted as a pluralist in 1603, but it is uncertain whether he was then resident. (fn. 145) In 1614 Berridge's functions at Kibworth were being performed by Peter Sergeant, who had been curate since 1585, and who received a yearly stipend of £13 6s. 8d., and a further £5 'in commodities'. (fn. 146)
In or before 1645 William Hunt, who had been presented to the living by Charles I in 1640, (fn. 147) was sequestered, (fn. 148) and about 1647 the Committee for Plundered Ministers established John Yaxley as minister at Kibworth Beauchamp. (fn. 149) Hunt later compounded for his delinquency by a payment of £150, but when he tried to establish himself at Kibworth he was ejected by troops, and when he tried to regain his rights by action in the courts proceedings were stopped by order of the Council of State. (fn. 150) Eventually, in 1655, an agreement was made between Hunt and Yaxley, and confirmed by the Council. It was provided that Yaxley should retain the benefice as long as Hunt lived, that he should restore to Hunt all his chattels at Kibworth, and should pay him £120 for the first year, and thereafter £80 a year for life. Yaxley was to retain all the revenues of the rectory. (fn. 151) The terms of the agreement suggest that Kibworth was a very valuable living. At the Restoration, Yaxley was ejected with some violence. (fn. 152)
A document drawn up in 1705-23 records that the rector, William Vincent, was then resident, though he was also the incumbent of Laughton. At that time there were 2 services every Sunday, and 10 celebrations of Communion a year. (fn. 153) The Revd. Jeremiah Goodman, headmaster of the grammer school, at his death in 1836 left £1,000 to endow a lecture to be given every Thursday evening in the parish church. (fn. 154) In 1956 the lectures had for long been discontinued for most of the year but were still given in seasons of special devotion such as Lent. At other times a Thursday evening service was held instead. The income from the endowment was still being paid to the rector in 1956. (fn. 155)
The early parsonage lay in the valley to the south of the church and near the present railway station. (fn. 156) Two fishponds belonging to it were filled in when the railway was constructed. (fn. 157) The house was evidently a timber-framed building of seven bays and there were barns and stables of eleven bays. (fn. 158) The present Rectory was built in 1788 by the Revd. James Norman. (fn. 159) It occupies a fine site immediately southeast of the churchyard, the ground falling away from it on two sides. It is a large square house of three stories, built of red brick. One of the ground-floor bay windows on the south side is of the original date, the other is a later addition. (fn. 160)
The church of ST. WILFRED is a large and handsome building consisting of a clerestoried nave, chancel, north and south aisles, north and south porches, west tower, and north vestry. Apart from some 13th-century work in the chancel the church was rebuilt in the second half of the 14th century, the clerestory, chancel windows, and the original tower possibly not being completed until the early 15th century. The present tower replaced one which collapsed in 1825.
The lower part of the north and south chancel walls and the small priest's door on the south side date from early in the 13th century. The external jambs of the door have attached shafts and its arch is enriched with dog-tooth ornament. Internally the lower part of the three sedilia may be of the same date; certainly the 14th-century traceried panel at the head appears to be a later addition. The body of the church has a continuous 14th-century plinthmoulding (restored in places) and uniform buttresses with small traceried gables. One buttress on the south side carries a scratch dial. The two porches, of equal size and almost identical design, may have been for the use of the two townships, Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt. Both have niches, now containing 19th-century figures, above their external arches, and both retain their ancient oak doors. The aisle windows have flowing tracery of the later 14th century. Those at the east end of both aisles are of five lights, the heads containing reticulated tracery. An unusual feature is the existence of two small windows, one square and one lozenge-shaped, high up on the east wall of the nave. The clerestory windows have segmental rear arches but are square-headed externally. The upper part of the chancel may have been rebuilt slightly later than the nave. The windows in the north and south walls have flat segmental-arched heads filled with late Decorated tracery. The east window, of five lights, originally had a similar head. Below the westernmost window in the south wall is a square 'low side' window.
Internally the nave arcades of four bays have slender moulded piers resting on square bases and the arches are without capitals. The roofs have been renewed but the grotesque corbels supporting the aisle roofs appear to be original. Carved corbels on the east wall of the nave may have supported an earlier steeply-pitched roof or possibly a rood beam. There was formerly a rood-loft stair leading from the south aisle. The extra light provided by the small windows above the chancel arch and by a three-light clerestory window on the south side may have been for the benefit of a rood loft contemporary with the rebuilding of the church. The carved oak screen, consisting of eight bays with traceried heads, was largely renewed in 1868 (fn. 161) but it appears to be of late-14th- or early-15th-century origin. There is a 14th-century piscina in the east wall of the north aisle and a similar one in the south wall of the south aisle.
The original tower and spire were together about 159 ft. high. (fn. 162) The spire was tall and slender, with small broaches and three tiers of lights. (fn. 163) It was probably a little later in date than the spire at Market Harborough. Doubts about the structural soundness of the tower were evidently felt in 1777 when the visiting archdeacon ordered it to be examined. (fn. 164) In 1816 an attempt was made to strengthen it with internal buttresses of brick. (fn. 165) While repairs were in progress in 1825 it collapsed, damaging in its fall the west ends of the nave and the south aisle. (fn. 166) An organ gallery which had been erected in the same year (fn. 167) was destroyed. It was stated afterwards that the tower walls, which were of rubble 4 ft. thick with a facing of ashlar 9 ins. thick, had long been unsound. (fn. 168) An approach was made to the London architect Robert (later Sir Robert) Smirke, and estimates were invited for rebuilding the tower in approximately its original form. When these proved too high (the lowest was over £4,000) it was suggested that the spire be omitted. (fn. 169) Long and very acrimonious discussion followed, mainly on the question of expense. (fn. 170) Finally between 1832 and 1836 the tower was rebuilt without a spire to the designs of William Flint, architect, of Leicester. (fn. 171) It is a simple structure of stone ashlar, rising in three stages and with angle buttresses. It has a band of carved quatrefoils below the embattled parapet which is surmounted by four corner pinnacles.
Apart from the tower considerable work was done to the church in the first half of the 19th century. New pews were installed in 1813 and a lean-to vestry, apparently of brick, was added to the chancel in the same year. (fn. 172) The east end of the chancel was rebuilt in 1817. (fn. 173) In 1838 a dilapidated north gallery was taken down (fn. 174) and in 1846 the nave and aisles were again re-pewed. (fn. 175) Paint and whitewash were removed from the interior in 1854. (fn. 176) Between 1860 and 1864 a major restoration under the direction of William Slater of London was put in hand. (fn. 177) The low ceilings were removed and the church was reroofed, the chancel roof being given a steeper pitch. The east window was replaced by a pointed window with flowing tracery similar to those in the aisles. The hexagonal buttresses at the east end of the chancel were altered to match the buttresses elsewhere. A recess for the organ was built on the south side of the chancel. The north vestry, replacing that of 1813, is probably of this period also. The roodloft stair was blocked and a new tower arch was built. The font, which has traces of trefoiled arcading and may date from the 14th century, was retrieved from a field and replaced in the church during the restoration.
The church contains an iron-bound oak chest dated 1681. A new organ was installed in 1895, the carved oak pulpit in 1897, and the choir stalls in 1902. (fn. 178) The reredos dates from 1931 and the tower screen from 1936. (fn. 179) The chancel contains a brass bearing an inscription to John Berridge (d. 1632), surmounted by his arms. Tablets to rectors include those to Jeremiah Goodman (d. 1836), James Beresford (d. 1840), William Ricketts (d. 1844), and E. S. B. Fletcher (d. 1933). There are also tablets to William Parker (d. 1699), John B. Humfrey (d. 1797), the Revd. Thomas Thomas (d. 1825), James Morpott (d. 1845), Martha, relict of Thomas Crick (d. 1864), and Sir Charles Marriott, M.D., F.R.C.S. (d. 1910). In 1876 there were six bells: (i) 1618; (iii) and (iv) 1621; (ii), (v), and (vi) 1732. One of the bells was still cracked as a result of the collapse of the tower in 1825. Two more bells were added in 1910. (fn. 180) In 1825 a chalice and paten, which had been in the church's possession since at least 1724, were melted down and the proceeds given towards a set of plate presented by the Revd. Thomas Thomas. This consists of a silver chalice, paten, salver, and flagon, all of 1825. (fn. 181) There are also a silver chalice and a cover paten of 1931, given in memory of F. G. Bolton, churchwarden from 1923 to 1938. (fn. 182) The registers of baptisms and marriages begin in 1574 and of burials in 1787; they are complete.
