Houghton on the Hill

Pages 157-163

A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 5, Gartree Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.

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Houghton on the Hill lies six miles east of Leicester on the main Leicester-Uppingham road. The original settlement lies on a side turning running south-westwards, but since the First World War houses have been built along both sides of the main road and in Ingarsby Lane to the north of it, more than doubling the size of the village. The civil parish is 1,194 a. in area. The northern boundary of Houghton parish at its western end follows the main road. The northern part of the long southeastern boundary is formed by the road to Billesdon Coplow and Tilton; further south it follows the headwaters of the River Sence. A gated road leading south to Galby branches off the main road at Palace Hill and crosses the Sence at Wash Dyke Bridge. A footpath leading to Thurnby from the south-west end of the village is said to represent the course of the road to Leicester before inclosure in 1765. (fn. 1) The continuation of the village street in a south-westerly direction is known as the Mere. It formerly joined the Gartree road in Great Stretton parish but its southern stretch was closed in 1942 when Stoughton airfield was constructed. At the same time a road leading west to Stoughton was diverted to its present course past Houghton Lodge Farm. The former Great Northern railway line, opened in 1883, runs close to the north-west corner of the parish, and, during construction work in 1871, 70 navvies were lodged in Houghton. (fn. 2)

The crown of the hill, about 525 ft. above sea level, on which the village stands is part of an island of sand and gravel in the clay belt east of Leicester. The shape of this gravel patch probably determined the long and narrow layout of the village. (fn. 3) To the south-east the ground falls fairly steeply to the River Sence; to the south-west several springs, joined by others beyond the parish, form a stream which flows westwards through Leicester to meet the River Soar. One of the springs is reported to have mineral properties. Nichols mentions a spring which was 'very warm in summer and cold in winter'. (fn. 4) He also records the belief, then current, that there was a valuable 'delph' of coal on one of the estates in the parish. Two fruitless attempts had been made to dig the coal. (fn. 5) In a depression south of the church is an earthwork of unknown date and origin. It consists of a raised bank enclosing a rectangle about 150 yds. across with a spring rising within its area. At the north-east corner of the village and just south of the main road there is a small circular tumulus.

The village street is nearly half a mile long from the main road to the parish church, at its south-west end. At a bend near the main road is a small circular green on which stands a memorial of the First World War erected in 1921. At its base are two millstones from the demolished windmill in Ingarsby Lane. (fn. 6) Scotland Lane branches off to the west at this point and re-enters the street 100 yds. further down. Opposite is a short cul-de-sac known as Weir Lane. Near it a smithy was still in use in 1959. The small red-brick building was evidently designed for the purpose, probably in the early 19th century. It consists of a shoeing bay with a cobbled floor, entered through an elliptical arch, and a small forge with two round-headed windows which can be secured with bottom-hung shutters. Half-way down the village street is the Black Horse Inn. The building is modern, but an old house, formerly an inn, stood in the yard until it was demolished in 1943, having previously been damaged by enemy action. (fn. 7) The church, the Rectory, the village school, and Manor Farm stand near together at the south-west end of the street. The field behind the church is known as Hall Close and it is probable that the medieval manor-house stood in this area. The Rectory and the school date from 1856. (fn. 8) Manor Farm, recently re-named Church Farm, was probably the manor-house in the 17th and 18th centuries. The house has a timber-framed back wing, probably of mid-17th-century date, standing on an ironstone base. The front range is of brick and is dated 1718. An extra story was added and the windows altered in the early 19th century. In the field to the east stands a rectangular brick dovecot with a roof of Swithland slate. It carries a partly-obliterated date tablet, probably of 1716. Internally there are approximately 1,000 pigeon-holes. In 1959 the building was derelict and threatened with demolition. (fn. 9) A brick village hall, erected in 1921 in memory of J. A. R. Forsell, (fn. 10) stands to the east of Manor Farm.

Most of the buildings in the village street are of the earlier 19th century. They are mostly of red brick but a few of the earlier houses have walls partly of ironstone with later whitewashed brickwork or rough-cast above. A few retain their thatched roofs. Several have the appearance of yeomen's houses of the 17th century and are long and low, consisting of 3 or 4 bays, the upper rooms being partly in the roof. A 17th-century example of this type stands opposite the 'Black Horse'. At least three houses of similar appearance are actually earlier cruck-framed buildings, adapted in the 17th century to conform with improved standards. Byeways, or Church House, is a three-bay house of the 16th century or earlier. It stands on an ironstone base and retains two cruck trusses. The roof timbers in the central bay are smoke-blackened. The 17thcentury alterations include the insertion of chimneys and the raising of the eaves level. A 17th-century staircase at the rear of the central bay is fitted with a dog-gate. This house belonged to the Roe family in the early 18th century, the tenant until her death in 1737 being Mrs. Mary Manton, widow of a Rector of Houghton. (fn. 11) Later in the century it was occupied by Thomas Horsepool. (fn. 12) A somewhat similar house stands near the entrance to Scotland Lane. It was originally a cruck building of three bays, another bay being added in the 17th century. On the opposite side of the street is a house which was the Boot Inn during the 19th century. (fn. 13) It consists of a cruck building of two bays, parallel with the road. A third bay was evidently replaced in the mid-17th century by a timber-framed cross-wing of two stories.

