Pages 270-275

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

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The parish of Owston lies in the uplands of east Leicestershire, twelve miles east of Leicester. It includes the townships and former chapelries of Newbold-formerly known as Newbold Saucey- and North Marefield, both of them deserted villages. (fn. 1) The area of the parish is 3,075 a.

Owston is in the heart of the uplands, and rivers rising in the parish flow both to the east and the west: to the east the River Gwash, which eventually joins the Welland, to the west a tributary of the Wreake. Within Owston a number of small streams feed these rivers. The territory of Owston itself is compact, including the uppermost parts of the valleys of both rivers as well as the high ground between them; the township of North Marefield forms a long westward tongue along the south bank of the tributary of the Wreake, while Newbold forms a bulge on the north side of that river. Much of the parish boundary follows streams and field boundaries, but it is formed by stretches of road and trackway on the south-west and east, and by the edge of Owston Woods in the south. The ground rises from between 300 and 500 ft. near the rivers to over 600 ft. in a large area in the south of the parish. It is on this highest ridge that much of Owston Woods lies. The soil is loam overlying clay but the parish includes a bank of sand and gravel and there were formerly pits for sand, gravel, and clay. Owston brickyard, a mile north-east of the village, was still used about 1900 but was disused by 1928. (fn. 2)

Owston is distant from any major road: the roads from Leicester to Uppingham and Melton Mowbray to Uppingham are four miles to the south-west and north-east. The chief roads in the parish are that from Somerby in the north to Loddington in the south, and that from Knossington in the east to Twyford in the west. There are numerous footpaths, bridle-roads, and tracks in the parish, at least three of them running through the sites of the former villages of Newbold and North Marefield. The railway lines from Melton Mowbray to Leicester and Market Harborough cross the western extremity of the parish in North Marefield where a viaduct carries them over the river.

The village of Owston lies along one street, with a back lane, called Cox's Lane, on the north. The old school stands on the north-east side of the street, the church, former Vicarage, and the manor-house on the south-west. Just to the south-west of the village are a pond and earthworks which may represent the fishponds of Owston Abbey. (fn. 3) Mounds and depressions in the fields to the west and north of the church may also indicate the site of former buildings connected with the abbey. Apart from the church, no large fragments of the abbey survive, although the old Vicarage contains two 15th-century door arches which probably came from the conventual buildings. In 1730 Samuel Buck engraved a view of the abbey, showing the church and the very fine gatehouse which then survived, standing to the south-west of the church with a small house built at its south-east corner; the gatehouse still stood in 1793, but was demolished shortly afterwards and the site planted with fruit trees. (fn. 4) In 1794 the archdeacon ordered at his visitation that the boundaries of the churchyard were to be ascertained and fenced, (fn. 5) perhaps because the destruction of the gatehouse had caused the temporary loss of the boundaries.

The former Vicarage, now known as The Priory, stands east of the church and is a much-altered twostoried house of ironstone and limestone, apparently dating in the main from the mid-17th century. A few mullioned windows survive and a dormer on the south side carries a sundial and a weathered inscription. Earlier masonry is visible in the footings below the east wall and in the service wing. The two 15thcentury moulded doorways, which are thought to have belonged to the buildings of Owston Abbey, have been reset in the north and south walls of the house. Two large bay windows are 19th-century additions. Part of the boundary wall of the abbey precincts survives as a retaining wall at the west end of the garden.

The manor-house faces the village street to the south-east of the church. It is a two-storied ironstone house with limestone dressings, dating from the earlier 18th century and consisting of a central block and two projecting rear wings. The windows, which have prominent key-blocks, were altered c. 1800 to accommodate sashes; at about the same time a threesided projecting bay was inserted between the wings. The farm buildings, mostly of the late 18th century, include a small brick dovecot.

Corn Close Farm, Whitehouse Farm, and Hill Top Farm are at the south-west end of the village. Corn Close Farm dates from the early 18th century and has an altered ironstone barn of that period. The farm-house walls, of brick and modern stucco, were evidently raised one story in the late 18th century or early nineteenth. Whitehouse Farm, which has a lower story of ironstone, may be of 17th-century origin but was largely rebuilt in the early 18th century. Hill Top Farm is an 18th-century ironstone building with a later brick wing.

Cox's Lane contains altered brick and ironstone cottages of the early 18th century. The village hall, opened in 1950, occupies the site of a demolished row. Two pairs of cottages at the junction of the lane and the village street were built by Frederick Palmer and are dated 1862 and 1867. A pump nearby was installed in 1907 in memory of Frederick and Mary Palmer. The only modern houses in the village are two of timber erected after the Second World War.