The churchyard was closed and a new cemetery was opened on the main road in Kibworth Harcourt in 1892. (fn. 183)
Frederick Iliffe, by will proved 1928, left £300 to endow quarterly payments to members of the choir, to maintain the organ, or for hymn and chant books for the choir. In 1953 the income was £10 13s. (fn. 184)
In 1731 the house of David Cooper at Kibworth Beauchamp was licensed as a meeting-place for Protestant dissenters, (fn. 187) and by 1790 there was a Methodist chapel in the village. (fn. 188) In 1846 the Wesleyan Methodists built a new chapel, (fn. 189) probably to replace the previous one. By 1861 the Reformed Methodists also had a chapel in Kibworth, (fn. 190) which was known as the Little Chapel and stood behind the buildings on the west side of Station Road. They numbered only a dozen about 1865, (fn. 191) and by 1888 their chapel was closed. (fn. 192) The Wesleyan Methodist chapel was enlarged in 1874, (fn. 193) and was still being used in 1959. It stands in School Road and is a red-brick building with a gabled front dating from 1846. The entrance is flanked by round-headed windows with Gothic glazing-bars.
About 1885 the Baptists were holding services in an outbuilding at Beauchamp House, the home of W. W. Underwood. (fn. 194) Five years later they built a chapel on the north side of High Street, (fn. 195) a redbrick building with pointed windows and bluebrick dressings. It went out of use before 1924 when it was acquired by the parish church. It has been used as a church hall, known as St. Wilfred's Hall, since 1953. (fn. 196)
Though the grammer school at Kibworth Beauchamp is first mentioned in 1559, (fn. 197) its foundation is attributed by local tradition to Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (d. 1471). (fn. 198) In 1651 it was believed that the school's endowment of land had been preserved at the dissolution of the chantries through the intervention of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland (d. 1553), who was lord of the manor. (fn. 199) From at least 1559 to 1877 land and houses at Kibworth Beauchamp were held by feoffees in trust for the maintenance of a free school. (fn. 200) The feoffees acted as sole governors, received the rents of their tenants, and appointed the schoolmaster, who until 1907 was always a clerk in holy orders. (fn. 201)
Although deeds of feoffment for 1559 and 1595 have survived and give the names of the governors in the late 16th century, (fn. 202) little is known about the organization of the school until 1615, (fn. 203) when the Commissioners for Charitable Uses ordered a schoolhouse to be built, apparently for the first time; this was completed about 1630. (fn. 204) They also raised the rents of the school lands from £31 12s. 6d. to £58 5s. (fn. 205)
The headmaster of the school before the Commissioners' visit, John Orpin, later moved to become master of Market Harborough Grammar School. It is not until after 1639 (fn. 206) that any evidence has survived in college registers of Kibworth boys entering the universities. (fn. 207) It is clear, however, that the policy of the school was to give some boys a training in the classical languages which would prepare them to take a university degree. The constitutions which were drawn up in 1647 were to a large extent based upon those issued for Market Bosworth Grammar School in 1630. (fn. 208) They are the principal evidence for the organization of the school in the 17th century, and, although revised to accommodate Puritan opinion between 1657 and the Restoration, (fn. 209) were in practical operation until about 1750; they were not superseded until 1822. (fn. 210) The age of entry was not stipulated, but applicants were to be 'well entered into the spelling of words'. (fn. 211) The hours of work were to be 6 or 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. every weekday. (fn. 212) The master had no assistance except through boy monitors, but it was hoped to appoint an usher as soon as there was a competent number of pupils in the upper school. (fn. 213) About 1650 a violent dispute arose between the feoffees and tenants of the school lands which hindered the running of the school; (fn. 214) it was settled in 1653 by the Commissioners for Charitable Uses in favour of the feoffees. (fn. 215) The tenants had excluded the master from the schoolhouse which they threatened to pull down. The farm-house next to the school which had been leased to John Abbott, a leading disputant in the controversy, in 1653 became the residence of the master. (fn. 216)
After some confusion at the time of the Restoration, (fn. 217) the school enjoyed a more settled régime during the long masterships of a father and son, John Dand from 1670 to 1706, and William John Dand from 1706 to 1724. (fn. 218) Ten pupils of John Dand have been identified in the surviving Cambridge registers, (fn. 219) including two future schoolmasters, John Bold (d. 1751) (fn. 220) and Samuel Elly (d. 1734). (fn. 221) Their careers indicate that in the late 17th century Kibworth Grammar School was attended by the sons of local gentry and clergy. The master's salary was increased during the second half of the 17th century, from £20 a year in 1650 to £50 in 1700. (fn. 222)
From 1708 to 1724 there was a dispute between Anglicans and dissenters over the control of the governing body, the feoffees of the school lands. (fn. 223) The occasion of the dispute was the need to reconstitute the trustee body, which in 1708 comprised a majority of dissenters, the survivors of an appointment of 1675. An arbitration of 1718 (fn. 224) resulted in the appointment of an Anglican majority, and in 1724 an attempt by the dissenting minority to secure the vacant mastership for their nominee was defeated. (fn. 225)
One of the arbitrators in 1718, Francis Edwards, was chiefly responsible in 1725 for the building of a new schoolroom and house for the master which still stand. (fn. 226) During the 18th century the school ceased to provide instruction in the classical languages. It is difficult to account for this decline, which took place during the mastership of William Cox, 1724- 1758. Its extent is illustrated by the decision of the feoffees on the death of Cox in 1758 to appoint besides the master an usher who would confine his teaching to reading, writing, and arithmetic. (fn. 227)
The new master, Joseph Wilson, (fn. 228) who although Rector of Arnesby and Vicar of Foxton lived at Kibworth, may have left a considerable amount of the teaching to his usher. He remained master until his death in 1803. William Buzzard, the usher about 1800, who received £50 a year for teaching the elements, remained with the school until 1848 through the changes introduced in 1822 and 1836. (fn. 229)
In 1822 at the instigation of one of the feoffees, Joseph Cradock (d. 1826) of Gumley, (fn. 230) a Chancery decree (fn. 231) was secured which appointed 15 new feoffees and, in a new list of rules which replaced the constitutions of 1647, ordered that the master should teach Latin to those children whose parents required it. In 1828 the governors resolved that no boy should be admitted to the school before the age of seven. (fn. 232) On the death of Wilson's successor, Jeremiah Goodman, in 1836, the governors decided that in order to promote a return to the study of Latin they would admit fee-payers to the school. (fn. 233) A partition was built across the school-house to divide the upper and lower schools. (fn. 234) In the lower school the usher taught elementary subjects but no Latin; in the upper school the master taught the classical languages. (fn. 235) It was necessary to pass an examination in Latin to enter the upper school. Although the sons of the inhabitants were still entitled to free education in the upper school, they could not in the lower school acquire free of charge the necessary knowledge for entry. The upper school was therefore largely composed of fee-payers who paid £12 a year, and the master at his own cost extended his house for the accommodation of boarders. In 1837 there were 45 pupils. Numbers fell to 22 in 1850, but by 1859 had risen again to 68. The first total to distinguish between fee-payers and others, in 1862, gave 59 pupils of which 24 paid fees. (fn. 236) The master appointed in 1836, J. B. Hildebrand, (fn. 237) who remained with the school until 1870, regarded the construction of the railway through Kibworth in 1857 as a hindrance to the running of the school, not only because the line crossed the bottom of the school paddock, but also because it provided transport for fee-payers to distant boarding schools. (fn. 238) He accepted a decision of the governors that he should himself take charge of the lower school, so that in 1864 only one fee-payer remained in a total of 50 boys, (fn. 239) and the attempt to run a secondary department teaching Latin was abandoned. It appears that because of the governors' decision, in 1863 the usher resigned taking with him 29 fee-payers and set up a private school. (fn. 240)
The school was completely reorganized under a Charity Commissioners' Scheme of 1877. (fn. 241) The governors were no longer to be the feoffees of the school lands, who were replaced by 10 new governors, 5 representing local government (a magistrate, and 4 chosen by the Boards of Guardians of Billesdon and Market Harborough), and 5 co-opted; the former served for five-year terms and the latter for eight years. Under the new Scheme fee-paying was the rule rather than the exception: an entrance fee was fixed at £2, tuition fees at £6 10s., and boarding fees at not more than £40. The governors were bound to admit some pupils free by means of entrance scholarships to the yearly value of £60, but they did not follow this obligation strictly. (fn. 242) Boys were to be admitted from the age of 8 to 17 and the curriculum included Latin, with Greek as an extra. The first two headmasters to administer this Scheme did not stay long, D. J. J. Barnard (fn. 243) from 1877 to 1884, and F. W. Crick (d. 1924) from 1885 to 1888. (fn. 244) The former took with him most of the boarders when he moved to become headmaster of Stamford School. A. P. Dawson (d. 1930), who remained headmaster from 1888 until 1906, (fn. 245) enjoyed the benefit of new boarding facilities provided in 1888, (fn. 246) but this new arrangement did not attract as many pupils as the previous introduction of fee-paying in 1836. The total of pupils, both boarders and day-boys, rose from 23 in 1880 to 33 by 1884, (fn. 247) and 40 by 1896. (fn. 248) The governors were hampered by the decreasing income from the school lands-£342 in 1885, £272 in 1897, and £236 in 1904 (fn. 249)-and accepted a measure of financial assistance. The technical education committee of the county council in 1892 made its first grant to the school, which involved the appointment of three of its representatives to the governing body. (fn. 250) The Science and Art Department of the Board of Education began making grants to the school in 1900. (fn. 251)
In 1906 the Leicestershire Education Committee decided to include the school in the group for which it was to be completely responsible, (fn. 252) and the transfer had been completed by 1909. (fn. 253) The L.E.A. admitted girls to the school for the first time. (fn. 254) The first lay headmaster, C. L. Ryley, who was appointed in 1907 when the school contained 40 children, was able to increase the attendance to 60 in 1914, 75 in 1918, and 80 in 1920. (fn. 255) The staff in 1914 consisted of the headmaster and 2 assistants, with 2 part-time teachers for woodwork and art. The L.E.A. raised the fees from £4 4s. to £6 13s. 4d. in 1920, and to £10 in 1922. (fn. 256) After 1920 the number of pupils in the school decreased; in 1927, when Ryley resigned, there were only 37 children. J. E. Elliot, headmaster from 1927 until 1955, achieved a rapid expansion from 62 in 1928 to 145 in 1935, 372 in 1944, and 525 in 1957. (fn. 257) He introduced prefects and the house system, and reintroduced boarders.
