The Wheatsheaf

The Wheatsheaf around 1900.

Beginnings

The Wheatsheaf was originally an inn with 2 attached cottages, built around 1600 on an ideal plot on the only crossroads in the village.  The site was high enough to escape the floods which regularly cut off access to Cropston and Swithland to the northwest and Rothley to the northeast.

Walter Alin is recorded as Alehouse Keeper in 1603.

The Dexter / Wright Family

Thomas Dexter, from Thurcaston, was landlord from about the late 1830s.

When he died in 1859, his son William took over.  William married Elizabeth Wright, the daughter of a family who had been in the village since the early 1700s.

Both Thomas and William were graziers as well as landlords.   The acreage varied between about 25 and 31 acres.

BELGRAVE- W Dexter, beerhouse-keeper, Thurcaston, was charged with being drunk when in charge of a horse and cart, at Belgrave, on the 12th inst.

PC Dockerill said, in consequence of complaints, he went in search of defendant, and found him near the Folly hill, very drunk, in charge of a horse and cart.   His harness was very much damaged, having been, he understood, in collision with a brick cart. Brought him to the station, and he could hardly stand.

Fined £1 13s, including costs, or twenty-one days’ hard labour.

Leicester Chronicle – Saturday 20 November 1875

William Seal, a labourer from Thurcaston and George Seal, a militiaman from Glen Parva, were charged with refusing to quit the licensed premises of William Dexter at Thurcaston on the 25th May (1885), and with assaulting him on the same date; and George Seal was also charged with damaging a door to the extent of 4s.

The incident happened on Whit Monday.  The Seals had been drinking since early morning.   In the afternoon they began to quarrel with other customers.  When the others left the Seals began to fight each other.   They were ejected several times, but continued to fight in the street and then went back into the pub.

At 9:30pm, they were again ordered out and William Seal obeyed.  George, however, kicked out the bottom panel of the door, took the door off its hinges and threw it away.  When William Dexter went to pick up the door George knocked the sixty-year old landlord unconscious.

Adapted from report in the Supplement to the Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury  13 June 1885

George Wright, landlord of the Wheatsheaf Inn, was one of 4 beerhouse-keepers prosecuted for selling ginger wine without a spirit licence.  An analysis of the wine showed that it was equal to the alcoholic strength of light claret.

One of the other defendants had stated that ginger wine was a non-intoxicating drink and that he had sold it to teetotallers for 20 years (laughter in court).

The magistrate thought that the defendants had acted in ignorance.  Each was fined £20 inclusive.

Adapted from report in the Leicester Mercury, March 20 1915

After William's death in 1902,  the Wheatsheaf was kept by William and Mary Wright and then by other members of the Wright family for the next sixty years.

In 1951 the 100+ year reign of the Dexter/Wright family came to an end.

Memories

The Canary

William Wright's son, Arthur, remembered the man who regularly came to the Wheatsheaf to check the purity of the water in the well.

He brought a canary in a cage which he lowered down the well to make sure the air was pure before he descended himself for the inspection.

The Building

The exterior of the three properties show little has changed from their first build, but the interior has seen many changes over the past four hundred years. The separate dwellings were amalgamated in the 20th century, probably losing the thatched roof at the same time. Agricultural buildings behind the pub were converted into a skittle alley and in the 1970s a covered way was built to connect the pub with the old barn.

Consternation was felt by the Sedgwick family, who lived in Latimer House in 1957 when the licensee of the time painted ‘Wheatsheaf Inn’ on the roof. An Order from the County Council was served on the tenant for its removal, but it remains visible as a prominent landmark, being re-painted whenever it fades.

The Wheatsheaf in 2016

Today

The present licensees are Tony and Kathryn Marshall, who celebrated thirty years of tenancy in 2019.

Throughout their time the property has become the centre of the village. The delightful flower baskets and landscaped areas add pleasure to the eye even before the first pint is pulled.

Memories

The mynah bird

"  I can well remember visiting this pub with my dad, many years ago, and both of us being greatly amused by the antics of the resident mynah bird which lived high up in a cage behind the bar.

The bird would mimic the noise made by the entrance door’s squeaky hinges with uncanny accuracy. This, in turn, would attract the attention of the pub’s dog that would seem bemused that no one had actually come in and start barking.

The bird would then start calling the dog’s name, impersonating the pub landlord’s voice, which stimulated the stupid canine to bark even louder giving much entertainment and causing laughter from the pub’s patrons.

The dog never seemed to learn it was the bird that was winding him up.  "

Jim Reay writing in the
Leicester CAMRA Newsletter in 2016.
Read the full article (in a new tab) here .  

© Brenda E. Hooper  2020