Displaying items by tag: Kibworth Beauchamp

Manor Front

Manor House, Summer 2020

The Manor House and garden wall, 30 High Street, Kibworth Beauchamp, is a grade II listed building and possibly the oldest surviving house in the village dating from the 16th century. The house is H-shaped in plan, the lower part of the walls being of ironstone and the upper story timber-framed. The hall, with a room above it, occupies the central block. The hall is lit by a stone-mullioned window in the front wall, and has a stone chimney at its west end. Behind the chimney is the former crosspassage, its front entrance now blocked. The service wing, which lies beyond the passage, has an early fire-place on its back wall which was originally surmounted by a large flue of timber and plaster construction. This was cleared away in 1911 and the space which it occupied on the first floor has been converted into a bathroom. The remains of the flue are visible in the roof. The parlour is in the east wing, which was altered, probably in the 18th century, to accommodate an entrance hall and staircase. The roof contains original trusses with curved principals. To the left of the house are the stables which continue down Smeeton Road. The stables were built early in the 20th century, replacing older outbuildings.The stables building is surmounted by a prominent small clock turret. A red brick wall with brick coping 2⸱5meters highruns from the stables along Smeeton Road enclosing the garden and paddock.

Manor clock tower

Manor House Stables Clock Turret

A mud wall marks the boundary between the Manor House and its neighbour 28 Main Street.

There is evidence that a tapestry, consisting of many square yards, covering the whole of the panelling round the interior of one of the rooms on the second storey. The tapestry and was believed to be of Flemish design.  The subjects were varied and curious in their character.  The date of the tapestryis thought to be from the end of the 16th century. In August 1863 a number ofattendees at the AGM of the Leicestershire Architectural and Archaeological Society (see Historic Gathering-Modern) visited the Manor House at the invitation of the occupier, Mrs Buzzard, to view the tapestry which was described as being in fine state of preservation. The tapestry is no longer at the house and its whereabouts is unknown.

It is believed that in the 16thcentury the house was occupied by the steward or bailiff of the manor. There is little information on the occupants of the house however Mrs Buckby, who sponsored a play, ‘Inkle and Yarico’, at the Kibworth Theater (see Kibworth Theater-modern) in September 1790, lived in the Manor House. The next known occupant was Mrs. Buzzard wholived there in 1863.  The next information on ownership was 12 June 1907, when the Manor House, the outbuildings and land were conveyed to a Mr George Mattock from Mr Thomas Arthur Bateman who was thoughtto be the owner of 28 and 30 High Street, Kibworth Beauchamp. It seems that the mud wall was not included in the sale.

Mr Mattock died on 30th March 1936 when the property passed through his wife to his daughter, Mrs Elizabeth Goodey who lived in the house until she died on 4 January 1965. In Mrs Goodey’s will Mrs Joan Croxford inherited the house, garden and paddock. However, Mrs Goodey husband Theodore Goodey continued to live in the property until he died on 29 February 1972.

Mrs Joan Croxford and her husband move into the Manor House in the early 1970s. On 12th June 2014, Mrs Croxford ‘gifted’ the paddock to her two grandchildren. 

The Manor House, excluding the paddock, was sold to the current occupants, Mr & Mrs Strevens, on 1stAugust 2014.

The Manor House has undergone extensive renovations over the past 3 years and the three photographs below show the extent of those renovations:

Manor Rest 1

Manor Rest 2    Manor Rest 3

Photographs showing the extent of the renovations

Manor Back

Manor Housw September 2020 - rear aspect

 

Acknowledgements

The Story of England by Michael Wood
Liberal England Blog 17/06.1917
British History On-line
Historic England
Conservation Areas HDC
Barbara Strevens
Kevin Feltham

 

Published in Early 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.

 

Acknowledgements

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

Kibworth Beauchamp Manor

11th to 20th Century

1042 - 1066

During the reign of Edward the Confessor, 5 carucatesi and 6 bovatesii of the Kibworth Beauchamp Manor were held by Edwin and Alferd, and 6 carucates by Ailmar.

1086

The manor of Kibworth Beauchamp was held by Robert (the dispensator) and consisted of 11 carucates and 6 bovates.

1121

Geoffrey Ridel held 1 carucate of the manor on his death

1130

11 carucates were held by Walter de Beauchamp and one carucate by Richard Basset. Walter, whose wife’s uncle was Robert (the dispensator), acquired the land from him. Richard Basset acquired his 1 carucate through his marriage to Maud, daughter of Geoffrey Ridel. What happened to Basset’s land is not known. The Kibworth Beauchamp manor passed through Walter’s descendants.

