The Badger's Sett (pictured in 2008)
The Badger's Sett, previously known as The Reservoir Hotel and The Reservoir Inn, dates from about 1870, when Cropston Reservoir was built. A brief history is given below.
Just before Cropston Reservoir was built, the land to be flooded and most of the surrounding fields belonged to the Bradgate Estate. However, one field belonged to Richard Shipley Matts, who farmed this and various other adjoining fields leased from the Grey family at Bradgate.
The new road over the reservoir dam cut off one corner of Shipley Matts' field, and the land he had been leasing from the Greys was appropriated for the reservoir and dam.
Refreshing the Navvies
The presence of numerous navvies building the dam for Cropston Reservoir (completed in 1870) provided an obvious commercial opportunity, and beer was sold in a shed known as "The Shant".
It is likely that this was on Richard Shipley Matts' field.
The Reservoir Hotel (the older part of the current building) was built before 1876 (see below), probably around 1870. It was an attractive setting, with large lawns overlooking the new reservoir.
Thomas Shipley Matts took over the business when his father Richard died in 1873.
Catering for Tourists
In September 1876 Thomas Shipley Matts applied for (and obtained) a spirit licence for his beerhouse.
During the application he described the hotel as "exceedingly well-built", possessing "abundant accommodation", including a shed on the front lawn which could accommodate 200 people. He catered for large parties of day-trippers in the summer, and "gentlemen of position" sometimes stayed, complaining that they could not obtain liquor there.
Mr Reeve, gamekeeper at Bradgate Park, claimed that "more people came through Cropstone now that the reservoir was opened than Newtown".
Thomas Shipley Matts continued to run the Reservoir Hotel with his sisters Louisa Adams Matts and Hannah Matts until Thomas and Louisa died in 1902. The hotel was then put up for sale.
We know little about the Reservoir Hotel in the early 20th century.
However, in 1939 it was one of a number of hotels where the magistrate renewed the licence only on condition that substantial improvements were made. In 1941 it was in such a poor condition that the bailiff, Mr Barratt, came to shut it down. Instead he bought it and turned the skittle alley into a successful restaurant.
1918: Welcoming the troops home
The Badger's Sett
The Reservoir Inn is now owned by the Vintage Inns chain and has been renamed "The Badger's Sett". It continues to serve meals to Cropston's tourists and residents.