There are several scattered farm-houses in Owston, none of which appears to date from before the late 18th century. They include Owston Grange, Owston Lodge, and Furze Hill Farm.

There was a recorded population of 22 in Owston and Newbold in 1086 (fn. 6) but little is known of the size of the medieval village. There were at least 35 houses in Owston in 1348 (fn. 7) and there were 31 households in 1563. (fn. 8) In 1603 there were 152 communicants, in 1676, 131. There were 27 households in 1670. (fn. 9) In the early 18th century 39 families were recorded. (fn. 10) The population was 176 in 1801; it rose to a maximum of 216 in 1811 but thereafter gradually fell. In 1951 there were 110 inhabitants. (fn. 11)

The former chapelry of Newbold was apparently at one time a substantial hamlet: in 1334 it was assessed at 19s. 6d. compared with £1 13s. 6d. for Owston itself. (fn. 12) Separate figures for Newbold are rarely given, but 9 households were assessed for the hearth tax in 1670 compared with 38 in Owston, and in 1841 there were 24 inhabitants. (fn. 13) In 1956 there was a large stone-built farm-house, one smaller house, and a large 19th-century brick farm-house.

The hamlet of North Marefield has been almost completely deserted. Only one house remained near the site in the 20th century and the name is no longer in use: by the late 18th century it had become 'Old Marefield' (fn. 14) and by the 20th the name 'Marefield' was applied, without distinction, to the neighbouring hamlet which had formerly been South Marefield. The site of North Marefield was clearly marked in 1940 by mounds and depressions in a field a little to the west of the minor road from (South) Marefield to Burrough on the Hill. A moated site nearby, mentioned by Nichols, may have been a fishpond. (fn. 15) There is no evidence by which the size of the hamlet might be judged.


Before 1066 the manor of OWSTON was held by Turchil, but by 1086 it had passed to the Countess Judith, from whom it was held by an under-tenant named Grimbald. (fn. 16) Like much of Judith's property the manor descended by the early 12th century to her son-in-law David, King of Scotland. (fn. 17) In 1161 the manor and the whole village were granted by the under-tenant, Robert Grimbald, a descendant of the Domesday tenant, to his newlyfounded abbey at Owston and the abbey remained the owner of the manor until the Dissolution. (fn. 18) In 1537 the site of the abbey was leased to Roger Ratcliffe, a member of the royal household. (fn. 19) In 1538 the reversion of the site and the manor of Owston were granted by the king to John Harrington, one of his esquires, afterwards knighted. (fn. 20) It remained in his family until 1614 when, on the death of John, Lord Harrington, the property was inherited first by his sister Lucy, Countess of Bedford (d. 1627), and then by his sister Frances, Lady Chichester. (fn. 21) Her daughter Anne took the manor of Owston into the Bruce family upon her marriage with Thomas, Lord Bruce, and it was inherited by their son Robert, Earl of Ailesbury. Nichols seems to be mistaken in supposing that there were two manors, for it is this manor which was sold in 1696 to Matthew Johnson, from whom it descended before 1775 to the Palmer family of Withcote, who were still the lords of the manor at the end of the 19th century. (fn. 22) The Owston estate was sold in 1926 (fn. 23) and the manorial rights lapsed.


Not later than 1166, Ansketil (de Saucy) granted half of Newbold Saucey to Robert son of Osmund; Ansketil's overlord was Ives de Harcourt and his family probably came from La Saussaye (Eure), a fief of the Norman branch of the Harcourts. (fn. 24) Robert son of Osmund later granted the property to Owston Abbey. (fn. 25) In 1279 the 10 virgates of which Newbold consisted were held by John de Raveniston, from Richard Harcourt as tenant-inchief, by Owston Abbey, and by Nicholas Braken. (fn. 26) In 1345 Hugh Newbold held 1/12 knight's fee in Newbold as part of the Harcourt fee. (fn. 27) Several grants of land in Newbold were made to the abbey on different occasions. (fn. 28) In 1540 part at least of the abbey's property there was granted to Thomas Horseman of the royal household, (fn. 29) but the whole of Newbold seems shortly afterwards to have passed to the heirs of John Harrington, lord of Owston manor. In 1614 when John, Lord Harrington, died he held Newbold in chief from the king (fn. 30) and it thenceforth descended with the manor of Owston. (fn. 31)

