Village History

This page is to provide readers with some history of the Rearsby Village & surrounding areas

The community of Rearsby are extremely proud of its history which stretches back to medieval times, boasting an 13th century church at the heart of the village. The doomsday book of 1086 records the village when the packhorse bridge was originally a wooden structure but was rebuilt in its current mainly granite form in 1714 and still allows a pedestrian crossing of the brook which is situated in the conservation area within the village centre. This area also sees a working farm across the historic ford of the brook, which is lined along its banks by 24 mature willow trees. The farm is grade 2 listed and described as Manor Farm and Outbuildings with Barn, Pigeon House and the Mud wall. In addition to the Church as a place of worship there is the old Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (now converted to business premises) on the main road through the village and evidence of a peaching stone that Wesley himself preached from, to members of the village in 1753. Along the same stretch of road can be found a number of grade 2 listed Alms houses dating back to 1862, originally constructed by the local Pochin family.

A Brief History of “The Convent” in Rearsby.

The Sacred Heart Convent, Rearsby, (known locally as “The Convent”) was originally built for a family named Hollingworth in1883. It was called Church Leys House and has had a variety of occupants during its existence and this account attempts to track some of its history. It is now in the hands of developers who are carrying out works to convert it into private apartments and also to erect some detached houses within the grounds.

Rearsby Village School in its Early Days…. 

For the greater part of the nineteenth century most of the rural population was illiterate, and not many children were fortunate enough to receive an education. Early records are sketchy, but in 1818 three poor children in Rearsby received instruction from a schoolmistress who was paid £1 per annum from the Faunt’s Gift charity, these children were selected by the Rector. Other children may well have walked daily to the school in Syston, or attended a dame school in the village. Dame schools were small private schools for young children run by women; such schools were the precursors of nursery, or infant, schools in England. They existed in England possibly before the 16th century in both towns and rural areas and survived well into the 19th century.

Rearsby and the Syston & Peterborough Railway

During the first half of the nineteenth century Rearsby was a bustling and thriving community which was predominately involved with arable farming, but there was a range of livestock as well.  The fields produced large crops of wheat, rye, barley, oats, potatoes, beans and turnips. The village was able to supply most of its needs from its inhabitants and there were several shops and a smithy, and different tradesmen plied their businesses mainly from home. The Melton Navigation exported produce and imported heavy goods like coal, stone, timber and lime. The turnpike from Leicester to Melton was a busy thoroughfare and apart from local traffic supported the passage of well over two thousand stage coaches each year. Several times a day teams of horses would enter the village in both directions and stop at one of three coach houses, often to change horses, and to load and unload passengers, goods and service the daily mail.

The River Wreake and its Influence on Rearsby History

The River Eye rises at Bescaby on the fringe of the Vale of Belvoir near the Leicestershire/Lincolnshire border. The confluence of the River Eye, Thorpe Brook and Scalford Brook occurs at the eastern edge of Melton Mowbray close to Sysonby Lodge to become the River Wreake, which then flows from east to west through the centre of the town. The width of its floodplain varies from about 70 metres at Melton Mowbray to about 700 metres at Thrussington and towards Rearsby in the lower reaches.

The Rearsby Bypass Story

The Melton Road linking Leicester and Melton is the communication lifeblood of the village and part of a major traffic route. Unfortunately, before Rearsby was bypassed, it also brought heavy traffic,fumes, dirt and noise. The local village school and houses on the main road in Rearsby were adjacentto the A607 and they had to keep their windows closed most of the time due to noise and fumes fromthe volume of traffic. Some properties along the road had frontages less than 1.2 metres from the kerbedge. The exit roads onto the main road were dangerous due to poor visibility and speeding traffic.The constrictions in the main road as it weaved through the village were a dangerous obstacle fortraffic, and some heavy goods vehicles had to cross the central white lines into the path of ongoingvehicles to negotiate the most dangerous blind bend. Accidents and incidents were common place.
 This is the story of the ultimately successful efforts of the people of Rearsby to obtain the bypass thatwould return this road, and the village, back to a quiet, rural traffic-calm state that hadn’t existed sincethe 18th century and also once more reunite the south east side of Rearsby with the rest of Rearsby.

3 thoughts on “Village History

  1. I started school in Rearsby in September of 1952. we lived in an old farmhouse near Syston called Broomlies. I remember starting school very well and would be pleased if anyone had any old photos of the school. My father was in the army and we were in Syston for only a year as he was then moved on to pastures new.

  2. Good Evening, I am tracing the early years of my great grandfather George William Cox born 1883 in Rearsby. Married in 1906 to Lily Matilda James in Parish church. He joined the Army,moved to London and was sadly killed in First World War. He said his job was a labourer and on marriage certificate it says father unknown. Mothers name on army docs looks like Eliza but it’s not clear. So I’m just trying to find out about his parents and trace my family tree back further. Any information would be great. Thankyou.

  3. Below are some Rearsby census records for you to draw whatever conclusions you deem fit. There is a possibility that the Cox names may be linked. All these records were taken from the public domain and can be researched as you deem appropriate.

    1871 Census. William Cox 44 agricultural labourer from Hereford lived in Rearsby with wife Ann who was born in Rearsby (maybe born a Wait) with sons Richard 14, James 9, and George 6.

    There could possibly be a relevant registered marriage of William and Ann Cox listed as 1854 Barrow on Soar District

    1881 Census. William Cox 54 (Waggoner) from Harford? and wife Ann 56 lived in Brook Cottages Rearsby

    1891 Census. Ann Cox 66 widow born Rearsby lived at 38 Melton Road Rearsby along with Grandson William 7 (George son of George?) born in Leicester

    1901 Census. William Cox 17 a servant and waggoner on farm, lived at 102 Gaddesby Lane Rearsby

    No record of James as a family in Rearsby at this time, but there are two Lily Matildas recorded elsewhere as born Poplar 1882 and Windsor 1884.

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