Rothley Ancient Parish Survey (RAPS)
The 'Rappers', Marion Vincent, Brian Verity and Terry Sheppard celebrating completion of 'The Last Stint' at the Community Heritage Initiative Conference in October 2008
The Ancient Ecclesiastical Parish Boundary of Rothley is fast being eroded due to land use, removal of hedgerows or part, removal of stones and boulders and general dereliction due to the passing of time. The Archaeological Warden for Rothley, Brian Verity, decided that this ancient boundary should be recorded before it disappeared completely in this modern and demanding age.
The Ancient Ecclesiastical Boundary of Rothley
The above two photographs are a good example of what can happen to a boundary hedgerow. When we started our survey it was hedgerow but on returning in 2006 we found that it had been replaced by modern fencing.
A four person team comprising the Archaeological Warden for Rothley Brian Verity and his wife Janice, the Natural History Heritage Warden for Rothley Marion Vincent and Local Historian Terry Sheppard started the Rothley Ancient Parish Survey (RAPS) on the 15th October 2003.
Since this date over half the boundary has been surveyed with a careful written and photographic record kept of every part. The boundary is divided into stints of 120 metres with each stint divided into four parts of 30 metres.
The survey started in a field off The Ridgeway known as The Slang, over the Great Central Railway to Thurcaston Lane, across the fields and under the railway, across the Rothley Park Golf Course and over the fields of Southfield Farm towards the Parish of Wanlip.
Boundary trees, as shown above, are very important and these are recorded as part of the Ancient Tree Survey.
The boundary then turns down the Rothley side of Broadnook Spinney before emerging at the old A6 at the bottom of the slip road from the by-pass. It then crosses the by-pass, over the fields towards Wanlip before turning left heading for the River Wreake. Where it reaches the river it runs along the centre of the Wreake, joins up with the River Soar and then turns right under the wooden bridge to Cossington Mill. It runs down the centre of the weir, under the Cossington Lane bridge to emerge on the right hand side of Osier Villa before joining up with the canal at the end of Osier Villa's garden. This is where we are currently working.
METHOD OF WORK
Marion and Janice are recording the hedgerows and boundary trees using the Hedgerow Survey Forms supplied by the Community Heritage Initiative at Holly Hayes in Birstall. Brian does the written and photographic record and Terry researches and provides the maps and historic features.
We go out once a week for half a day for the practical work and many hours writing up the results. It is best to work through late autumn, winter and early spring so that features such as boundary stones and ditches can be identified and photography made easier and clearer without the vegetation. You get very used to recording a hedgerow without leaves!
The above three photographs show a boundary stone on one side of the boundary and the gate posts on the other. These are at the junction of Swithland Lane/Wood Lane and Bond Lane on the Mountsorrel boundary.
An interesting rural stint has concentrated around an un-named copse located at the conjunction of three parishes namely Rothley, Thurcaston and Wanlip at grid reference SK58091098. The map evidence indicates that this has been there since 1780. It is situated in a dominant position on high ground overlooking the surrounding countryside and its oblong shape lies along an east/west axis. At ground level the copse is oval shaped and slightly raised at the centre with delineating ditches. The ditches are too close to be quarry ditches but the shape is very suggestive of an earthen long barrow on the scale of the Fussell's Lodge type site. There are 8 large Oak Trees in the copse with Ash Trees in the boundary leading up to it. This is just one of the mysteries of our survey needing further research in the archives. Meanwhile, I have named it Brian's Barrow in his honour!
During the summer months we have recorded parts of the ancient boundary that have been built up, particularly in the present day Parish of Mountsorrel, but even here there are some surprises. A small remnant of ancient hedgerow even exists in Carisbrooke Road, Mountsorrel, amidst the large development of homes off Walton Way.
The picture above shows the remnant of hedgerow boundary in Carisbrooke Road.
The Landowners in Rothley and Mountsorrel have been very generous in allowing unlimited access to their land and giving vital information over a cup of coffee. Without their support and interest we could not look forward to completing this important survey in its entirety.
The motivation of the team remains undiminished after two years and we look forward to the day when our findings are published as a record for future historians
The maps below will show you the route of the Rothley Ancient Ecclesiastical Boundary as recorded in 2003-2008.
The above map shows Stints1-6 starting in a field called The Slang, off The Ridgeway, running towards and over the Great Central Railway to emerge outside David North's shop on Station Road. The boundary then continues along Station Road at the foot of the hedge when it turns into Thurcaston Lane.
Stints 7-14 start where the boundary runs in front of Bronavon and turns sharply to hug its southern boundary, continues along the field hedgerows until meeting Rothley Brook. Over a bridge then running in an arc around the bottom end of a field before crossing once again the Great Central Railway and emerging on Fairway 15 of the Rothley Park Golf Club. Continuing along a spinney hedgerow it comes out on Fairway 14, over to the Bridle Road to Thurcaston before proceeding along the hedgerow towards Wanlip.
Stints 15-32 take us to the meeting of the parishes of Rothley, Thurcaston and Wanlip where it takes a sharp turn to run along the Rothley side of Broadnook Spinney.
Stints 33-39 take us from the end of Broadnook Spinney along the public footpath, Blue Gate Lane, to emerge on the old A6, now the slip road to Rothley, over the by-pass following the field hedgerows to stop on the banks of the River Soar where the boundary is the centre of the river. Our stints are now numbered R1 onwards. Stint R1 is where is gets very interesting and confusing. The boundary turns under the wooden bridge towards Cossington Mill but immediately turns down the centre of the weir to the stone bridge over Cossington Lane to join up with the canal at the end of the garden of Osier Villa.
Stint R2 is still the centre of the River Soar taking us along to the weir just before reaching Sileby Mill where it turns left along the actual river. This is where you need to carefully consult the maps as the boundary suddenly leaves the river and cuts across a small piece of field along a hedgerow towards the Mill Basin and emerges beyond the locks to once again join the water to proceed down the centre of the river towards Mountsorrel.
However, where the boundary joins up again with the centre of the main waterway there are interesting features in the adjoining landscape which raise questions. Where was the original course of the river? Why is there a curving bank looking like the original riverbank just to the left of the main waterway? How many channels did the River Soar have at this point? The Archaeology Warden is on the case!
Walking along the towpath there is a wooden bridge over a weir that runs towards Sileby. At this point our boundary leaves the river and curves round an area of ancient willows before joining up again with the centre of the river towards the Waterside Inn.
In this area of ancient willows is a pond looking like the remains of the old riverbed. There is evidence of a high bank of soil with freshwater mussel shells where the original river has been cut off. The complete area is very boggy and an interesting part of our survey project.
The River Soar runs close to the Waterside Inn on Sileby Road, Mountsorrel, running left by the Memorial Gardens.
Over the past week, late May 2006, we have really been up against the wet weather. Not only is it impossible to take photographs because of the lack of light but you cannot write notes on soggy paper and, as we have found in the past, the marshy conditions make it impossible to access the area. The vegetation is growing at a very fast rate and we have had to make the decision to put this project on hold until the late summer. Features such as ditches and stones cannot be seen until the vegetation dies down although it is really good for identifying the hedgerow species.
The good news is that we have started again but the bad news is that the river part of this survey is very soggy indeed. We have decided to work along the far end of Swithland Lane where we have the benefit of the road.
The following maps illustrate how we compile our record stint by stint. It takes about an hour to complete one stint of 120 metres as this includes the vegetation, archaeological features, photographs and lots of discussion!
Stint E1 starts from the Garden of Peace on Sileby Road, Mountsorrel and includes the boundary around the boat moorings. Remnants of an old wall and coppiced hazel added interest to a neglected part of our history.
Stint E2 runs at the back of Baron's Court and shows an interesting line of Scots Pine and old parkland railings. At the end of this stint there is a housing development in progress so yet another reason for our survey before all is lost.
Stint N4 (above) takes us searching in a modern development in Carisbrooke Road and here we find an isolated remnant of our boundary. Makes it all worthwhile.
Stint N5 finds us in Bond Lane, Mountsorrel working from the corner of Swithland Lane. At the start of this stint there is a post dated 1840 with an undated one on the opposite side of the road.
Stint N6 works along Bond Lane. Further work is to be done to continue this through the newly designated Bridle Road called Cufflins Pit Lane. This will take us to the Castle Hill with lots to interest us at that point.
The three maps above show us working along Swithland Lane towards Halstead Road.
Stint W4 takes us from Halstead Road along Swithland Lane before it really becomes interesting.
Stint W5 is the start of an interesting hedgerow survey due to the variety of species recorded. This hedgerow has not been disturbed by the owner of a bungalow tucked away off the road and it was great to see this still intact complete with ditch.
We continue with the boundary running between the fields, still with a good ditch and mix of hedgerow species.
This stint continues along the field hedgerow.
We continue along the field boundary towards West Cross Lane.
The final approach to West Cross Lane.
The above five maps show how we took a turn from Swithland Lane down the side of a garden then into a field known as Bradgate Wong which emerges on West Cross Lane. The first part of this stint was one of the best for being undisturbed over many years and contained a good mix of hedgerow species including dogwood. We do a 'dogs leg' turn and then into another field. It is interesting to check the line of this part of the boundary to see how it appears to link up with Gipsy Lane.
The weather in 2007 was memorable for early heat and later downpours. June was the wettest month on record.
Our progress was slow due to the weather and work was put on hold until the autumn of 2007. In 2008 we lost a lot of time with more wet, miserable, cold weather but in October 2008 we completed the last stint.
Stint W11 still has a very good ditch next to a hedgerow with 85% elm which is in a good state as it is cut by the farmer to leave at a height when it survives
Stint W12 runs along the back of the garden of "Pax" so here we still have hedgerow. The ditch continues.
Most of this Stint W13 has no hedgerow but there is an ancient Oak and an old stump further along where the boundary crosses The Ridings
This is an interesting stint. W14 takes us into Hickling's Spinney where the boundary is within the spinney with the ditch intact.
Stint 15 follows in the same way as Stint 14 with the ancient parish boundary ditch within Hickling's Spinney. At the end of this stint the boundary hedgerow on the spinney side has been destroyed in places.
In Stint W16 we survey from the field side of Long Spinney. This spinney has become part of the gardens of The Ridgeway but the boundary ditch remains as the edge of the field and has therefore been preserved and not filled in with soil or garden debris.
In Stint W17 we begin by running along the boundary with Long Spinney and still with a very good boundary ditch. We then move from Twelve Acre Field into Six Acre Field.
We have now gone beyond Long Spinney and the ancient boundary now runs along the gardens of The Ridgeway. There is still evidence of a ditch but this is now shallow. Dogs Mercury, an ancient woodland plant, was found and there are some ancient trees in the gardens to show that it was ancient woodland.
THE LAST STINT!
This was our journeys end on the 30th January 2008. Just 50m of the Rothley Ancient Parish Boundary completed our task to record this part of the history of Rothley.
This stint ends at the boundary fence of Six Acre Field and The Slang where more history is waiting to be unveiled as this is where we see a granite wall of the Newtown Linford Detached Parish.
It has been an extremely interesting project taking 4 years and 4 months working every week during autumn to spring. Publishing the results will be done in due course.
Last Updated Wed, 15 May, 2013.