A former headmaster, Jeremiah Goodman (d. 1836), bequeathed £300 in order to found two scholarships for Kibworth boys at the proposed Church Langton College of the Hanbury trustees, or failing this, at Merton College, Oxford. In 1880 a Charity Commissioners' Scheme allowed the governors to use the money to provide scholarships for boys leaving for 'places of higher education'. (fn. 258)
The school is situated at the north end of School Road. The building of 1725 forms part of an Lshaped block of which the south wing is the master's house. The schoolroom is a high single-story redbrick building with a parapetted gable at its north end. The east front, which remains intact, has a central doorway in a plain opening, flanked on each side by three very tall sash windows. The master's house has an early-18th-century doorway with a moulded hood supported on brackets. The two lower stories of the house are original. It was later given a third story and a new south front, probably by J. B. Hildebrand in 1836. There are numerous extensions to the school of various dates in the form of both permanent and temporary structures.
In 1833 there were at Kibworth Beauchamp, besides the grammar school, five schools attended by 22 boys and 52 girls. (fn. 259) Four of these were apparently private ones. The fifth was the National school, built in 1812 as an Anglican school, and granted funds by the National Society shortly afterwards. (fn. 260) New school buildings for the National school, capable of accommodating 250 pupils, were erected in 1842 with the aid of a state grant, (fn. 261) and improved in 1855 and 1872. (fn. 262) In 1876 the average attendance was 114, (fn. 263) and in 1910 it was 115. (fn. 264) In 1927 the senior pupils from Smeeton Westerby National School were transferred to Kibworth, (fn. 265) and in 1933 all the remaining pupils at Smeeton Westerby, except infants, were similarly transferred. (fn. 266) In 1937 it was decided that all the senior pupils attending Kibworth Beauchamp National School were to be transferred to Church Langton, (fn. 267) and about the same time the children under five years were transferred to the council infants' school (see below). In 1952 the National school accepted 'controlled' status as a junior school, and in 1957 there were 162 children in attendance. (fn. 268) In 1959 the school was transferred to a new building in Hillcrest Avenue, and the original building was being converted for use as laboratories for the grammar school. (fn. 269)
In 1907 the county council built an infants' school at Kibworth Beauchamp. (fn. 270) The building is a singlestory structure of red brick, with some facings in artificial stone. In 1910 the average attendance was 82, (fn. 271) and in 1957, 98. (fn. 272)
Under the will of William Thornton, proved in 1675, a rent-charge of 10s. a year was left to the poor of the parish, to be distributed at the overseers' discretion. (fn. 273) John Coleman bequeathed £10, William Smalley £20, and John Lane £4, the interest in each case to be used for the poor of the parish. The dates of these three bequests are not known, but all were made before 1743. (fn. 274) In 1837 the Thornton, Coleman, Smalley, and Lane charities were being administered jointly by the churchwardens, and £2 4s. was given to the poor every two years. (fn. 275) The income of 10s. from Coleman's charity was still being distributed in 1925-6, (fn. 276) but by 1956 distributions had ceased. (fn. 277) In 1956 the Thornton charity was distributed in money, and the Lane and Smalley charities in groceries. (fn. 278) The Coleman charity seems to have been restricted to Kibworth Beauchamp township, as the donor left further sums to the poor of Kibworth Harcourt and Smeeton Westerby, (fn. 279) but it is uncertain whether the Thornton, Lane, and Smalley charities were intended by the donors to apply to the whole ancient parish, or to be confined to Kibworth Beauchamp township; nor is it clear which areas benefit from the charities.
By will proved 1812, the Revd. James Norman bequeathed £100 to the Rector of Kibworth Beauchamp in trust, the income from it to be used for the parish poor. (fn. 280) In 1956 part of the income was being distributed by the rector in coal. (fn. 281) The remaining income was distributed in Smeeton Westerby. (fn. 282) The Revd. Jeremiah Goodman, by will proved 1836, left £100, the income to be used to buy coal for the poor of the whole ancient parish. (fn. 283) In 1956 distributions in coal were still being made by the Rector of Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt. (fn. 284) Distributions were also made in Smeeton Westerby. (fn. 285) Robert Haymes, by will proved 1855, left £100 to provide bread for the poor of the whole ancient parish, thus continuing a charity that he had maintained during his life. (fn. 286) In 1956 distributions were being made from the charity in groceries. (fn. 287)
Sarah Marriott, by will dated 1862, bequeathed £200 for the poor of Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt. (fn. 288) In 1956 distributions were still being made from this charity. (fn. 289) By will proved in 1931, Dame Lucy Marriott left £161 as a fund to help to provide a trained nurse for the poor of Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt. The dividends were used to support the local nursing association. (fn. 290) The payments ceased in 1947 as a result of the creation of the National Health Service. (fn. 291)
Kibworth Harcourt lies about nine miles southeast of Leicester, on the main road from Leicester to Market Harborough. The area of the township is 1,475 a. (fn. 292) The township, roughly triangular in shape, occupies part of a ridge running from southwest to north-east, and forming the watershed between the headwaters of the River Sence to the north-west, and the tributary streams of the Welland to the south-east. The southern boundary of the township runs obliquely across the ridge, following for a short distance at the village itself the Leicester- Harborough road. On the north-west the boundary follows a stream which marks the edge of the ridge in that direction. On the north-east the boundary runs across the ridge approximately at right angles to its axis. On the north-east the land rises to about 480 ft. above sea level; in the south it is about 300 ft. The surface soil is largely boulder clay. In 1956 the township was mostly pasture.
