“Understanding yesterday, for the benefit of  today and tomorrow”

Read reports from earlier years © 2005-2018, 2019  All Rights Reserved  Kibworth History Society and W.G.Weston

2nd September 2010

Chairman, Norman Harrison, welcomed a large number of old and new members to the Annual General Meeting at which the  existing officers

were re-elected to serve for another year. The chairman then said that Maya Vision had asked whether the  Society would like to include

anything in the time capsule that will be buried on 12 September. He then took a group photograph for inclusion in the time capsule.

Following this, Pat Thomas spoke about the history of Whittlesea Mere that

lies to the east of Peterborough and was originally the largest area of fen,

covering some 150 square miles. Various attempts at draining the fen were

made over the centuries but  it was not finally drained until the end of the 17th

century. As the land has dried out, the level is now much lower.

Ruth Tyers spoke about the history of Kibworth, using 'trackways' as the

ingenious means of connecting the different  periods of time. She started

with the  ancient paths or trackways that followed the high ground from

south-west to north-east. The Romans built the Gartree Road that goes

from Leicester to Colchester. Then the A6  evolved with the establishment

of Market Harborough, becoming more important  when it became a turn-

pike  road in 1726. Rail tracks  and the railway brought Kibworth  into the

19th and 20th centuries.

Both talks were very interesting and left members wanting to learn more

about the subjects.

7th October 2010

“Remember, remember the 5th of November, gunpowder treason and plot”; a rhyme well known to us all: was it “The most horrible treason that ever entered the realm” or was Guy Fawkes the only honest man ever to enter Parliament?

Our speaker, Sally Henshaw, explained current thinking surrounding the plot. Facts are sparse and come mainly from the King’s Book and the so called confession of John Gerrard, one of the conspirators.

The plan was to blow up the House of Lords and to install James I’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth as head of a Catholic State. During the reigns of Elizabeth and James, Catholics were persecuted and had very few rights.  A group of plotters:  Robert Catesby, Thomas & Robert Wintour, John Gerrard, John & Christopher Wright, Robert Keyes, Thomas Percy, John Grant, Thomas Bates, and the most well known, Guido or Guy Fawkes, embarked on the plot in 1604. Catesby had previously tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade Philip of Spain to invade England in an attempt to gain tolerance of the Catholic faith.

Along with his fellow plotters, Catesby began tunnelling under Parliament. Progress was slow until suddenly, a room above the tunnel and below Parliament, became free. It had been a coal cellar and appeared the ideal place to store the 36 barrels of gunpowder that Catesby and Fawkes had purchased to blow up Parliament.

Catholics were under constant surveillance from spies working for Robert Cecil, Secretary of State, and, with the benefit of hind-sight, it seems likely that Cecil was aware of the plot and arranged for the room to become available in order to trap the plotters.

On 5th November 1605, troops searched the room, found the gunpowder and captured Guy Fawkes. After two days of torture, Fawkes eventually named his fellow conspirators, most of who fled from London as they learned of the plot's discovery.

To this day we celebrate the discovery by the burning of a Guy Fawkes effigy on the anniversary of the discovery of the plot.

4th November 2010

This month, members enjoyed a light-hearted talk by David Siddons entitled ‘Wonderful Words’.  David explained that he had become fascinated from the age of eight at the many and varied ways in which letters and words can be fitted together.  He talked about long words and short words, palindromes, anagrams and lipograms and much more.

We all know about the simple palindrome, where a word such as ‘eve’ reads the same backwards as forwards, but David gave much longer examples where the same applies, ‘Panda had nap’ or  ‘A man, a plan, a canal – Panama’.  Anagrams are to be found in most crossword puzzles, but who is aware that there is a Society of Anagramists.  Lipograms are another form of intellectual challenge where one leaves a letter out of a complete sentence.  This was taken to extreme limits when E.V. Wright wrote a novel of 50,000 words without using the letter E.  David ended his talk by giving a number of humorous examples of newspaper headlines that had a double meaning.

This talk showed how flexible English is in the way it can be used and for those of the audience who did not know what the longest word is (and only one person did), with 29 letters, it is ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’.

2nd December 2010

Over twenty members braved the weather to enjoy the annual supper and quiz at the Methodist Church. After an excellent supper came the quiz, which was set by Wayne Coleman. As usual, the quiz was a mixture of general and local knowledge. In the absence of an overall winner, the chairman decided that the prize, a box of chocolates, would be enjoyed by everyone in the hall.

3rd February 2011

Beryl Tory was our speaker at our February meeting, providing an insight into the history of Kibworth Bowling Club.

The club was started in 1927 by some of the older ex-players of Kibworth Cricket Club, in a corner of the cricket field on a derelict tennis court.  G. Gamble, J. Brown, T. Adkinson, and the brothers Harry, Tom, and Vic Iliffe, raised money and in 1928 a grand opening, by Mrs Barnes, wife of the hosiery factory owner, took place. Mrs Barnes was presented with a bouquet by Vic’s daughter, Eileen. (75 years later Eileen was guest of honour at the club’s anniversary).

The club thrived, and, in 1954, was able to buy the land on which it played, for £300. A ladies’ section was started in 1932 but disbanded 5 years later, to be re-started in 1947. At this time the three rinks were expanded to four, by the membership digging and levelling the site. The club’s headquarters could be found in the Royal Oak on High Street. Away matches generally involved travel by rail or bus. The club has had success in the Bilton Cup and had representatives in National Finals. Various club buildings have existed on the bowls site but, as a result of money raised from running the Carnival in 1977 and 1978, a brick club house was built. Carpet bowls were added as a winter activity. One of the drawbacks to the site was the entrance/exit, and as the club grew it became apparent that a new site, with better access, was needed.