During an air raid in 1941 two houses in the village were destroyed, a third being damaged and later demolished. (fn. 14) Two pairs of cottages for agricultural workers were built on the Stretton road in 1945. (fn. 15) The Rise, a three-sided court of large Council houses in Scotland Lane, was built in 1947. Elizabeth Close, leading off Scotland Lane, contains 12 Council houses and 2 bungalows, dating from 1952 and 1956. (fn. 16) The village was still expanding near the main road in 1959.

The recorded population was 10 in 1086. (fn. 17) There were 110 taxpayers in 1381. (fn. 18) In 1563 there were 32 households, and in 1670 67. There were 189 communicants in 1603 and 160 in 1676. (fn. 19) In the early 18th century there were about 70 families. (fn. 20) From a total of 299 in 1801 the population rose rapidly to 451 in 1841; the decline from 449 in 1861 to 374 in 1871 was attributed chiefly to migration. The lowest figure in the census returns was 271 in 1911, but since then and especially since 1931, with ribbon development of houses on the main road, the population has increased. In 1951 it was 662. (fn. 21)

Houghton was the birthplace of John Glover (1767-1849), the Lichfield artist. (fn. 22)


Before the Conquest Houghton formed part of the lands of Earl Waltheof of Northumberland. In 1086 it was held by Godric of Henry de Ferrers, and although the Countess Judith was at the time disputing the overlordship (fn. 23) it appears to have remained in the Ferrers family. In 1235-6 and again in 1242-3, Houghton was recorded as part of the fee of William de Ferrers, Earl of Derby (d. 1247). (fn. 24) His son, whose estates were confiscated in 1266, may not have held the overlordship, which subsequently (and until the mid-15th century) was held by the junior branch of Ferrers of Groby. (fn. 25) By 1236 an intermediate lordship was held by Arnold DuBois, of whom Richard Corbet held ½ knight's fee in Houghton. (fn. 26) The DuBois holding descended to the Zouche family: (fn. 27) William Zouche of Haringworth held the intermediate lordship in 1316, (fn. 28) and his successors continued to hold it in the 14th and 15th centuries. (fn. 29)

The Richard Corbet who held Houghton in 1236 was succeeded, apparently, by Robert Corbet before 1266. Another Richard Corbet died in 1301 seised of the manor of HOUGHTON, and was succeeded by his son Thomas. Thomas's widow Amice was suing for dower in Houghton in 1311 and 1316, when Thomas's son Thomas was under age. (fn. 30) No later record has been found of the Corbets' ownership of Houghton. In 1394 Sir Thomas Erdington settled the manor on his son Thomas, and Margaret, widow of the elder Thomas, held the manor from her husband's death in 1395 until her own death in 1405. The younger Thomas died seised of the manor in 1434, and his widow died holding the manor in 1435. The next Sir Thomas, son of the last by his first wife, died without issue in 1467, his heirs being unknown. (fn. 31) The manor presumably escheated to the Zouches: William Zouche, Lord Zouche of Haringworth, died seised of the manor in 1468. (fn. 32) His son John (d. 1526) forfeited all his honours in 1485, and although they were restored to him in 1495, (fn. 33) by 1496 Houghton manor had been granted by the Crown to George Catesby (d. 1506). (fn. 34) His descendant Richard Catesby sold it in 1539 to Thomas Cave, and it was again sold in 1540, to Robert Cotton, and in 1562, to Thomas Walton, apparently a Houghton yeoman. (fn. 35) Walton and his heirs evidently remained in possession of the manor until c. 1621, but by 1583 the freehold had been acquired, apparently by way of mortgage, by Ralph Houghton, who made various settlements of the estate. When Ralph Houghton died in 1615 the freehold had been bought back by Francis Walton, (fn. 36) probably in 1608, (fn. 37) after which date other estates in Houghton were said to be held of Walton's manor. (fn. 38) In 1621 Walton conveyed his estate in Houghton to trustees for the repayment of his debts, but in 1623 the trustees had not sold the manor, and Walton himself had fled from the district. (fn. 39) He later returned and in 1625 sold the manor to Roland Knyveton. (fn. 40) Nothing is known of the manor between that date and 1682 (fn. 41) when it was owned by William Thompson. He had been taxed in 1664 on a house with four hearths, which may have been the manor-house. (fn. 42) Thompson and his heirs held the manor until 1805, (fn. 43) when it was sold to George Anthony Legh Keck, in whose family it remained until 1913. The Co-operative Wholesale Society Ltd. was in 1959 the principal landowner, having purchased much of the Powys-Keck estate in 1919 and a further area west of Houghton village in 1953. (fn. 44)


At least two monastic houses held land in Houghton. In 1477 (fn. 45) Leicester Abbey received 5s. yearly from their pasture on Houghton Moor, which was leased to the village. Wolston Priory (Warws.) held some land which passed in 1396 (fn. 46) to the Coventry Charterhouse, and which was valued at £5 3s. 1d. in 1535. (fn. 47) This land was granted after the Dissolution to George Salter and John Willins and in 1615 to George Low and Edward Sawyer, both of London. (fn. 48) A year later (fn. 49) it formed the subject of a dispute between a Thomas Salisbury and three Houghton landowners, John Allen, William Skillington, and John Heyrick. In 1306 (fn. 50) some land in Houghton was apparently granted to the collegiate church of Noseley, and in 1340 (fn. 51) a confirmation to Garendon Abbey of their land in Houghton and other places was made. Nothing further is known of either holding.


