Displaying items by tag: High Street


Who was Blondin?

Jean-François Gravelet was born in 1824, changed his name to Charles Blondin and became a world famous French acrobat and tightrope walker. His fame and fortune followed his tightrope walk over the gorge below the Niagara Falls in 1859.


The Kibworth Connection.

Rumour has it that Blondin visited Kibworth Beachamp for a demonstration of his skills.

Myth or Fact?

Francis P Woodford in his book, A History of Kibworth, adds some weight to the story that Blondin gave a performance in High Street, Kibworth Beauchamp.

Woodford describes the event as follows:
The Royal Oak Public House (in High Street) was kept by Mr Staines. It was from the roof of this house to that of one of the houses opposite, that Blondin had a rope stretched, on which he walked blind-folded, and wheeled a barrow across; and also on which he balanced a stove and cooked a pancake, which he tossed in the air, to the thrills and wonder of a great crowd below but only to a small addition to his purse.’

The performance by Blondin followed his usually performed stunts. Woodford does not give a date for this performance but Blondin gave a number of performances in England including locations in and near Leicestershire.

12th July 1861 Derby ArboretuMr John Stain ham.

13th July 1861 Aston Park, Birmingham.

30th July 1861 Nottingham.

1st July 1862 Whitwick Cricket Ground, Leicestershire.

11th and 12th September 1862 Campbell Street, Leicester .

These performances indicate that Blondin was near enough to Kibworth to have given his performance, most likely between his performances at Whitwick and Leicester. There is no record of a Mr Staines as the landlord of the Royal Oak Public House, however on 28th May 1867 the licence for the Royal Oak was granted to a Mr John Stain. Blondin was in England during 1869 and gave a performance at the Crystal Palace in November that year.

So examining the evidence, if indeed he did visit Kibworth Beauchamp, it could have been in 1861 whilst in England giving performances at Whitwick and Leicester or during John Stain’s tenure as landlord of the Royal Oak when he was in England in 1869.

Myth or Fact-will we ever know for sure, but it makes for a good story.

NB. Blondin gave his last performance in Belfast in 1886.



Kibworth to Smeeton A Stroll Down Memory Lane by Philip J Porter 
Encyclopædia Britannica 

Published in Modern

The Mud Cottage,70 High Street, Kibworth Beauchamp, an 18th century thatched cottage was demolished in the late 1940’s.The remaining Mud Wall is a Grade ll listed building. The cottage may have been a farm worker’s home developed from a farm outbuilding on land at the edge of the village.  The 1886 Ordnance Survey map shows the cottage as the last residential property on the north end of High Street. The last occupants of the cottage were Charlie Everitt and his son, Ted.  The cottage was damaged by fire which apparently causing quite a spectacle with many villagers flocking to the scene. 

Mud Cottage1

High Street, Kibworth Beauchamp showing The Mud Cottage on the right.
(photograph published by kind permission of Jennifer Rogers)

Mud Cottage2
Front aspect of the Mud Cottage.

All that remains of the Mud Collage is the front wall.

Mud Wall1
The Mud Wall

The wall is described in the Natural Heritage List for England as the former front wall of an 18thcentury cottage.  It is made of mud with a rubble stone supporting plinth.  A modern corrugated iron coping has been added at some stage in its history, presumably to serve as protection against the elements.

The condition of the wall had been a matter of concern for some time and there have been various attempts to refurbish it. 

Mud Wall2
by 2015 much of the rendering had begun to fall off.

Refurbishment of the wall.

In January 2016 the Kibworth Beauchamp Parish Council's Village Focus Group sought the advice of a local professional who had previous knowledge of the wall.  The late Anthony Goode from Slawston, a recognised authority on the maintenance of early buildings, found that the rendering was modern and had not adhered to the wall causing decay and allowing rainwater to seep between the rendering and the original wall. The wall itself showed no deterioration or of movement.

The refurbishment was undertaken by Anthony Goode and the first task involved removing the damaged and loose plaster and slightly undercutting back around the edges of the remaining plaster to create a key for the new work.   Using a bristle brush all the newly exposed mud wall was brushed and cleaned to remove loose debris and dust before spraying and dampening down with water.

The new lime plaster was mixed several weeks before it was needed and rested to allow it to mature. Goat hair reinforcement was added just before use. The mix was made from a measure of 1 part sharp sand to 2½parts lime putty. The plaster can be applied by a plastering trowel but in this case the plaster was literally thrown onto the wall with a purpose-made rough casting or harling trowel. This is a well-known technique which is known as ‘outside plastering’ and is commonly found in Scotland on masonry buildings of solid wall construction.

The lime plaster was applied in this manner because on a mud wall there is little key so the plaster relies mainly on suction. In the harling process as the plaster mix hits the wall it expels the air and forms a better bond between the two surfaces.  As the plaster firmed up it was rubbed with floats to produce a coarse finish following the contours of the wall. It was then protected by an absorbent material covering to prevent the lime putty plaster drying out too quickly.  Unlike cement, putty lime plaster does not set hard.  The lime needs warmth to carbonate, depending on the time of year and the temperature, this can take several weeks.

In November 2016 the protective cover was removed revealing the refurbished wall for the first time. The refurbishment has successfully preserved a small piece of Kibworth Beauchamp’s Heritage.

Mud Wall3
The refurbished Mud Wall

Postscript: There is another mud wall in Kibworth Beauchamp - between the Manor House and Ridley Lane. This was examined by the Harborough District Council Conservation Officer in 2020 and deemed sound.



I am grateful to Stephen Butt for allowing me to use parts of the article he wrote about the Mud Wall for the Market Harborough Historical Society Magazine.
Jennifer Rogers
The Kibworth and District Chronicle
Joan Spain


Published in Modern
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