In 2001 the club moved to its existing site on the edge of the village, into a fine new clubhouse with wonderful facilities and off-road parking for 40 cars. In addition to bowling activities the club runs jazz evenings and quizzes. The club is able to host the County Finals, and provided the County President in 1979 (Dorothy Bolton) and 2005 (Beryl Tory).

3rd March 2011

Our speaker this month was Mary Essinger who spoke about being a teenager during the 1940s and 50s. This was a light-hearted talk based on her own memories when, like many Leicester girls at the time, Mary’s first job was in the hosiery industry. She started as a cutter at the Cherub factory on Charles Street, gradually working her way up to become a knitwear designer. This was a time when there were many hosiery firms in and around Leicester producing all manner of knitted goods, from socks and underwear to high fashion outer garments.

The Saturday night dance at the Palais, Leicester’s favourite dance hall, was much enjoyed in the time before discos, when every dance hall had a live band, boys and girls gathered on opposite sides of the room. Girls were expected to be home by a given hour and parents were often there to ensure that it happened. Mary spoke amusingly and affectionately of that time, since she met her husband there. She also referred to the way that sex was discussed at the time unlike today, when anything goes, rules were strict and most discussion was in the form of innuendo.

Mary read extracts from her book, In My Fashion. A most enjoyable evening.

7th April 2011

The Chairman, Norman Harrison, welcomed everyone, in particular visitors, to the meeting, especially a visitor from Devon who had been in the village researching the Goodman family.   Several apologies had been received.  The Chairman reported that the Annual Skittle Match against the Kibworth Harcourt Conservation Trust had taken place at the 'Railway' Inn.  After 3 successful years for the History Society the Conservation Trust had won the competition by 2 rounds to 1 and the cup had been awarded to them.

Members were reminded of the proposed 8 mile walk from Kibworth to Great Bowden which will take place on Whit Saturday 11th June. The original walk had taken place annually at Whitsuntide and both villages were keen to have a reconstruction of the event, but not the fight which ensued after the 1264 walk!

Ruth Tyers would be grateful for any information on the brickyards both in Kibworth and Smeeton and for any knowledge of local houses which may have been constructed from the bricks produced.

Jean Chapman, one of the members, had recently visited her daughter who lives near Rouen in France and had visited the ancestral castle of Robert de Harcourt who fought against Harold in 1066 and was awarded the manor of Harcourt  by William the Conqueror.  Members were able to look at photographs of the present day castle.

The speaker for the evening was Pat Grundy from the Leicestershire Records Office who gave an interesting presentation on 'Tracing Family History'.   Pat had been able to assist Michael Wood on his research and featured in the subsequent production of 'The Story of England'.  To begin the research one should talk to members of the family and friends, locate old documents, letters etc., which may be in the house. Make a note of the information using a blank roll of  wallpaper and a pencil for the project.  Information on births, marriages, deaths and wills is held by the County Records Office in Wigston and available on request.   


5th May 2011

 At our last meeting we were very fortunate to have an interesting, informative talk and slide show given by George Weston about the Kibworth web-site. It was quite an 'eye opener' to those members who had not had the opportunity to view subjects on the internet before . George had the presence of mind to set the web-site up about 10 years ago so giving us a very easy 'address'  to remember.  He put in a great deal of time and effort in order to create a very comprehensive collection of  matters relating to this area. There is a wealth of fascinating information there. One can 'click on' to such headings as Village Trail, Memories, 3 villages (Beachamp/Harcourt/Smeeton), Records of all speakers past and present and many others. The site also has links to other websites including the BBC and the British Library Archives. There are computers for use in the libraries for those that would like to view but don't have or need a computer of their own.


It was particularly poignant to see photographs and read the family history of the many local, brave young men who died in two world wars. All those named on the memorials in Kibworth and Smeeton had been investigated and information compiled, thanks to the hard work of researchers. Everyone thought it was a wonderful and lasting achievement. All over the world, people have logged on to our website and records show that in 2005 there were 550 'hits' increasing through the years to 2010 when there were 8,338. That could be something to do with a certain Mr. Michael Wood of course!  The title on the web-page is very aptly named -  Understanding Yesterday for the Benefit of Today and Tomorrow.  Importantly, the web-site address is - 


2nd June 2011

We welcomed back Dr Wendy Freer to speak at our final meeting before the summer break.  She gave an entertaining talk about life for servants in a large house during the nineteenth century.  Wendy chose to illustrate her talk with examples from Calke Abbey.

Apart from agriculture, domestic service was the largest source of employment, especially for women and girls.  While relatively modest townsmen might have one or two servants, Calke had 17 females and 12 males.  In charge was the House Steward who was responsible for running the house and, at Calke, also seems to have been the land agent.  Unlike all other servants who lived in, the steward had his own house on the estate.  The senior female was the Housekeeper.  Below these two, there was a pecking order where everyone knew their place down to the most junior maid.  While the work was hard and unrelenting and the pay was minimal, domestic servants always ate well and had their uniform provided.  Senior servants even took afternoon tea at the same time as the family.

Examination of census returns show that there was a considerable turnover of labour; it also shows that few of the staff were local, some coming from as far as Cumbria and Wales.  No doubt this illustrates how individuals continually sought to improve their position by moving from one house to another.  Dr Freer referred to many other aspects of domestic work, such as the production of household cleaning agents, the week-long laundry process and how Calke had its own fire brigade.  This talk provided a fascinating insight into life below stairs, a way of life that has long since gone.

The next meeting will be held on Thursday 1st September at the Methodist Church when, following the AGM, members will talk about items of historical interest that they possess.  Members of the public are welcome to attend any of our meetings.