Merton College links with Kibworth
Saer de Harcourt, a supporter of Simon de Montfort, who led a rebellion against Henry III, was captured after the Battle of Evesham
in 1265, and on his release was pardoned on condition he redeemed the value of his estates at seven times their annual value. As
he already owed debts to Jewish moneylenders, he sold his Kibworth Harcourt estate to the Lord Chancellor of England, Walter de
Merton, in 1270, for the sum of £400. The purchase document is stored in the archives of Merton College in Oxford.
Walter added the estate to the growing number being used to support scholars in his new Merton College in Oxford. Over the
centuries, various buildings owned by Merton College have been sold but even today, much of the agricultural land around the
village is still owned by Merton College and leased to local farmers.
The Warden and Fellows of Merton College took over the patronage of the 13th century St. Wilfrid’s Church after 1780. Merton
College Fellows were installed as Rectors for the following 150 years, until the formation of the Diocese of Leicester in 1926, when
the Bishop became joint patron.
The Kibworth Improvement Team thank and acknowledge the Warden and Fellows of Merton College, Oxford for permission to use
images on this website of the college and archived material.
Founded in 1264 by Walter de Merton, Lord Chancellor and Bishop of Rochester, it claims to
be the oldest college in Oxford. The chapel was begun in 1290 replacing an earlier structure
and was used as a parish church until 1891. The great tower was complete by 1450.
It’s Mob quad houses the old library on the upper floor and is one of the earliest libraries in
England. With a priceless collection of early printed books and manuscripts the collection runs
to 70,000 volumes.
Map of Kibworth Harcourt c1608 held by Merton College. Use your
mouse to show a zoomed in area of the map.
In Ocober 2011 the Kibworth Improvement Team were invited by Merton College to
view documents at their archive relating to Kibworth. Since then KiT and Merton
College have worked closely together in enabling teachers and students to visit the
college and to work with them on the documents relating to kibworth. (press release
below). Photo Andrew Carpenter.
Kibworth Improvement Team Achives visit October 2011. Left to right-
Andrew Southerden, Dave Adams, Emma Tilley, Julian Reid (Merton Archivist), Julia
Walworth (Fellow Librarian), Robin Hollick and Kevin Feltham.