The old centre of Kibworth Harcourt lies 200 yards east of the present main road where the principal street, known as Main Street, leads into Albert Street and has remained much the same since mediaeval times and is the main part of The Kibworth Harcourt Conservation Area.. The principal route along Main Street was bypassed by the present A6 Leicester Road in 1810. (see Modern/ TheTurnpikeRoute through Kibworth Harcourt).
Main Street runs from Leicester Road in in an easterly direction until it reaches The Old House (see Early Modern/The Old House) when it turns right to return to the main road near the old Rose and Crown Hotel. The dog leg pattern of roads by the present Main Street and the Nook existed in 1484.
Main Street was very much the heart of Kibworth Harcourt and as one travels along the road from the old Rose and Crown Hotel the historical significance of the road becomes apparent.
Taking a walk down Main Street from The Rose and Crown the first section of the street was formerly known as the King’s Highway, or Berry’s Hill and used to have several shops and Inns (see Modern/A Journey Inn the Past). Berry’s slaughterhouse and butcher’s was at no. 10 and gave this part of Main Street the name Berry’s Hill after ‘Beefy’ Berry, the butcher between the two World Wars.
15 Main Street was ‘The Smithy’, housing the local wheelwright, a vitally important trade in the days of horse drawn transport. The forge was still in service until the 1940s. Legend has it that the wheel of a wagon belonging to the famous preacher John Wesley was repaired here when he passed through the village on one of his evangelical journeys.
Turning to the left this section of Main Street boasted three Inns, thFoxInn at 16, the Navigation Inn at 24, opposite was the Admiral Nelson at 31 which had a skittle alley at the rear and ceased trading in the 1930’s.
No 18 was the Old Bakehouse, this was a baker’s complete with delivery yard at the rear of the building. The end of the Old Bakehouse used to be perfectly square but several coaching accidents occurred at this spot and the end wall was rebuilt at the angle you can see today. At least one accident resulted in a fatality when a coach overturned and several outside passengers were pitched through the windows of nearby houses.
A barn, formerly situated to the rear of 25 Main Street was, it is believed, in the early 19th century, the setting for the Kibworth Theatre (see Modern/Kibworth Theater).
As Main Street reaches the Old House we turn to the left back towards the Leicester Road.
The abundance of Inns continued with The Red Lion at 78 Main Street and at 88 The Three Horseshoes Inn, now trading as Boboli’s, an Italian style restaurant.
The Inn was once owned by Merton College and was sold in 1935 to The Northampton Brewery Company.
On the opposite side of Main Street is the Manor Farmhouse which has medieval origins and is a Grade II listed building. (see Medieval/ Manor House /Manor Farmhouse).
Next we come to Priory Farm at 41 Main Street which is a 16th Century Grade II listed building, formerly known as Ivy Cottage. It is a rectangular house built partly of ironstone with a timber framed upper storey, later faced with brick. The use of differing materials indicates that the house was built in stages over many years.
Continuing towards Leicester Road and on the left is no. 43, The Limes built on the site of an older property. The Limes is an extensive villa dated 1880. In amongst much older buildings, this imposing house, which had extensive stabling and paddocks at the rear, is a good example of Victorian domestic architecture.
We have now reached the end of Main Street where it once again joins Leicester Road.
Written by David Adams
Harborough District Council/Kibworth Harcourt Conservation Area