Speakers: Anne Horton and Stephen Burrows
18 September 2018
Cropstone House Farm is the attractive stone-built building which is set back on the right hand side of Cropston Road, just as one leaves Cropston village.
Anne Horton’s research revealed the amazing lives (and secrets) of many of its owners and tenants. In addition, the farm’s current owner, Stephen Burrows, was happy to add to Anne’s account, bringing the Society’s Members up-to-date with the family’s history. The Burrows Family have owned the house and land for over 80 years.
Anne gave us details of previous owners of land in Cropston: probably a man called Cropp/Kroppr; another named Ulf, before the Norman Conquest; also Hugh de Grandmesnil, who received the estate as a gift from William the Conqueror around 1068; the Beaumonts and the de Quincys in the C12 and C13 ; the Ferrers family from 1264; and the Grey family from 1405 to 1925.
In 1925, the Grey family put Cropstone House Farm up for sale and it was bought, for the sum of £8000, by local brothers Charles and Robert Moss. They later installed Alf Burrows as their tenant and this later resulted in the purchase of the house and land by the Burrows Family in 1937. They were a talented family, undertaking a range of occupations as identified by census data since 1841. They were identified as lace-makers, teachers, artists and farmers. Richard Burrows, who purchased the farm, was already a farmer. Anne’s account of individual family members was really interesting and was accompanied by some wonderful photographs.
Of special note was Louie, daughter of Alfred and Louisa Burrows. Born in 1888, she was a head-teacher in a number of Leicestershire junior schools from 1908 and became well-known as a defender of women’s rights. In later life, she and her husband lived at The Garth (now The Cedars), in Thurcaston. Louie’s relationship with D.H. Lawrence resulted in his many visits to our local area. He claimed he had proposed to her on a train between Rothley and Quorn and his poem ‘Kisses on a Train’ bears witness, in typical D.H. Lawrence language, to that intimate moment. Louie is believed to be the woman on whom Ursula was based in ‘The Rainbow’. The relationship ended when Lawrence met another woman!
Photos of Cropstone House Farm revealed a beautiful building with casement windows, a porch supported by ornamental columns, and additional wings. Stephen described the walls as being comprised of many different kinds of stones, held together with lime mortar He supplemented Anne’s research by showing us ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of some of the farm buildings –the Grain-store; the Chapel; the Mill; and the Stable, describing the alterations made as they were converted.
The history of Cropstone House Farm is complex and fascinating – Anne and Stephen certainly helped to bring it to life!