1298

William de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, died in possession of the manor and it continued to be held by his descendants.

1397

All the lands of Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick, were forfeited after King Richard II charged him with high treason. The Kibworth Beauchamp manor was granted to Thomas Green, one of the King’s Knights and his male descendants. However, the Countess of Warwick was allowed to hold the manor for life in view of the forfeiture of her husband's lands. Letters patent were issued granting the manor jointly to Green and the Countess until her death when the manor would revert to Green and his heirs.

1399

King Richard II was deposed; the forfeiture of the manor was revoked and returned to Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick

1401

Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick died, the manor was held in dower by his widow and on her death it was held by the Earl’s son and heir Richard de Beauchamp,13th Earl of Warwick.

1425

Richard, 13th Earl of Warwick conveyed the manor to feoffeesⁱⁱⁱ.

1439

Richard de Beauchamp died and the manor was held by the feoffees, a dispute arose between Richard’s heirs and John Huggeford, the surviving feoffee.

1485

Huggeford died in possession of the manor. It would appear that the manor was appropriated by Richard’s heir, Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Lisle. Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Lisle had married Elizabeth Talbot, 3rd Baroness Lisle (granddaughter of Richard de Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick). Edward Grey seized the manor of right on the death of his wife Elizabeth in 1487.

1492

Edward Grey died, he was succeeded by his son and heir John Grey.

1504

Sir John Grey, 2nd Viscount Lisle died and the manor descended to his unborn daughter Elizabeth Grey, Baroness Lisle in her own right. Elizabeth Grey was born in March 1505.

1519

Elizabeth Grey, Baroness Lisle, died at the age of 14, her heirs were two aunts. The manor appears to have gone to one of the aunts, Elizabeth, 6th Baroness Lisle, the wife of Edmund Dudley and after Dudley’s execution, the wife of Arthur Plantagenet.

1530

Elizabeth, 6th Baroness Lisle died and the Kibworth Beauchamp manor became the subject of long negotiations between her son by her first marriage, John Dudley and her illegitimate son, Arthur Plantagenet, who had adopted the name of her second husband, Arthur Plantagenet, who had been created Viscount Lisle in 1523,held the manor.

1542

Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle, died and John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, Earl of Warwick, acquired the manor.

1553

The manor was forfeited and held by the Crown following the execution of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, for treason. The manor was granted to his widow, Jane Dudley, Duchess of Northumberland, for life.

1555

Jane Dudley died and the manor was held by the Crown.

1559

Queen Elizabeth I granted the manor to Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick and his brother Robert Dudley.

1589

Ambrose Dudley died without children and as his brother Robert had died the year before the manor once again reverting to the Crown.

1610

On 11th June King James I granted in fee-simpleⁱⁱⁱⁱ the manor of Kibworth Beauchamp to Sir Augustine Nichols and John Smith.

1616

Sir Augustine died in and it is not clear what happened to the manor immediately after.

1632

The manor had been acquired by John Berridge who was Rector of Kibworth (1602-1632) and the manor remained with the Berridge family.

1660

Richard Davenport had married Dorothy, daughter of William Berridge, Rector of Kibworth (1632-1641), and he held the manor of Kibworth Beauchamp.

1687

Richard Davenport and his wife sold the advowson of Kibworth Beauchamp along with the manor to Sir Thomas Halford, Bt., of Wistow Hall (MP for Leicestershire). The manor remained in the hands of the Halford family.

1780

Sir Charles Halford died childless. His widow, Countess Sarah Halford, who later married Basil Fielding, 6thEarl of Denbigh, held the manor.

1814

Countess Sarah died and in accordance with Sir Charles Halford’s will his estate passed to his cousin Dr. Henry Vaughan MD. Physician to King George III who had been appointed a Baronet in 1809 taking the name Halford. The estate including the Kibworth Beauchamp manor passed through the Halford family and finally to Sir Henry Halford.

1897

Sir Henry Halford died and he left the manor to Thomas Francis Fremantle, 2nd Baron Cottesloe, who held the manor into the 20th century.

Written by David Adams

Acknowledgements

British History on line

Historic UK

Calendar of State Papers Domestic James I

NationalArchives

Debrett's Baronetage of England

The Descendants of Richard Davenport (c1545 – 1623/4) of Great Wigston

Wikipedia

Published in Medieval

REVEREND THOMAS THOMAS

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.