Kibworth Harcourt village lies near the southern boundary of the township on the Leicester-Harborough road. It joins the north end of Kibworth Beauchamp village where the main road, built up on both sides, forms the boundary between the two villages. Until 1810 the turnpike road ran northeast of its present course, following the line of Kibworth Harcourt village street. (fn. 293) This route, involving two gradients and several sharp turns, proved of such danger to coaches that a by-pass was constructed between the gateway of Kibworth Lodge and the Rose and Crown Inn. The old centre of the village lies 200 yds. east of the present main road where the principal street, known as Main Street, is joined by a road from Carlton Curlieu and Tur Langton. Until the 19th century there was a considerable open space at this point, on which stood the village pump, a water trough, and a stone cross. It is said to have been reduced in size by encroachments from the Manor House and the Old House, both of which faced on to it. (fn. 294) The cross was taken down in 1818 (fn. 295) but a pump was still standing against the garden wall of the Manor House in 1959.
The Manor House was originally a timber-framed building on an ironstone base, H-shaped in plan. Its main front faces east and its south wall abuts on the village street. The house may be medieval in origin but, apart from its internal timbers, it shows little sign of antiquity. The exterior has been faced with brick and much altered, both at the end of the 17th century and in 1860. The exposed ceiling joists in the front ground-floor room of the south wing are tenoned into a diagonal 'dragon' beam. This indicates that this side wing originally had a timber-framed upper story, jettied on two sides. A rear extension of the south wing has a wall of chequered brickwork facing the road, part of which carries the date 1702. The house was occupied between 1788 and 1825 by the Revd. Thomas Thomas, incumbent of Isham (Northants.) and Curate of East Farndon. (fn. 296) In 1863 it was said to have been 'lately rebuilt' by John Phillips, (fn. 297) his nephew and heir. The brick front with its twin gables and ornamental barge-boards is evidently his work. The garden wall, also built by Phillips, carries tiles dated 1475, 1690, and 1860. As both he and his uncle were local antiquarians (fn. 298) there may be good evidence for the earlier dates. About 200 yds. north of the house are two fishponds, probably of medieval origin.
West of the Manor House is Priory Farm (no. 41 Main Street), a rectangular house built partly of ironstone. The upper story, which is timber-framed, has been faced with later brickwork. There are massive timbers internally and there is some evidence that the house originally contained an open hall. From the Manor House, Albert Road (formerly Hog Lane) leads eastwards. At its lower end it joins Carlton Road and the road to Tur Langton. Here a huddled group of cottages, approached by a footway, is known as the City. Among them is a small singlebay cottage with mud walls and a thatched roof. Several other mud cottages were in existence in this area c. 1865. (fn. 299)
At the junction of Albert Road and Main Street stands the Old House, a fine brick building with stone dressings dating from 1678. (fn. 300) It is remarkable for its period, both because the use of brick is early for this district, and as an example of the fullydeveloped Renaissance house. Although fairly common in the Home Counties this type is rare in Leicestershire before the beginning of the 18th century. The house is of two stories, cellars, and attics. It is approximately square in plan with a hipped roof of Swithland slate, dormer windows, and a symmetrical front. The central doorway has a Tuscan porch which may be a later addition. The mullioned and transomed windows are surrounded by moulded stone architraves and there are two small oval lights in the centre of the north wall. The principal front, facing west, has five windows to the first floor, the central one being flanked by pilasters and surmounted by a scrolled pediment containing a shield of arms. Below the pediment is the date 1678. The arms (three escutcheons each charged with a pheon) appear to be those of Parker (fn. 301) and it is possible that the house was built by William Parker (d. 1699), whose memorial tablet is to be found in Kibworth Beauchamp church. (fn. 302) Internally the house contains a staircase with twisted balusters and some original panelling. There is a 19th-century addition at the rear and a fine old brick barn on the opposite side of Albert Road. The house was used as a hunting box in the 19th century, and had stabling for more than 15 horses. (fn. 303)
The buildings in Main Street and Albert Road date mostly from the 18th and early 19th centuries and all are of brick. There are a few rows of Victorian cottages but there was no expansion at this period comparable to that at Kibworth Beauchamp. Early18th-century houses with steep parapetted gables and thatched roofs include nos. 22-28 Main Street and a range at the south end of Main Street where it joins the Leicester road. Part of the much-altered Rose and Crown Inn, which stands opposite, dates from the mid-18th century. (fn. 304) Its original symmetrical front faces the old village street. On the main road near the north-west end of the village are two large brick farm-houses of the early 18th century, nos. 69-71 Leicester Road (fn. 305) and the White House. They represent the local type of country building of the period. Both have long fronts of two stories divided by a string course and steeply-pitched roofs whose parapetted gable-ends contain the attic windows. No. 69 is dated 1704 in darker brickwork and until 1958 it retained on its end wall an original mullioned and transomed window. The sashes in the front windows and the doorways of both houses are of the later 18th century. Opposite the White House is Kibworth Lodge, a late-18th-century three-story brick house in its own grounds. The white stucco front has an Ionic porch and later ground-floor bays. South of this another late Georgian building, Kibworth House, was demolished in 1955-6. (fn. 306) At the north-west end of the village the Congregational chapel, dating from 1759,10 faces the main road. Beyond it are several large late-19th- and early20th-century houses surrounded by gardens.
In the years between the two world wars some semi-detached houses and a row of shops were built along the main road at the south-east end of the village. A certain amount of ribbon development has taken place beyond them. There are also small 20thcentury houses and bungalows in New Road, leading to Kibworth Beauchamp. In 1959 bungalows were being built in the Tur Langton road and small houses in a new residential road connecting it with the south-east end of the village. Hall Close, a culde-sac on the site of Kibworth House, was being laid out for larger detached houses. There are a few Council houses on the Tur Langton road but the main Council estates are in Kibworth Beauchamp.
On the north-east boundary of the township, Kibworth Hall, a square Georgian mansion standing in an extensive park, was probably built c. 1825. It has an embattled parapet and hoodmoulds to the windows. Internally there is a fine staircase with an iron balustrade. In the 19th century it belonged for many years to the Humphrey family. (fn. 308) From 1946 to 1955 the hall was used by the Church of England Children's Society as an approved school for girls. In 1956 it was sold to the Sheffield Regional Hospital Board, and in 1958 it was opened by the board's Leicester No. 3 Management Committee as an extension of the Glenfrith Hospital for mental defectives at Stretton Hall. (fn. 309)
Prominent on high ground beside the road to Tur Langton stands the restored windmill. (fn. 310) In a small close between the old village street of Kibworth Harcourt and the early-19th-century by-pass there is a small tumulus surrounded by a ditch. Some excavations were made in the mound about 1835, but there is no adequate record of the proceedings. (fn. 311) In 1863 (fn. 312) a trench was cut through the tumulus, and there have been subsequent excavations at the site. There is a tradition at Kibworth that it is the burial place of a King Kibbeus, but this seems to have been invented early in the 19th century by the owner of the close. (fn. 313)
The main road from Leicester to Harborough, which crosses the township, was put under the control of a turnpike trust in 1726. (fn. 314) The railway from Leicester to Harborough, which passes through the western part of the township and also across its south-east corner, was opened in 1857. (fn. 315)
In 1086 12 carucates in Kibworth Harcourt were held by Robert de Vescy. The land had been held under Edward the Confessor by Aelric the son of Meriet. (fn. 316) In 1130 the 12 carucates were described as belonging to Ansketil's fee. (fn. 317) For about a century after 1130 the ownership of the manor cannot be traced. In 1235-36 Richard de Harcourt was holding land in Kibworth from the Earl of Warwick, (fn. 318) and it is probable that this was the manor of KIBWORTH HARCOURT, which Richard certainly possessed in 1250. (fn. 319) The Harcourt family retained the manor until 1265, when it was taken from Saer de Harcourt by Henry III after Saer had joined Simon de Montfort's revolt. (fn. 320) Subsequently the king handed over the manor to Saer's overlord, William Mauduit, Earl of Warwick, (fn. 321) who had been a royalist during the preceding civil war. (fn. 322) In 1267, however, the king pardoned Saer, and the manor was returned to him before October 1268 by Mauduit's relict, the Countess Alice. (fn. 323)
Financial difficulties due to Saer's support of the losing side in the civil war and his need to redeem his lands may have been the cause of his selling Kibworth Harcourt. (fn. 324) At an unknown date, but apparently shortly after the manor had been returned by Alice Mauduit, Saer conveyed it to John le Ferrun of London, perhaps as security for debt. (fn. 325) In 1269 Ferrun gave up his rights in the manor to Walter of Merton, founder of Merton College, Oxford, and Bishop of Rochester 1274-77, (fn. 326) and in 1271 Saer granted the manor to Walter. (fn. 327) When Walter died in 1277 he was still possessed of the manor, though he had granted rent-charges from it to two of his relatives for life. (fn. 328) His heirs were six relatives, and in June 1278 the sheriff was ordered to give them seisin, reserving, however, the rights of the Warden and Scholars of Merton. (fn. 329) During 1278 two of the heirs gave up their rights in the manor to Merton College, (fn. 330) which in 1279 was described as possessing one-third of the township. (fn. 331) After long negotiations the remaining heirs also gave up their shares to the college. (fn. 332) The fact that some at least of them were bought out for fairly substantial sums (fn. 333) suggests that the college cannot have had any very good claims on the manor at the time of Walter of Merton's death. Merton College thus became possessed of the whole manor, which it still retained in 1956.
