A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 5, Gartree Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.
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Glooston lies eleven miles south-east of Leicester and six miles north of Market Harborough. The parish, 973 a. in area, is over 2 miles long from Keythorpe Lodge in the north to Langton Caudle in the south but is quite narrow from east to west, lying between two similarly long and narrow parishes, Stonton Wyville and Cranoe. The land is chiefly pasture, but a few mixed arable crops are grown on the heavy clay soil. Glooston Wood, which is about 25 a. in area, lies in the north part of the parish where the land rises steeply towards Cranoe Lodge. A stream which rises just beyond the northern boundary of the parish runs southwards through the village and then south-westwards to Stonton Wyville. Crossburrow Hill, which is over 400 ft. high, is the principal feature of the southern part of the parish and belongs to the escarpment running eastwards to Cranoe.
The houses of Glooston village are grouped round a cross-roads in the centre of the parish. The road from west to east follows the line of the Gartree road. To the west of the village it is a rough trackway to Shangton and to the east it forms the metalled road to Cranoe. South of the cross-roads a road leads to Stonton Wyville and Tur Langton. Its continuation northwards is a gated road to Goadby which runs by Glooston Lodge, an 18thcentury brick building and the only isolated farmhouse in the parish. A brick house on the east side of the Stonton road probably dates from the late 17th century. It has an altered roof, but retains several stone-mullioned windows, a stone plinth, and a moulded string course. To the west of the cross-roads a short street leads uphill towards Glooston church and terminates in a small green. Beyond it the Gartree road becomes the trackway known as Andrews Lane. On the north side of the street is a continuous terrace of early-19th-century stone cottage, the building of which may be associated with the sharp rise in population between 1801 and 1831 (see below). West of this is an 18thcentury brick farm-house with stone quoins. On the opposite side of the street a small and much altered cottage was probably originally timer-framed. One bay has been faced with stone and the other rebuilt in brick. Internally it retains central back-to-back open fire-places, one incorporating a baking oven. Next door is the Bluebell Inn, rebuilt c. 1930. It replaced a fully timber-framed building with a thatched roof, the panels between the framing being filled with mud walling and brickwork. (fn. 1) Glooston Rectory, standing east of the churchyard, is an altered house the core of which is built of stone and may date from the 17th century. The village hall, which faces the green, was built soon after the Second World War under the auspices of the Rural Community Council and is used also by the inhabitants of Stonton Wyville and Cranoe. The site was formerly occupied by a low thatched cottage, partly timber-framed, which was demolished c. 1938. (fn. 2)
The recorded population in 1086 was 8. (fn. 3) There were 37 taxpayers in 1381. (fn. 4) There were 9 households in 1563 and 23 in 1670. In 1603 there were 64 communicants, and in 1676 62. (fn. 5) There were about 25 families in the early 18th century. (fn. 6) In 1801 the population was 129. There was an increase to 177 in 1831, but thereafter a steady decline, and the population in 1951 was 64. (fn. 7)
There is an overgrown moated site on the north side of the Gartree road just before the trackway enters the village from the west. In 1946 some diggings were made on the site of a Roman villa which stood on the eastern banks of the stream to the north-east of the cross-roads. (fn. 8)
In 1086 GLOOSTON was held by Hugh de Grentemesnil from the Countess Judith. (fn. 9) About 1130 it was held by Richard Basset from the Earl of Leicester who inherited many of the countess's Leicestershire holdings, (fn. 10) and the overlordship descended through the earls of Leicester and Lancaster and the dukes of Lancaster to the Duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 11) For a short time in the 15th century the overlord was stated to be St. Mary's Abbey, Leicester, but this seems incorrect. (fn. 12) A 15th-century rental of Glooston records the payment of 20d. as quit-rent to the Duchy. (fn. 13) In 1637 all the freehold land was said to be held from the Duchy. (fn. 14) The Basset family of Drayton continued as mesne tenants until at least the middle of the 14th century. (fn. 15)
