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The Grange, Fowke Street

The Grange in Fowke Street is often confused with Rothley Grange Farm in West Cross Lane on the Mountsorrel border. Rothley Grange Farm is a listed building, The Grange is not, much to the surprise of local residents. It is, however, within a Conservation Area.

In the Enclosure Award of 1782 The Grange and the fields behind right up to the Turnpike (Loughborough Road) were listed as awarded to Sir John Danvers, Lord of Swithland Manor. The canal cutting to create the island field was a requirement of the Enclosure. Danvers would have put in place a rather nice farmhouse and outbuildings to give a base to a tenant farmer producing rental income for his estate.

Sir John died in 1796, the Grange falling into the hands of his son-in-law Augustus Richard Butler, who had to add Danvers to his name in order to inherit Swithland Hall & Manor. In 1815 Augustus needed cash to finance his son's wedding and proceeded to unload The Grange and other Rothley lands onto city financiers. The Grange was subsequently bought up by Matthew Babington, brother of Thomas Babington of Rothley Temple, who were in partnership together in the Leicester Bank with John Mansfield.

Matthew died in 1836 and The Grange was tenanted through the rest of the 1800s by a succession of gentlemen. In 1894 the whole mini-estate was bought by Isabella Robinson, widow of a prosperous Durham brewer, as the base for the development of a country seat for her son, Colonel Abbott Robinson. She paid £488 13s 4d. Abbott Robinson was married in 1894 to Mary Argentine Fryer, of a prestigious army family. The couple set about seriously enlarging The Grange, and creating extensive water gardens at the back of the house. The Abbott Robinsons were pillars of local society. The Colonel died in 1946, and his widow in 1950.

Their estate was administered by prominent Leicester solicitor Geoffrey Barnett, husband of Lady Isobel Barnett. The house and land were sold to Barrow Rural District Council for their headquarters, being described in the sale brochures as "an eighteenth century Country House with 9 Bedrooms, 4 Maids Rooms, very large Lounge, Hall, Dining Library, Butler's Pantry, Servant's Hall, 2 Coach Houses, Harness Room, Motor House, Carriage House, Electric Light Station, 4-stall Cowshed, Hay Loft, 2 Loose Boxes and 5 Closes of Pasture".

The Barrow Council surrounded the old property with tasteless modern outbuildings, which became the headache for the new Charnwood Borough Council, taking over in the 1974 Local Government Reorganisation. Charnwood's solution was to lease the use of the buildings, which became bases for units of Severn-Trent Engineering, and of Leicestershire Social Services.

This long tail of decline ended in 2008 with the speculative purchase from the Council by William Davis, who have since created the sparkling new and renovated apartments complex that graces Fowke Street in 2010.

Extract from the Inland Revenue Field Books. 1909-1915 Valuation Survey
Further information National Archive Class IR 58

The watercolour painting of the rear of The Grange in 2008 is reproduced by kind permission of William Davis Homes.

THE GRANGE IN 2008

The Grange, Fowke Street, in June 2008

The Grange, Fowke Street, in June 2008

The eagle is back. June 2008

A different front door but the eagle stands guard. June 2008

Sadly, this is not the original eagle but the hunt is on to see what happened to it. The late Jack Moore said that it had been taken to Charnwood Borough Council for safe keeping so where is it now? Any information to the Site Editor, please, on 0116 2375156
In a photograph dated 1948 there is no eagle over the front door so any information on its history would be very welcome.
It is sad that our history is lost in this way so the hunt is also on for the plaque of the discus player and any information on its history is being sought.
The millstone has been stolen and this would be around the time that the graves were being excavated so will now most likely be a feature in another garden.

LOOKING BACK and FACING FORWARD

What happened to the discus thrower over the front door? September 2005

Do you remember the article in the Rothley Post about the stone Cider Press which used to be an ornamental feature in the garden?

It has been saved and is now the central feature of the patio area to the rear of the original building.

Work has still to be completed to this part of the garden but this shows the site of the Cider Press. July 26th 2008.

The above shows how the rear of the building looked in October 2005.

The rear of the main part of the building in October 2005.

The signs of dereliction in October 2005.

The side of The Grange in March 2007.

The buildings by the side elevation in March 2007 taken from Fowke Street.

The car park in March 2007 is now a car park in 2008 but also with apartments fronting Fowke Street.

This view of the storage buildings at the back of the original car park was taken from the 'island' playing field in February 2007.

Newly built apartments have now taken the place of the old storage buildings and have a lovely view of the gardens. July 2008.

THE GARDENS

A view of the rear gardens looking from the house to the church with the concrete computer block to the right. April 2002

The concrete computer block. The old cider press is between the yew trees. April 2002

Looking towards the house which is to the left. The large Oak has a girth of 4 metres. April 2002. The Oak features in the landscaping to be carried out in 2008.

The oak was surrounded by daffodils. April 2002

Mrs Abbot Robinson was a keen gardener and changed the garden tremendously over the years. The features in the stream on the boundary were created by her and the remains shown above and below could still be seen in April 2002.

The stream is not the Rothley Brook but appears to have been created for the water feature and this created the 'Island Field' used as a football field. The stream joins up again with the Rothley Brook just before the bridge on Homefield Lane.

Part of the formal garden looking towards the rear of The Grange. April 2002.

The large yews on the left have now been removed for the new buildings on the site of the old concrete computer block. taken in April 2002.

Janice and Brian in April 2002 by the Wellingtonia which has a girth of 6 metres and has been recorded as one of the Ancient Trees of Rothley. One of the new apartments has been called Wellingtonia.

Part of the garden included a lovely lily pond hidden by a yew hedge. A feature included a stone mill wheel as a table. In this photograph taken in April 2002 some destruction on the site had already taken place. A wooden seat has been tipped into the pond.

The same view looking to the lily pond in July 2008.

A view of the mill wheel. April 2002.

In June 2006 the mill wheel had been stolen. This was taken during the excavations of the burial site.

The transformation of the derelict Grange shown in September 2005 with all the features retained and captured in the watercolour painting of 2008 kindly reproduced with the permission of William Davis Homes.

For more information on the burial site please click on the following link:

Davis employee John Peck makes good the hole left by the big marketing sign after its removal in December 2012

To learn more about The Grange, its history and wildlife please click on the following link: