Displaying items by tag: Kibworth Harcourt


The Kibworth Theatre is believed to have been situated on the turnpike road in Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt during the 18th and 19th centuries.  The exact location has not been confirmed but is baelieved to have been to the rear of 25 Main Street. This location would have been convenient to entertain passengers taking a rest break when journeying through the village on the many coaches travelling along the turnpike route.  Indeed,travelling theatre players would also have also used the coaches and taken advantage of the theatre to perform plays.  In addition, local residents particularly from the Dissenting Academy and the Grammar School in Kibworth Beauchamp may well have been patrons of the theatre.

Copies of two posters advertising productions at the theatre are shown below.  The first on Wednesday evening 29th September 1790 was a production of the celebrated comic opera ‘INKLE and YARICO’ followed by ‘ALL THE WORLDS a STAGE’  The second was on Friday evening October 1st 1790 when a production of ‘RICHARD 111 Or, The Battle of Bofworth Field’ followed by ‘The Agreeable Surfrise’ was performed.

Attendance was not cheap, the posters shows prices for both productions at 2s for the Pit and 1s for the Gallery.  Possibly these prices would have been unaffordable many local residents. 

 TheatrePoster1    TheatrePoster2

 On the evening of 28th October 1802, the theatre produced the plays ‘School for Scandal’ a 1781 comic opera to music by Samuel Arnold and a libretto by John O'Keeffe along with an American romantic comedy ‘Gretna Green’ written by Grace Livingston Furniss. 

It was believed that no poster for this production had survived until one was recently discovered in the papers of Rev. Thomas Thomas at the Northamptonshire Record Office.

Published in Modern

1741 – 1826

Part 2

Rev. Thomas Thomas was a very talented aninteresting character; in addition to his secular duties he was a grazier and a man of letters. During her research into Rev. Thomas Thomas’ life, Jeni Molyneux discovered many artifacts of interest at the Record Office in Northamptonshire. This selection of those artifacts attempts to portray the many facets of Thomas’ writings and musings.

MEMORANDUMS for 1780 in his parish book.

Incidents 1780

Levies, horse hire
Jack Cleaning 1s
Dined at Cheney’s 4s
Mrs Eaton for dinners £1. 18s
Newspapers 10s 6d

Vails 1780 (gratuities or tips, bountiful bestowing to other people's servants rather than one's own who were paid to be in your service)

Samuel Eaton £1-11-6
Mary Eaton   £1-11-6
Mr Hanbury’ s servants £1-1s
Mrs Frank’s servants 9s
Ambrose 1s
Gwenion Mrs Eaton’s 4s 6d

in all £5

Letters 1780

Mr Morton 3s
G. Hill etc etc etc
Total 6s 7d

Rhoddian (gifts, but perhaps in the sense of charitable donations)

Charles Frank’s widow 2s 6d
Houghton hire     2s7d
Hospital 7s
Ruled paper, singers 6s
Oxenden Ringers 1s
Kelmarsh ringers 5s
Xmas Boxes 6s 9d


 MEMORANDUMS for 1783 in his parish book.

Thomas memo 1780

  Rhoddion1783 (gratuities or tips, bountiful bestowing to other people's servants rather than one's   own who were paid to be in your service)

Books 14s        Hospital 7s
Ringers on Peace acc:  2
Oxdn(Oxendon) Ringer1       
Oxdn Singers 5  
Kelmsh (Kelmarsh) Singers 5
Sacraments 8
Apparitor 1 (a messenger who summoned people to appear beforan ecclesiastical court) - 1
? 7.5.6 ?????

In all £10.14

Incidents 1783

Mrs A Eaton  £2   D. 10s:6d
Horse hire  3.13.6.
Warming pan mended 2

???? In all £7


Vails 1783. Eaton’s   9s:2d (gratuities or tips, bountiful bestowing to other people's servants rather than one's own who were paid to be in your service)

Mr H ????  servants?  1.2 
Total  1.11.2

Letters 1783
Revd John Morton  4s 4
Revd Dr John Hill  1s
???? In all    6s 8d


Prayed in 1784

List of names and dates for those he prayed for in this year.

Difficult to decipher, so bit of guesswork – Dr = daughter.

Ann Dr of Robert & Eliz Carter    KB January 10

Matthew son of ??? & Ann J Colman   JH   January 28

Ann Dr of John & Ann Herb    JH    February 6

Robert son of Robert & Mary Tilley   JH      February 16

John son of John & Sarah Markham   KB   February 22

Elizabeth wife of Francis Fletcher  KH  March 6

Samuel Burdett  KH  March 9

Priscilla Dr of John & Sarah Markham   KB   March 18

Elizabeth Foxton  KH  March 23

Ann Dr of Thos & Eliz Perkins   KH  March 25

Jane Dr of Samuel & Mary Shipley  SW  March 30

Thomas Smeeton  KB  April 1

William son of Willm& Sarah Perkins   KH  April 1

Thomas Prayed 1784


11 June 1793

Writing to his friend William Hanbury of Kelmarsh Hall at Christ College, Cambridge.

‘It happened in the morning I received your letter, that I was at the house of a clerical friend to see what wonders his solar microscope could produce. Appearances were in just proportion to what we had to expect from a splendid and benignant sun. The works of Nature were clothed in a very entertaining garb. Every object, tho’ ever so minute in itself, was not precluded from rising to Notice and Consequence, except by the unseasonable Intervention of an unexpected cloud.