In 1086 Houghton was assessed at 9 carucates; in the time of the Confessor these had supported 5 ploughs, but by the date of the Survey there were only 4, half a plough in the demesne and 3½ worked by 5 villeins and 3 bordars. Two serfs worked on the demesne. There were 20 a. of meadow and the holding was estimated to be worth 20s. (fn. 52) In 1301 there were on the manor 19 villeins, 7 cottars, and 3 free tenants. (fn. 53) Of the 19 villeins, 18 held one virgate each, paying a rent of 8s. yearly, heriot, and suit of court twice a year. The remaining villein held half a virgate and paid a rent of 4s. No mention is made of any form of labour service and it may be supposed that this had been commuted. The cottars each paid 12d. yearly and suit of court twice a year. Of the free tenants one paid a rent of 8s. yearly for a messuage and a virgate of land, and another 16s. for a messuage and 2 virgates. Each of these also paid suit of court twice a year. The other free tenant, who held a messuage and 2½ virgates of land, paid 7s. 1d. rent and was free from suit of court and all services. There were 6 virgates in demesne (a virgate being reckoned at 20 a.), valued at 1s. an acre, with 6 a. of meadow and rights in the common fields which were valued at 1s. yearly. There are three men all called prepositus; it is not clear whether this is a patronymic or an occupation-name, but it may be that one of these was the manorial reeve and the others looked after the interests of the religious houses holding land in Houghton.

The Houghton fields lay between Leicester Abbey's demesne farm at Stoughton and the abbey's pasture on Houghton Moor. In 1328 a dispute arose about the right of way which the abbot claimed for his villeins through Houghton to harvest the hay. An agreement was reached in the court of the honor of Winchester, between the men of Houghton and the abbot, permitting the passage of the abbot's men along a specified route. (fn. 54)

The number of tenants had increased by 1381. (fn. 55) There were 27 tenants at will, together with 2 people who are described as landholders and one who is called a landowner and was presumably a free tenant. There were still 2 franklins or reeves, and in this list the manorial neatherd and shepherd are mentioned. There were now only 3 cottagers. Houghton manor was described in the 14th century as a member of the manor of Thorpe Arnold, (fn. 56) which was also held by the Zouches, but Houghton had its own court and view of frankpledge and its own manor-house. The 'capital messuage' was valued at 6s. 8d. in 1301. (fn. 57) During the 14th century farm implements were apparently manufactured in Houghton for a market larger than the village alone. Leicester Abbey was buying scythes there in 1348, and the William Tailor who is described as artifex in 1381 may have been a smith. (fn. 58)

As early as 1512 the former Wolston Priory land included 3 small closes; these may, however, have been gardens or orchards near houses, and they were called 'yards'. (fn. 59) Some inclosed pasture is mentioned in a lease of 1574, (fn. 60) but probably little had in fact been inclosed before the 18th century. The award mentions the names of only 2 closes, Hall Close and Horn's Close, and a Brick Close is mentioned in 1720. (fn. 61) There were 3 fields-Brook Field, Mill Field, and Middle Field. (fn. 62) In 1670 John Newton had 9 a. of barley and wheat in one field, and 11 a. of peas in another, while he pastured 38 of his flock of 170 sheep in the fallow field. (fn. 63)

Apart from the Thompsons, lords of the manor in the 17th and 18th centuries, a few families are known to have lived in Houghton for considerable periods. In 1545 a John Newton was taxed in the lay subsidy and appears to have been a yeoman or farmer of some considerable substance. Three Newtons were taxed in 1572 and again in 1664. (fn. 64) They included a John Newton who died in 1670, the most prosperous member of a family which had risen by the end of the 17th century to gentleman status. Newton's property was valued at nearly £700. His house was one of the largest in the village, with 3 hearths. An Anne Newton still lived in the village in 1765, (fn. 65) but the property of the family had evidently dwindled as she received an allotment of less than 8 a. in the inclosure award. Probably the most noteworthy Houghton family was that of the Heyricks or Erricks, who first appear in 1523, and from whom descended the well-known Leicester family. (fn. 66) There were still Heyricks in Houghton in 1670, but the family had disappeared from the village by 1765. The families of Swan and Belgrave both appeared in the 14th century, the former in 1301, the latter in 1315. (fn. 67) The Belgraves were considerable landowners and lived in the village until at least 1580, while the Swans lasted until after 1616. (fn. 68) A family called Ward was assessed in 1381, and there were still Wards in 1523. (fn. 69) The family of Tirlington or Therlington, first mentioned in 1545, (fn. 70) were prosperous yeomen in the 16th and 17th centuries. They apparently died out in the early 18th century. Of the families mentioned in the inclosure award the Coultons and Thompsons still lived in the village at the end of the 19th century. (fn. 71)

By the inclosure award of 1765 (fn. 72) the lord of the manor, the rector, the vicars of Worthington and Breedon-on-the-Hill, the Master of the Newarke Hospital, Leicester, and 36 other persons received allotments. George Thompson's allotment as lord of the manor was rather over 180 a., and the largest allotment, 414 a., was made to Richard Hill. Joseph Bunney received 178 a. and both Thompson and Bunney were among those who signed the petition for inclosure. (fn. 73) There were 5 other allotments of over 50 a. At the lower end of the scale, 16 persons received less than 10 a. The rector received a considerable quantity of glebe, including some in lieu of tithes which he should have been paid from previously inclosed lands.

