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Congregational Chapel on Leicester Road, Kibworth Harcourt

The Kibworth Congregational Chapel is located on the A6 Leicester Road, Kibworth Harcourt near the Wistow Road junction. The Chapel is a Grade II listed building, first listed in December 1966.

The two storey Chapel was built with red brick with a Welsh slate roof. The central entrance door to the west of the Chapel is dated 1759.  The Chapel was extended to the east in 1811 to include a vestibule, a vestry, and a schoolroom. In 1815 a gallery was constructed in the Chapel. An organ was donated in 1930 and a few years later the pews were replaced with oak seats. There is a small graveyard to the rear of the chapel along with a building which was once a stable. The Manse is attached at a right angle to the north of the Chapel built in 1794 of red brick and is three storeys tall. Another house of similar style was built to the rear at a later date.

Inside the Chapel premises is a marble tablet dedicated to Phillip Doddridge DD.

Doddridge marble

Tablet dedicated to memory of Philip Doddridge DD

In 1841 Thomas Gook, the travel pioneer, was passing through Kibworth Harcourt, near to the Chapel, on his way to a Temperance Meeting in Leicester when he had an idea about organising a railway excursion from Leicester to Loughborough, possibly the forerunner of modern tourism. There is a plaque commemorating this on the outside of the Chapel.


Following the Act of Uniformity of 1662 enacted by the Cavalier Parliament which required reordination of many pastors, gave unconditional consent to The Book of Common Prayer, advocated the taking of the oath of canonical obedience, and renounced the Solemn League and Covenant. Many Pastors, unable to accept these conditions, left the established Church resulting the growth of the dissention movement.

In 1672 after the Civil War and the Restoration a Meeting House situated in the yard at the rear of the Crown Inn Leicester Road, Kibworth Harcourt, was licensed for Presbyterian worship. (See The White House-Early Modern)

In about 1609 John Jennings became the Pastor of the dissenting congregation at the Meeting House until his death in 1701. He was succeeded by his son John Jennings Jnr. who established a dissenting academy at the Meeting House which opened in 1715.  When John Jennings Jnr. moved to Hinckley in 1722 the congregation purchased the Meeting House.

From 1723 to 1729 Philip Doddridge, a former pupil of Jennings at the academy, became the minister and principal of the academy at Kibworth. (See Philip Doddridge DD-Early Modern)

The Dissenting Congregation at the Meeting House became Congregationalists and in 1759 the Meeting House was destroyed by a fire. Voluntary subscriptions raised funds for a new building, and the Congregational Chapel was licensed for dissenter’s worship in 1761. The Chapel was in use as a place of worship until the end of the 20th century and is now a private dwelling.


British History on line
The Story of England by Michael Wood
British listed buildings.com


Published in Early Modern

The White House (The Crown Inn), 51 and 53 Leicester Road, Kibworth Harcourt.

The first record of a house on the site of the White House was in the sixteenth century when the Parker family resided in a stone mansion on Leicester Road, Kibworth Harcourt where the White House stands today. Although the Parker family built a house on the site of the Old House, Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt and later in 1678 built the present Old House some members of the family continued to reside in the Leicester Road mansion. After the death of Geffery Parker in 1714, his widow Rebecca married Joshua Reynolds in 1716 and they ran the former Parker stone mansion (the site of the present White House) as the Crown Inn

After the Restoration, Kibworth Harcourt became a centre of Protestant dissent. John Jennings moved to Kibworth Harcourt in 1690 and established himself as pastor of the dissenters (see St-wilfrids-church-history-part2 Modern). A building, the Meeting House, was licensed for Presbyterian worship and was situated in the yard of the Crown Inn which later became the White House.

This was also the site of Jennings's Dissenting Academy – this was a college run by those who did not conform to the Church of England, i.e. were dissenters. These Dissenting Academies formed a significant part of England’s educational systems from the mid-seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. After the Act of Uniformity1662, for about two centuries, it was difficult for any but practising members of the Church of England to gain degrees from the old English universities, of Cambridge and Oxford. The University of Oxford, in particular, required – until the Oxford University Act 1854 – a religious test on admission that was comparable to that for joining the Church. English Dissenters in this context were Nonconformist Protestants who could not in good conscience subscribe (i.e. conform) to the articles of the Church of England. As their sons were debarred from taking degrees in the only two English universities of the day, many of them attended one of these Dissenting Academies.

On his death in 1701 he was succeeded by his son, the younger John Jennings. From 1715 to 1722, Jennings conducted an academy at Kibworth Harcourt and one of his pupils was Philip Doddridge DD. (see Philip Doddridge DD Early Modern).

In 1722, Jennings moved his academy to Hinckley. Following the death of Jennings in 1723, the academy closed. Doddridge was one of the last pupils to complete Jennings’ course.  From 1723-9 Philip Doddridge was the minister and principal of the Academy at Kibworth. In 1759 the meeting-house was destroyed by a fire, the White House is still occupied as a dwelling.

A Blue Heritage Plaque commemorating the life of Philip Doddridge DD was unveiled on 3rd  April 2013 on The White House, 51/53 Leicester Road, Kibworth.

1. Michael Wood, ‘The Story of England’
2. Malcolm Deacon, ‘Philip Doddridge of Northampton’

Published in Modern
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