The Sun Inn is a grade II listed building with a thatch roof and dates from around the 17th/18th Century. Rumour has it that the pub is haunted. It is believed that a Malt house, at the rear of the premises, was destroyed by fire around 1915. In the kitchen of The Sun there used to be a pump, this was one of the few sources of water in the village prior to mains water arriving in the 1950s. Inside the pub there is an enclosed corridor between the rear door and the function room which was created in the 1950s to accommodate customer’s children; it was known as “The Bus” because seating came from one of Bland’s omnibuses. Outside the pub there is a bench dedicated to the Bland family.
Following the success of a display put on by the Cottesmore History & Archaeology Group (CHAG) in the Rutland County Museum in 2013 illustrating the village over the last 100 years we were fortunate that Christine Masson (daughter of George Winn, sometime Cottesmore local bobby) and her sister, on an annual Christmas visit to the family graves, saw the CHAG display contacted the Group.
Members of CHAG met Christine and her sister in The Sun Inn in December 2013 where we were kindly loaned an unpublished copy of ‘The War Years of my Youth’ by her uncle, Bernard Harper.
This unpublished, type written, document is a great source of information about the village and the residents during the World War II, with particular reference to The Sun Inn where Bernard lived. There are many happy memories for surviving villagers and those interested in the history of Cottesmore. A copy of the full document can be opened by clicking here (large file, 34mb), reproduced by kind permission of Bernard Harper’s family.
On the corner of Main Street and The Leas is Holly Cottage, No. 27 Main Street. This Grade II listed cottage dates from the 18th Century and has a Collyweston slate roof. To the rear is a full length outshoot with catslide Collyweston slate roof. The Blands of Blands Coaches used to live here.
Just off The Leas (Previously known as School Lane, as this is where one of the junior schools used to be, and before that Hacks Lanet is understood that this was the site of a “Shrunken Village” (Medieval – 1067 AD to 1539 AD). In days gone by, a hairdresser used to operate from No. 1 as well as a visiting doctor
Continuing up The Leas, past Gainsborough Court, (built on the site of what was Elyes Farm), and on your right you will come to No. 5 The Leas, The Old School House. Behind this was the old brick built school – just one room initially, but later another added on. There was an outside toilet for both boys and girls. Many of the local residents still remember going there and their oral memories have been recorded. One of the village’s air raid shelters was here.
At the top of the lane, on the right, leading to the field you can see two existing ‘Glebe’ cottages. A Glebe cottage is a property that belongs to the church. Further along The Leas is April Cottage. At one time this was used for the weekly visit of the Doctor (several locations have been used over the years).
No. 12 The Leas, one of the oldest buildings in Cottesmore. This is a house of 1710 with 19th Century alterations. It has a Welsh slate roof and over the porch is a stone tablet with ‘Thomas Jackson 1710’.
In the gardens of No. 21 The Leas a Neolithic polished stone axe (4000 BC to 2501 BC) was found. It was officially listed though the person who found it was allowed to keep it. It has now been taken out of the village.
Granny Ireland ran a sweet shop from the front garden of Fox Cottage (27 The Leas), the shop itself was demolished some years ago. Many people remember Granny Ireland and her ramshackle shop with chickens scrambling on the floor and over the counter. At the back there used to be stabling. Next-door is Fountain’s cottage – at one stage this was the home of a carpenter who made coffins here.
As you exit The Leas and on the opposite side of the road is St. Nicholas’ Church (a grade II* listed building). The church has stood for 800 years in the centre of Cottesmore and a church on the site is mentioned in the Doomsday book. There seems little doubt that a Church stood in the present site long before the earliest portion of the building as it now stands. Within the church grounds the war memorial is also listed. Take some time to look around. The connection with the military in this village is very evident.
Church of C12-C15 with S porch of 1851. Coursed squared stone and ashlar, with Collyweston slate, lead and parapetted roofs. Buttresses with set-offs, plinth, ball flower and head frieze to nave and aisles, and stone coped gables. West tower with spire, nave aisles, chancel, North chancel vestry and South porch. C13 Tower of three stages with angle buttresses. West window with restored Geometric tracery, clock face and lancet on second stage South side and 1-light on North side, 4 bell openings with bar tracery, and ball flower and head frieze at top.