During the earlier 19th century Houghton was a prosperous community. In 1801 there were 76 families living in 72 houses. (fn. 74) Of the 98 families in 1831 64 were engaged in agriculture of some form and 24 in trade or manufacturing. (fn. 75) After 1841 the population declined. (fn. 76) In 1846 there were 3 public houses and the village was able to support 2 bakers, one of whom was also the miller, and 2 butchers, 2 tailors, and 2 wheelwrights. Of the 19 farmers and graziers, only 5 owned the land that they farmed, the total of which was then estimated at 1,800 a. and was mainly arable. (fn. 77) In 1871 there were 25 farmers and graziers, and one of the 2 butchers and the village tailor also grazed animals. It seems that more of the land was being turned over to pasture. In 1877 there was a blacksmith and two jobbing smiths. (fn. 78) The number of farmers had been reduced to 6 by 1936, and the land was, in 1959, chiefly owned by the Co-operative Wholesale Society Ltd. and farmed from Stoughton Grange.

In 1301 the manorial estate included a windmill. (fn. 79) A windmill on the west side of Ingarsby Lane was demolished during the First World War, and its two millstones have been incorporated in the base of Houghton war memorial. A house was built on the site in 1921. (fn. 80) An earlier windmill site was visible on the south side of the main road opposite New Ingarsby until it was obliterated by ploughing in the 20th century. (fn. 81)


In the middle of the 18th century it appears to have been the custom for the Houghton vestry to elect annually three officials, a churchwarden, an overseer, and a constable, who administered the money raised by the rates. Between 1744 and 1764 both the churchwarden and the constable spent about £12 a year, and the overseer between £25 and £30. (fn. 82) The earliest surviving overseer's account contains a reference to a workhouse in 1778. (fn. 83) The amount spent on the poor in 1776 was £115 and in 1802-3 £181. In 1802-3 12 people were relieved in the workhouse, and 8 adults and 10 children received regular out-door relief. (fn. 84) Of the 28 surviving apprenticeship indentures 13 are for boys placed with frameworkknitters and 10 for girls placed in domestic service; the remaining boys went as farmers, tailors, or woolcombers. (fn. 85) The parish joined the Billesdon Union in 1836. (fn. 86) The surviving vestry minute book covers the years 1847-79, and the surveyors of the highways' accounts, 1777-1809. (fn. 87)

In 1894 a parish council was established with a membership of 5 councillors; (fn. 88) it had the same composition in 1958. (fn. 89)


The advowson of Houghton church belonged c. 1220 to the Benedictine abbey of St. Pierre-sur-Dives (Calvados). (fn. 90) It had probably been granted by a member of the Ferrers family, who had given lands in both Leicestershire and Warwickshire to the abbey. (fn. 91) In 1242 Richard Corbet presented to the living, but in that year or the next he restored the right of presentation to the abbey. (fn. 92) In 1266 Robert Corbet disputed the abbey's right to present to the church. He failed to attend the court to prosecute his case and judgement was given to the abbot. (fn. 93) Thereafter the right of presentation was exercised by the abbey's proctor in England, the Prior of Wolston (Warws.). Throughout the 14th century the patronage was exercised by the king, (fn. 94) during the time of the French wars, and in 1351 the presentation was made by the Abbot of Ramsey. (fn. 95) In 1396 the owners decided that the advowson had become so unprofitable to them that they sold it, together with all the endowments of Wolston, to the new Charterhouse of Coventry, founded in 1383 by William de Ferrers. (fn. 96) The Carthusians presented until the Dissolution, when the advowson passed to the Crown. It was sold in 1543 to Richard Andrews of Hailes (Glos.) and Nicholas Temple, with a licence to transfer it to Brian Cave of Leicester. (fn. 97) It remained in the possession of the Caves until some date between 1706 and 1724, when the presentation of the new rector was made by John Bradgate. (fn. 98) In 1738 Bradgate transferred the advowson to George Coulton (fn. 99) who was himself presented by Sir William Halford in 1746. (fn. 100) Richard Coulton (d. 1808) was presented on his petition, as patron, in 1773, (fn. 101) and the advowson passed to his widow's cousin, William Freer (1801-73), for many years the Clerk of the Peace of Leicestershire. (fn. 102) In 1855 Freer presented his son W. T. Freer (d. 1889) who remained rector until his death. (fn. 103) In 1957 the executors of W. T. Freer still held the advowson; his son-in-law was rector from 1894 to 1928, and his grandson who was instituted in 1948 was rector in 1958. (fn. 104) In 1954 Keyham, a chapelry of Rothley, was united with the ecclesiastical parish of Houghton. (fn. 105)