A lesser manor in Kibworth Harcourt was held, apparently early in Henry III's reign, by Lawrence of Apetoft. The APETOFT manor, which had probably been held from the Harcourts, came into Saer de Harcourt's hands and was subsequently held by John le Ferrun and Walter of Merton in turn, but seems to have remained distinct from the main manor of Kibworth Harcourt. About 1295 the manor was granted by William of Ingarsby to two fellows of Merton, who subsequently conveyed it to the college. The manor was then absorbed in the college's main holding. (fn. 334)
In 1086 Robert de Vescy held 12 carucates of land at Kibworth Harcourt. In demesne he had 6 servi with 3 ploughs, and his tenants consisted of one Frenchman, 6 socmen, 5 bordars, and 10 villeins. There were 16 a. of meadow. (fn. 335) In 1130 there were again said to be 12 carucates at Kibworth Harcourt. (fn. 336)
In 1265 the manor of Kibworth Harcourt, then in the king's hands owing to Saer de Harcourt's revolt, included a messuage, presumably the manor-house, and 9 virgates in demesne, and 18½ virgates in villeinage. There were also rents from free tenants and cottars, but the amount of land held by them is not stated. (fn. 337) According to an inquisition of 1279 there were then 6 virgates in demesne and 16 virgates in villeinage, held by Saer's successors. A further 5¼ virgates were held by free tenants. (fn. 338) The amount of demesne may have been underestimated in 1279, as the amount then noted is less than is recorded in 1265 and in 1283-4. The changes which occurred in the agrarian organization of the manor after Merton College acquired it have been analysed in detail elsewhere. (fn. 339) Here it may be briefly stated that by 1283-4 demesne farming had been abandoned. At that date there were 8 virgates of demesne land, which were rented out; there were 28 customary tenants, holding 16½ virgates between them, 9 free tenants holding in all 9½ virgates, and 9 cottagers. (fn. 340) The cessation of demesne farming made it no longer essential for holdings to be kept intact as the units from which labour services were provided, so that during the 14th century land at Kibworth Harcourt was alienated fairly freely, and some holdings disintegrated. (fn. 341) A survey of the college lands at Kibworth, made in 1636, (fn. 342) still describes the tenants' holdings in terms of yardlands, but it is evident that by that date the size of the various yardlands varied. Of several tenants said to be holding half a yardland each, one was holding 20 a., another only 11 a. (fn. 343) About 850 a. in the township were then occupied by the college's copyhold or leasehold tenants, and about 485 a. by freeholders. (fn. 344) Kibworth Harcourt was a three-field village in the late 13th century, (fn. 345) and the three fields existed until the township was inclosed. (fn. 346)
Kibworth Harcourt was inclosed, with the rest of Kibworth ancient parish, under an Act of 1779. (fn. 347) The award (fn. 348) allotted land to 23 persons in all, including the Rector of Kibworth Beauchamp. Apart from the rector, the chief landowners were Lebbeus Humphrey, who obtained about 108 a. in respect of his freehold land and about 70 a. in respect of his copyhold; Robert Haymes, who obtained 111 a. in respect of his freehold and 65 a. for his leasehold; George Foxton, who obtained about 68 a. for freehold, about 171 a. for leasehold, and about 6 a. for copyhold; and William Haymes, who obtained about 128 a. for copyhold. Five persons or institutions obtained between 20 and 70 a. each, and 7 received 10 or 12 a. each. The remainder received less than 7 a. each. The rector received allotments in Kibworth Harcourt totalling 192 a. in commutation of the tithes from the township's open fields and old inclosures, and in respect of the small area of glebe in the township. (fn. 349) When the inclosure had been completed there were 641 a. of freehold in the township, including the rector's property, 523 a. of copyhold, and 248 a. of leasehold. (fn. 350)
In Kibworth Harcourt, as in Kibworth Beauchamp, the inclosure was followed by some unemployment and distress. (fn. 351) In the year ending at Easter 1776 £64 was raised in poor rates in the township, but in the three years ending at Easter 1785, the average yearly amount raised was £120. In the year ending at Easter 1803 £402 was spent on poor relief. (fn. 352) In 1797 it was said that there was a little stockingknitting in the township, (fn. 353) but the hosiery industry never became important there, and no other industry ever established itself on any substantial scale. Before the Second World War the hatchery of W. D. Evans Ltd. was started on the main road southeast of the village. In 1959 it was still operating with a much increased output.
In 1265 Saer de Harcourt's lands at Kibworth Harcourt, then temporarily held by the king, included a mill, valued at 26s. 8d. (fn. 354) From Saer the mill passed, with the manor, to Merton College, (fn. 355) which retained it throughout the Middle Ages. (fn. 356) In 1959 a windmill still existed at Kibworth Harcourt, though it was no longer in use. The mill then stood on rising ground to the east of the village. It was a weather-boarded post-mill, the main structure probably dating from 1711. (fn. 357) The brick round-house was of later date. In 1936 the building and its site was conveyed by Merton College to local trustees acting in conjunction with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. The structure, which had been derelict since 1913 or earlier, was restored and made weatherproof. (fn. 358) The thatched house adjacent to the mill was built in 1950. (fn. 359)
The constable of Kibworth Harcourt is mentioned in 1670. (fn. 362) In 1690 there were 2 churchwardens for the township, (fn. 363) but by 1809 there was a single warden only. (fn. 364) In 1958 there was one people's warden for Kibworth Harcourt, and one rector's warden for the whole of Kibworth ecclesiastical parish. (fn. 365) Kibworth Harcourt was maintaining its own poor in 1776, and in 1802-3 50 adults and 41 children received out-relief; there was no workhouse. (fn. 366) After 1836 Kibworth was included in Market Harborough Union. (fn. 367)
By about 1269 a chapel existed at Kibworth Harcourt, (fn. 370) but there is evidence that earlier in the 13th century the township had been to some extent ecclesiastically separate. About 1220 it was recorded that a clerk called Simon de Stanketon had two-thirds of the great tithes of William de Harcourt's demesne at Kibworth Harcourt, (fn. 371) and in 1263-4 Saer de Harcourt granted Robert of Queniborough, priest, the tithes of his demesne lands at Kibworth, on the death of William de Harcourt, Rector of Ayleston. (fn. 372) It would seem as if the tithes of Kibworth Harcourt had come to be treated as a separate benefice, and that eventually a chapel was built. The chapel is mentioned in a document which is not later than 1269; (fn. 373) no mention of a chapel occurs in an extent of Saer de Harcourt's lands at Kibworth made in 1265. (fn. 374) In 1271 Saer conveyed the advowson of the chapel of Kibworth Harcourt manor to Walter of Merton. (fn. 375) After Walter's death the advowson was acquired by Merton College, presumably by the same process as it acquired the manor. (fn. 376) The college possessed the advowson by 1283, (fn. 377) and subsequently presented regularly. (fn. 378) In 1344 the chapel was said to be assessed for taxation at an annual value of 5 marks, but to have a true yearly value of 10 marks. (fn. 379) In 1509 the college presented William Knight to the chapel, (fn. 380) but there is no mention of any subsequent presentation, and no later mention of the chapel at all. It is referred to on several occasions as a free chapel (fn. 381) but its precise relationship with the parish church of Kibworth Beauchamp is not known.