TThomas1

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.

Acknowledgements

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

JOHNSON & BARNES LTD

Dover Street, Kibworth Beauchamp

The company was started by John Thomas Johnson who was working for a hosiery manufacturer in Fleckney when he decided to start his own business.  He installed two knitting frames in a shed in Kibworth Beauchamp and started production.  He was joined by William Barnes in 1901 and the Johnson and Barnes Company was created.

JohnsonBarnes

A factory was built in Dover Street and equipped with knitting machines to manufacture fully fashioned hose. The company expanded rapidly and in 1906 a factory was opened at Lutterworth and two years later new machines were purchased for the Kibworth factory. These new machines proved highly successful and the original building in Dover Street was extended.

JBfactory

Johnson and Barnes factory, Dover Street, Kibworth Beauchamp

The company purchased premises in Rutland Street Leicester which provided offices, showrooms, and warehousing space.

About this time Johnson and Barnes introduced the trade name ‘Excello’ for their hosiery products and the company became one of the leading manufacturers in the hosiery business.  Growth continued and in 1912 the business became a limited company.

The World War l years saw changes to the company, in 1915 a former lace-making factory in Stapleford, Nottinghamshire was acquired, John Thomas Johnson died in October 1917 and in 1918 the factory at Lutterworth was closed.

Post war the company thrived as demand for longer stockings increased with the company reacting to this fashion change by installing new machines

capable of producing longer and wider stockings which were marketed under the trade name ‘Flexcello’

New factory, warehouse and office space was acquired in Charles Street and Rutland Street Leicester and the head office was moved from Kibworth to the new premises.

William Barnes died in December 1932.

During World War ll the factories produced half-hose for the ATS, WAAF, and WRNS.

After the war the company continued to prosper and on 23rd February 1948 a factory was opened in Worsbrough, near Barnsley. Kibworth’s production was centred on fully fashioned ladies stockings and boys' three-quarter hose with production increasing to 3,500 dozen pairs a week.

In 1951 Johnson and Barnes celebrated their Golden Jubilee.

However, this was the beginning of the end of Johnson and Barnes as the hosiery trade was threatened by cheap overseas imports. This was followed in the early 1960s by the introduction of the mini-skirt and the demand for tights instead of stockings. Johnson & Barnes had insufficient capital to invest in new machinery required to produce tights. The company suffered during this time and in 1961 the Worsborough factory was closed. The business diversified into the production of knitted garments and the company was acquired by a Canadian financier, Joel David Lerner. In 1970 the Leicester premises were sold, the Stapleford factory was rebuilt and the Kibworth factory was closed in 1971. By 1977 the business had been bought by an investment company, however it continued to lose money and in May 1981 a Receiver was appointed. The Stapleford factory closed that year. Liquidators were appointed in August 1983 with Johnson & Barnes Ltd dissolved in January 1987. 

Acknowledgements:

George Weston
Kibworth History Society
Kibworth and District Chronicle

Published in Modern

During excavations at the rear of Tudor Cottage, Weir Road, Kibworth Beauchamp in 1954 the skull, atlas, the top vertebrae which supports the skull, and metatarsal, the long bone in the foot, of a large Ox was uncovered.  Oxen were a large horned mammal that once roamed in herds across Europe including the United Kingdom but became extinct in these areas.

The find resulted in Leicester University organising archaeological excavation of the site.

KibworthOx
Archaeologists recovered the skull, vertebrae and parts of the pelvis and limbs and these items have been preserved in the Leicester Museum

From the bones recovered it was deduced that the Ox was the largest to be found in Leicestershire. The measurement between the horns was 96 centimetres (38 inches). An unusual feature about the remains was that it was buried in an upright position indicating that the mammal had been trapped in soft ground and had died standing up. The Archaeologists estimated that the mammal died over 5,000 years ago.

Acknowledgements:
Leicester University
Kibworth History Society

 

 

Published in Pre History

On the weekend of 25th and 26th July 2009 two hundred villagers, volunteer diggers and professional archaeologists worked together to open fifty test pits in the villages of Kibworth Beauchamp, Kibworth Harcourt and Smeeton Westerby in south Leicestershire.The event was organised by Michael Wood and his production team from Maya Vision International as part of their new BBC TV series the “Story of England” and under the direction of Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA).

BigDig

Big Dig volunteers outside the Coach and Horses Inn
Andrew Southerden (pub licensee), Michael Wood and Prof. Carenza Lewis in foreground

The volunteers gathered in Kibworth Grammar School Hall on the Saturday morning to receive a briefing from Professor  Carenza Lewis, a British archaeologist who became famous as a result of her appearances on the Channel 4 television series “Time Team”. Stockpiles of tools including mattocks, trowels, tarpaulin and sieves were available as well as detailed instructions on how to record finds.

Throughout the weekend archaeologists were available to respond to calls from the pit sites to give advice on articles found. The digs were also filmed by three roving film crews. The exercise was co-ordinated from The Coach and Horses Inn where the restaurant was equipped with aerial maps, wireless broadband and relevant printed histories and documents relating to the area. This enabled the teams of experts to quickly attend any of the test pit sites where their expertise was required.  The licensee of the Coach and Horses Inn, Andrew Southerden, dug a test pit in the corner of the pub car park (there is now a plaque on the wall behind the site of the pit).

During the course of the Dig over 2500 finds were recorded and labeled, and are now at Cambridge University for analysis by Carenza Lewis and her team. The finds included:

The pit at The Coach and Horses Inn produced early/middle Saxon pottery (450-650AD) and a stratified fragment of an incised patterned early Anglo-Saxon bone comb from undisturbed deposits.  There appears little doubt that it revealed the site of the earliest Anglo-Saxon settlement of Kibworth, with at least 20cm of undisturbed deposits of that date. It appears to have fallen from use before the Viking invasions, and not occupied by people since.

bone comb
Early-Anglo-Saxon bone comb from the pit at the Coach and Horses Inn

Roman pottery was found in two test pits, one in Kibworth Harcourt, the other in Smeeton Westerby. Neither pit produced more than a few sherds.  The pit in Kibworth Harcourt also produced forty sherds of St Neots Ware (c.875-1100AD) and six of Stamford Ware (c.875-1200AD) indicating intensive use of this plot during these periods.

Only one of the pits, more than 1km to the south of this find, produced any pottery of middle Anglo-Saxon date (650-850): a single small sherd of Ipswich Ware (700-850) weighing just 6g, although small this was noted as the first find of Ipswich ware in Leicestershire, and as such is of considerable interest, possibly indicating a site of some status in the vicinity.

Four pits in Smeeton Westerby produced Stamford ware (c.875-1200AD), three of which were sited close together along the west side of the main street. Although these produced smaller amounts of pottery (none yielded more than four sherds), they do seem likely to indicate settlement in this area in the late Anglo-Saxon period.

In Kibworth Beauchamp only about half of the pits excavated produced medieval pottery, whether this indicates less intensive settlement here or it is simply due to sampling bias across a small number of pits where there were far less dug.

In the medieval period, the pattern is very different, with most pits producing significant numbers of sherds dating from 1100-1400AD. These include nine of the twelve pits along Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt, indicating the possibility that there was settlement along this street in the High Medieval period, quite possibly arranged as a regular planned row either side of the street.

Smeeton and Westerby also produced large amounts of pottery dating to 1100-1400AD and activity here appears to have increased significantly in the centuries after the Norman Conquest.

Only two of the five pits excavated in Kibworth Harcourt produced later medieval pottery, also in minimal quantities. Documentary evidence suggests that the population of Kibworth Harcourt dropped by around 40% in 1348-9 (The Black Death) and, after a weak rally in the 1360s and 1370s, dwindled further throughout the first half of the fifteenth century to less than a quarter of the pre-Black Death level, almost to vanishing point. The pottery evidence from the excavated test pits clearly seems to reflect this, it seems that those few families who lived in the former villages in the fifteenth century must have done so in an otherwise almost deserted landscape. In the post-medieval period, however, there is a marked recovery, with nearly all test pits producing material of sixteenth to eighteenth century date.

The pit in Jubilee Green, Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt (the site of the old village market (see Early Modern/ Kibworth Harcourt Village Centre)) was dug by a team of pupils from Kibworth High School and they un-earthed a stone cannonball from the English Civil War (1642 to 1651).

jubileegreenpit

Photograph reproduced by kind permission of Maya Vision International

All the volunteer diggers were very enthusiastic and many were rewarded by their finds, the artifacts below were recovered from a pit in Smeeton Westerby much to the delight of the amateur archaeologist who found them. 

swpit
Finds from Smeeton Westerby pit

Published in Modern
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