The dark changes obtruded by a lowering and unwished sky led me to compare the amazing powers of light with the wonderful consequences of wealth. Both have the virtues to make others seem enormously big- to swell a mite to the Magnitude of an Elephant, yea and to extend the Arms of a rich person to such a surprising lengths to embrace the Hills and Dales of distant Counties’.

I always sincerely wished for the Microscope of Content to magnify res to the size of Canterbury but human life is so circumstanced in many cases that mere shades are incompetent to gratify the reasonable pursuits of man’.

Late 17th early 18th Century

Writing to John Hinchcliffe the Bishop of Peterborough about the new insolvency act.

‘It happens that dishonest farmers and graziers buy cattle with design to transfer them to others knavishly on purpose to defraud the sellers, trusting that they are not liable to a Statute of Bankruptcy’.


Writing to his recently married niece Phoebe Williams at Hendre Eynon in Pembrokeshire he offers some sound marital advice:

 ‘I hope that years will only tend to increase your friendship and that you will prove, as originally designed by the appointment of marriage, a mutual blessing to each therein worldly affairs and spiritual concerns. I will add no more now on this subject, than I trust you will always consult each other’s felicity not merely as matter of duty, but from habit, choice and sincere affection, which will make the bonds of wedlock quite agreeable and delightful’.


Thomas wrote a poem about Sir Horatio Nelson's Victory at The Battle of the Nile in August 1798

In rain the Tyrant Gaul’s nefarious guile

Attempts to rule the many mouthed Nile

Whose billows dy’d with Gallia’s streaming gore

Like Thunder’s tongue the praise of nelson roar

His bravery to surrounding nations tell

On Skill and courage of his Captains dwell


On 28th October 1802 The Kibworth Theater produced two plays, ‘School for Scandal’ and ‘Gretna Green’. It was believed that none of the poster for this production had survived until one was found among Rev. Thomas Thomas’ papers. (See Kibworth Theater-Modern) The poster appears to have been used as notepaper.


Rev. Thomas Thomas writes to his nephew John Howells, newly qualified as a surgeon, at Mr. Price’s London Hospital and wishing to go to India with the East India Company. (see Rev. Thomas Thomas part 1)

‘Exactness in dates is absolutely necessary to prevent disputes and mistakes.

You spell occasion and solicit thus. Consult Johnson’s dictionary to know whether you are right or wrong in spelling these two words.

 About the 20th February I expected to settle with my Isham Tenant who came to Farndon within the appointments hour, but to my disappointment - on balancing accounts I was indebted to him above £15 for rebuilding part of the barn which fell down through the unskillfulness of the first builder. Thus no money was due from that tenant.B’.

He goes on to say that he has received a request from John Howell’s parents in Abernant, Carmarthenshire asking for advice on raising £150 ‘towards an India equipment.

 ‘Last week I applied to a gentleman in Surrey to know if he could procure an East India Appointment for a surgeon who is exceedingly desirous of going to India on the company’s medical establishment. But I flatter not myself that my application to this gentleman will succeed. I have had some correspondence with the brother- in -law of Marquis Cornwallis- and sometime ago I knew the Marquis’s nephew - a very learned gentleman. But merely to be acquainted with such men is not sufficient to excuse an application, or to ensure success if a person has the hardiness to apply. Some are unreasonably affronted by an application and others will reply a polite answer without either meaning or caring to do an essential service to a deserving candidate’.

He continues

‘this month I was invited to a ball, I believe very cordially where the company might amount to perhaps a hundred. Some of the chief fashionables were Viscount Althorp, Sir William Wake and lady, Lieutenant General Gwynne. I declined the invitation as it would be of no service to you or to me. It is not in my power I believe to get this appointment you wish, but tis our power, thanks to God to improve ourselves as long as our faculties remain unimpaired. God, not my professed friends has enabled me by diligence, care, discretion, a constant heed to the duties of office and the blessing of health to live comfortably. My prayers are that the same god would enable you to live equally so.’

‘P.S. Time is on the wing-ready to fly off and to leave you destitute of instructing help.

Avail yourself of a goose quill to embellish your prescriptions and to arrest the quick eye of judicious taste and true elegance’.


October 31st. Rev. Thomas Thomas writes to his niece Phoebe Williams  and her husband William in Pembrokeshire. He is replying to news of his brother and sister’s deaths earlier in the year.

 ‘Notice was justly taken of their departures by relations, friends and neighbours. When I put on my black garments I consider that two of my nearest and dearest relatives were lately clothed in their last earthly robes, white as emblems of the robes of righteousness….’

He is discussing how farm leases operate in Pembrokeshire and says

’I have a lease of some grounds from Merton College for 21 years but it is renewed every 7th year by paying a fine for its renewal’

Rev. Thomas Thomas’ Verse.

Thomas never lost his love of his native home and he wrote a verse  ‘In Remembrance of native Soil’ referring to Trelech, the parish where he was born at Castell Gorfod. 

 Thomas In remembrance


In Remembrance of native soil.

Trelech, I love thy Glebe & limped streams
Where first I saw the Sun’s delightful Beams,
The path of Childhood in Amazement trod

Informed of a great beholding God
who made the World around with all therein
And threatens every child of wilful sins
But for each Minor good a joy creates
superior to what’s felt in another states

’Twas always in this fame I felt the Cross made sign
And faiths allied to map of realms divine
where myriads in perfection’s candid Robe
eclipsing far the day’s meridian Globe
In triumph sing on high Redeemer’s Fame
And him adore in style of sinless Frame

Now Dust of mother mild in long Repose
And her kind wishes oft my Thoughts engross
that showed maternal need of care unfeigned
which Fondness from a Bosom grateful gained.