In the 13th century Glooston was held of the Bassets by members of the Harington family, one of whom may have been the William de Harington who was a knight or freeman of the honor of Leicester in 1209–10. (fn. 16) Richard de Harington, who in 1249 held 3/8 knight's fee in Glooston, was granted free warren in his demesne there in 1257, (fn. 17) and the family held the manor until the beginning of the 15th century. At Robert Harington's death, some time between 1412 and 1422, the manor passed to his daughter Margaret, wife of Richard Brauncepath. (fn. 18) Their three sons, William, John, and Thomas, all inherited in turn, and, after Thomas's death in 1454, (fn. 19) his widow Elizabeth held the manor for her life. She married secondly William Isham, by whom she had a son Thomas. Various disputes arose over the manor during her life and after her death, caused by the claims of the several feoffees of Thomas Brauncepath and of certain relatives. In 1474 the claimants were John Howell, son of Thomas Brauncepath's sister Joan, who had been adjudged to be her brother's heir, (fn. 20) and John Coley or Colly, a distant cousin, descended from Joan, aunt of the last Robert Harington. Howell's claim seems to have been dismissed with those of the various feoffees, represented by the families of Ashby and Fairfax, for in 1480 William Fairfax, in whom these claims were vested, granted the manor to Colly, (fn. 21) whose descendants held it until 1632. In 1587 Anthony Colly put the manor in trust to pay an annuity of £100 for 60 years to Randall Manning, a London skinner. (fn. 22) By 1592 the payment had fallen into arrears, and Manning became technically possessed of the manor for the rest of the 60 years. (fn. 23) By 1614 Colly was able to redeem it for £1,500. (fn. 24) In 1632 he sold it for £4,500 to Thomas, Lord Brudenell, who already owned the neighbouring manors of Cranoe and Stonton Wyville. (fn. 25) It has since descended in the Brudenell family. The owner in 1956 was Mr. George Brudenell of Deene (Northants.). (fn. 26)
In 1086 Hugh de Grentemesnil's holding in Glooston consisted of 3 carucates of land. He had one plough in demesne, and 6 villeins and 2 bordars had two. There were 4 a. of meadow, and woodland 1 furlong by 3 furlongs in area. The value of the estate had risen from 3s. to 30s. (fn. 27) In the early 13th century Henry de Harington procured a royal licence to assart 6 a. of waste. (fn. 28) The manor was still assessed as 3 carucates in 1279, when John de Harington held 1½ carucate in demesne, and 1½ in villeinage. (fn. 29) The village and its population remained small. Among the 37 taxpayers in 1381 were Robert Harington and his wife Agnes, and only 9 tenants at will, one free tenant, and 3 labourers. (fn. 30) An undated rental of the 15th century mentions 12 tenants, and states that the manor was let for 24s. yearly. Underwood brought in 27s. and the total rents were then £29 15s. 8d. (fn. 31)
About half the parish was inclosed and laid down to pasture by the early 17th century. John Colly was said to have destroyed a farm-house in 1511 and converted its 20 a. It is not clear from the original presentment against him whether he had converted them to pasture or not, but by 1528 when his son Anthony was charged with inclosing, a jury declared that the messuage concerned was in good repair and its 20 a. re-converted from pasture to tillage. John Colly was also said to have inclosed for pasture in 1511 2 carucates of arable and put down 2 ploughs, so that 12 people were deprived of their livelihood. (fn. 32) In 1527 a presentment was made to the manorial court at Cranoe to the effect that Edward Cowesby and Isabel his wife, John Colly's widow, would not allow the tenants to have their common in 2 closes in Glooston fields, on either side of the land called Leicester Lane. The court ordered that each tenant should be allowed to have 70 sheep in the fields. (fn. 33) In 1535 the Brudenells were drawing £338 13s. 4d. in rents from Glooston. (fn. 34)