In 1086 the 3 carucates of land in North Marefield belonged to the king as part of his soke of Rothley. (fn. 32) It was returned as part of the soke in 1129-30 (fn. 33) and in about 1226 was probably leased by one Llewelyn. (fn. 34) In 1231, with most of Rothley, it was granted to the preceptory of Rothley. (fn. 35) In 1313 it passed, with most of the Templars' property, to the Hospitallers of Dalby and continued in the possession of Dalby Preceptory until its dissolution in 1540. In 1545 the lands in North Marefield which had belonged to the Hospitallers were granted to John Broxholme and John Bellowe. (fn. 36) North Marefield seems later to have passed into the possession of the owners of Owston manor (fn. 37) and subsequently to have been transferred to the Earl of Winchilsea, who was the owner in 1830. (fn. 38)


In 1086 there were 7 carucates of land in Owston, which before the Conquest had supported 12 ploughs. On Grimbald's demesne there were 2 ploughs in 1086 and 15 villeins and 3 bordars worked a further 6 ploughs. A Frenchman had one plough and 3 bordars. There were 30a. of meadow and a stretch of woodland measuring 5 furlongs by one furlong. The value of the whole estate had been raised from 50s. before 1066 to £3. (fn. 39)

The abbey of Owston acquired the whole village in 1161 and it remained the principal demesne manor of the house up to the Dissolution. In 1279 the abbey's demesne amounted to about 300 a. of arable, together with some meadow, and there were 200 a. in villeinage. (fn. 40) Most of this land seems to have been intensively cultivated by peasants who were for the most part paid in money and who did not owe labour services as well as rent. (fn. 41) In 1348 the sale of produce brought in 27 per cent. of the total income which the abbey received from all its estates. Shortly after this date a survey drawn up after the Black Death shows that of the 272 a. of arable at Owston, only 120 a. were in cultivation, valued at 2½d. an acre, and the rest, which were uncultivated, were valued only for agistment. (fn. 42)

The decay reflected in this survey seems to have been checked by the end of the century, when the estate was being farmed by famuli. There were 13 of these in 1363, 22 in 1386, and 23 in 1388- shepherds, ploughmen, cowherds, carters, and others, all receiving money wages and probably some wages in kind. (fn. 43) In 1380 there was only one villein in Owston and the rest of the occupants who held land, 11 in all, paid rent in money. In addition, there were 5 widows, 6 tradesmen and artisans, and 36 wage-workers. The latter included the famuli whose names appear in the abbey's estate accounts, (fn. 44) as well as other wage-workers whose work was not purely agricultural and who lived in the village rather than at the manor. In 1348 35 houses in the village were let by the abbey: 10 were described as messuages and 25 as cottages, the latter perhaps occupied by the wage-workers. (fn. 45)

The medieval records of Owston Abbey yield little early evidence of inclosure, except that the abbot had a park 'from ancient times', mentioned in 1279 (fn. 46) and again after the Black Death when it was valued only as a summer pasture. (fn. 47) During the late 15th century, or in the early 16th, the abbey is known to have inclosed 21.6 per cent., or 137 a., of its land. (fn. 48) The inclosure was continued later in the 16th century. In 1563 Sir James Harrington converted 20 a. of arable to pasture and was cited before the inclosure commission of 1565 for so doing, (fn. 49) and between 1595 and 1604 5 tenants inclosed more than 59 a. (fn. 50) Thus nearly 220 a. are known to have been inclosed, nearly half the extent of the arable land which the abbey held in the 14th century and which had passed to the ownership of the Harringtons. The rest of the arable was probably inclosed without attracting attention. The inclosure caused no depopulation for there were still 31 households in 1563 and 38 in 1670. (fn. 51) Apart from the farmland there was apparently still a considerable amount of woodland in the 16th century. (fn. 52)

In the 18th century most of the land remained the property of the lord of the manor. In 1775 Sir Thomas Palmer had 24 tenants, and although the number was reduced, partly by some sale of land, to 8 in 1814, there were 18 in 1826. (fn. 53) In 1932 there were 6 farmers and 11 graziers. (fn. 54) The land was mostly under pasture in the 19th and 20th centuries, but there were about 300 a. of arable in 1846 and about 360 a. in 1863. (fn. 55) Owston has always been a predominantly agricultural village, with a few people in the usual village crafts and trades. There was also an inn, known as the 'Dog and Gun' in 1846 and 'Palmer's Arms' in 1863. (fn. 56)

The founder of Owston Abbey is said to have given half his mill at Owston to Lincoln Cathedral as a recompense for any damage which the cathedral might suffer as a result of the establishment of the abbey. (fn. 57) Nothing further is known of it.