After the Restoration Kibworth Harcourt became a centre of Protestant dissent. In 1669 there was a conventicle of Presbyterians and Independents there, with about 200 members of the 'middle sort'. The leaders of the conventicle were said to be Matthew Clark, John Shuttlewood, an ejected minister called Southam, and a husbandman called Farmer, (fn. 382) but of these Clark seems to have been chiefly active at Market Harborough, (fn. 383) and Shuttlewood also seems to have been mostly engaged elsewhere than at Kibworth. (fn. 384) In 1672 William Sheffield's house at Kibworth Harcourt was licensed for Presbyterian worship. (fn. 385) John Jennings, who had previously acted as chaplain to a private household at West Langton nearby, and had gathered a dissenting congregation there, moved to Kibworth about 1690 (fn. 386) and established himself as pastor of the dissenters there. (fn. 387) On his death in 1701 he was succeeded by his son, the younger John Jennings. (fn. 388) From 1715 to 1722 Jennings conducted an academy at Kibworth Harcourt, (fn. 389) but in 1722 he removed to Hinckley. (fn. 390) His house was bought by the congregation. (fn. 391) In 1723-9 the minister was Philip Doddridge, later well-known as a nonconformist divine and teacher. (fn. 392) When Doddridge came to Kibworth there was a congregation of 150, but it seems to have been declining. (fn. 393) It consisted chiefly of farmers and farm labourers, and did not include any persons of note. (fn. 394) The dissenters at Kibworth were by then Congregationalists. (fn. 395) In 1759 the meeting-house was burnt, and subsequently a new one was built at the north end of the village. (fn. 396) The earlier meeting-house stood in the yard of the Crown Inn and on the site of Jennings's academy, and it may have been the house bought from Jennings in 1722. (fn. 397) In 1761 a building at Kibworth Harcourt was licensed for dissenters' worship, (fn. 398) and this was, no doubt, the meeting-house built after the fire. The chapel still remained in use in 1956, and was then one of the more important Congregational places of worship in the county.
The chapel is a rectangular building of red brick facing the main road to Leicester. It has a hipped slate roof and a two-story front. The building is very plain except for the mullioned and transomed windows which have diagonal glazing surrounded by margins of coloured glass. The west end of the building, originally entered by a central doorway, dates from 1759. In 1811 (fn. 399) an extension was made to the east, containing a vestibule, a vestry, and a schoolroom. The design of the earlier windows was copied. A gallery was inserted in the chapel in 1815. (fn. 400) The organ was given in 1930 (fn. 401) and the box pews were replaced by oak seats shortly before the Second World War. (fn. 402) The chapel contains mural tablets (erected in the 19th century) to Philip Doddridge (1702-59), Edward Chater (d. 1844), Francis Islip (d. 1866), and Edmund Hipwood (d. 1895). Behind the chapel is a small graveyard and an outbuilding formerly used as a stable. The manse is at right angles to the chapel at its west end and forms one side of the small forecourt in front of it. It was built in 1794 (fn. 403) and is a tall three-story house of red brick. It was unoccupied in 1959. Backing on to it is another house of similar size and character but slightly later in date.
Until 1722 Kibworth Harcourt was the site of a dissenting academy, which is said to have been opened in 1715, (fn. 404) and which was certainly already well established when Philip Doddridge went there in 1719. (fn. 405) The course of studies at Kibworth Academy lasted four years. In the first eighteen months pupils were taught a wide range of subjects, including Latin, French, Hebrew, history, geography, mathematics, and a little natural science. The later part of the course was concerned mainly with studies useful to those who were to enter the ministry, most of the time being devoted to divinity, ethics, logic, pneumatology, biblical criticism, and ecclesiastical and Jewish history. The pupils were required to compose and deliver homilies, and to engage in theological disputations. They also took part in amateur theatricals. Freedom of inquiry and the absence of sectarian bigotry were said to be characteristics of the academy. (fn. 406)
Matthew Foxton, by will proved 1723, left two rent-charges, each of 5s., for the use of the poor of Kibworth Harcourt. By 1837 one of the rent-charges had been lost; at that time the remaining 5s. was being distributed to the aged poor of Kibworth Harcourt. (fn. 407) In 1956 distributions in cash were still being made. (fn. 408)
John Marriott, by will proved 1880, left £100 in trust, the interest to be distributed amongst 10 needy families yearly. His son, the Revd. R. W. Marriott, added a further £100 to the charity in 1907. (fn. 409) Distributions in money were still being made to the poor of Kibworth Harcourt in 1956. (fn. 410)
Sums left for the poor of Kibworth Harcourt by Elizabeth Lee, John Coleman, and Isabella Simpson, before 1786 in all three cases, had been lost by 1837. (fn. 411) Kibworth Harcourt also benefits from the Thornton, Lane, Smalley, Norman, Goodman, Haymes, and Sarah Marriott charities. (fn. 412)
The township of Smeeton Westerby is formed by the valley of a small brook, running from west to east, and the high ground on either side of it. The southwestern portion is occupied by Smeeton Hill, which rises to over 500 ft. In the north the ground rises more gradually from the brook to the boundary with Kibworth Beauchamp, reaching a height of about 450 ft. In 1957 the township was mostly pasture. Its area was 1,391 a. (fn. 413) The surface soil is mostly boulder clay.
As late as the 18th century Smeeton and Westerby could be considered two distinct hamlets, Smeeton to the north-east and Westerby to the south-west. This distinction is still preserved locally, although the building of the church and of Council houses between the two hamlets has given them the appearance of one continuous village. William Burton, in 1622, describes the two places separately, (fn. 414) and medieval and Tudor documents dealing with property in the two places use terms indicating that they were distinct. (fn. 415) Throsby, writing about 1790, described them as two separate but closely adjacent hamlets, but Nichols, writing 7 or 8 years later, apparently considered Smeeton Westerby as one village. (fn. 416) It seems clear that the two hamlets were closely connected from an early date. In Domesday Book Westerby is not mentioned, but several holdings are mentioned as being in Smeeton; (fn. 417) in the Leicestershire Survey Smeeton is not mentioned, but a number of holdings are listed under Westerby, some of them clearly the same as those recorded under Smeeton in Domesday. (fn. 418) An Inquisition of 1279 (fn. 419) mentions the two places together as 'Smetheton Westerby', and describes the holdings there as if the two formed a single township. There is no evidence to suggest that each hamlet ever had its own open fields. In the hearth tax returns of 1670, the houses of Smeeton Westerby are enumerated on two lists, one headed 'Westerby', and the other 'Smeeton Westerby'. (fn. 420)
The Grand Union Canal runs across the southern part of the township. Debdale Wharf, on the boundary between Smeeton Westerby and Gumley, was the southern terminus of the canal from the time when its construction was suspended in 1797 until the start of the construction of the branch to Market Harborough in 1805. (fn. 421) Minor roads lead from the village to Kibworth Beauchamp, Saddington, and Gumley; there are no arterial roads in the township.
Smeeton Westerby village stands on high ground near the northern boundary of the township. The larger part of the village, known as Smeeton, consists mainly of a single street, running north and south, the continuation of the road from Kibworth. Mill Lane branches off to the west and on the east a track leads to Debdale Wharf. At its southern end the main street turns westwards and leads to a triangular open space from which roads branch off to Saddington and Gumley. West of this is the small hamlet of Westerby. The road to Gumley runs southwards, descending abruptly to cross the brook over a small brick bridge. The triangular space, known as Pitt Gardens, lies well below road level on two sides and probably represents a long-disused gravel pit. Part of the area was formerly occupied by mud cottages. The parish church, built in 1851, stands to the north of Pitt Gardens. East of the churchyard is a large depression, partly filled with water, where a gravel pit was in use until after the First World War. (fn. 422) Smeeton Terrace, which stands high above Pitt Gardens on the west side, is a tall three-story range of red brick. It is locally identified with the former workhouse, probably built early in the 19th century and later divided into separate dwellings. The existence of large windows on the top floor suggests that at some period it was adapted for the use of framework-knitters. A two-story workshop is built out at right angles to the main block.
The buildings in the village consist mainly of 19th-century brick cottages and farm-houses with a few private residences. At the end of Springfield Lane an earlier house has a lower story of ironstone with 19th-century brickwork above. The building consists of two ranges at right angles to one another. In the back range ceiling joists with painted decoration, possibly dating from the 16th century, have been discovered. (fn. 423) Debdale Farm in the main street is built partly of ironstone and is probably a 17thcentury house. The stone gable-end retains its mullioned windows but the pitch of the roof has been lowered. Further south in the village street a farmyard wall of ironstone contains the blocked mullioned windows of a former house. There are several 18th-century brick cottages, originally thatched, with steep parapetted gable-ends. One in the main street, now the post office, is dated 1731 and a similar cottage in Westerby is dated 1756. Westerby House is a large late-18th-century house of red brick, its façade facing the south end of the main street. It was owned and occupied by the Rector of Kibworth in the second half of the 19th century. There are two pairs of Council houses near the school, built after the First World War. Three pairs were erected opposite the church in 1950. Four cottages in a single terrace were built west of the church to house agricultural workers c. 1944.