In 1637 the Brudenells owned 838 a. in Glooston. The manor-house was let to an Anthony Lightfoot with 502 a. of demesne. There were 6 free tenants, who held 284 a. of land, including a member of the Halford family of Welham with 245 a. The others all owned small pieces of land. An area of 79 a. was leased in small parcels: one of 65 a., two of 2 a., and the rest of under an acre. The common balks accounted for 7 a. Total rents were £340 2s. 4d. By this date the whole of the parish to the north of the road running through the village from Cranoe to the Gartree road was inclosed. In the far north of the parish were the Out Walks. Two small closes were cut out of the open-field area to the south of the village, and there was a considerable area of homestead closes round the village itself. (fn. 35) The open fields were known then, as in later times, as Little Field, Burrough or Crosborough Field, and Willowsike Field. (fn. 36)
In 1659 regulations were made about the administration of the pasture. Inhabitants of Glooston were to have first refusal of any sheep common that might be to let. No one was to plough up his land further than the mere stone set down by the jury. The inclosed land in the north of both Glooston and Cranoe was clearly used for sheep runs, and there was to be a division of this between the two parishes from May Day to Lammas, with tellers to see that the stints were kept. (fn. 37) Like those of the other Brudenell manors in this area the inhabitants of Glooston owed suit of court at Slawston and appointed constables to represent them there. (fn. 38)
Glooston was finally inclosed under an award of 1828, with the remaining part of Cranoe. The inclosure commissioners estimated that nearly 470a. of open field remained, or rather less than half the total area of the parish, although only 179 a. had been returned as arable in 1801. (fn. 39) There were still three fields. Of the 469 a. allotted in 1828, just over 56 a. went to the Earl of Cardigan as lord of the manor, who already held the whole of the old inclosure. The only other holding of any size was that of the Revd. J. H. Dent of Hallaton, who was allotted 236 a. His family had held an estate in Glooston since the 18th century. (fn. 40) Of the rest, small allotments were made to 2 freeholders, and 182 a. were given to the Rector of Glooston in lieu of tithes and glebe. The Rector of Stonton Wyville had a small holding of just over 2 roods. (fn. 41)
There was a windmill in Glooston by the 15th century, when it was let for 40s. a year. (fn. 42) It was still there in 1637, when it is shown on the estate map of that year in the extreme south of the parish. (fn. 43) Nothing more is known of it.
Glooston apparently had no workhouse, but in 1776 £30 18s. 8d. was expended on rents for poor parishioners. The poor rate in that year yielded over £52. (fn. 44) In 1802–3 the parish relieved 9 adults and 23 children. (fn. 45) In 1836 Glooston was placed in Market Harborough Union. (fn. 46) Some parish property had been held before the new Poor Law Act, and in 1835 a tenement and yard were made over to the churchwardens in trust for the inhabitants. (fn. 47) In 1869 it was agreed that the rent of the parish house should be paid to the overseers. (fn. 48)
The earliest mention of Glooston church is about 1220, but it was probably founded in the 12th century. It may, like Cranoe, have been a chapelry of Welham, where burials still took place about 1220, although in other respects Glooston was independent. (fn. 49) The living is a rectory. In 1930 the benefice and the parish were united with those of Stonton Wyville. (fn. 50) In 1956 Stonton Wyville and Glooston were joined to the united parishes of Slawston and Cranoe under the name of Stonton Wyville. (fn. 51) In 1958 the incumbent was living in Glooston Rectory. In 1220 the patron was Hugh de Harington, and the advowson has descended with the manor since that date. In 1958 the patron was Mr. George Brudenell of Deene (Northants.). (fn. 52)