In 1217 the rectory was valued at 10 marks, but the value increased to 12 marks in 1254 and 18 marks in 1291. (fn. 106) It remained at this figure throughout the Middle Ages, and in 1535 was charged with a pension of £2 a year to the Prior of the Coventry Charterhouse. (fn. 107) An enquiry was made in 1260 whether a messuage and 2½ virgates in Houghton belonged to the church or the abbey of St. Pierresur-Dives, (fn. 108) but no other evidence of medieval glebe land has been discovered. In 1690 the rector's assets were the parsonage house with its outhouse and a tithe barn. (fn. 109) The glebe, which yielded £270 a year in 1831 (fn. 110) and was valued at £313 10s. in 1847, (fn. 111) was derived from allotments made in compensation for tithes in the inclosure award (1765), about 183 a. The glebe was let at 38s. an acre in 1957. The present Rectory is a large gabled house with stone dressings, standing south-west of the church. It was built in 1856 by the patron, William Freer. (fn. 112) The former Rectory, demolished in 1856, stood very near the west end of the church, its principal front facing south-west. It was a long building of two stories, consisting of a central block and two gabled cross-wings. Its windows were of late-17th-century type but the house itself may have been an older structure. (fn. 113) In 1690 the extensive outbuildings included a tithe barn of four bays. (fn. 114) Gate piers flanking the old entrance survive in the wall on the south-west side of the garden.

The church of ST. CATHERINE stands near the south-west end of the village street. It is built of ironstone with limestone dressings and consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, north and south porches, and a west tower surmounted by a spire. Thirteenth-century work in the church includes the remains of sedilia in the north aisle, the central window in the south wall of the south aisle, and probably the base of the chancel arch. The font, also of the 13th century, consists of a circular bowl on a square base, the latter surrounded by eight attached shafts, their capitals being alternately moulded and decorated with carved masks. (fn. 115) Much of the rest of the church dates from the 14th century. The side windows in the chancel have forking and reticulated tracery. The east window (probably renewed) has later flowing tracery. The tower was probably built late in the 14th century. The belfry windows contain flowing tracery and the tall octagonal spire rises from behind an embattled parapet. The 14th-century north arcade of four bays, which has quatrefoil piers with bold fillets, appears to have been raised in height when the south arcade was built at least 100 years later. The south arcade has composite piers, the mouldings facing north and south being carried down without capitals. The two flanking windows in the south wall of the aisle are 15th-century insertions, each having one jamb of the original 13th-century windows left in position. (fn. 116) Late Perpendicular windows have been inserted in the east ends of both aisles. The roofs of about the same date, supported on grotesque stone corbels, are largely original. The small south porch is probably of post-Reformation origin. The north porch was erected in 1874.

Archdeacons' reports in the 17th and 18th centuries (fn. 117) complained of many defects in the fabric and fittings, the most serious being dangerous cracks in the tower. In 1776 it was recommended that the tower arch be blocked and access to the belfry provided from the churchyard. (fn. 118) By 1832 the church was in good condition, having been recently repaired. (fn. 119) Further improvements were made during the next ten years and new fittings were provided. Some ancient carved pews, however, were still in existence in 1846. (fn. 120) The chancel was restored and partly rebuilt by the patron, William Freer, in 1857. (fn. 121) A medieval chancel screen probably disappeared at this time. In 1874 the north porch was built in memory of William Freer (d. 1873), the architect being Charles Kirk of Sleaford (Lincs.). (fn. 122) The chancel windows contain stained glass commemorating members of the Freer family. Considerable restoration work was carried out between 1896, when a new chancel screen was erected, and 1907. (fn. 123) The tower was restored in 1897 and the organ, which stands in front of the tower arch, was enlarged in the same year. The sedilia in the north aisle came to light in 1903 and in 1907 two small 14th-century windows were uncovered above the chancel arch. The south aisle was restored in 1902. Several stained glass windows were inserted in the church between 1897 and 1905. The war memorial altar in the north aisle was the gift of Myron Herrick (ambassador of the U.S.A. in Paris, 1914). (fn. 124) Near it is a stained glass window to the memory of a descendant of the Heyrick family who died in Minneapolis, U.S.A. The baptistery screen was given in 1938 in memory of Canon S. T. Winckley. (fn. 125) The lead on the aisle roofs was replaced by copper in 1952. (fn. 126)

A marble cartouche in the south aisle commemorates Mrs. Anne Bent, formerly Newton (d. 1677). Other mural tablets include those in memory of the Revd. R. Coulton (d. 1808), the wife of the Revd. J. S. Coleman (d. 1826), and members of the Sewell family (1827-61), the Thompson family (1751 and 1845), and the Freer and Winckley families (1889- 1925). (fn. 127)

There are five bells: (i) 1771; (ii) no date; (iii) 1706; (iv) 1638; (v) 1771. The third bell was given by William Thompson, lord of the manor, and until William Fortrey of King's Norton gave the first bell, the ring consisted of four bells only. (fn. 128) The church plate includes a silver cup dated about 1570, and another dated 1636 which was presented in 1683 by the rector, Joseph Birkhead. (fn. 129) The registers begin in 1653 and are complete.