In 1086 3 carucates of land at Smeeton Westerby were held by Robert dispensator; 4 carucates and 7 bovates were held by Robert de Buci from Hugh de Grentemesnil, who held them from the king; one carucate and 2 bovates belonged to the king as part of the royal soke of Great Bowden. There were also 4 socmen in the township whose holdings were attached to de Grentemesnil's land at Bruntingthorpe, about 5 miles away to the west. (fn. 424) Robert de Buci held much land from the king in chief elsewhere in Leicestershire. (fn. 425) The soke of Great Bowden had been held by Edward the Confessor, (fn. 426) but the pre-Conquest holders of the other lands in Smeeton Westerby are not known. Robert dispensator's 3 carucates descended in the same way as his manor at Kibworth Beauchamp, and probably formed part of that manor. (fn. 427)
The land in the township held by de Grentemesnil in 1086 had by 1130 been acquired by Robert, Earl of Leicester, from whom it was then being held by Richard Basset. (fn. 428) No doubt the earl's father, Robert, Count of Meulan, had obtained them from Ivo de Grentemesnil, Hugh's son, early in Henry I's reign, at the same time as he obtained much other Grentemesnil property, (fn. 429) while Richard Basset had acquired much other land once held by de Buci. (fn. 430) The overlordship of this holding remained with the earls of Leicester until the death of Simon de Montfort in 1265, after which it passed to the earls, and later the dukes, of Lancaster. (fn. 431) Subsequently the Duchy of Lancaster seems to have retained some land at Smeeton in demesne, (fn. 432) while the rest was subinfeudated. The position of the under-tenants of this holding, which was generally known as the manor of SMEETON, is at first not clear. The holding was acquired, apparently in the mid-12th century, by Ivo of Neufmarché, (fn. 433) but it is not known when the Bassets relinquished the ownership. Ivo's heirs were his two daughters Emma, wife of Hugh de Senlis, and Aubrey, wife of a certain Ingebald. (fn. 434) Emma's rights passed to her son Henry de Senlis, and Aubrey's to her son Robert de Braybrook. Henry and Robert agreed to divide the lands that had once been Ivo's between them, and Robert's share included Smeeton Westerby. (fn. 435) Robert was bringing an action about land at Smeeton Westerby in 1203, (fn. 436) and his agreement with Henry may well have been made about that time. In 1208 King John confirmed Robert de Braybrook in the possession of land at Smeeton Westerby which had been handed over to him by Ralph de Turville. (fn. 437) There can be little doubt that this was the same land which had been held by Richard Basset from the Earl of Leicester in 1130, for in 1086, and again in 1130, the property is described as 4 carucates and 7 bovates, and in 1208 it is described as 19½ virgates, that is, 4 carucates and 7 bovates again. (fn. 438) How Turville obtained an interest in Smeeton Westerby is not clear, but from what is known of the descent of the manor at a later date there can be little doubt that it was held by Turville from the earls of Leicester, and was held by Braybrook from Turville. From an action brought in 1254 it seems that the manor was then held by Walter Ledet, Robert de Braybrook's descendant, from Ralph de Turville, and from Ledet by Walter de Langton. (fn. 439) In 1279 the manor was held from Edmund, Earl of Lancaster and Leicester, by the heirs of Nicholas de Turville, and from the heirs by William Latimer. (fn. 440) Latimer had married Alice, Walter Ledet's elder daughter and co-heir, and his younger brother John Latimer married Christine, Ledet's younger daughter. (fn. 441) No doubt William Latimer owed his possession of the manor to his wife. In 1282 John Latimer died possessed of 6¾ virgates at Smeeton, held in right of his wife Christine, from Ralph de Turville of Normanton. (fn. 442) William Latimer, at his death in 1304 or 1305, was holding 9 virgates and some other property at Smeeton in right of his wife Alice, from Turville. (fn. 443) Evidently the lands at Smeeton Westerby which Alice and Christine had inherited from their father had been divided between them.
The land held by the elder brother William Latimer descended to Nicholas Latimer, who may have been one of William's younger sons. (fn. 444) Nicholas died seised of property at Smeeton in 1325, (fn. 445) and was succeeded by his son John. When John, still possessed of the holding, died in 1343, his heir was said to be his son Nicholas, then a minor. (fn. 446) The descent of this holding cannot be traced further.
The land held by John, the younger brother, descended to his heirs, the Latimers of Braybrooke, who held it from the Turvilles of Normanton, who in turn held from the earls, and later the dukes, of Lancaster. (fn. 447) On the death of Edward Latimer in 1411, the land descended to John Griffin, grandson of Edward's sister Elizabeth. (fn. 448) The manor continued to be held by the Griffin family until the 16th century. After Nicholas Griffin's death in 1509 it was said that he had held the manor of Smeeton from the king as part of the Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 449) The position of the Turvilles as mesne lords had evidently been allowed to lapse. Nicholas's heir was his son Thomas, (fn. 450) who seems to have been still in possession of the manor in 1550. (fn. 451) According to Nichols, the manor was alienated by one of the Griffin family during the reign of Elizabeth I (fn. 452) but there does not seem to be any reliable evidence for this. The subsequent descent of the holding is uncertain. By 1449 the Duchy of Lancaster possessed a manor at Smeeton Westerby. (fn. 453) In 1628 Charles I granted the manor to Charles Harbord, Christopher Favell, and Thomas Young. (fn. 454) Possibly this manor may have been once part of the Earl of Leicester's holding. According to Nichols, (fn. 455) Harbord and his colleagues conveyed the manor in 1631 to William Lewis and others, who in turn conveyed it in 1654 to John Lewis and others, but no evidence is cited in support of these statements. In 1846 H. H. H. Hungerford was lord of the manor. (fn. 456) Hungerford was still the owner in 1861, (fn. 457) but by 1877 he had been replaced by Sir Henry Halford. (fn. 458) No person is mentioned as lord of the manor at any later date. In 1888 it was said that the manorial rights had lapsed. (fn. 459)
In 1086 the king held one carucate and 2 bovates at Smeeton Westerby belonging to the royal soke of Great Bowden, (fn. 460) and in 1130 there was said to be the same amount of land belonging to the king's soke in the township. (fn. 461) Subsequently this holding became part of the soke of Stretton, the descent of which is discussed elsewhere. (fn. 462)
In 1130 Richard de Rollos held one carucate and one bovate at Smeeton Westerby. (fn. 463) In 1279 the township was said to contain one carucate of the Rollos fee, held by John Sakry and his brother. (fn. 464) The descent of this holding after 1279 has not been traced.
In 1086 the tenants on Robert dispensator's holding of 3 carucates at Smeeton Westerby consisted of 3 socmen, 2 villeins, and one bordar. There was one demesne plough. (fn. 465) Robert de Buci's tenants on his 4 carucates and 7 bovates were 2 socmen, one villein, and 2 bordars. There was a demesne plough here also. (fn. 466) The royal soke-land at Smeeton Westerby then consisted of one carucate and 2 bovates. (fn. 467) As against the total of 9 carucates and one bovate for these holdings, the Leicestershire Survey of 1130 lists 12 carucates and one bovate, but the entry is mutilated, and it is uncertain what the completed total should be. (fn. 468)
In 1279 the king's soke-land at Smeeton Westerby was divided into four holdings, each of one virgate. William de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, held 4 carucates and 3 virgates, which apparently formed part of his manor of Kibworth Beauchamp. One carucate of the earl's land was held by a free tenant, and the remainder was held in villeinage. There were 5 carucates held by William Latimer, and one carucate, belonging to the Rollos fee, held by John Sakry and his brother. (fn. 469) In 1304-5 it was stated that the property which William Latimer had held at Smeeton Westerby included 9 virgates, each held by a bondman, and that each virgate contained 15 a. (fn. 470)
In 1599 it was stated by the jurors of the manor court that the manor's customary tenants, who were presumably copyholders, had from time immemorial paid a fixed fine equal to a year's rent when their holdings changed hands. Early in the 17th century the Duchy of Lancaster, to which the manor then belonged, contested this, and in 1620 an agreement was made between the Duchy and the Smeeton Westerby copyholders, under which in return for a sum equal to 45 years' ancient rents the copyholders were to be allowed to pay a fixed fine equal to one year's rent in future, and to exchange any of their copyhold land in the open fields for any freehold land in the open fields. There appear to have been only 3 copyholders in the township at the time. (fn. 471)
Smeeton Westerby was inclosed under the Act for inclosing the whole ancient parish of Kibworth, passed in 1779. (fn. 472) By that date no copyhold land seems to have been left in the township. The inclosure award (fn. 473) allotted lands in Smeeton Westerby to 35 persons or institutions. The Rector of Kibworth Beauchamp received 202 a. in commutation of the tithes from the township's open fields, 4 a. for the tithes from the old inclosures, and 1 a. in respect of a small parcel of glebe land. Two landowners obtained over 200 a. each. Two others obtained 74 a. and 64 a. respectively, 9 were allotted between 20 a. and 50 a. each, and 7 between 10 a. and 20 a. each. The remaining 15 received between one and 10 a. each.
