DERIVATION OF NAME: "Wudu Hus" (The Houses in the Wood) Description: The picturesque village of Woodhouse and Woodhouse Eaves is a gateway to Charnwood Forest, close to Beacon Hill. Woodhouse (often called Old Woodhouse) is dominated by Beaumanor HallL and Welbeck Defence College. The Parish is also home to the nine hole Charnwood Forest Golf Course, the oldest in the county. The houses on the main village street of Woodhouse are mostly built of stone and many have reddish slate roofs characteristic of the Hanging Stone area.
HISTORY: Beacon Hill is the site of an Iron Age encampment and lies on the route of the ancient Saltway. Woodhouse is not mentioned in Domesday Book, signifying the it did not exist in 1086. It almost certainly began life as a forest settlement in the 12th century. The estate of Beaumanor was created for Hugh Le Despenser sometime before 1232 and was taken from the uncultivated waste of the manors of Barrow and Loughborough. A deer park existed here in the 13th century, the areas of which was probably enlarged in the 16th century.
The village began to be enclosed early, around 1550 and, in 1540, was described as being surrounded by a stone wall. The deer park was in decline by the end of the 16th century and the area was completely enclosed by the 1730s. There was a small Cluniac monastic settlement at Alderman's Haw, "Haw" meaning a hedged enclosure. In 1670, there were 73 households here.
The parish of Woodhouse, Woodhouse Eaves and Maplewell - Longdale was formed in 1844. Before this date they had been attached to the parishes of Barrow and Newtown Linford. The population of Woodhouse at this time was 400. In the 19th century, almost the whole of the village was owned by the Herrick family of Beaumanor Hall. Between 1863 and 1873, Mrs Perry Herrick had almost all of the old houses of the village pulled down and replaced with the present stone structures. Most were semi-detatched cottages and were a considerable improvement on what they replaced. But the inhabitants had to abide by certain rules if they wanted to continue living there. Outside privies and washing lines at the main lodge had to be sunk below ground level so they were not visible from the drive to Beaumanor House. The houses were also built with their main doors at the side rather than at the front, because Mrs Perry Herrick disapproved of people standing at their front doors gossiping!
CHURCH: Woodhouse's church is dedicated to St Mary in the Elms. It stands on a very old site but the present building mostly dates from the 17th and 19th centuries. There is some 16th century panelling and a pulpit dated 1615. As with so many churches, several features were undoubtedly lost during "thorough restoration" in 1878. The roof of the tower is Victorian and is made of Welsh slate - practically heresy, so close to Swithland!
BUILDINGS: The oldest house in the Woodhouse is Golden Cottage. This is at the Quorn end of the village and dates back to 1470. Right at the opposite end is the unusually named Pest (Pestillence) Cottage. This acquired it's name because it was the home of Thomas Rawlins and his family after their escape from the Plague of 1665 in London. His father died in the cottage and Rawlins himself is buried in Woodhouse churchyard.
From "Charnwood Companion" (1853): "Some alms houses... lately built by Miss Herrick and the lodge and dairy too, are worthy adjuncts of Beaumanor... The chapel, a dependancy of Barrow, was built by Henry Beaumont, Earl of Buchan, in 1338 by license from the Abbot of Leicester. It was generally repaired and glazed about a century later... In the east window are the arms of Henry VI, of Hungary, Naples, Jerusalem and Anjou; in the south window, those of the founder, of Neville, Percy. Scrope, Phillips etc. A school was established here in 1691 by Thomas Rawlins, who left lands to the annual value of £70 for it's support".
GARAT'S HAY - DERIVATION OF NAME: Hay probably comes from the Norse "Haga", meaning "House" or "Hall". There is little evidence about where Garat comes from but it is probably a corruption of the original family name. Some sections of the building date from the 13th century but the main aspect is Victorian. In 1941, the building became home to the Auxiliary Territorial Service, most of whom were wireless operators at Beaumanor. Nearby in the grounds of the Beaumanor Park a larger complex housed a major 'signals' or 'monitoring' base for the British Army - supposedly a marked Russian nuclear target in the Cold War. This 'secret' base appeared as an empty circular field on Ordnance Survey maps. The facility has now been closed.
RAWLINS SCHOOL: Although presently in Quorn, Rawlins School was originally founded in Woodhouse in 1691 - on August 12th, to be precise. That was the day on which Thomas Rawlins made a deed of covenant to use income derived from his lands to pay for, among other things, a school for: "22 or more poor boys born and dwelling in Woodhouse and Woodhouse Eaves, if so many be found: and failing this, the number to be made up from Quorndon" Money was also put aside to pay for: "a schoolmaster to live in a school house and be paid £24 per annum"
Rawlins was born in London in 1649 and was in all probability a Puritan. His uncle, William, bought Burleigh Hall near Loughborough in 1668 and lived there as a country gentleman. His father, also called Thomas, was a successful Bishopsgate baker and had bought lands and property in Woodhouse in 1661. When the Plague came to London in 1665, Thomas and his family left London to settle in Woodhouse, although they still owned property in the capital. By the standards of the day, the family was only moderately wealthy but Thomas seemed to possess an idealism and fervour for education. In 1691, he put that fervour into practice and the school in Woodhouse was founded.
The first master was Abraham Chambers from Wymeswold. The first pupils were mainly the sons of farmers and tradesmen so the usual prerequisite of the Grammar Schools - that a pupil must already be able to read and write - was dispensed with. Reading, writing and arithmetic were to form the core of the curriculum. Rawlins did not seem able to leave the running of the school to his trustees and his "advice" often provoked arguments. But his practical skills were put to good use rebuilding the schoolhouse and he often paid for school supplies out of his own money.
Rawlins died in 1712 and his will stated that the income of the London properties should now be used on behalf of the poor, the school and the upkeep of roads. But despite this, the schoolmaster's salary remained fixed at £24 per annum and this probably helps account for the school's subsequent decline. Masters did not stay long at the school and educational standards declined to elementary standards. By the 1860s, National Schools had been established in Quorn, Barrow and Woodhouse and the need for Rawlins' establishment had greatly declined. Consequently, it closed down and the responsibilities of the Trustees were taken over by the Court of Chancery. An inspection of 1864 decided the school was now "quite useless" and Rawlins School, Woodhouse ceased to exist. In 1892 it was to reappear as Rawlins School, Quorn, housed in the Quorn Village Hall.