Newbold is mentioned neither in Domesday Book nor in the Leicestershire Survey, but there was a chapel there in the late 12th century: it may have been a 12th-century settlement-a new hamlet as its name suggests. Nothing certain is known of the hamlet's medieval agriculture, though there may have been open-field cultivation as is suggested by Simon de Saucy's confirmation of the gift of selions, apparently in Newbold, to Owston Abbey. (fn. 58) By the end of the 18th century there were only 3 houses in Newbold; (fn. 59) the land was farmed by 3 men in 1846, 2 in 1861, and one in 1932. (fn. 60)

Owston Abbey had a mill in Newbold in 1252. (fn. 61) It was stated in a survey made after the Black Death to be broken down and worth nothing. (fn. 62)

In 1086 North Marefield consisted of 3 carucates of land and 8 a. of meadow. (fn. 63) Soon after they came into possession of North Marefield in 1231, the Templars had 16 holdings there totalling about 4 carucates of land. Their rental was then 56s. 10d., but they intended to increase it to 65s. 7d. (fn. 64) In 1275-6 the Templars were stated to have 48s. 9d. rent in North Marefield. (fn. 65) In 1279 they held ½ carucate and 2½ bovates in demesne and 2 carucates and 5 5/6 bovates on lease. (fn. 66) North Marefield is not separated from South Marefield in the poll tax return of 1381 (fn. 67) and it is impossible to tell when the depopulation of the village took place.

In 1502 the Abbot of Owston was paying 50s. a year for 'all pastures and lands' in North Marefield, (fn. 68) leased from Dalby Preceptory. An Owston rental of the time of Henry VIII states that 'Marefield Close' was being leased by the abbey for £26 13s. 4d. a year, or 54.9 per cent. of the total of leased demesne. (fn. 69) In 1463 John Hortop the elder, who may have been leasing North Marefield from the abbey, sued 4 husbandmen for chasing 100 of his sheep there, but the defendants could not be found. Some if not all of the township had perhaps been converted to pasture by this time. (fn. 70)


Churchwardens' accounts survive for 1796, 1803, 1804-9, and 1812- 1902, and overseers' accounts for 1800-31. There was apparently only one churchwarden and one overseer. (fn. 71) There was a workhouse in Owston by 1776, when £48 was spent on the relief of the poor. (fn. 72) In 1802-3 £49 was spent on 4 persons in the workhouse, and 9 adults and 5 children were given outrelief at a cost of £108. (fn. 73) After 1808 the overseers' expenditure always exceeded £200; in 1813 it reached £469 and was usually over £300 during the following 10 years. Annual agreements for the conduct of the workhouse by a master have survived for 1803-9 and 1815. The inhabitants of Owston and Newbold met to appoint the master who was to provide food, board, and employment for the inmates; his salary was £70 in 1803, £60 in 1806, £80 in 1808, and £120 in 1809. (fn. 74) In 1836 Owston was placed in Billesdon Union. (fn. 75)


The church of Owston was in existence by 1161 when it formed part of Robert Grimbald's foundation endowment of Owston Abbey. (fn. 76) The two subordinate chapels of Owston-Newbold Saucey and North Marefield-may also have been part of that endowment. The chapel at Newbold was in existence by 1166, when it was confirmed to Owston Abbey. (fn. 77) A 14th-century inquisition stated that the erection of the chapel had been a temporary measure during Stephen's reign when the inhabitants of the chapelry were unable to get to the church at Owston. In 1353 the abbot and convent of Owston complained that the chapel was being kept open to the prejudice of the rights of the mother church. A settlement of this dispute was made in 1361: the village was allowed to celebrate 4 Masses a week during the lifetime of one John de Coventry as a recompence for his many services to the abbey, but the privilege of having a chapel in Newbold was not to be claimed by his heirs. (fn. 78) The chapel of North Marefield was also in existence by 1166. It is not, however, mentioned in the matriculus of Bishop Hugh of Welles, at least by name. In 1254, after a dispute with the abbey, the conditions under which services were to be held at North Marefield were set out: on the major feast days the inhabitants of the chapelry were to go to the mother church at Owston for services and on other fixed days the canons of Owston were to be responsible for holding services in the chapel. (fn. 79) The chapel was confirmed to Owston in 1353. (fn. 80) Nothing further is known of either chapel and the inhabitants of the townships were later served by the mother church. The church was appropriated after its gift to the abbey and a vicarage was ordained in 1220. (fn. 81) By the 19th century the living was held together with that of neighbouring Withcote but the incumbent remained resident at Owston. (fn. 82) In 1940 the incumbent lived at Pickwell, (fn. 83) and in 1957 at Knossington.

