Rectory fishpond

Roy works hard to maintain the natural beauty of the Rectory ponds

Roy works hard to maintain the natural beauty of the Rectory ponds.

Claire Grisham has emailed the website, asking:

“I wondered if you knew anything about the history of Rectory fishpond about half a mile out of the village towards Melton? I believe it was an old brickworks but don’t know anything else. It belongs to my family and I would be interested to research it.”

I knew that Waltham bell-ringer, Roy Rayson, has a fine water-colour painting of the pond and gave him a call. Only to discover that it was Roy that owned the pond, and that Claire was his daughter. Roy invited me down to the ponds this afternoon – which is when I took the photo at the top of the page.

There are still a few hand-made bricks lying around – evidence of the time it was once a brick works. Presumably the hole that now forms the pond is where the clay had been dug from.

Roy has a theory that it may once have been a duck decoy. There is a smaller pond leading from the main pond. This shape was often used in the past to catch ducks by funnelling them from the main pond into a large net hung over the smaller pond.

Roy also told me that Johnnie Johnson used to shoot wildfowl at these ponds. And that it was here, as a boy, that Johnnie honed the marksmanship skills which helped him become Britain’s leading fighter ace during WW2.

Roy met Johnnie at a shoot in the 1990s and the two men became great friends. Johnnie let Roy take copies of his flight log-book detailing his exploits as a spitfire pilot. (Click here to read more.)

Claire’s interest in the ponds has prompted Roy to try and discover more about the ponds. At one time they formed part of the Belvoir Estate. Roy is going to approach the Duke’s Comptroller to see if there are any records at the castle which may shed some light on its history.

We’ll update this story if we get any more information. In the meantime, if you can help with the research, please either get in touch using our contact page, or leave a comment below.

(One thing I should add is that the ponds are private property, with no public access. There are a number of deep wells which could prove dangerous to the unwary.)

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