Two Presbyterians and one Anabaptist were reported in Houghton at the beginning of the 18th century. (fn. 130) The house of Thomas Horsepool was registered as a meeting-place for dissenters in 1783 and 1789. (fn. 131) The houses of William Godard and Thomas Godard were similarly registered in 1802 and 1829 respectively, (fn. 132) and in 1829 there were estimated to be about 20 General Baptists in the parish. (fn. 133) There was a Baptist chapel in 1846 but none in 1877. (fn. 134) The present Wesleyan chapel in the centre of the village carries the date 1852; it is a square building of whitewashed brick with a hipped slate roof. The front has a round-headed central doorway flanked by round-headed windows.


In 1610 the parish clerk, Robert Newton, was reported to be keeping a school without a licence to teach. (fn. 135) This was probably for young children. In 1634 a graduate, Francis Riddington, made a subscription as schoolmaster at Houghton. (fn. 136) Nothing more is known about him.

In 1833 there were two private day schools, one with 24 children and the other begun in 1821 with 52. There were also two Sunday schools, one run by the church with 61 children and the other by the Baptist chapel with 11 children. (fn. 137) For the benefit of the church Sunday school, Mary Sewell by will dated 1832 bequeathed £10 which was invested; the interest in 1837 was 6s. 8d. (fn. 138)

Houghton National School was erected in 1856 largely at the expense of the patron of the church, William Freer, and his son the rector, W. T. Freer. (fn. 139) It is a red-brick building standing at the extreme south-west end of the village. When the school first received a parliamentary grant in 1873 (fn. 140) the average attendance was 26 children, but by 1878 this number had increased to 37 children. (fn. 141) In 1910 the average attendance was 35, and in 1933 43. (fn. 142) An infants' wing was added in 1904. (fn. 143) In 1937 the senior boys were taken to Thurnby, and in 1945 the senior girls, but since the reorganization of Thurnby school in 1955, children of senior age in Houghton have attended the Gartree School, Oadby. In 1949 Houghton (C. of E.) school accepted 'controlled' status under the local authority. (fn. 144) The average attendance of juniors and infants in 1957 was about 60. (fn. 145)


Tobias Heyrick, a former rector, (fn. 146) in 1627 left a rent-charge of £1 to be distributed annually to the poor. (fn. 147) This charge was redeemed in 1928 for £40 stock, which yielded 5s. in 1953. (fn. 148) St. John Houghton, by will dated 1653, left a rentcharge of 10s. for the same purpose. (fn. 149) The trustees received 10s. in respect of this gift in 1953. (fn. 150) William Bent of Amersham (Bucks.) in 1688 created a yearly rent-charge of £2 to be distributed among 8 poor householders of the parish, (fn. 151) but the total charge does not appear to have been paid regularly, (fn. 152) was not recorded in 1837, and was presumably lost before that date. (fn. 153)

Later donations to the poor were amalgamated in 1835. (fn. 154) In 1837 these totalled £65 in 7 separate gifts, 2 of which had been made before 1786-£5 by John Knight and £10 by the Revd. Joseph Birkhead. (fn. 155) This sum, called the charities of Knight and others, which included £19 19s. from Mary Sewell, (fn. 156) was invested, and in 1837 yielded £3 5s. income. (fn. 157) In 1953 it was represented by £73 6s. 10d. stock, yielding £1 16s. 8d.

William Smith, by will proved 1879, left £100 to be invested for the distribution of coal. This gift was represented in 1931 by £105 5s. 3d. stock, yielding £3 13s. 8d. Charlotte Smith, by will proved 1929, left £450 for the distribution of coal, flannel, and blankets. This had been invested by 1931 in £545 16s. stock, producing £21 6s. 6d. Between 1879 and 1912 two legacies of £10 each were left by Christopher and Anne Coleman for distribution to the poor. From 1912 these gifts were represented by £20 stock, which yielded 14s. in 1953. Sarah Jane Glover, by will proved in 1923, left £100 for the poor. This was represented in 1953 by £176 stock yielding £4 8s. income. (fn. 158)


