Harcourt Trail

On the north-east boundary of Kibworth Harcourt and to the east of Carlton Road stands Kibworth Hall, a grade ll listed building. The Hall is a square Georgian mansion standing in an extensive park and has an embattled parapet and hoodmoulds to the windows. Internally there was a fine staircase with an iron balustrade.

KibworthHall1

Built c1825 by the Humfrey family who lived in the Old House, Kibwirth Harcourt. (See The Old House-Early Modern) John Benjamin Humfrey and his wife Charlotte moved into the newly built Hall. When John Benjamin Humfrey died in 1864 his son and heir Richard Buckley Humfrey inherited Kibworth Hall. Richard married Marian Matilda Hotchkin from Tixover, Rutland and they had had two daughters Florence Marianne and Letitia Blanch. Richard Buckley Humfrey died in 1878 and the estate passed to his two daughters.

After this date the Hall was occupied by Colonel the Hon. Arthur Edward Hardinge, Knight of the Legion of Honour, who in 1858 was appointed Equerry to HRH Prince Albert and when Albert died he became Equerry to Queen Victoria. In 1877 a Mr. Featherstone lived in the Hall. Ownership of the Hall moved to Rowland Hunt MP in 1870. Rowland Hunt was head of a family which had owned property and land in Shropshire since Edward III. He had married Florence Marianne Humfrey, daughter of Richard Buckley Humfrey, co-heiress with her sister Latitia Blanch of Kibworth Hall. They had 10 children, one of whom, Agnes Hunt, was co-founder of Shropshire Orthopedic Hospital.

The Hall, in 1888, came into the possession of Colonel the Hon. John Worthy Chaplin CB. VC. Colonel Chaplin joined the 67th regiment and fought in China where he was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery. He was the founder and first President of Kibworth Golf Club. He died in 1920 and his grave is marked by the largest memorial in Kibworth cemetery. His daughter married Major Sweetenham whose name appears on the Kibworth War Memorial.

JW Chaplin VC
Col JW Chaplin VC

On 22nd August 1918 J Toller Eady, Auctioneers of Market Harborough, held an auction to sell Kibworth Hall and The Old House on behalf of Rolland Hunt MP. Details of the result of the auction are not known however it is believed that William John Bellville purchased Kibworth Hall. He died as the result of a hunting accident in 1937 and is buried at Carlton Curlieu churchyard. His nephew, Anthony Bellville, inherited the Hall and lived there until he decided to move to the Isle of Wight. The Hall was then rented to the Home Office. In 1942 it became the St Mary’s Home for Girls and was opened by the Waifs and Strays Society. It was used as a wartime evacuation home for children from the St Mary’s Home for Girls at Felixstowe which had operated as an Approved School since 1935. In 1945 the Society bought the Hall and it continued to operate as an Approved School until 1955. At this time the Church of England Children’s Society took over the Hall providing accommodation for 30 children between the ages of 8 and 15 years. In 1958 Kibworth Hall was taken over as part of Glenfrith Hospital and became not just a hospital but a loving home for mentally handicapped patients.

When Sister Pentalek headed the nursing staff she instigated many changes during her time there. In the past it was possible for patients to lose their identities and become completely institutionalised. Sister Pentalek believed that every patient should be treated as an individual with the right to a normal a life as possible. She organised shopping trips, social events, summer outings and much more. Mrs Everett was in charge of everyday therapies teaching handicrafts, music and movement. Rev. Fred Dawson, Rector of Kibworth from 1979 to 1994, gave his support and held a weekly service at the Hall.

The League of Friends were an invaluable group of ladies who gave their time to help with shopping and outings as well as fund-raising activities. Olive Marsden was a member of the League of Friends for over 25 years. She remembers helping to take patients shopping and they particularly enjoyed visiting Annie Lee’s shop in Kibworth. They loved their yearly trip to Leicester to see the Christmas lights. Olive mentioned the fund-raising events and she particularly remembers bingo at the village hall.

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The League of Friends members:

l-r back row, Kathleen Blower, Dorothy Burrows, Phyllis Ringrose, Rosemary Barnes, Betty Burbidge,

l-r front row, Olive Marsden, Iris Tomlinson, Mrs Whitney, Annie Lee, a member of staff, Beryl Lloyd.

After more than 30 years, when many changes had taken place, the residents of Kibworth Hall moved to new homes in and around the Market Harborough area.

The Hall and grounds were sold in 1990 to John Littlejohn, a local builder, and became a private residence once again. Four private houses were built in the grounds of the Hall. After John’s untimely death in 2014, the family continued to live there until it was sold to private owners in 2016.

KibworthHall IMG 20141206

 

Kibworth Hall was not only a home for the aristocracy but for children and adults who were able to lead a normal and varied life in a splendid residence set in such beautiful countryside.

Written by David Adams


Acknowledgements

A large part of this article was taken from an article by Isobel Cullum published in the Kibworth & District Chronicle in January 2015.  I am very grateful to Isobel for her permission to use parts of her article.

The Kibworth & District Chronicle
British History Online

Published in Modern
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