The patronage was held by the abbey until the Dissolution when it passed to Roger Ratcliffe and then to John Harrington; it subsequently descended with the manor. In 1928 it was in the gift of the Revd. W. F. Buttle and in 1932 in that of the Revd. P. E. Warrington. (fn. 84) In 1954 the patronage was exercised by the Martyrs' Memorial and Church of England Trust. (fn. 85)

The rectory was valued at £7 6s. 8d. in 1217, £10 in 1254, £22 in 1291, (fn. 86) and £10 in 1535. (fn. 87) The vicar received no share of the value of the benefice; when the vicarage was ordained in 1220 it was provided that he should receive a stipend of £1 a year and that he should eat at the canons' table and have forage for his horse. (fn. 88) In 1626 the vicar's stipend, then £20, was paid by the impropriator, Lord Bruce. (fn. 89) In 1662 the Earl of Elgin, then lord of the manor, added £34, the whole of the stipend being charged on certain lands called Banbrowers. (fn. 90) In 1717 the benefice was called a donative, the stipend to be paid by the lord of the manor. (fn. 91) The living was worth £40 net in 1719. (fn. 92) It was made a perpetual curacy and augmented in 1770 by £200 from Queen Anne's Bounty and £200 from the patron, Edward Palmer. Its value in 1831 was £80, and in 1928, £65. (fn. 93)

All the tithes belonged to Owston Abbey from the reign of Henry II until the Dissolution when they were granted away with the abbey's land. (fn. 94) Throughout the 19th century Owston had 16 a. of glebe in the parish of Wymondham, (fn. 95) 8 miles to the northeast; it had been purchased in 1774 and was let for £25 in 1776 and £50 in 1816. (fn. 96)

The church of ST. ANDREW consists of nave and chancel with no structural division between them, north aisle, and north-west tower. The walls are of ironstone with some limestone facings and have been patched with a mixture of ironstone and limestone squared rubble. Post-Reformation changes as well as 18th- and 19th-century restorations have so obscured the history of the fabric that it is hard to determine the relationship between the former abbey church and the present one. It has been suggested that the existing building represents only the chancel and north chapel of the abbey church. (fn. 97) On the other hand the sharp fall in ground level at the west end of the present nave would seem to preclude an extension in this direction. It is possible that there was formerly a chancel extending to the east of the present church; in 1556 the chancel was said to be 'ruined' (fn. 98) and it may have been subsequently demolished. This suggestion is supported by the fact that there is no medieval work in the upper part of the existing east wall which was apparently without a window until the 19th century. (fn. 99) The lower courses of the wall, which appear to be original, may have formed a screen only. The 15th-century gatehouse to the abbey precincts, demolished before the end of the 18th century, adjoined the present church at its south-west angle. (fn. 100)

The round-arched south doorway and a considerable part of the internal masonry of the south wall appear to date from the late 12th century. Towards the middle of the 13th century the north aisle, lower than at present, was built, together with the arcade of two wide arches separating it from the nave. This arcade has circular piers, semi-circular responds, 'water-holding' bases, and broach stops to the two chamfered orders of the pointed arches. The 13th-century roof line can be seen at the west end of the aisle. A north doorway, placed near the west end of the north wall and leading into a porch formed by the base of the tower, is of mid-13thcentury date. It has a pointed arch of two orders and a single shaft with a foliated capital to each of the two external jambs. There is a tall lancet window in the west wall of the aisle and the masonry of this wall forms a straight joint with that of the nave. Also in the 13th century the south wall of the nave was heightened and rebuilt at its west end. The east wall of the church, behind the present altar, appears to have lower courses which are contemporary with the north arcade. Near its south end is a defaced piscina and near its north end a blocked doorway; before the 19th century this doorway had a Tudor arch externally. (fn. 101)

Alterations to the north aisle and the addition of the tower appear to date from the 14th century. The tower rises in two stages to an embattled parapet behind which is a small octagonal spire. The diagonal buttresses are clearly later additions and the parapet and spire may be of the 15th century or later. The entrance arch to the tower, originally without a door, is of three chamfered orders springing from moulded capitals. The south wall of the tower is carried by an arch and not by the aisle wall which it abuts. The floor level of the clock chamber has been altered and an access stair with a doorway from the aisle has been blocked. The dates of the many alterations to the aisle are difficult to determine. A square-headed window appears to be of the later 14th century and it may have been at the same period that the aisle was heightened and given a roof of flatter pitch. A tomb recess in the north wall, surmounted by a crocketted and pinnacled arch, is also apparently of the 14th century; a stone effigy recorded here in 1793 has disappeared. (fn. 102) The east end of the aisle, now a vestry, has been rebuilt above its lower rubble courses with masonry which includes re-used 15th-century fragments. The east doorway, of Tudor character, was inserted in the 19th century and may have come from the east wall of the nave (see above).

