Merton College

The White House (The Crown Inn), 51 and 53 Leicester Road, Kibworth Harcourt.

The first record of a house on the site of the White House was in the sixteenth century when the Parker family resided in a stone mansion on Leicester Road, Kibworth Harcourt where the White House stands today. Although the Parker family built a house on the site of the Old House, Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt and later in 1678 built the present Old House some members of the family continued to reside in the Leicester Road mansion. After the death of Geffery Parker in 1714, his widow Rebecca married Joshua Reynolds in 1716 and they ran the former Parker stone mansion (the site of the present White House) as the Crown Inn

After the Restoration, Kibworth Harcourt became a centre of Protestant dissent. John Jennings moved to Kibworth Harcourt in 1690 and established himself as pastor of the dissenters (see St-wilfrids-church-history-part2 Modern). A building, the Meeting House, was licensed for Presbyterian worship and was situated in the yard of the Crown Inn which later became the White House.

This was also the site of Jennings's Dissenting Academy – this was a college run by those who did not conform to the Church of England, i.e. were dissenters. These Dissenting Academies formed a significant part of England’s educational systems from the mid-seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. After the Act of Uniformity1662, for about two centuries, it was difficult for any but practising members of the Church of England to gain degrees from the old English universities, of Cambridge and Oxford. The University of Oxford, in particular, required – until the Oxford University Act 1854 – a religious test on admission that was comparable to that for joining the Church. English Dissenters in this context were Nonconformist Protestants who could not in good conscience subscribe (i.e. conform) to the articles of the Church of England. As their sons were debarred from taking degrees in the only two English universities of the day, many of them attended one of these Dissenting Academies.

On his death in 1701 he was succeeded by his son, the younger John Jennings. From 1715 to 1722, Jennings conducted an academy at Kibworth Harcourt and one of his pupils was Philip Doddridge DD. (see Philip Doddridge DD Early Modern).

In 1722, Jennings moved his academy to Hinckley. Following the death of Jennings in 1723, the academy closed. Doddridge was one of the last pupils to complete Jennings’ course.  From 1723-9 Philip Doddridge was the minister and principal of the Academy at Kibworth. In 1759 the meeting-house was destroyed by a fire, the White House is still occupied as a dwelling.

A Blue Heritage Plaque commemorating the life of Philip Doddridge DD was unveiled on 3rd  April 2013 on The White House, 51/53 Leicester Road, Kibworth.

Acknowledgements:
1. Michael Wood, ‘The Story of England’
2. Malcolm Deacon, ‘Philip Doddridge of Northampton’

Published in Modern
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