Leader: Brenda Hooper
17 July 2018
On yet another warm July evening members of Thurcaston and Cropston Local History Society (T&CLHS) loosely followed the Thurcaston Heritage Walking Trail, taking a wander around some of the interesting places in Thurcaston based on the parish guide produced by the Charnwood Roots project. Our guide Brenda Hooper (Hon President of T&CLHS) provided extra local knowledge.
Starting in the churchyard we heard that the present church is the oldest building in the parish, with a Norman doorway and dating from the 12th century. An earlier wooden Saxon church stood on the site and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. The oldest gravestone in the graveyard is dated 1687.
From the churchyard we moved on to the neighbouring Church Hill field where humps and hollows can be clearly seen, signs of the first settlement of Thurcaston. The ancient track runs down towards the brook with raised earth platforms alongside where wooden huts would have stood. Later, this field was incorporated into one of three great strip fields, before Enclosure.
Across the road from the church is the Old Schoolhouse, built by Richard Hill for the headmaster of the Charity School. The present building was built on the site of the original school in 1875. A couple of the group recalled memories of being at the school, which moved from this building in 1979.
On up Rectory Lane we went to the gates of the Grange, the former home of the rectors of the parish from the 1620s until the 1920s. When Rector Richard Hurd (later Bishop of Worcester) lived here in the mid 18th C he had the gardens landscaped.
Through the gate down Brooky Lane (now a footpath to Cropston) we passed signs of another early settlement, some of us walked down to Sandham Bridge, the packhorse bridge, this is likely to be an old salt route, and would have carried slate for building from Swithland to Leicester and beyond.
Latimer House, which dates from 15th C, has had a number of uses: as a blacksmiths shop; at one time Baptist services were held here; and one wing was used as a reading room with free papers for parishioners to read.
The Memorial Hall was built in 1928 on land donated by Lord Lanesborough to commemorate the men who died in the First World War. The poppy window on the first floor was installed in 2014.
A number of fine farmhouses were also pointed out as well as The Wheatsheaf Inn and the sites of two former public houses, the old Wesleyian Chapel and the old water mill. It all made a very interesting tour of the village.