The living was valued at 2 marks in 1254 (fn. 53) and at £5 in 1291. (fn. 54) In 1428 it was worth 7½ marks. (fn. 55) In 1535 the net value was £8. (fn. 56) In 1650 the rector was described as 'insufficient and scandalous'. (fn. 57) The same might probably have been said of Edmund Tilley, the incumbent in 1576, who was then over 80 years of age, and of whom it was said 'he understandeth nothing'. (fn. 58) By 1831 the living, valued at £30 in 1650, was worth £186. (fn. 59)
The glebe in 1634 included pasture for 80 sheep. (fn. 60) By 1637 it included the parsonage close of 2 a. and 28 a. in the fields. (fn. 61) At the inclosure in 1828 36 a. were allotted in lieu of glebe and 146 a. in lieu of tithes from both old and new inclosures. (fn. 62)
The church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST stands at the south-west corner of the village. It consists of aisle-less nave, chancel, south porch, and double bell-cote above the west gable. It dates largely from a rebuilding of 1866–7 but retains several medieval features. The earlier church was probably built on the same plan as the present one; an engraving of c. 1798 (fn. 63) shows that the nave, apparently of the 15th or early 16th century, had a low-pitched roof surrounded by a parapet and a double bell-cote above a buttressed west end. The south porch had a two-light window and a severe crack is shown in the south wall. The chancel windows were square-headed and possibly of postReformation date. At a visitation in 1518 the nave windows had been described as defective. (fn. 64) A hundred years later the pews were said to be too high, obscuring the view of the altar, and the roof leaked. (fn. 65) The chancel screen needed repainting in 1639 and Lord Brudenell's pew was still too high. (fn. 66) In the late 18th century rubbish had accumulated inside the church, and earth against the outside walls was causing dampness. (fn. 67) By 1842 the porch was in need of repair and some of the seats in the nave needed to be renewed. (fn. 68)
The church was almost entirely rebuilt by the architect Joseph Goddard of Leicester in 1866–7. (fn. 69) The nave was given a roof of steep pitch and the design of the bell-cote was altered. Some of the 15thcentury window-tracery appears to have been reused but the chancel windows and the two lancets at the west end are entirely new. A piscina, probably of the late 13th century, with a finely-moulded trefoil head and a carved basin has been preserved in the chancel. Before the rebuilding the canopy of a stone seat and part of another seat were in position beside the piscina and there was a third seat some distance away. (fn. 70) The present sedilia are modern. A mutilated piscina, probably also of the 13th century, appears to be in its original position in the north wall of the nave. The plain octagonal font may date from the 14th century. The chancel contains a memorial tablet to John Davies, rector (d. 1847), and his son Rice Davies (d. 1888). Glass in the east window by Heaton, Butler, & Bayne (1866) (fn. 71) is in memory of John Davies. In the former church there were memorial inscriptions to members of the Owsley family, four of whom were rectors between 1660 and 1743. (fn. 72)
There are two bells, one of which it is considered unsafe to hang: (i) 1730; (ii) 1686 recast by John Taylor of Loughborough in 1866. (fn. 73) The plate includes a silver cup of 1601, with a later cover bearing the inscription 'The parish koope of Glooston 1609'. (fn. 74) The registers date from 1564 and are complete.
In 1722 Samuel Porter's house was licensed as a meeting-place. (fn. 75) In 1825 William Deacon's house, at the east end of the village, was licensed. (fn. 76) Nothing further is known of nonconformity in Glooston.
There was a Sunday school with an average attendance of 50 children by 1833. It was supported by subscriptions. In 1833 there was also an infants' school with an attendance of 5 or 10. (fn. 77) Glooston children attended the National school at Cranoe after it was built in 1843. (fn. 78)
The Revd. William Owsley by will proved 1734 (fn. 79) bequeathed £20 to be invested to endow a bread dole for the poor of Glooston. In 1837 the yearly income of the charity was 13s. 4d., (fn. 80) and in 1934 10s., which was distributed in cash. About 1867 Glooston received £100 from a bequest for the poor, made by the Revd. J. H. Dent, from which Hallaton and Blaston also benefited. From 1907 this gift was represented by £89 10s. stock, which yielded £2 4s. 8d. in 1953. (fn. 81)