Kibworth Harcourt Map 1781

This map is of particular interest for several reasons. More generally it displays the advancement in cartography.

More specifically to Harcourt, it shows the impact of the enclosure movement and the development of more modern land holdings and agricultural practices.

Kibworth DigUnlike any before it, this was not the story of Kings and Queens and Lords and Ladies, but a history of ordinary people as told through collections of old documents and memories. The series was based around the ancient parish of Kibworth in the Gartree hundred, which today comprises three villages: Kibworth Harcourt, Kibworth Beauchamp and Smeeton Westerly.

The project began for the villages on a weekend in July 2009 with the Big Dig, organised by Michael’s production company (MayaVision International) and co-ordinated by Prof Carenza Lewis (a frequent presenter on Channel 4's Time Team), who, with local archaeologists, worked alongside over 150 volunteers to dig 55 one metre square test pits in their gardens and recorded everything they found as they worked their way back through time to the Roman period.

One of the pits, dug in the corner of the car park of The Coach & Horses Inn on the A6, where the team were based throughout the weekend, produced one of the most interesting artefacts – a tiny fragment of bone comb from the DarkAges. Moving between the national and the local narratives, Michael and the production team filmed until October 2010 to set the lives of the ordinary people from the three villages in the context of great events: from the Viking invasions and the Norman Conquest to the Industrial Revolution and the two World Wars.

Fittingly, the series finished in September 2010 with the burial of a time capsule in The Coach & Horses’ car park by Michael Wood and one-time landlord and his wife, Andrew and Beverley Southerden.

Coach time capsuleCoach time capsule


Michael Wood

1396Founded in 1264 by Walter de Merton, Lord Chancellor and Bishop of Rochester, it claims to be the oldest college in Oxford. The chapel was begun in 1290 replacing an earlier structure and was used as a parish church until 1891. The great tower was complete by 1450. It’s Mob quad houses the old library on the upper floor which is one of the earliest libraries in England. With a priceless collection of early printed books and manuscripts the collection runs to 70,000 volumes.



Kit at MertonSaer de Harcourt, a supporter of Simon de Montfort, who led a rebellion against Henry III, was captured after the Battle of Evesham in 1265, and on his release was pardoned on condition he redeemed the value of his estates at seven times their annual value. As he already owed debts to moneylenders, he sold his Kibworth Harcourt estate to the Lord Chancellor of England, Walter de Merton, in 1270, for the sum of £400. The purchase document is stored in the archives of Merton College in Oxford. Walter added the estate to the growing number being used to support scholars in his new Merton College in Oxford.  Later, he also acquired much of the land around Tur Langton, the neighbouring village.


1399 150x144Over the centuries, various buildings owned by Merton College have been sold but even today, much of the agricultural land around the village is still owned by Merton College and leased to local farmers.The Warden and Fellows of Merton College took over the patronage of the 13th century St. Wilfrid’s Church after 1780. Merton College Fellows were installed as Rectors for the following 150 years, until the formation of the Diocese of Leicester in 1926, when the Bishop became joint patron.



1395The Kibworth Improvement Team thank and acknowledge the Warden and Fellows of Merton College, Oxford for permission to use images on this website of the college and archived material.


The Kibworth Improvement Team Committee;

  • David Adams
  • Robin Hollick (Chairman)
  • Dr Kevin Feltham
  • Dr Eddie May
  • Andrew Southerden
  • Emma Tilley

Michael Wood's "Story of England" BBC TV series prompted the formation of the Kibworth Improvement Team (KiT). An application for a grant to the Heritage Lottery Fund, to continue the legacy of the TV series, and create the “Story of Kibworth” was made. Early in 2011 KiT were awarded £48,200 for their innovative heritage projects.

In January 2012, 10,000 copies of the Kibworth Guide Booklets were published. The free booklet consists of three heritage trails, one for each village, and a copy was delivered to every household in the three villages.

'Betty's Trails' inspired by a stalwart of the Kibworth Harcourt community, Betty Ward. These booklets are suitable for those with limited mobility, users of mobility scooters, wheelchairs and pushchairs.

Applications for Planning Permission were made to erect Blue Heritage Plaques to commemorate the lives of, Sir Harold Ridley, Anna Laetitia Barbauld and Phillip Dodderidge DD and the installation of 10 interpretation panels around the three villages to enable visitors to learn more about specific locations on the trail routes.

KiT liased with Kibworth C E Primary and Robert Smyth Academy, to enliven their studies and bring Kibworth’s rich history to life for the young people so they would have a better understanding of its relevance in their curriculum. This resulted in the primary school children creating a DVD film covering the Civil War, Victorian and Second World War periods and visits by Robert Smyth A level history students to Merton College, Oxford.

The online museum, unveiled in 2017, is hoped to display heritage artefacts including ancient maps, translations of important documents, Domesday Book, agricultural records, wills, drawings and photographs through the ages and will provide a fantastic and easily useable vision of local history.

In addition to the Heritage Lottery projects KiT have held events to raise the community spirit of the two Kibworths and Smeeton Westerby. The first, a street party, held in April 2011, celebrated the wedding of HRH Prince William and Katherine Middleton and started with the wedding ceremony being watched live in a full St Wilfrid’s Church. Afterwards, well over 1500 people packed Church Road to enjoy the live entertainment.