The church was heightened again in the late 15th or early 16th century. The nave roof of five bays dates from c. 1500; it has arch-braced tie beams on which stand king posts with raked struts to the heavy side purlins. The two eastern bays are modern, as is the roof above the north aisle. Also in about 1500 was built the large gatehouse block which formerly adjoined the south-west corner of the nave. Part of a limestone jamb, carved with traceried panels, is incorporated in a buttress at this angle; if in situ it may have belonged to the gatehouse. Several windows in the church are of 15th-century type, but in general the windows have been so much altered and restored that their original date must remain doubtful. The octagonal font has carved panels and is probably 15th-century work.

The church seems to have been in good repair when the archdeacon made his visitation in 1776, (fn. 103) but for some reason the parishioners went to 'extraordinary expenses' in 1791-3 to repair and almost rebuild the church. (fn. 104) Lead rainwater heads and pipes have survived from the 18th-century restoration. In 1832 the building was said to be in a good state (fn. 105) but had deteriorated by 1842 when there was a tree growing from the top of the tower, which was also cracked at its south-west angle. (fn. 106) The large east window and most of the east wall of the church date from the late 19th century and the Perpendicular west window was probably restored c. 1864 when its memorial stained glass to Henry and Elizabeth Palmer was inserted. Most of the fittings date from 1860-1 when the church was restored under the direction of Henry Goddard of Leicester at a cost of £1,205. At this restoration the floor was relaid, the north aisle was re-roofed, windows were altered, and the pulpit, pews, screens, and a gallery were cleared away. Work on the tower included repairs to the bells, alterations of floor levels, and the completion of the spire. (fn. 107)

There are wall tablets in the aisle to the Revd. Charles Dickinson (d. 1786), Edward Barnard of Kibworth Harcourt (d. 1816), and Thomas Cole (d. 1813). On the external face of the north wall are tablets to the Revd. Everard Breton (d. 1755) and the Revd. Joseph Cragg (d. 1827). Slabs in the aisle are to members of the Green, Barnard, and Cole families. Tablets in the nave include those to John Heycock (d. 1823) and his wife and to Richard Raworth (d. 1795). A portion of a slab with an indent for a brass is reset in a small stone building immediately west of the church.

There are 3 bells: (i) 1754, by Thomas Hedderly; (ii) 1699, by John Fawkes and Toby Norris; (iii) 1860, by John Taylor and Co. of Loughborough. (fn. 108) In 1860-1 the bells were recast and re-hung by John Taylor and Co. (fn. 109) There is no ancient plate. The early parish registers cover the years 1753-73 for baptisms and burials and 1753-1810 for marriages. (fn. 110)


In 1817 the house of Anne Collett of Owston was licensed as a meeting-house for dissenters. (fn. 111) Other houses were licensed in 1818 and 1825, (fn. 112) and there were said to be 10 Wesleyans in the parish in 1829. (fn. 113) There has never been a permanent chapel in Owston.


At an unknown date in the 18th century Matthew Johnson bequeathed a yearly sum of £3 for the payment of a schoolmaster to teach poor children. (fn. 114) This was a voluntary payment which was continued by successive lords of the manor until the 1830's. (fn. 115) By 1838 it had been discontinued and was not revived. (fn. 116) In 1833 two day schools were attended by 10 boys and 10 girls, and a Sunday school by 20 girls and 15 boys; both were supported by subscription. (fn. 117) The National school was built by Frederick Palmer of Withcote in 1856. (fn. 118) In 1906 the school was closed and the children attended the schools first of Somerby and from 1908 of Knossington. (fn. 119) In 1912 the county education committee announced that it was prepared to re-open the school if the parish was prepared to use it. (fn. 120) This was done. The school was purchased by the diocesan education committee in 1926 after the sale of the Owston estate, (fn. 121) and in 1929 it was converted to a junior school. (fn. 122) The attendance was 17 in 1933. (fn. 123) It was decided in 1947 to amalgamate the school with that at Knossington, (fn. 124) and by 1961 the building, a small rectangular ironstone structure, was partly converted into a garage.