When parents are consigned to sacred sleep,
A right Affection will spontaneous weep,
And looks will show the feelings sore within
for wail’d demise of much regretted kin
Who breath to Jehovah resigned with steadfast hope
For second Life in Glory’s envelope



Rev Thomas Thomas writes that:

mutton and beef are 8 pence a pound, cheese 7 and half pence for a pound, good wheat 5 guineas a quarter, barley 53 pence a quarter and oats 25 pence a quarter. If you recollect the 4 runts I bought last summer which cost £10 each, you may guess how dear such are this year, when I gave £12 each for runts this year which are perhaps not quite so good as those in 1809’.


Writing to his niece Phoebe Williams and her husband in Pembrokeshire.

‘The human mind, I believe is seldom idle, at least it appears to my understanding. Among the different objects that occur to my thoughts, the family of Hendre Eynon is often uppermost in my thoughts.

It is a great time since I heard from you and your Darlings, therefore when you have leisure from needful avocations that require immediate notice it would give me pleasure to know that you and yours are in the enjoyment of such health as I possess every day through the Almighty’s kind beneficence.

Remember me kindly to your children, also to Thomas and Amy Skeel(his other niece)

Though I never saw either of them except Amy, there is something of natural affection marvellously fixed in the minds of relatives, never to be thoroughly eradicated but by continued ill conduct, and mutual affronts, which is not the case with us at so great a distance. I have constant occasion to thank God for uninterrupted health for many years and I sincerely aim to be sufficiently sensible of so valuable a Blessing’.


Writing to his niece Phoebe Williams and her husband in Pembrokeshire.

‘I hope that you are not satisfied with only paying for the schooling of your children; but that you also bestow much time to examine them and to explain to them matters within the compass of their comprehension, age, and powers of reasoning. By examining them yourself, as often as there is an opportunity; you may do them more essential service than you can easily calculate. Some parents are too sparing in the expense of books for young scholars.- I flatter myself that you have more wisdom than to save a few pounds in their reducation fro, books which may possibly occasion to their loss of hundreds, or perhaps thousands of pounds in the course of their lives. I desire that you will without delay buy the book mentioned on the other side as very necessary for latin and Greek scholars. You can do them much good in the way of learning’.

1815 27 June

Writing to his niece Phoebe Williams and her husband in Pembrokeshire about his accident on his travels when he was 74 years old.

Thomas letter 1815

‘.. though I have nothing of importance to communicate as to myself going on as usual without any fit of illness, but being liable to accidents every day – I was lately reminded by providence how much exposed we daily are to accidental mishaps - in hurting my knee by crossing a ditch. The skin was not bruis’d no blackening appear’d - and the swelling was but little; yet it continued to pain me in such a manner as to make me thankful to the Almighty that I was no further injure’d - than to have the sinews some-what strain’d - which will require time to be reduc’d to their proper tone.   As to the ....’


Extract fromThomas Thomas’ verses 1815.
In Praise of Wine.

Thomas in praise of wine

 The Grape well us’d in Reason he commends that to improve the bliss? of Friendship tends a lov’d Hilarity of Heart inspires and fills the mind with amicable Fires.



Writing to his niece Phoebe Williams and her husband in Pembrokeshire

‘ I suppose that you take the trouble of teaching  your sons a little Geography as an amusement, and likewise of some advantage especially in perusing the journeys of the Israelites through the Red Sea and the River Jordan -as also the travels of St. Paul.

On a small scale everybody has some concern with Geography and Mensuration - the knowledge of which I earnestly  recommend as Opportunity offers. - Some from Pembrokeshire and I imagine from every county in the United Kingdom have suffered by the bloody conflict at Waterloo, and other sanguinary contests.’ Arising this year from the vices of the Corsican Despot. ‘It is high time that you should determine what line of life your second son is to adopt that his studies  may tend to qualify him for what you design.- It is no further my purpose in mentioning the propriety of your second son naming what he is to be, or at least, designs to be -than that his schooling should be directed more particularly for attaining more science in one branch than another.

Wishing the happiness of both worlds to you and your spouse and young family’.

I am Dear Sir your most humble servant TT


Reference in a letter about the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte

 Thomas Napoleon 1815

‘May we not refer to the fingers of God – that the tyrant monster Napoleon who  who has been endeavoring  to ruin his Country for many years – has been compelled to surrender himself to Captain Maitland, who by today’s paper has brought the savage despot to the Coast of Britain to be delivered unto our Government’


Letter from the Vicar of Kibworth James Beresford to his neighbour the Rev. Thomas Thomas.

My Dear Sir,

I congratulate you on the successful termination of your business with Messrs. Green and Ward. I cannot do so without renewing in my name and that of the parish the expression of our profoundest gratitude for your most extraordinary kindness and liberality.

You my dear sir most
faithfully and cordially and

James Beresford, Kibworth Rectory. Wed. 21st Sept. 1825

Researched by Jeni Molyneux



Northamptonshire Record Office


Published in Modern


1741 – 1826

Part 1

Revd. Thomas Thomas was born on 24th November 1741 at Castell Gorfod, in the parish of Trelechar Bettws, Carmarthenshire in Wales. Thomas was one of the three children of George and Catherine Thomas. The elder son, Samson Thomas, became a Calvinist Methodist Minister and his sister Rosamond married Thomas Howell in 1769.

Revd. Thomas Thomas was ordained and appointed as Rector of St Peter’s Church in the parish of Isham, Northamptonshire by the then Bishop of Peterborough, John Hinchcliffe in 1773.


Appointment letter from the Bishop of Peterborough

By 1788 Revd. Thomas Thomas was living, with the Foxton family in the Manor House (Manor Farm House), 39 Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt.

On 21st September 1796 at St Wilfrid’s Church, Kibworth Beauchamp the Revd. Thomas, age 55,  married Elizabeth Foxton aged 51 years. Their marriage was conducted by the Revd. Jeremiah Goodman, Headmaster of the Kibworth Grammar School. Their Marriage bond* names Richard Coltman, yeoman, grazier and Churchwarden, of East Farndon promising with Revd. Thomas Thomas the £200 surety. 

Elizabeth Thomas, nee Foxton, died on the 6th September 1797, sadly this was within a year of  their marriage. Following her death Thomas wrote a letter written on 8th October 1798 to his brother Samson in Pembrokeshire describing his grief at his wife’s death and saying;

The coming of death was in so gradual a manner, that for days before her departure, she ordered everything about her burying without any signs of confusion. She told her maid to pin the cap and handkerchief ready against the time they should be wanted for use whilst the shroud was to be fetched from Harborough.  She was very fond of reading pious books and conversing about a future world. She retained her senses to within a very little time of her last moment and expired in the comfortable persuasion that Christ is the only saviour’.  He describes in detail her memorial in St. Wilfrid’s Church and signs the letter‘Care dig Frawd’.(Dear Brother)

On Thursday 5th December 1805 Revd. Thomas notes that he held a ‘Thanksgiving for Lord Nelson’s Victory on the 21st  October off Cape Trafalgar’ at East Farndon church. (See Rev. Thomas Thomas Part 2)

Revd. Thomas’s sister Rosamond and her husband, Thomas Howell wrote from the family farm in Carmarthenshire to Revd. Thomas on 6th February 1805. They were asking about how to raise £150 for ‘India equipment’ for their youngest son John, who wished to enter employment as an assistant surgeon with the East India Company. This money was to purchase clothes, a surgeon’s apothecary kit and to fund his entry into the Company.

John Howell also wrote to his uncle about a possible appointment with the East India Company and received a withering reply criticising the spelling errors in his letter. Rev. Thomas tells him firmly ‘to use a dictionary, however his uncle includes a draft for £20 expenses in the letterto encourage him to find a position locally in England. However, as a young man will do, in March 1806 John Howell accepted a position with the East India Company as an assistant surgeon recommended for a position in Bengal, India and sailed on the ‘Matilda’ to Calcutta. It would seem that this money was, possibly reluctantly, found by Rev. Thomas because in his will John Howell leaves £300 to his uncle, Rev. Thomas, in a codicil repaying his kindness.

Not only had Revd. Thomas been instrumental in mentoring, educating and financing his nephew John Howell through his medical training at the London Hospital.  Letters discovered at the Northampton Record Office confirm Thomas also financed the training of another surgeon at St. Thomas’ and Guy’s hospitals namely his nephew Poyntz Adams (his late wife’s sister’s son.) (see Rev.Thomas part 2)

The following year Thomas is still living in The Manor Farm House, Kibworth Harcourt and in a letter to his niece, dated 31st October 1807 he says that he has ‘leased some grounds from Merton College for 21 years renewable every 7th year by paying a fine for its renewal’. (Merton College, Oxford owned the Manor Farm House and still owns much of the land at the rear of houses on Main Street and Albert Street, Kibworth Harcourt.)

In 1814 Revd.Thomas Thomas is appointed Rector of St Dionysius Church, Kelmarsh and then Curate of the Church of St. John the Baptist at East Farndon. As the curate at East Farndon Parish Revd. Thomas was assistant to the Rector, William Brooks, who was also Rector of St John’s Church, Coventry where he spent the majority of his time. Revd. Thomas was left to administer the East Farndon Parish and to sort out the many problems and issues which ensued.  This is confirmed by correspondence between Thomas and the Bishop of Peterborough where he outlines issues with the enclosures and the upkeep of tenements and buildings, not least the fabric of the church which needed much attention.

In 1815 Revd. Thomas’ sister Rosamund Howell died in Carmarthenshire and his nephew, her son, John Howell, surgeon, for the East India Company died in 1819 in Bengal, India aged 36 years.

On 10th  October 1818 Revd. Thomas bought a farm, Penriwbaily, from his cousin James Howell in his home parish of Trelechar Bettws hoping he says, one day to return there to his dear ‘Kingdom of Deheubarth’. Interestingly, on the same day his clerk sold the lease of the farm for a term of 21 years for the sum of £32 annually to Benjamin Howell, farmer, (a nephew).

In 1824 Revd.Thomas Thomas, aged 83 years, retired from his clerical positions at Isham and East Farndon.  Noting in a family letter that he had lived in Kibworth Harcourt and the neighbouring area for 56 years. However, his love for his homeland and Welsh culture never left him. His family letters and indeed his church records are often written in both Welsh, his native tongue and English.

Revd.Thomas Thomas is recorded in Crockford’s Clerical Directory, as being an ordained minister of the Anglican church from 1773 to 1826 the year he died on 20th May.

Plaque commemorating the lives of Revd. Thomas Thomas BD and his wife Elizabeth in St Wilfrid’s Church, Kibworth Beauchamp

TThomas memorial
Consoled in approaching Death by Faith scripture and the Hope of Advancement to Life eternal on September:1797 dyd Elizabeth the Daughter of George Foxton of Kibworth Gentleman and Wife of reverend Thomas Thomas. BD. Rector of Isham. Alfo in Memory of Revd. Thomas Thomas BD. who died Dec 1st 1825 in the 85th Year of his Age. O Grief allow that Death nor Tomb profound Can duft reviving lock in charnel Ground When JAH commands the Clay dead form arise And Spirit like ascend to Sion Skies so Grievance more to feel nor fancyd Gloom But Rapture that confess a glorious Doom Where Saint becomes in Soul embodying Frame. A Monument of Praise to Shiloh’s Name.

In 1885 the family executors of his estate in Wales sold The Manor House, (Manor Farm House) Kibworth Harcourt for £4,450 to another nephew he had educated and financed, John Philipps, who had lived there with him as a proxy son. (see John Philipps 1801 – 1867 – Modern)

John Philipps inherited a love for antiquities from his uncle and kept all his uncle’s letters, papers etc. in a trunk in the attic. A chest of Revd. Thomas’ papers including manuscripts, broadsides from the Manor Farm House, Kibworth Harcourt is lodged at the Northampton Record Office.

A poster was discovered among Revd. Thomas’ papers at the Northampton Record Office advertising a production on 28th October 1802 at the Kibworth Theatre of School for Scandal’ a 1781 comic opera to music by Samuel Arnold with a libretto by John O’Keeffe. This includes an American romantic comedy ‘Gretna Green’ written by Grace Livingston Furniss. This suggests that Revd. Thomas may have attended the Kibworth Theatre. (see The Kibworth Theatre-Modern).

*  Marriage bonds were used when a couple applied to marry by licence and were not married by banns.  The marriage allegation was a document in which the couple alleged (or frequently just the groom alleged on behalf of both of them) that there were no impediments to the marriage.  The marriage bond set a financial penalty on the groom and his bondsman (usually a close friend or relative) in case the allegation should prove to be false.  Marriage bonds ceased to be used after 1823.


Pembrokeshire Record Office
Northamptonshire Record Office
British History on Line
East Farndon Village Website Group
The Gentleman’s Magazine

Researched by Jeni Molyneux & edited by David Adams



Published in Modern

John Phillips*, landowner, grazier, antiquarian who lived for many years in in the Manor House (Manor Farm House) 39 Main Street, KibworthHarcourt, was born in 1801 at the farm Esgerfa in Abernant parish,Carmarthenshire.

John was the son of Jonathan Philipps (1765 Conwil Elvet -1849) and Catherine Howell (1770- 1849 of Rhydd y garreg ddu, Talog. Carmarthenshire.) John Philipps was also the nephew of John Howell - surgeon in the East India Company, whose memorial is adjacent to his in St Lucias Church, Abernant. Jonathan and Catherine Philipps had married on 1st June 1790 in St Lucias, Abernant.

From a family letter it would seem that John had been well educated. My thoughts from reading family letters being that this was paid for by his mother Catherine Howell ’s uncle the Rev. Thomas Thomas who lived in Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire. John Philipps was the grandson of Rosamond Howell nee Thomas - the Rev Thomas Thomas ’ sister.

In 1823 the Rev David Lewis writes from Carmarthen to John Phillipss uncle the Rev Thomas Thomas of Kibworth Harcourt describing the 22 year old John Phillips at Lampeter Collegethus

I must not omit that he bears the best character for assiduity and regular deportment in school and at home: and such is the improvement of our country in dress, or rather perhaps the deterioration of it, that our Welshmen, in our great school, dress as well as in any part of England.’

After his uncle Rev. Thomas Thomas s death in 1826 John Philipps aged 25 undertakes renovations of the Manor House, Kibworth Harcourt. (see Manor House (Manor Farmhouse) 39 Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt- Ancient)

Three years later, John Phillips now aged 28 married Elizabeth Smeeton aged 19 on the 30th July 1829 at Kibworth Beauchamp by license and with the consent of her parents. A son, John Smeeton Philipps, was baptised on the 17th November 1830 at Kibworth Beauchamp.

On the 1841 census John Philipps says that he is aged 35 and that he was born in 1806 in Abernant, Carmarthenshire. Making himself a little younger? He is living in Kibworth Beauchamp with his wife Elizabeth who is now aged 30 who was born in 1811 in Leicestershire. John and Elizabeth’s son, John Smeeton Philipps, is aged 11 and John’s mother in law Elizabeth Smeeton is aged 70 (born in 1771) and living with them.  Their housekeeper Elizabeth Day is aged 20; she was born in 1821.

Five years later in 1846 John Philipps is living at the Manor House in Kibworth Harcourt.

On the 1851 census John Philipps is aged 50 and now a widower continuing to live at the Manor House in Kibworth Harcourt. John is described as a Grazier of 30 acres with no labourers. His son John Smeeton Philipps is now aged 20 and described as a hosier who was born at Kibworth Harcourt.

In a letter from Richard Thomas at Haverfordwest in the Pembrokeshire Archives we learn that John Philipps bought the Manor House at Kibworth Harcourt from his uncle the Rev ThomasThomas’s estate for £4,450 on the 5th November 1855.

Later in 1863, we learn that ‘John Philipps had rebuilt the Manor House, Kibworth Harcourt with twin gables and barge boards as well as putting up a wall around the garden and land.  The brick front with its twin gables and ornamental barge boards is evidently his work.  The garden wall also built by Philipps carries tiles dated 1475, 1690 and 1860. As both he and his uncle were local antiquarians there may be good evidence for the earlier dates. About 200 yards north of the house are two fishponds probably of medieval origin.

In August 1863 The Leicestershire Architectural and Archaeological Society held its AGM over two days in Kibworth (see Historic Gathering at Kibworth 1863-Modern) On the aft ernoon of the first day of the meeting an exhibition was held in a museum (temporarily formed in the National Schools by permission of the Rector) which was opened to the public. In this exhibition the objects of antiquarian interest were numerous and interesting.

John Philipps exhibited the following items:

  • Belt
  • Court cupboard.
  • Queen Elizabeth’s Poem in her own handwriting, signed,
  • Charles II’s autograph for signing the warrant to elect Wm Hanbury Esq, High Sheriff of the county of Northampton, December 1665 (William Hanbury was a friend of John Philipps’s uncle the Rev. Thomas Thomas this must be how it was acquired)

At 5pm that day the attendees of the meeting visited the Tumulus (The Munt) then The Manor House, 39 Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt, the residence of John Philipps Esq and the many objects of interest to antiquarians there afforded much pleasure. Mr Phillips, after a good old English fashion, requested the members of the company to partake of good and homely beverage.

John Philipps' Will 21st April 1866

John Philipps leaves his son and his nephew Thomas Philipps of 182 Piccadilly (Fortnum and Masons grocers in their early days! ) son of my brother Thomas Philipps and my friendsThomas George Langham of Oxford Terrace, London butcher and John Langham of Walton in Knaptoft, joint executors of his will.

I direct a small tablet to be placed by my executors in the parish church of Abernant in the county of Carmarthen with the following inscription

This tablet is placed to the memory of John Philipps son of Jonathan and Catherine Philipps late of Skyrfa in this parish‘ with the date of my demise annexed.

I revoke all former wills in witness whereof I have to this my last will and testament ….

He leaves 19 guineas to his friend Emily Sarah Slatter and £10 each to his three executors. (Emily was a governess)


Tablet in the Parish Church of Abernant in the
county of Carmarthen with the following inscription:
‘ This tablet is placed to the memory of John Philipps Son of Jonathan Catherine
Philipps late of Skyrfa in this parish who departed this life December 23rd 1867
Aged 67 Years’

In 1706 the Manor House was sold to the Foxton’s who owned it until 1797 when the last of that family died the office and property passed to the son- in -law The Reverend Thomas Thomas of East Farndon, Northamptonshire. The property remained college leasehold, but both the Reverend Thomas and later John Philipps made considerable alterations.In 1972 the Manor House was sold by Merton College, Oxford to Mr P Thurnham.


John Philipps - a letter to family in Wales.

On 1st December 1853 he writes…

Dear Sir,

I have seen the minister of the chapel this afternoon and he will send the rent down to you in about three weeks’ time, be so kind as to send me how much he owes you. There is no tithe in this parish and I can’t give you my account of other parishes.

You asked what family I have -only one son and he is in a very good situation at Leicester in a country house, he is nearly 24 years of age and very steady. My dear wife has been dead 6years last August, almost all your old friends at Kibworth are no more. I shall be very pleased to see you at Kibworth to spend a week or two with me.

Let me know when you will be likely to come. I shall be in London about the 2nd of January for a week or two. I was at Dublin last August and through North Wales and I enjoyed the trip very much.  Give my best respects to your family and let me know how many you have.

I remain, dear sir

yours truly

J Phillips

P.S. I have one of best Durham bulls in the county 2 years old on the 13th of last month he has now served a great many cows this last summer at 6s per cow the mother was counted the best cow in the county and was got by one of the Marquis of Exeter’s bulls.

* Philipps is the original spelling of his name on the baptism entry denoting his ancestry to the Philipps of Picton Castle - however it is often later spelt ‘Phillips’

© Jeni Molyneux 14th November 2019

(John Philipps was my 4x great grandmother’s younger brother.)


Information extracted from Family Letters which were deposited at both the National Library Wales and Pembrokeshire Archives at Haverford West.
The Leicester Journal


Published in Modern

The Kibworth Theater (Theatre) is believed to have been situated on the turnpike road in Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt during the 18th and 19th centuries. The exact location has not been confirmed but is believed to have been to the rear of 25 Main Street. This location would have been convenient to entertain passengers taking a rest break at the many inns when journeying through the village on the many stage coaches travelling along the turnpike route. Indeed travelling theatre players would also have also used the coaches and taken advantage of the theater to perform plays. In addition local residents particularly from the Dissenting Academy and the Grammar School in Kibworth Beauchamp may well have been patrons of the theater.

Copies of two posters advertising productions at the theater are shown below. The first on Wednesday evening September 29th 17890 was a production of the celebrated comic opera ‘INKLE and YARICO’ followed by ‘ALL THE WORLDS a STAGE’ The second was on Friday evening October 1st 1790 when a production of ‘RICHARD 111 Or, The Battle of Bofworth Field’ followed by ‘The Agreeable Surfrise’ was performed.

TheatrePoster1      TheatrePoster2

Attendance was not cheap, the posters shows prices for both productions at 2s for the Pit and 1s for the Gallery. Possibly these prices would have been unaffordable by many local residents.

Although a poster is not available on the theater bill for the evening of 28th October 1802 was the comedy play ‘School for Scandal’ a 1781 comic opera to music by Samuel Arnold and a libretto by John O'Keeffe.

British Library

Published in Modern

The Kibworth Harcourt Windmill, situated on the Langton Road, is an early 18th century postmill. It is a Grade 2* listed building and is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The mill is the last survivor of 211 postmills that were once used in Leicestershire.

The main feature of a post mill is that the whole body of the mill which houses the machinery is mounted on a single vertical post, around which it can be turned to bring the sails into the wind.

KHWindmill Post
The post (trestle) that the mill turns on

The central trestle is from an earlier mill on another site and is dated from the 14th century.

KHWindmill floor1
View of first floor showing the tressle

There are a number of carvings inside the mill, the earliest is on the tressle.

KHWindmill carving1
Carvings on the trestle, "DANIEL HUTCHINSON MILLER 1711”

KHWindmill carving2

Another carving, 'T SMITH MILLER OCTOR 1837”

The mill had two cloth (common) sails) and two spring sails (a spring sail has a number of shutters controlled by a bar and a spring which adjusts to the force of the wind). The miller turned the mill into the wind by hand using the rotation beam.

KHWindmill beam
Rotation beam used by the miller to turn the mill

The mill has two pairs of millstones, one of French Burr, the other of Derbyshire Peak Stone. One was used for animal feed and the other for flour. The top stone of the pair is called the runner stone, the lower stone is called the bed stone.

KHWindmill millstones
Flour Stones, the finer stones are for flour grinding

The stones are turned by a large wheel which runs the stone nut (a small gear). Once through the grinding process the ground grain passes through a flour dresser which separated the flour from the other pieces of the grain. A 19th century addition to the mill was iron governors which regulate the coarseness of the flour.

It was a working mill until 1912 but from then its condition began to decline. By the 1930s the mill was in very poor condition and the owners, Merton College, had the mill inspected by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB).  The inspection concluded that repairs would cost £100.00.

In 1936 Merton College transferred ownership of the mill to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) who carried remedial work on the mill in 1936 and again in 1970.

On 8th August 2017 during an inspection of the mill one of the sails collapsed and fell to the ground. This caused the opposite sail to swing violently and it was badly damaged when it hit the ground.

KHWindmill part sails

For safety reasons the remaining sails were removed.

KHWindmill no sails
Postmill with sails removed

The Future

The Mills Section of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) has decided that a major overhaul of the mill is required and when completed will return the mill to a working condition. The overhaul will involve repair of the trestle and work to the roundhouse. Four new sails will be made, two common and two spring and a new tailpole and ladder. It is anticipated that the work will commence 2020.


Published in Early Modern

Harcourt House, Harcourt Estate and Marsh Drive, Kibworth Harcourt

Harcourt Estate fronts onto the A6 Leicester Road opposite the Coach and Horses Inn and Marsh Drive, which runs between the A6 Harborough Road and Langton Road, and are both 20th century developments.

Prior to 1931 part of that area was occupied by Harcourt House which, for many rears had been the home of the Marriott family. (See Sir Charles Hayes Marriott MD, FRC- Modern). The gardens of Harcourt House occupied approximately 2 acres.

 Harcourt House

Harcourt House looking from Church Road

Following the death of Sir Charles Marriott’s widow, Lady Marriott, the family decided to sell Harcourt House and on 22nd April 1931 the estate, consisting of the house and its extensive grounds was sold by auctioneers Warner Sheppard & Wade and P L Kirby of Halford Street, Leicester. The estate and surrounding land was purchase by A E Tate and Company, builders, of Oadby.

The development of the area commences with the demolition of Harcourt House and the first houses were built on Leicester Road, now known as Harcourt Estate along with two houses on each side of the Harborough Road end of the footpath running to Langton Road through Marsh Field now known as Marsh Drive.

 Marsh Drive Harcourt House 1904 

 1904 Ordnance Survey Map showing Harcourt House and the footpath through Marsh Field

World War ll stopped further development of Marsh Drive. However in 1942 part of the Harcourt estate land, at the Langton Road end, was requisitioned by the Government and a Women’s Land Army hostel was constructed and occupied by Land Army Girls for the duration of the war. (See also Article about the Land Girls - Modern)

 Marsh Drive hostel

Plan of the Land Army Hostel showing the position of 4 bungalows built during the post war development

After the war the Land Army Hostel site was returned to the original owner A E Tate and Co who then resumed the development of Marsh Drive.  Part of the Land Army buuilding was leased to the Victory Tyre and Radiator Company during the 1950’s and later in that decade the Hostel was demolished.

Marsh Drive was developed with a mix of bungalows, detached and semi detached houses which stand to the present day. 


Ordnance Survey
Ernest Tate
Stephen Butt

Published in Modern

The Parker Family - Coat of Arms (Or is it?)

William Parker (the younger) built The Old House in Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt in 1687 and the house became the Parker family home. The Old House has five windows to the first floor and the central one above the front entrance to the house is surmounted by a scrolled pediment containing a Coat of Arms depicted below:

OldHouse CoatofArms 

Extensive research has been carried out in the official records of Arms and pedigrees at The College of Arms in relation to the Parker family of Kibworth Harcourt and the Arms displayed on the Old House.

