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A Brief History of Several NW Leicestershire Interconnecting Villages

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Coleorton as it is now known, is a scattered village with a population of 1,177 in 2011. The Domesday book completed in 1086 recorded it as Ovretone / Overtone, with the two major landowners being Henry de Ferraris (Ferrers) and Robert of Bucy (de Buci). The Beaumonts were Lords of the Manor for over 500 years and during their tenure, coal mining played a significant part in the development of the village.


These are two small villages which border each other and are inter-related in many ways. Strangely, they are in different parishes, with Griffydam becoming part of Worthington Parish c. 1873 and Pegg's Green becoming part of Coleorton Parish in 1936 (it was once in Thringstone parish following the 1807 enclosure of Pegg's Green and Thringstone Township). From the late 18th century, coal mining played a significant part in the history of Pegg's Green. A miner's institute was built in Pegg's Green in 1927 and is now used as the "Coleorton Beaumont Centre". A small coal mine was worked in Griffydam to service a ceramic pottery there and Griffydam also had its own brickworks. Both villages had significant Spar and bauble workshops and both had Blacksmith shops. There were 4 public houses in each village. Griffydam was renowned for its Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, the oldest in Leicestershire still in use before its closure in 2005. Griffydam also has a long history of Education spanning over 170 years. Griffydam Wesleyan Day School opened in 1853, followed by Griffydam Senior School in 1915. Although named after Griffydam they were built just beyond the boundary in Pegg's Green. Griffydam Primary School built in 1936 is still thriving today.  Griffydam is also known for a natural spring called Griffy Well, a water source for villagers until the 1930's. The Griffy Well legend tells of a mythical beast that guarded the spring and prevented villagers from collecting the water.

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Some 250 years ago, when Newbold became a liberty of the Chapelry / Township of Worthington, it was known as Newbold-Juxta-Worthington and just consisted of a few widespread cottages. It had one public house, the old Cross-Keys, and a school which is still in use today. Coal mining was taking place in a limited way, but it wasn't until New Lount Colliery was sunk and new houses built for the miners, that Newbold started to develop from a hamlet into a modern village. A council house estate was built to support the workers following the opening of  Newbold brick and pipeworks.

Gelsmoor Outwoods & Woolrooms

None of the above interconnecting areas can be really described as villages or hamlets in their own right although all have played their part in the rich social and industrial history of the area. Over hundreds of years they have become part of the outlying parish of Worthington. Perhaps the Woolrooms could be considered an independent hamlet with its once cluster of old cottages, which have now been modernised or demolished. This enclave has a history going back to the 13th and 14th centuries when  the monks of Garendon owned a bercary (Medieval sheep farm) in the area, and the name of Woolrooms most likely indicates a wool depot or storehouse facility. Gelsmoor was originally one of the areas of open moor land or commons surrounding Coleorton, others being Newbold Moor, Worthington Moor, Swannington Common, Thringstone Moor and Cole Orton Moor. These were unsuitable for cultivation but ideal for the rough grazing of sheep which were allowed to roam freely before the enclosure acts came into force. Gelsmoor had its own Providence Wesleyan Methodist Chapel now partly converted into a modern house. There was also a school near to the Railway Inn, and the New Lount Colliery sports ground on Gelsmoor Road. A communal bread oven, now demolished, was located on Aqueduct Lane.

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Once a Chapelry / Township within the parish of Breedon. As a result of enclosure acts, it eventually became a parish in its own right, and now includes Newbold, Griffydam, Gelsmoor, the Woolrooms and the Outwoods. The village of Worthington has an interesting industrial and social history once based around farming and limestone quarrying at Cloud Hill. It has its own Anglican church but the old Methodist chapel has recently closed. At one time it had four public houses but only one, the Malt Shovel now remains.


Originally known as Asgotporp, of Scandinavian origin. Often described as a pleasant village, in a fertile valley on a feeder from the Soar river, Osgathorpe was much more than that, and it has one of the most interesting social and industrial history in NW Leics. Osgodtorp was given as a settlement in the Domesday book in the hundreds of Goscote, in the county of Leicestershire. It, like many local villages developed as a farming community, with its own supporting village trades like blacksmiths and  cordwainers etc. It had its own Grammar school, National School, Anglican Church and Methodist Chapel. It had four public houses at one time.

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Swannington, which borders Coleorton and Pegg's Green is again a village with an immense amount of history, too much to include here. Coal mining was the most significant industry developed in Swannington and this helped to facilitate the Leicester to Swannington Railway which started from Swannington incline where it joined up with the Coleorton Railway. An 18th century working Smock Mill has been restored at Swannington and a great deal of coal mining restoration has been carried out also. It has its own school but all the chapels in Swannington are now closed.

Surrounding Villages

It would be difficult to find anywhere else where such a rich tapestry of industrial, Social and Religious history existed in places which are situated so close to each  other. It has some of the earliest coal mining records in the country. Limestone, lead and iron ore quarrying was carried out including the smelting of these minerals. The burning of limestone in kilns at both Dimminsdale and Breedon was a major business in its day. Interconnecting tramways transporting both limestone and coal several miles to the Ashby Canal were built. Ancient pottery making  kilns have been discovered at Heath End and Coleorton Pottery was located just across the road from the hamlet of Lount. Brick making, as well as coal mining and iron ore quarrying and smelting also took place on the Staunton Harold Estate, once the home of the Shirleys and Earls Ferrers who were Lords of the Manor for hundreds of years. Staunton Harold Hall, its gardens and lakes, and the historically important church which stands alongside it, all have a long history spanning hundreds of years. The church is now in the hands of the National Trust. Breedon Church which dates back to Saxon times and stands on top of the limestone quarry is a well known landmark in the area.

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