Broach spire with tall broaches, two sets of lucarnes, and part gilded weathervane. West arch to nave triple chamfered, the inner dying into polygonal respond. Blank window above and buttress to right. C14 nave arcades, North of three bays plus a fourth, and five of four bays. Double chamfered arches with hood moulds and lable stops over octagonal piers. Clerestorey probably early C14 (ball flower frieze) though 3 perpendicular windows. 6 bay low-pitch tie beam roof much restored. Wall pieces and curved braces from wooden corbels. Similar roofs to aisles, the five with open carved spandrels. North aisle has NW, 3 North and NE windows with Perpendicular tracery. North doorway c1300. Chancel arch double chamfered the inner dying into polygonal respond. Chancel walls probably partly C13 (C13 respond showing) but late perpendicular windows. 1 North with stained glass of c1907, 3 S, one with C19 stained glass and one with roll moulded chamfer. five-light East window with stained glass of c1890. North chancel vestry of 1855. Chancel roof is three bay restored low-pitch tie beam with moulded beams producing square panels. S aisle has perpendicular windows, SE with stained glass of c1895 and 3 others, one with ball flower decoration and flat topped. On right of South door a small door leads to former staircase to former priest's room over S porch. South porch, now open to roof, of 1851. South doorway is Norman but not in situ. Shafts and arch with zigzag. Font has square base of probably c1200. Reliefs of Christ Crucified and saintly Bishop. C14 or C15 octagonal bowl above.
C17 oak pulpit with oval panels on later stone base. E part of N aisle is RAF memorial chapel. White's Leicestershire and Rutland, 1877
Patrons of the church have included Henry IV, Henry VII and Charles II. An old village custom involved selling wives outside of the church. In 1829, one man sold his wife for a few shillings – the deal being drawn up and signed by the respective parties. However, a few weeks later the seller became jealous after seeing his wife in her new home sitting at her stocking frame and seemingly enjoying her new life. He was in the act of levelling a gun at her when he was overpowered by a passer-by. He was later committed to the County Bridewell. It is believed he was released on giving assurances of future good behaviour – and the wife continued to enjoy her new ménage.
Opposite the Sun Inn you have No. 45 Main Street, (Cob Cottage). This is a grade II listed thatch cottage built in the 18th Century made of coursed rubble stone. 11/2 storeys of 3 2 light casement windows facing left. On the ground floor on the right there is a horizontal sliding sash window and three later two light dormers. Inside there is a long large chamfered ceiling beam and inglenook with a massive beam. It was once two cottages. In the 1930s the cottage was used as a surgery for a weekly visiting Doctor. Villagers used to pay 6d (6 pence) a week into the “Sick & Divided Club”, that is you received payment when you were sick and any surplus “divided” out at Christmas.
Next door is ‘Dicks Cottage’, 47 Main Street, also a grade II listed thatch cottage from the 19th Century. At one time this used to be three cottages. The house was named after Dick Stafford who worked on the farm.
On other side of the road is the new Rectory/Vicarage built in 1970’s. When they were excavating the site to remove a large tree, a limestone feature with a quantity of iron nodules was found in the driveway. Unfortunately no evidence is now left. This could have been a Saxon site. Next we come to 42 Main Street. This was formerly a pair of cottages built in the mid 19th Century and designed by Henry Roberts as architect to the Society for Improving the Conditions of the Labouring Classes. He was a pioneer in the field of working-class housing and his designs were published by the Society for landowners and others to use. This former pair of cottages is one of these designs.
Anchorage Cottage (46 Main street) has a stream running through the garden from the Camphor Dyke. This was reputedly to be site of a former public house called Fox and Hounds although other evidence shows it to be elsewhere.
Until the early 1900s the village possessed a stream, the Rundle, running the length of the street. Bit by bit it was piped and buried under ground. There was also a windmill on Mill Lane.
No 53 Main Street is a Grade II listed thatch cottage from the 17th/early 18th Century. Next door, No. 55 Main Street (The Faulklands) used to be three cottages and is a grade II listed 18th Century thatch cottage. One of the villages Faulkner families, used to live in the road end one, hence its name. In the front is a small cottage which used to be an old wash house. (a small brick built ‘lean to’ rather than ‘cottage’). There are only two cottages now. The one by the road and the middle one have been joined. 59 Main Street is another Grade II listed thatched cottage from the 18th Century (visible through the garden of No. 55).
