Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kibworth Harcourt and the Jarrow march

Kibworth, as we call it know, is really two villages. Kibworth Beauchamp (which has the new bookshop and the former Council Street) and Kibworth Harcourt.

Harcourt is far smaller and, perhaps because much of it was owned by Merton College, Oxford, more genteel. There are reports of conflict in past times between the radical framework knitters of Beauchamp and the more genteel inhabitants of Harcourt.

Today there are no shops left in Harcourt and even its pub has been turned into an Italian restaurant. Its Main Street makes a number of right-angled turns. So much so that the modern A6, which runs between the two villages, is an early 19th century by-pass built so that coaches did not have to take this route through Harcourt.

What intrigued me most about Harcourt last Saturday was the Munt - or Kibworth Harcourt Castle - which is the remains of a 12th century earthwork motte and bailey fortress, though it may have been reshaped by Victorian excavations. You can find it in a field just off the A6.

There was interesting 20th century chapter in the Munt's history. According to the excellent village trail leaflet, the Jarrow marchers halted here on their journey and were addressed by Ellen Wilkinson. I like to think of her standing on the mound itself to make her speech.


Tom Barney said...

Beauchamp as in Lord Beauchamp of 1930s gay scandal fame? Harcourt as in Sir William?

Jock Coats said...

its pub has been turned into an Italian restaurant

You mean the Rose & Crown on the main road was it? When we moved to Kibworth (Beauchamp), oh, about 32 years ago now, we stayed in that pub for a few nights till our house purchase completed. It ought to have closed back then. It was miserable! But then I suppose them were the days when Fawlty Towers was the very model of British B&B provision...:-)

Jonathan Calder said...

No, the Rose & Crown later became and Indian restaurant and is currently boarded up.

Kibworth Harcourt's pub was on the village's Main Street.

Kevin said...

For the latest historical update about this village watch BBC TV series - Michael Wood's "The Story of England" (Autumn 2010) and check out new website:

Jock Coats said...

Thanks for that trip down memory lane Kevin with that website and the one of St Wilfred's, where I was a chorister in 1977/8 under Denis Ireland as Rector.

I would not have been aware I think in those days that it was a Merton benefice so I suppose now ensconced in Oxford I ought to go and see if I can look at their collection of photos and so on.

At age ten then, the primary school in Hillcrest was my sixth school (parents were regular ex-pat nomads) and I didn't get on well there, as I had covered all the work my year was doing, so I won a scholarship to a Staffordshire prep school. As Canon Ireland had been taking my catechism classes I returned to be confirmed in 78 and then one weekend on leave from school my mother told me Canon Ireland had collapsed and died that week.