During the 16th and 17th centuries Officers from the College of Arms went out about every three years to visit (known as a Heraldic Visitations) every County to oversee the use of Arms and to check the pedigree of the gentry. The records from the visitations form the core of the records of the College archives.

 There is no Parker surname recorded in any of the Heraldic Visitations to Leicestershire. Further searches by the College of Arms revealed no record of a Parker in Kibworth Harcourt having a Coat of Arms. The Indicies of the Grant of Arms also had no record of any Parker in Leicestershire.

A search of the pictorial indices granted by the English Kings of Arms to find a record of the Arms displayed on the Old House discovered that this Coat of Arms was granted to a man named Parker living in Essex in the reign of Henry VIII.  The unique design of the Coat of Arms was granted by Letters Patent dated 21st February 1537 to Henry Parker of Frith Hall, Essex for him and his descendants. There is no evidence that the Parker family of Kibworth were in any way related to Henry Parker of Frith Hall, Essex. The College of Arms are of the opinion that at some stage the Parker family of Kibworth started to use the Coat of Arms belonging to the Parker family of Essex.

Clare and Steve Langan
Peter Burfoot
The College of Arms, London

Published in Early Modern

Sir Charles Hayes Marriott MD, FRCS, DL,  (1832 – 1910)


Charles Hayes Marriott was born in Kibworth Harcourt on 18 October 1832, he was the son of John Marriott MRCS, and his wife Georgiana. The Marriott family had a history of medical practice in Kibworth, his father practiced for fifty five years and his grandfather also practiced in Kibworth for over fifty years.

Charles attended Uppingham School and after leaving school went to Northampton Hospital where he was a pupil of Henry Terry, a Surgeon at the hospital. After three years' apprenticeship at Northampton Hospital he moved to University College Hospital, London in 1854, where he lived with Dr William Jenner, Assistant Physician to the Hospital and where he received personal tuition from the eminent Physician. He was acting as a House Surgeon at the Hospital and his studies earned him several prizes. He gained Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1858, became an MB London and achieved Fellowship of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons in 1859.

In the same year he was appointed House Surgeon at the Leicester Royal Infirmary and after two years in that position he opened a private practice in Leicester. In 1861 he was elected Surgeon to the Infirmary.

Charles Marriott married Lucy, daughter of the Reverend John Gilson in 1862 and they lived in the family home, Harcourt House, Kibworth Harcourt where they had they had six children, four boys and two girls; Harcourt House was a large dwelling on the A6 with 18 rooms and included a garden of approximately two acres.

He became an MD in1863 and very quickly built up his practice and was acknowledged as the foremost surgeon in the district. He recognised the importance of scientific training for nurses and he was largely instrumental in founding the Leicester Trained Nurses' Institution and was a member of the governing body for many years.

He was fond of animals and for many years was Chairman of the local branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Charles Marriott was elected to the General Council of the British Medical Association in 1874, and in 1877 became President of the Midland Branch. He was also a member of the Committee of the Medical Defence Union, Chairman of the Leicester Bacteriological Institute and he was a founder member of the Leicester Committee of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Outside his professional career he was very active serving his community in many ways.  He was a Deputy Lieutenant of the County and served as a Justice of the Peace and he was the first Chairman of Kibworth Harcourt Parish Council. His services to the village and the wider community are commemorated by the naming of a street, Marriott Drive off New Road in Kibworth Harcourt and The Marriott Ward at The Leicester Royal Infirmary.

He was also involved in national politics and was the Chairman of the Market Harborough Branch of the Liberal Unionist Party.

A keen cricketer Charles Marriott was President of the Leicestershire County Cricket Club and captain of Kibworth Cricket Club. He was the only player to have hit a cricket ball out of the old ground over Fleckney Road and over the since demolished Johnson & Barnes hosiery factory on the corner of Fleckney Road and Dover Street.

Sir Charles Hayes Marriott’s services to the Medical Profession were recognised in 1904 when he was awarded a Knighthood by King Edward VII.

Sir Charles Marriott died on 14 February 1910 and was buried on 17 February in the churchyard of St Wilfrid’s Church, Kibworth.

Sir Charles’ four sons all inherited his skills as a cricketer and whilst they lived in the village all played for Kibworth Cricket Club. Harold Henry Marriott, the youngest of the four sons, was a stylish right-hand bat who played for Cambridge University, Leicestershire County Cricket Club, and the MCC as well as appearances for the Kibworth team.

When Sir Charles’ widow died in 1930 the family decided to sell the house and land (See also Harcourt House and Marsh Drive - Modern). This was purchased in 1931 by A E Tate and Company, a local builder, who developed the site over the next 20 years resulting in the Harcourt Estate on the A6 Leicester Road and a new road, Marsh Drive, running between Leicester Road and Langton Road.


Kibworth and District Chronicle
Royal College of Surgeons of England
The British Medical Journal
Kibworth Cricket Club

Published in Modern

WP younger will 1The transcripts of the documents are as accurate as possible although some words are indecipherable and those words are marked by a ▬. Copies of the original abstract documents precede the transcript

The Last Will and Testaments of William Parker (the elder) and William Parker (the younger)

Copy and transcript of the last will and testament of William Parker (the elder)

Published in Early Modern
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