Saturday, 25 November 2017 10:41

The White House and Nonconformity

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

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’

Additional Info

  • Acknowledgement: 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.
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