None known.


  • 1. No account is given here of South Marefield; it was in Gartree hundred but was a chapelry and township of the parish of Tilton, in East Goscote hundred, and is reserved for later treatment.
  • 2. O.S. Map 6" (1st and 2nd edns.).
  • 3. For the history of the abbey, see V.C.H. Leics. ii. 21-23.
  • 4. See plate facing p. 245; Nichols, Leics. ii. 761.
  • 5. Leic. City Mun. Room, 1 D.41/18/22.
  • 6. V.C.H. Leics. iii. 156.
  • 7. See p. 272.
  • 8. V.C.H. Leics. iii. 166.
  • 9. Ibid. 168, 170, 173.
  • 10. Assoc. Archit. Soc. Rep. & Papers, xxii. 314.
  • 11. V.C.H. Leics. iii. 195.
  • 12. Nichols, Leics. i, p. xci.
  • 13. V.C.H. Leics. iii. 170, 195.
  • 14. Nichols, Leics. ii. 765; he gives the corrupted spelling 'Mardefield'.
  • 15. T.L.A.S. xxii. 250-3.
  • 16. V.C.H. Leics. i. 334.
  • 17. Ibid. 345.
  • 18. Ibid. ii. 21. The overlordship seems to have descended to the Hastings, earls of Pembroke: Nichols, Leics. ii. 758; Cal. Inq. p.m. v, p. 236; ibid. xiv, p. 143.
  • 19. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiii (1), p. 580. The statement in V.C.H. Leics. ii. 206, that the site passed to the Rutland family is incorrect.
  • 20. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiv (1), p. 420.
  • 21. Nichols, Leics. ii. 760; see Complete Peerage, vi. 321-2.
  • 22. C.P. 25(2)/846/1696-7 East.; cf. Nichols, Leics. ii. 760-1; White, Dir. Leics. (1877), 566; Leic. City Mun. Room, 35'29/400; L.R.O. Land Tax Assessment, Owston, 1775.
  • 23. See p. 275.
  • 24. Sir Christopher Hatton's Book of Seals, ed. L. C. Loyd and D. M. Stenton, 130.
  • 25. Nichols, Leics. ii. 766-7.
  • 26. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 350, m. 24.
  • 27. Nichols, Leics. ii. 766.
  • 28. See e.g. Cal. Pat. 1307-13, 108; 1413-16, 253.
  • 29. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xv, p. 506.
  • 30. C 142/356/116.
  • 31. In 1846 it was said to be a manor owned by John and Thomas Exton: White, Dir. Leics. 520; there is, however, no evidence that it was ever a manor.
  • 32. V.C.H. Leics. i. 307.
  • 33. Ibid. 345.
  • 34. Bk. of Fees, i. 375.
  • 35. V.C.H. Leics. ii. 31. Launde Priory and Owston Abbey also held some land here: Cal. Pat. 1345-8, 78; 1476-85, 98.
  • 36. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xx (2), p. 535.
  • 37. It was in John, Lord Harrington's possession in 1614: C 142/356/116.
  • 38. Curtis, Topog. Hist. Leics. 123; see also White, Dir. Leics. (1846), 520.
  • 39. V.C.H. Leics. i. 334.
  • 40. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 350, m. 23.
  • 41. Hilton, Econ. Devt. Leics. Estates, 123-4.
  • 42. Ibid. 114, 117.
  • 43. Ibid. 141-2.
  • 44. Ibid. 147.
  • 45. Ibid. 123.
  • 46. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 350, m. 23.
  • 47. Hilton, Econ. Devt. Leics. Estates, 114.
  • 48. Parker, 'Inclosure', 14.
  • 49. Ibid. 100.
  • 50. T.L.A.S. xxiii. 281-2.
  • 51. V.C.H. Leics. iii. 166, 170.
  • 52. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiv (1), pp. 483-4; Leland, Itin. ed. Toulmin Smith, iv. 20.
  • 53. L.R.O. Land Tax Assessments, Owston.
  • 54. Kelly's Dir. Leics. (1932), 747.
  • 55. White, Dir. Leics. (1846), 520; (1863), 582.
  • 56. Ibid.
  • 57. Nichols, Leics. ii. 757.
  • 58. Ibid. 767.