  • 1. 'Houghton on the Hill, a Village Guide Book', prepared by Houghton Women's Institute, 1959.
  • 2. White, Dir. Leics. (1882), 292.
  • 3. W. G. Hoskins, Leics. (Making of Eng. Landscape), 5.
  • 4. Nichols, Leics. ii. 613.
  • 5. Ibid. 612, n. 30.
  • 6. See p. 160.
  • 7. 'Village Guide Book', 4.
  • 8. See pp. 161, 162.
  • 9. Leic. Mus., photographs taken 1952.
  • 10. Kelly's Dir. Leics. (1932), 111.
  • 11. Deeds penes Miss A. M. Kendall, present owner; memorial inscriptions in Houghton church (see Nichols, Leics. ii. 614). Mrs. Manton's daughter by a previous marriage was the wife of Wm. Thompson, lord of the manor.
  • 12. Deeds penes Miss Kendall; see p. 162.
  • 13. White, Dir. Leics. (1846), 506; (1863), 566.
  • 14. 'Village Guide Book', 14.
  • 15. Date tablets on houses.
  • 16. 'Village Guide Book', 9.
  • 17. V.C.H. Leics. iii. 157.
  • 18. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 389-90.
  • 19. V.C.H. Leics. iii. 166, 168, 170, 173.
  • 20. Assoc. Archit. Soc. Rep. & Papers, xxii. 287.
  • 21. V.C.H. Leics. iii. 189, 207.
  • 22. Ibid. 218, 228-30.
  • 23. Ibid. i. 320.
  • 24. Bk. of Fees, 520, 947. Nichols, Leics. ii. 611, says without giving any evidence that after the Conquest the Earl of Leicester held Houghton and enfeoffed Arnold DuBois.
  • 25. Complete Peerage, s.w. Derby, Ferrers of Groby; Nichols, Leics. ii. 612.
  • 26. Bk. of Fees, 520, 947.
  • 27. Complete Peerage, ii. 202n.
  • 28. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 388.
  • 29. Nichols, Leics. ii. 612.
  • 30. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 386-8.
  • 31. Nichols, Leics. ii. 612; Complete Peerage, v. 87-90.
  • 32. Nichols, Leics. ii. 612.
  • 33. Complete Peerage, xii(2), 947.
  • 34. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 390.
  • 35. C.P. 25(2)/52/374; C.P. 25(2)/24/153, 31 Hen. VIII East.; C.P. 25(2)/2570/4 Eliz. East.
  • 36. C 142/677/10, which recites several deeds; cf. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 393-4.
  • 37. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 393.
  • 38. Ibid. 393-4.
  • 39. Ibid. 394-5.
  • 40. C.P. 25(2)/445/1 Chas. I Hil.
  • 41. C.P. 25(2)/680/34 Chas. II East.
  • 42. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 396. The family had owned land in Houghton in 1654: Leic. City Mun. Room, 1 D.31/64.
  • 43. C.P. 25(2)/1348/46 Geo. III Mich.
  • 44. Ex inf. Co-operative Wholesale Society Ltd., Manchester; see p. 328.
  • 45. Nichols, Leics. ii. 612.
  • 46. E. M. Thompson, Carth. Order in Eng. 212; this land had originally been the property of the French monastery of St. Pierre-sur-Dives (Calvados).
  • 47. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii. 53.
  • 48. Nichols, Leics. ii. 612.
  • 49. 38th Dep. Kpr's. Rep. 659.
  • 50. Cal. Pat. 1301-7, 444.
  • 51. Cal. Chart. R. 1327-41, 475.
  • 52. V.C.H. Leics. i. 320.
  • 53. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 387.
  • 54. Nichols, Leics. ii. 611-12.
  • 55. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 389-90.
  • 56. Nichols, Leics. ii. 612.
  • 57. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 387.
  • 58. Ibid. 389; Hilton, Econ. Devt. Leics. Estates, 137.
  • 59. Nichols, Leics. ii. 612.
  • 60. Leic. City Mun. Room, 20 D.52/24/533.
  • 61. Ibid. 1 D.32/71.
  • 62. L.R.O. Houghton Inclosure Award.
  • 63. Ibid. Inventories, 1670.
  • 64. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 391-2, 396.
  • 65. L.R.O. Houghton Inclosure Award.
  • 66. Nichols, Leics. ii. 615-36*; Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 391.
  • 67. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 387, 388.
  • 68. Ibid. 392; C 142/683/201.
  • 69. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 389, 391.
  • 70. Ibid. 391.
  • 71. White, Dir. Leics. (1882), 292.
  • 72. L.R.O. Houghton Inclosure Award.
  • 73. C.J. xxx. 141.
  • 74. Census, 1801, Population Enumeration Abstract, 176.
  • 75. Census, 1831, ibid. 312; some at least of these were probably framework-knitters (e.g. Thomas Moor, will proved 1795: Leic. City Mun. Room, 10 D.52/74).
  • 76. See p. 158.
  • 77. White, Dir. Leics. (1846), 506-7.
  • 78. Ibid. (1877), 242-3.
  • 79. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 387.
  • 80. 'Village Guide Book', 5.
  • 81. Ibid.