During the 19th century framework-knitting became of some importance at Smeeton Westerby, and in 1844 there were 140 frames in the village. (fn. 474) There were 3 bag hosiers in the village as late as 1896, (fn. 475) but the industry there never seems to have developed into the factory stage, and by 1908 hosiery manufacture seems to have ceased. (fn. 476) About 1936 a brick building north-east of the church, which had originally belonged to a hosiery manufacturer, was taken over by the firm of J. E. Slater of Kibworth Beauchamp. (fn. 477) Other buildings were erected and in 1959 the factory was employing about 60 people.
Land 'anciently known as Watermill Close', lying south-east of the village, was mentioned in the inclosure award. (fn. 478) A windmill stood about half a mile west of Smeeton and a little south of Mill Lane in 1885. (fn. 479) It is said to have been blown down, apparently about this date, with the miller inside it. (fn. 480)
Hearth tax lists for both Smeeton Westerby and Westerby were signed by the same constable in 1670, and it is likely that the hamlets then formed a single township. (fn. 481) A churchwarden at Smeeton Westerby was mentioned in 1634. (fn. 482) In 1690 there were 2 wardens, (fn. 483) but by 1825, and probably from an earlier date, there was only one. (fn. 484) By 1776 Smeeton Westerby was maintaining its own poor (fn. 485) and had a workhouse for 20 persons. (fn. 486) In 1802-37 people were relieved there, while 58 adults and 56 children received out-relief. (fn. 487) It seems likely that this workhouse was used not only by Smeeton Westerby but also Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt. A reference in 1806 to 'the old workhouse' suggests that a new one was built about then, (fn. 488) and this new one may be the building traditionally known in the village as the workhouse. After 1836 Smeeton Westerby was included in Market Harborough Union. (fn. 489)
In 1587 Elizabeth I granted the graveyard of a chapel at Smeeton to Edward Heron and John Nicholas. (fn. 492) Nothing further is known about the chapel, nor is it clear how the graveyard came into the queen's hands, but the grant seems to imply that the chapel was disused by 1587. A survey of 1781 mentions a close called the chapel yard, (fn. 493) but this may have been the yard of the dissenting chapel then existing at Smeeton Westerby. (fn. 494)
The abbey of St. Evroul (Orne) in Normandy obtained from Hugh de Grentemesnil under William I a grant of two-thirds of the tithes of all Hugh's demesne lands in England, and they included his demesne at Smeeton. (fn. 495) About 1220 St. Evroul was receiving two-thirds of the rectorial tithes from the demesne of a manor at Smeeton. (fn. 496) By 1291 the abbey's rights in the tithes of Smeeton had been commuted for an annual payment of £1 to the Prior of Ware, (fn. 497) and this pension was later transferred to Sheen Priory (Surr.). (fn. 498) In 1535 Sheen was receiving a pension of 13s. 4d. a year. (fn. 499) In the 18th century the Rector of Kibworth Beauchamp was receiving all the tithes from Smeeton Westerby. (fn. 500)
In 1851 a church was built at Smeeton Westerby, (fn. 501) and in 1852 the township was formed into a separate ecclesiastical parish. (fn. 502) The advowson of the new parish belonged from the beginning, and still belonged in 1957, to the Rector of Kibworth Beauchamp. (fn. 503) The living was endowed with 128a. of glebe, formerly belonging to the patron. (fn. 504) It was declared a rectory in 1867. (fn. 505) A parsonage house was built in Mill Lane in 1900-1. (fn. 506)
Smeeton Westerby, is built of grey stone with limestone dressings and was designed by H. Woodyer. (fn. 507) It consists of a chancel, an aisled nave of four bays, a south porch, and a north vestry. At the west end is a circular bell turret surmounted by a spire. A large arch which is incorporated in the west wall of the nave suggests that the addition of a west tower was contemplated at some future period. The windows and the internal fittings are all in the Decorated style of the 14th century. The church was repaired in 1873 and 1895. (fn. 508) A new organ was installed between 1906 and 1908. (fn. 509) There are no mural tablets apart from those commemorating the two world wars. Several of the windows contain memorial stained glass.
There are two small bells, cast in 1849. The plate consists of a cup dated 1847, a paten dated 1849, and a flagon dated 1848, all silver gilt, and all bought for Smeeton Westerby in 1849. (fn. 510) Frederick Iliffe, by will proved 1928, left £300 to endow quarterly payments to members of the choir, to maintain the organ, and for books for the choir. (fn. 511) The registers date from 1852, Smeeton Westerby being included in the Kibworth Beauchamp registers before that date.
In 1668 it was said that 'great numbers of persons commonly called Quakers' met at Smeeton Westerby. (fn. 512) In 1724 Francis Tilley's house was licensed for nonconformist worship. (fn. 513) Further licences for places in the village were issued in 1743 and 1783. (fn. 514) These 18th-century dissenters were probably Baptists as in the closing years of the century there was a Baptist chapel in the village, and the chapel established in 1743 later belonged to the Baptists. (fn. 515) By that time the number of Baptists had decreased and services were held only a few times each year. (fn. 516) Apparently this chapel belonged to the General Baptists, as in 1829 there were reported to be 30 members of that denomination in the village. (fn. 517) By 1846 both the General and the Calvinistic Baptists had chapels in Smeeton Westerby. (fn. 518) The Calvinistic Baptist chapel had ceased to exist by 1861, (fn. 519) but the General Baptist chapel remained in use in 1956. It stands in Debdale Lane and is a small red-brick building with a single round-headed window facing the road. Headstones in the adjacent burial ground include several of Swithland slate to members of the Woodruffe family (1767-73). A Primitive Methodist chapel was established at Smeeton Westerby by 1846, (fn. 520) but by 1862 it had ceased to exist. (fn. 521)
In 1833 there were three day schools at Smeeton Westerby, attended by 23 boys and 24 girls, all being educated at their parents' expense. (fn. 522) There was an infants' school in the village in 1846. (fn. 523) A National school for 88 children was built in 1862. (fn. 524) The average attendance was 46 in 1876, (fn. 525) 52 in 1910, (fn. 526) and 45 in 1922. (fn. 527) In 1927 the senior pupils were transferred to Kibworth Beauchamp, (fn. 528) and in 1933 it was decided that the school was to be used for infants only. (fn. 529) In July of that year the school had 36 pupils. (fn. 530) In 1953 it accepted 'aided' status under the local authority as an infants' school. In 1957 there were only 12 children in attendance. (fn. 531)
About 1740 Edward Freeman gave £5 for the poor of Smeeton Westerby. (fn. 532) By 1837 the money had been lost. (fn. 533) John Coleman, before 1743, gave £20 for the poor of Smeeton Westerby. (fn. 534) The income was originally used to apprentice poor parishioners. In about 1823 the principal was lent to the parish, and the gift was afterwards represented by £1 a year distributed to the poor out of the poor rate. The principal was replaced in 1862, when £21 6s. 9d. stock was bought. (fn. 535) Distributions were still being made from the charity in 1957. (fn. 536) Smeeton Westerby also benefits from the Goodman, Haymes, and Norman charities, the income from which is shared with Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt. (fn. 537)