  • 59. Ibid.
  • 60. White, Dir. Leics. (1846), 521; Drake, Dir. Leics. (1861), 169; Kelly's Dir. Leics. (1932), 708.
  • 61. Cat. Anct. D. iii. D 238.
  • 62. Hilton, Econ. Devt. Leics. Estates, 114.
  • 63. V.C.H. Leics. i. 307.
  • 64. Archaeologia, xlvii (1), 112.
  • 65. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 237.
  • 66. Bodl. MS. Rawl. B. 350, m. 22.
  • 67. Leic. City Mun. Room, Farnham's MS. notes.
  • 68. Parker, 'Inclosure', 74.
  • 69. Ibid.
  • 70. T.L.A.S. xxii. 252; Leic. City Mun. Room, Farnham's MS. notes.
  • 71. Par. recs.
  • 72. Nichols, Leics. ii. 761.
  • 73. Poor Law Abstract, 1803, 256-7.
  • 74. Par. recs. Agreements in Overseers' Accts.
  • 75. White, Dir. Leics. (1846), 468.
  • 76. V.C.H. Leics. ii. 21.
  • 77. Ibid.; Nichols, Leics. ii, App. p. 145; Dugdale, Mon. vi. 424.
  • 78. Nichols, Leics. ii. 766; T.L.A.S. xxii. 251.
  • 79. Nichols, Leics. ii. 764.
  • 80. B.M. Add. Ch. 21391.
  • 81. Rot. Hugonis de Welles, ed. W. P. W. Phillimore, ii. 275.
  • 82. White, Dir. Leics. (1846), 521; (1863), 582; Drake, Dir. Leics. (1861), 169; Kelly's Dir. Leics. (1932), 746. For a description of the former vicarage house, see p. 270.
  • 83. Crockford (1940), 941.
  • 84. Kelly's Dir. Leics. (1928), 707; (1932), 746.
  • 85. Leic. Dioc. Cal. (1954), 94.
  • 86. Val. of Norw. ed. W. E. Lunt, 533.
  • 87. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv. 158.
  • 88. Rot. Hugonis de Welles, ii. 275.
  • 89. Leic. City Mun. Room, 1 D.41/18/5.
  • 90. Owston Document, Circular of Revd. Chas. Heycock 1843, at Tithe Redemption Commissioners.
  • 91. Ibid.
  • 92. Nichols, Leics. ii. 762.
  • 93. White, Dir. Leics. (1846), 521; Kelly's Dir. Leics. (1928), 707.
  • 94. Owston Doc. at Tithe Redemption Commrs.
  • 95. White, Dir. Leics. (1846), 521; (1863), 582; Crockford (1896), 810.
  • 96. Note on inside of cover of 1st register, par. recs.
  • 97. Pevsner, Leics. 206.
  • 98. V.C.H. Leics. i. 372.
  • 99. Nichols, Leics. ii, plate cxxv.
  • 100. See p. 270 and plate facing p. 245.
  • 101. Nichols, Leics. ii, plate cxxv.
  • 102. Ibid. 761. Traditionally the tomb was that of Robert Grimbald, founder of the abbey.
  • 103. Leic. City Mun. Room, 1 D.41/18/21.
  • 104. Ibid. /22; Nichols. Leics. ii. 761.
  • 105. Leic. City Mun. Room, 245'50/3.
  • 106. Ibid. /9.
  • 107. Faculty (1860), plan and accts. among par. recs.
  • 108. North, Ch. Bells Leics. 259.
  • 109. Accts. among par. recs.
  • 110. Some transcripts for earlier years are in Leic. City Mun. Room: Handlist of Par. Reg. Transcripts, 30.
  • 111. Leic. City Mun. Room, 1 D.41/44/331.
  • 112. Ibid. /561; L.R.O. List of Congregations of Protestant Dissenters, 1818.
  • 113. L.R.O. Report on Places of Worship not of the Church of England, 1829.
  • 114. Nichols, Leics. i. 33.
  • 115. 32nd Rep. Com Char. Pt. 5, 459; Leic. City Mun. Room, 245'50/3
  • 116. Leic. City Mun. Room, 245'50/6.
  • 117. Educ. Enquiry Abstract, 1835, 494.
  • 118. White, Dir. Leics. (1877), 566; date on school building.
  • 119. Leics. Co. Counc. Mins. 9 May 1906, 8 May 1907, 12 Feb. 1908.
  • 120. Ibid. 14 Feb. 1912.
  • 121. Ibid. 26 May 1926.
  • 122. Ibid. 8 May 1929.
  • 123. Leics. Educ. Cttee. Survey of Small Schs. and Depts. 1933.
  • 124. Leics. Co. Counc. Mins. April 1947.