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Type of Place: 
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A residential village at the edge of Bradgate Park and popular tourist destination

Lies at the southern entrance to Bradgate Park. It is surrounded by rocky hills and woods and is one of the chief sources of Swithland Slate.

 

DERIVATION:

"Niwe Tun Lind Ford" (The new ‘Town’ by  the ford where the lime trees grow)

 

DESCRIPTION:


Newtown Linford lies at the southern entrance to Bradgate Park. It is surrounded by rocky hills and woods and is one of the chief sources of Swithland slate. The tourism generated by Bradgate Park has led to a number of highly popular cafes and hotels in the area, as well as a pub and social club.

 

At the junction of Markfield Lane and Main Street there was once a ford, from which the village derives its name. The River Lin rises beyond Ulverscroft and flows alongside the Main Street before passing through Bradgate Park and into Cropston Reservoir. The cricket field behind the church is acknowledged as one of the most attractive in the country and has featured in several books on the subject of village cricket grounds.

 

Newtown Linford is twinned with Plateau De Rouen in France and Bradgate in Iowa, USA.

 

HISTORY:

A palstave axe from the Middle Bronze Age (1400-900 BC) was found at Newton Linford.

 

The village is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, showing that it did not exist as a separate settlement until after 1086. It probably existed as a "daughter" settlement of Groby before 1293 but was only recorded as a separate settlement at this date.

 

John Leland visited Bradgate Park in the early sixteenth century and passed through Newtown Linford on the journey. He pronounced it "a poore village"! However, by 1670, the village had 48 households.

 

Lord of the Manor in 1822 was the Earl of Stamford. Until the break up of the Grey estate, Newtown Linford was an estate village, entirely owned by the Greys. At this time there were ten farms in Newtown Linford but now there are only two.

 

In 1925 Katherine Dunscombe, who had inherited Bradgate Park from her uncle, the Seventh Earl of Stamford, decided to realise some of her assets. Consequently, some 6,500 acres in Newtown Linfordand surrounding parishes went up for auction.The sale lasted several days and was held at the Bell Hotel in Leicester, where the Haymarket shopping centre now stands. Most of the Newtown Linford property was sold on the first day and many farms and cottages were sold to their tenants who became property owners for the first time. Whenever this happened, there was cheering and applause in the auction room! The most expensive property was Lane End Farm which was sold - to the tenant - for £3,650. Katherine Dunscombe held on to the Park for another three years but finally sold it to Charles Bennion of Thurnby.

 

In an amazing act of generosity, Bennion presented the entire Park to the City and County of Leicester "that for all time it might be preserved for the quiet enjoyment of the people of Leicestershire". The running of the park was now in the hands of a group of trustees, who wasted no time in making the most of their charge. The park continued to grow while its natural beauty and wildlife were preserved and encouraged.

 

As the popularity of the park grew, Newtown Linford found a new role for itself as a sort of "service centre" for Bradgate. Most visitors to the park approached through the village and it was not long before several local people hit on the financial opportunities offered by serving refreshments. Since then, the village has become a tourist destination in its own right and, without doubt, one of the most attractive in the borough.

 

CHURCH:

The church of All Saints stands by the gates to Bradgate Park. It was built in the 14th century from Charnwood Forest Stone and roofed in local Swithland slate. It was heavily renovated in 1860 and a chancel and north transept added in 1893. It has had many additions and alterations including a stained glass window commemorating Lady Jane Grey which was added in 1915.

 

One feature mentioned by Pevsner in his "Buildings of England" series is an 18th century tympanum bearing the royal arms of George III.

 

When HENRY VIII dissolved the Monasteries in 1539, Ulverscroft Priory was one of those dissolved. According to local tradition the Priory bell, called Tomasat, was transferred to All Saints Church, Newtown Linford, where it still remains.

 

Ulverscroft Mill, despite the name, is really in Newtown Linford. It is close to a public footpath between Ulverscroft Lane and Main Street but is largely obscured by trees. It is in a very poor state of repair and cannot be entered safely. The wheel is now gone but the mill was originally of the "overshot" design. This means that water from the mill race would shoot down over the wheel from the top, rather than driving it from below. The mill stopped operating in the Second World War.

 

BUILDINGS:


The village has several timber framed and stone buildings, roofed in thatch or slate. Although it now has a modern facade, the Bradgate Hotel is still the same village inn where carriers used to rest both themselves and their horses.

 

Lenthill Farm was once the village inn, the Horns Tavern, and played an important part in a local custom. Until 1872, when they were abolished, Newtown Linford was part of the Peculier of Groby. These were independent of the Bishop, except for confirmations and every few years, a court was held in Newtown Linford Church to deal with many minor and often bizarre offences. One such was ringing church bells without first removing coats or spurs.

 

At the end of the Court, the court officers would process to dinner at the Horns Tavern. As a contribution to this, Lord Stamford would always donate a pike from Groby Pool and a buck from Bradgate Park. [The name is still commemorated in the name of the beer "Theakston’s Old Peculier", which refers to the court rather than the effect on the drinker!]

 

The village pump is still standing, opposite the Village Stores, although it is no longer working. The Village Stores themselves were once the village blacksmith's shop.

 

THE GREAT CENTRAL RAILWAY:


This was originally called the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, but when the link to London, via Loughborough and Leicester was first planned, the name was changed to the Great Central.

 

The high speed line was opened in 1899 and greatly enhanced the development of the Soar Valley villages which lay on the line, such as Birstall, Rothley and Quorn. The line was undoubtedly a great engineering achievement but it was never a financial success. Comment at the time claimed that "MSL" stood for "Money Sunk and Lost" while "GC" really meant "Gone Completely"!

 

Also in 1899, there was a plan to build a branch line linking Rothley, Groby Pool and Newtown Linford but the plan came to nothing. The days of the railway were numbered as the importance of road transport rose and the line was closed by Beeching in the 1960s. Currently, the stretch between Loughborough and Rothley is run as a heritage steam railway by the Main Line Steam Trust and has become one of the most important tourist attractions in the area.

 

In the early 20th century, Bradagte was the planned destination of an electric tramway - The Leicester, Anstey, Groby and Newtown LIinford Light Railway - but the limited money-making potential of the scheme in the face of road competition meant it never got further than the planning stage.

 

From "The History and Antiquities of Charnwood Forest" (T R Potter,1842)

"Mr Carte (Carte's MS British Museum) mentions a tradition respecting a vaulted passage from the castle (at Groby) to Bradgate.... and the villagers of Newtown Linford still give credence to the tradition of another with Ulverscroft Priory "In these, adds Mr Bloxham, "I can find no foundation except in that love of the marvellous, so common in Roman Catholic times and so peculiar to the lower classes of this kingdom".