The second street party on 3 June 2012, when the Kibworth Diamond Jubilee Regatta mirrored the events on the River Thames. The Coach & Horses Inn received international acclaim when it was transformed into a ship ‘HMS Coach and Horses‘ for the event. BBC East Midlands TV had a crew on site all day covering the event. Despite the appalling weather conditions the intrepid citizens of Kibworth came, stayed and enjoyed the event.

KiT have raised several thousand pounds by holding public events including a remarkable talk by Michael Wood and a magnificent Jubilee Flower Festival, both in St Wilfrid’s Church.

The KiT committee thanks the many volunteers who assisted in all sorts of different ways to make KiT's work so successful.

Aims & Objectives

To promote and support improvements in “Kibworth” as a place to live, work, visit and do business in, with particular (but not exclusive) focus on:

  • Environment & Transport
  • Health, Culture & Leisure
  • Local Economy and Marketing
  • Safe & Secure Communities
  • Education & Lifelong Learning

We will promote partnership working between public and private bodies, individuals and groups involved in change or improvements in “Kibworth”.

We will promote equality of opportunity in all areas of our work, with particular focus on promoting social cohesion within the community. The partnership will study the services and facilities available in “Kibworth”, active community groups, crime levels and other factors which help to build a picture of “Kibworth” at the moment.

A few ideas of the activities that KiT might undertake:

  • Promote the Kibworth Village website
  • Run the Kibworth Logo competition
  • Produce the Kibworth Guide Booklet
  • Help develop a Community Action Plan for next few years
  • Help organise Christmas Events – Late Night Shopping, Village Christmas Trees etc.
  • Help organise Summer Events – Kibworth Carnival?
  • Improve Kibworth Bus Guides
  • Support Community clean-up campaigns

This is why KiT needs representatives from a wide range of local organisations:

  • YOU have the local knowledge
  • YOU want responsibility for local action
  • YOU want to see a thriving community
  • YOU want safe and attractive villages
  • YOU acknowledge that change is not just a threat but an opportunity.

So how can YOU get involved?

  • YOU can attend the regular KiT meetings or join the Steering Group.
  • YOU may be fired up by only one or two projects – that’s okay, join us to work on them and make them happen.
  • YOU can become a community champion and develop your own themed projects.

Whatever YOU choose to do then you will be joining a diverse and committed community group and in return you will meet new people, learn new skills, and feel the sense of achievement that comes from making things happen and sustaining the communities in Kibworth & Smeeton.

If the community really gets involved then things will happen – it’s all about YOU!

  • Kibworth Harcourt
  • Kibworth Beauchamp
  • Smeeton Westerby
Kit Sponsor RSA Field Trip

Kit are proud to sponsor Robert Symth history students to visit the Kibworth archives held at Merton College.

Kibworth Harcourt Map 1884

This map of Kibworth Harcourt from 1884 was probably still an accurate representation of land holdings on the eve of the Great War in 1914.

Kibworth Grammar School Kibworth Grammar School

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.


Welcome to the Kibworth village website – your gateway to our history and information on the 6 part BBC series ‘The Story of England’ which tells our history through the last 1600 years.

The Kibworth Improvement Team was formed as a community partnership to promote “Kibworth” (Kibworth Beauchamp, Kibworth Harcourt and Smeeton Westerby).

Since its inception the Team has worked with The Parish Councils of: Kibworth Beauchamp, Kibworth Harcourt and Smeeton Westerby, the Kibwort History Society, Kibworth Primary School and Robert Smyth School, Market Harborough, other interested parties and volunteers to produce:

  • The Kibworth Village website. (updated edition 2017)
  • Organised a competition to design the Kibworth village logo.
  • The Kibworth Guide Booklets
    • The booklets contain three walks, illustrating the history of the villages, around Kibworth Beauchamp, Kibworth Harcourt and Smeeton Westerby (revised version published 2013).
    • An additional booklet (Betty's Trails) was published providing a trail for users of mobility scooters, wheelchairs, push chairs and for people with limited mobility.
  • Interpretation Panels
    • Erected nine panels displaying the history of the area where they are positioned and situated at:
      • Kibworth Harcourt
        • Jubilee Green
        • Alongside A6 Leicester Road at footpath to The Munt.
      • Kibworth Beauchamp
        • Outside the Coach and Horses Inn
        • Outside the library at the Bank Island
        • At the junction of Weir Road and High Street
        • Outside the Co-op Supermarket
        • Smeeton Road near to the footpath leading to Weir Road
      • Smeeton Westerby
        • Outside the Village Hall
        • Pit Hill adjacent to the allotments
  • Blue Plaques
    • Three plaques commemorating the lives of;
      • Philip Doddridge DD
      • Sir Nicholas Harold Ridley
      • Anna Letitia Barbauld and John Aikin
  • Education – funded two projects
    • Kibworth Primary School mini films about the lives of local people through history.
    • Paid for coach trips for A level history students at Robert Smyth Academy to visit Merton College for 3 years.
  • On line museum
    • Somewhere to save and display some of the historical documents, maps and photographs of the history of Kibworth
  • Street Parties
    • Friday 29th April 2011 wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton
    • Sunday 3 June 2012 The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II

The acclaimed television historian Michael Wood embarked on a fascinating history of England for the BBC charting the roots and the rise of the English from the last days of the Roman Empire up to the Second World War in 2010. However this is not the story of Kings and Queens or Lords and Ladies but a history of the ordinary people of England! The series was based around the old parish of Kibworth in the hundred of Gartree, which today comprises our villages of Kibworth Harcourt, Kibworth Beauchamp and Smeeton Westerby.



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