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Smeeton House, 3 Main Street, Smeeton Westerby is a Grade ll listed building, first listed in 1989. 

 Smeeton House

Smeeton House (front aspect)

Smeeton House was originally two small cottages built in 1734. Around 1800/05 the cottages were converted into one with the addition of a three-storey front extension.

The house is built of brick since rendered with plaster. It has a slate roof, a gabled chimney and a moulded cornice. There is a central four panel door with a glazed overlight. On each side of the door are single canted bay windows.


Smeeton House is now partially obscured by trees.

Following the extension to the house it became a school ‘The Smeeton House Academy’ and was one of the three schools in Smeeton Westerby during this period with the pupils attendance funded by their parents.

The following is an advertisement for the Smeeton House Academy:

Smeeton House Academy advertBy 1841 Smeeton House Academy was a successful boarding school run by James Buzzard. Studying at the Academy were 29 male pupils aged between 10 and 15 years.

In an advertisement for the school some years later Mr Buzzard said:

Smeeton Mr B

In September 1850 Mr Buzzard informed parents of his intention to move the school from Smeeton House to Peatling Hall, Peatling Parva, in September the following year. By this time there were 48 pupils at the school.

The Smeeton House Academy was closed until 22nd January 1852 when a Mrs Hacket ran the school until late 1856 when, once again, the school closed.

Miss Caroline Gimson, who had been running a school at West Langton, moved her school to Smeeton House where she reopened Smeeton House Academy on 19 January 1857. It is likely that the school finally closed in 1875.

The house is now a private dwelling.


Kibworth to Smeeton ‘A stroll down memory lane’ by Philip J Porter
British History Online
Historic England


Published in Modern


Kibworth is the birthplace of two people who changed the course of English literature and English education: Anna Letitia Aikin, who published mostly under her married name, Barbauld, and her brother, John.  They were born here, in 1743 and 1747, because their father, the Reverend John Aikin, kept a school in the house now known as the Old House. His son was one of his pupils. Anna Letitia, being a girl, could not enroll in her father’s school, but she learned much on the side, foraging in her father’s library and picking up knowledge from her brother.  Eventually she persuaded the Reverend Mr. Aikin to teach her some Latin.  She and her brother were very close from childhood until his death in 1822.  In a poem addressed to him she remembered that “hand in hand with innocence we stray’d / Embosom’d deep in Kibworth’s tufted shade.”  It was in Kibworth too, probably, that Anna Letitia developed a deep lifelong love of History. The passion for History, she wrote many years later, is awakened by curiosity about our own surroundings.  One bit of her surroundings that she must have seen many times from her front door was the Munt, a local mystery.  Was it Roman? Medieval? A fort? A tomb?

In 1758 the Aikin family removed to Warrington in Lancashire, for the Reverend John had been invited to join the faculty of a new Dissenting academy there.  At Warrington Anna Letitia began to write, and from there she published her first book, Poems (1773).  The book made her famous overnight.  But it might not have come to print without her brother’s urging and aid.  John Aikin, having taken a medical degree at Edinburgh, set out to have a literary career and brought his sister along.  After her Poems, brother and sister collaborated on a volume of essays, Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose (1773).  The two of them went on to be leading names in the literary world of London - and Anna Letitia became a famous name in the early United States as well. She did so through her books for children, published under her married name, Mrs. Barbauld: Lessons for Children (1778-79) and Hymns in Prose for Children (1781), written while she was teaching school with her husband in the village of Palgrave in Suffolk.  Lessons initiated treating the child reader as the main character in a story that is completely realistic because it is based on the child’s life.  Hymns in Prose encouraged the child reader to love Nature as the work of a loving divinity.  Both books are set in country villages like the village of Palgrave where they were written – and like the village of Kibworth, where Anna Letitia herself had learned to love Nature.  

          Anna Letitia went on to write further poems and essays, to engage in political controversy (a daring move for a woman in the 1790s) on the liberal side, and to work as a reviewer and editor.  She could be called England’s first woman of letters, something like the Virginia Woolf of her time.  Her brother, John, practiced as a doctor but moved over into literature.  He published on many subjects — medicine, poetry, politics, natural history - but was most influential as the editor of a national magazine in the 1790s, The Monthly Magazine, and a multi-volume biographical dictionary, a predecessor of today’s DNB.  He and Anna Letitia continued to collaborate; she contributed to his most popular work, a collection of tales and dialogues for young readers, Evenings at Home (1792-96, and many later editions on both sides of the Atlantic).

          Anna Letitia and John were one generation older than the writers who are known today as the first of the Great Romantics, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  They knew Wordsworth and helped Coleridge get started: Anna Letitia was among the first to recognize Coleridge’s genius, and John was among the first to publish his poems.  John also hired young Robert Southey, Coleridge’s friend and a poet, to write for his magazine. Young Walter Scott avowed that he owed to Anna Letitia his inspiration in poetry.  So between them, Anna Letitia and John played midwife to British Romanticism.

          Late in life Anna Letitia published her longest poem, Eighteen Hundred and Eleven (1812), a lamentation over the horrors and human waste of the Napoleonic Wars. The poem was badly received by a public that had learned to view war as glorious and the war against France as necessary; today, however, Eighteen Hundred and Eleven enjoys the admiration of literary historians on both sides of the Atlantic.  It is respected as one of the major poems of its time.

          In 1800 John Aikin revisited Kibworth on a holiday trip, but Anna Letitia never saw her birthplace again after leaving it at age fifteen.  After Warrington, John lived in Suffolk and the London suburb of Stoke Newington; he died there in 1822.  After Warrington, where she married Rochemont Barbauld in 1774, Anna Letitia lived in Suffolk and the London suburbs of Hampstead and Stoke Newington; she died in Stoke Newington in 1825.  She and John are buried there in the graveyard of St. Mary’s Church on Church Street.

Article kindly provided William McCarthy, professor emeritus of English at Iowa State University. He is the author of 'Anna Latetia Barbauld:Voice of the Enlightment' and co editor of 'The Poems of Anna Letitia Barbauld'

Anna Letitia Barbauld Plaque



On Saturday 11 May 2013 a blue heritage plaque dedicated to Anna Letitia Barbauld and John Aikin was unveiled at the Old House, Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt.

Published in Modern

Kibworth Beauchamp Grammar School was possibly one of the oldest Leicestershire schools and was still in operation until 1964. Founded sometime in the fourteenth century, possibly as early as 1359, local legend is that Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (d. 1471), the so-called ‘King Maker’ played some part in the school’s early development.

Published in Medieval
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