Ghost Villages of The Shire

It may be surprising to learn that there are at least fifty villages in the county which have become deserted over the years.

In the 1300's there were numerous outbreaks of the Black Death plague which devastated various settlements in the county. The result was often a community reduced to a series of humps and bumps signifying where houses and other buildings had once stood.

IngarsbyIn Tudor England and earlier, it was enclosure of land for sheep pastures, often by rich and powerful abbeys and monasteries, which led to similar depopulation. You can still see the remains of these deserted villages in many places throughout Leicestershire. A good example is at Ingarsby near Houghton on the Hill, once complete with watermills and even a small castle overlooking the site.

At Knaptoft, out beyond Wigston, only a ruined church and isolated farm survive.

Closer to the city, just beyond Fosse Park, was once the little village of Alderby. Today the site of St John's church is just a mark on the map. Even so the settlement of St John's, just beyond the police headquarters, takes its name from the former parish.

The long deserted village of Hamilton on the eastern outskirts of the city even boasts its own ghost. A ghostly horse and rider is said to have roamed the village, once enclosed as sheep pasture (probably by Leicester Abbey) and its inhabitants turned out on to the streets. Today of course Hamilton has been turned into a brand new suburb of the city.

Glen Parva is another example of a village once completely deserted but now a new settlement on the borders of the city.

So if you come across a series of humps and bumps whilst out exploring the Leicestershire countryside you may have uncovered a place where once our ancestors raised their families and lively folkthe seasons in what were often thriving agricultural communities. Sometimes you can trace the outlines of individual houses and streets in the ground although the metal detectors have probably got there before you!

Just as some villages disappear from the map over the years so new settlements are created.

Many readers will recall a time when places such as East Goscote and Thorpe Astley simply did not exist as places of human Habitation.

One village which disappeared recently was Nether Hambleton which now buried underneath Rutland Water. This was still a living village when W.G Hoskins published his famous description of the deserted villages of Leicestershire.

Roger Blackmore