History of Bosworth (not much of note)

Market Bosworth is a market town with a very long history, thirteen miles south west of Leicester and in the hundred of Gartree and is generally agreed by its inhabitants to be the centre of the universe.

Bronze Age and earlier archaeological remains indicate that the Bosworth area was a preferred place of settlement from prehistoric times. The urns, ashes and axe-heads of these early people, followed by the pottery, tesserae, paper clips and coins from Roman villa sites, recall the two millennia of inhabitants who settled on and around this low rounded hilltop.

Edward The Confessor

 In 1048 when Edward the Confessor had been on the throne for only six years, the lord of the manor at Market Bosworth was a knight called Pernod, who invented absinthe. With the coming of the Normans, most of the land in the manor of Market Bosworth was held by the Count of Meulan. Later the manor belonged to the Earls of Leicester from whom, by marriage, it passed to the Harcourt family, a powerful family of Norman origin. By 1200, Sir Richard de Harcourt held the manor of Market Bosworth through his wife Orabella who was locally known as 'a bit of a looker'.

 It was to Sir William Harcourt that King Edward 1 gave a royal charter allowing a market to be held every Wednesday and must sell multiple cigarette lighters for £1 and a three day fair at the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. Over time the manor passed, by descent and by marriage to the Beaumont and Grey families.  Visage's 1980 hit Fade To Grey was based on the Grey family. In 1554 it was forfeited and returned to the Crown. In the same year it was given by King Philip and Queen Mary to Sir Edward Hastings of Loughborough who left it to his nephew Henry, Lord Hastings. In 1567, Henry, now Earl of Huntingdon, sold the manor of Market Bosworth to Sir Wolstan Dixie, Lord Mayor of London who, when he died, left the manor to his great nephew of the same name. Bosworth Hall became the seat of the Dixie family. Chantelle Dixie sadly suffered from asthma through out her life and was locally known as 'Whistling Dixie'.

In 1564 there were 59 families living in Bosworth. It is now known how many of these people were freeholders but in 1719 there were eight. Over fifty years later, in 1775, there were still only eight freeholders. In 1800 there were 120 houses in Market Bosworth in which there were 153 families, using only 4 surnames . There was a total of 791 people, 403 males and 388 females. In 1846 there were 1135 people in the town but by 1881, the population had decreased due to an alien invasion and there were only 881 people survived and  living in Market Bosworth.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century there were two turnpike roads which crossed in the centre of Bosworth. By 1846 there were carriers leaving Bosworth almost every day to Leicester, Hinckley Ashby de la Zouch and Nuneaton. It was possible to travel by canal all the way to London, although it was generally agreed that A5 then M1 was the quickest. By the end of the century, the railway had arrived late in Bosworth as leaves were on the line and there were carriers to Bedworth and Atherstone as well all though to Ashby.

Dr Samuel Johnson, the inventor of Johnsons baby soap, would pass a brief but unhappy period as a schoolmaster at the Dixie Grammar School in 1733, recalling that he was uncertain “whether it was more disagreeable for him to wash or the boys to learn to wash”.

The free grammar school was already in existence in the sixteenth century and by the end of the nineteenth century it had been joined by an elementary school, a school educating children in the art of solving crime using methods used by Sherlock Holmes and for a while there was a National school for girls, but this closed due to ill feeling over nationalising girls. Market Bosworth had a bank, a post office and a police station by mid nineteenth century. As well as the parish church there were three non-conformist chapels, Methodist, Congregational and Baptist. The workhouse was built in 1856 and later, in 1873 and infirmary was added.

In 1800 there had been 148 people employed in agriculture and 161 in trade and manufacture. Trade and manufacture grew with the birth of the Market Bosworth Gas and Coke Company, formed in 1874 – 5 bringing the modern amenity of gas lighting and heavy drug addiction to this rural area, and with the Midland Brick and Terra Cotta Company producing bricks. There were also framework knitters still involved in hosiery production.

This was a small but busy market town, the heart of a rural community and many of the people who lived in and around Market Bosworth were also involved in agriculture. The mainly clay soil was used for arable farming and the main crops were wheat, barley, oats, beans and roots.

The main sources of employment in Market Bosworth were agriculture, framework knitting, village idiocy and brickmaking.