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The midnight steeplechase

The midnight steeplechase

Keen local historians, David Bowles and Gillian Lane, relate the story of one of Melton’s most famous escapades – the ‘Midnight Steeplechase’. Which has connections with both Thorpe Arnold and Waltham. The article first appeared in the WOTWATA parish newsletter. We’ll reprint the final episode as soon as it’s published. Click here to read part...

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Croxton Park earthworks

Croxton Park earthworks

We’ve discovered a map detailing a wide range of ancient earthworks at Croxton Park. Some of them date back to the time of the abbey, but others may be far earlier – perhaps even neolithic burials. The path at the end of the farm track from Bescaby towards Croxton Park has long been a favourite walk of mine. But I hadn’t realised that it was flanked by earthwork banks of what are said to be ‘unknown date’. And that the path aligns with two circular mounds – on either side of the abbey fishponds. One of which has the enigmatic name of ‘Punch’s Grave’ Click here to read about the earthworks and view the...

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Waltham’s wealthy twins

Waltham’s wealthy twins

For anyone who loves wandering around some of the wonderful churches in our area, Croxton Kerrial is a must. The central rows of pews are said to have come from Croxton Abbey, following its destruction on the orders of Henry VIII in the 1530s. The intricate medieval carvings on the pews provide a fascinating glimpse into the history of the region. The example on the left is said to be of two female twins who lived in Waltham and were wealthy benefactors of the abbey I’ve just finished putting the church guide on line. Click here to view the complete guide. And click here to read about the pews and view more of the carvings. The Waltham twins sound an intriguing pair, but I can’t find any more details about them. So if anyone has any information, please do get in...

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Croxton Abbey

Croxton Abbey

After much detective work – and with the help of a number of people – I’ve finally managed to discover the exact position of Croxton Abbey. Before its destruction on the orders of Henry VIII, it was one of the most powerful medieval monasteries in the East Midlands. Today, there’s very little evidence that it ever existed. The site was excavated over a number of years in the early 20th century by the then Marquis of Granby, grandfather of the present Duke of Rutland, whose family still owns the land. But although the plans were very detailed, they didn’t show the exact position of the abbey buildings on the ground. I’ve now seen copies of the original archaeological drawings, and they show the position of both the Baliff’s Cottage and the road. This has enabled me to plot the position on an aerial photograph from Google Earth. Click on the image at the top of the page to expand it. I’m still not sure the scale is exactly correct, but it must be fairly close. It’s also a lot nearer the fishponds than I expected. Most of the research I’ve read places it higher up the slopes – behind a line stretching from the ruins of Park House to the Baliff’s Cottage. There’s a lot of conjecture about some of the buildings – such as the infirmary and guest house. The plans also show that some buildings to the east were only partly excavated.These may have been a gatehouse or abbot’s residence. Click here for a detailed history of the...

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Robin Hood in Waltham?

Robin Hood in Waltham?

Russell Crowe may be generating headlines as the latest Holywood incarnation of Robin Hood. But the Aussie boozer and womaniser has nothing on the really hard men who roamed the forests around Waltham in the early 1400s. Sir Eustace Folville has one of the best claims to the title of the real Robin Hood. Son of a wealthy land-owner who was made outlaw after killing an unpopular nobleman, he captured one of the king’s justices of the peace on the roads around Waltham, successfully ransoming him for 1200 marks Click here to read the full...

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Rectory fishponds

Rectory fishponds

We’ve had an email asking whether anyone knows anything about the history of the rectory fishponds, just outside the village. We believe they were once a brick-works, and may have also been a duck-decoy. It’s said that it was around these ponds that RAF Spitfire ace, Johnnie Johnson, honed his superb markmanship skills by shooting wildfowl. Click here to read...

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