  • 82. Houghton par. recs. in chest in church, General Parish and Charity Accts. 1682-1775.
  • 83. Ibid. Overseers' Accts. 1778-93; later account books are for 1800-33 and 1813-34; the Constables' Accts. run from 1786 to 1840, and the Churchwardens' from 1777 to 1872.
  • 84. Poor Law Abstract, 1803, 256-7.
  • 85. Houghton par. recs.; there are also removal orders, 1774-1833, and settlement certificates, 1760-1811.
  • 86. White, Dir. Leics. (1846), 468.
  • 87. Houghton par. recs.
  • 88. L.R.O. Co. Counc. Order, Local Govt. Act, 1894.
  • 89. Ex inf. Co. Registration Office.
  • 90. Rot. Hugonis de Welles, ed. W. P. W. Phillimore, i. 266.
  • 91. Cal. Doc. France, ed. Round, 203.
  • 92. Rot. R. Grosseteste, ed. F. N. Davis, 419; Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 385.
  • 93. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 386.
  • 94. Cal. Pat. 1338-40, 241.
  • 95. Ibid. 1350-4, 114.
  • 96. E. M. Thompson, Carthusian Order in Eng. 212.
  • 97. L. & P. Henry VIII, xviii (1), pp. 530-1.
  • 98. Nichols, Leics. ii. 613.
  • 99. C.P. 25(2)/1152/11 & 12 Geo. III Trin.
  • 100. Nichols, Leics. ii. 613.
  • 101. Ibid.
  • 102. White, Dir. Leics. (1846), 506.
  • 103. Burke, Land. Gent. (1952), 925.
  • 104. Leic. Dioc. Cal. (1957), 85; ex inf. the Revd. Freer Winckley.
  • 105. Lond. Gaz. 1954, pp. 2289-90.
  • 106. Val. of Norw. ed. W. E. Lunt, 533; Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 64.
  • 107. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii. 53.
  • 108. Farnham, Leics. Notes, ii. 386; for other 13th-cent. disputes, see ibid. 387.
  • 109. Leic. City Mun. Room, 1 D.41/2/235.
  • 110. White, Dir. Leics. (1846), 506.
  • 111. Leic. City Mun. Room, 12 D.43/116/5.
  • 112. Ex inf. the Revd. Freer Winckley.
  • 113. Ex inf. Col. C. E. J. Freer, who possesses a watercolour drawing of the old house.
  • 114. Leic. City Mun. Room, 1 D.41/2/325.
  • 115. Illustrated in Nichols, Leics. ii, plate civ.
  • 116. T.L.A.S. x. 254.
  • 117. Leic. City Mun. Room, 1 D.41/17/7, f. 20; /18/10, f. 1; /18/18e; /18/21; /18/22.
  • 118. Ibid. /18/21.
  • 119. Ibid. 245'50/3.
  • 120. Ibid.; White, Dir. Leics. (1846), 506.
  • 121. Inscription on piscina in chancel.
  • 122. Inscription in porch; White, Dir. Leics. (1877), 243.
  • 123. T.L.A.S. viii. 248, 356; ix. 149-50, 233; x. 45, 106, 111; inscriptions in church.
  • 124. Inscription on screen.
  • 125. Ex inf. the Revd. Freer Winckley.
  • 126. Tablet in south aisle.
  • 127. Nichols gives the inscriptions on the many floor slabs in the church in his time: Leics. ii. 614.
  • 128. North, Ch. Bells Leics. 190.
  • 129. Trollope, Ch. Plate Leics. i. 210.
  • 130. Assoc. Archit. Soc. Rep. & Papers, xxii. 287.
  • 131. L.R.O. Roll of Dissenters' Meeting-houses, m. 1.
  • 132. Leic. City Mun. Room, 1 D.41/44/135, 600.
  • 133. L.R.O. Return of Places of Worship not of the Church of England, 1829.
  • 134. White, Dir. Leics. (1846), 506; (1877), 242. The position of the building is unknown: 'Village Guide Book', 6.
  • 135. Assoc. Archit. Soc. Rep. & Papers, xxii. 128.
  • 136. Leic. City Mun. Room, 1 D.41/34/1; Brit. Jnl. Educ. Studies, iii. 52.
  • 137. Educ. Enquiry Abstract, 1835, 487; Leic. City Mun. Room, 13 D.45/1.
  • 138. 32nd Rep. Com. Char. Pt. 5, 238.
  • 139. White, Dir. Leics. (1877), 243; ex inf. the Revd. Freer Winckley.
  • 140. Rep. of Educ. Cttee. of Counc. 1873-4 [C. 1109-I], p. 365, H.C. (1874), xviii.
  • 141. Ibid. 1878-9 [C. 2342-I], p. 939, H.C. (1878-9), xxiii.
  • 142. Leic. Co. Counc. Mins. 11 May 1910; Leics. Educ. Cttee. Survey of Small Schs. and Depts. 1933.
  • 143. Ex inf. the Revd. Freer Winckley, who laid the foundation stone.
  • 144. Ex inf. Co. Educ. Offices.
  • 145. Ex inf. the Revd. Freer Winckley.
  • 146. Col. C. E. J. Freer possesses a portrait of Heyrick.
  • 147. 32nd Rep. Com. Char. Pt. 5, 237.
  • 148. Char. Com. files, G. 192.
  • 149. 32nd Rep. Com. Char. Pt. 5, 237-8.
  • 150. Char. Com. files, G. 192.
  • 151. Leic. City Mun. Room, 13 D.45/1.
  • 152. Houghton par. recs. Churchwardens' Accts. 1682- 1775.
  • 153. 32nd Rep. Com. Char. Pt. 5, 237-8.
  • 154. Char. Com. files, G. 192.
  • 155. Nichols, Leics. i (Charities), p. 27.
  • 156. See p. 162.
  • 157. 32nd Rep. Com. Char. Pt. 5, 238.
  • 158. Char. Com. files, G. 192; 88744, 111624.