Honeypot Cottage is two thatch cottages from the 18th Century; grade II listed. Through the side gate was the area once known as ‘Tap Yard’ as this was one of the places that villagers could come for their water. It was also here that one of the five air raid shelters was located. During the war the air raid warden would cycle through the village blowing his whistle to let everyone know to take shelter.
Sticky end, No 73 (2), is a grade II listed building. Manor Farm is the only remaining farm in the village. At one time there were seven. Adjacent to the entrance to the farm is a pair of semi-detached buildings with the date 1883, a coronet and the letter “G”. This is a reference to Lord Gainsborough. There are some other later examples of this design further up the road.
Continue along Main Street, round the left-hand bend up to the junction of the Exton Road. There you will see to your right the front elevation of Cottesmore Grange. The Grange is a house of 1811 and mid 19th century, grade II listed, with a slate roof. In the 19th century, Cottesmore gained fame as the home of Richard Westbrook Baker (of Cottesmore Grange) who became High Sheriff of the county in 1842 and was renowned for his service to agriculture and his efforts to improve the conditions of farm labourers. He, acting as agent for Lord Gainsborough, originated the Small Allotment System in 1830. The well known Rutland Plough was his invention. In the grounds of Cottesmore Grange there is a site of a leper hospital – St.Giles circa 1266 but no remains exist.
Further along the Exton Road used to be Cottesmore House (3) now the site of Serenda Pet Care. The house was struck by lightning in the 1950s and was burnt to the ground and sadly no remains exist. It was a former residence of The Gainsboroughs. Tom Noel started the Cottesmore Hunt in 1732 and the village became famous in hunting circles. The current Earl (7th), Anthony Baptist Noel inherited the title on the death of his father on December 29 2009. The family seat is Exton Hall, Exton. The first creation of the title ended in extinction when the sixth Earl died without heirs in 1798. However, the title was revived in 1841 for a female-line relative. Turn back to Main Street at the Old Police House (now 21 the Sycamores).
The next few houses are known as Toll Bar (4) back towards the heart of Cottesmore. A single storey toll cottage stood on the site of 11 and 12 Toll Bar, being demolished in the 1930s. Mrs. McCrow was the last occupant and it is said that hunting folk on returning to the village would jump over into the adjoining field to avoid paying the toll. Children walking from Greetham going to school in Cottesmore were convinced she was a witch and would walk miles round the toll to avoid crossing her path.
Follow the path back into Cottesmore and on your right is Rogues Lane leading to Kendrew Barracks. The second of the cemeteries in the village (the first being in the church yard) the village cemetery can be found up the lane. The lane was named by the inhabitants of Cottesmore after an unauthorised camp of people was set up there in the 1800s. The name indicating how attitudes were at that time to these communities.
The construction of Royal Air Force Cottesmore began in 1935 in response to heightened tension in Europe and the re-armament of Germany. The airfield opened on 11 March 1938. Some of the first night bombing trials took place from Cottesmore in late 1938. On 8 September 1943, the US HQ Troop Carrier Command took control of Cottesmore which became known as USAAF Station 489. During the World War II, RAF Cottesmore was bombed – mainly at night When Victory in Europe was declared on 8 May 1945, the Americans departed for home on 11 May. The last aircraft to be based at the RAF camp was the Harrier. The former RAF station is now Kendrew Barracks.
Moving on past Hall Close to Colin Eason’s Garage and petrol station on your right. Prior to 1976 this was the location of Cottesmore Tractor Motors. Turning right into Mill Lane on your right are the remains of the outbuildings of Cottesmore Hall (5)The outbuilding is grade II listed and formerly probably cottage and stabling of late 15th/early 16th Century and later. There are three-light stone mullion windows with Tudor arches to each light. This was seriously damaged by fire in 1928 and eventually demolished in 1974 to make way for a housing estate.
Further up Mill Lane on the left is The Tithe Barn (now a B&B). Originally this was a 100ft Barn owned by the Church and dates back to the 15th century. Although named the tithe barn it is not believed that this was ever used for the collection of tithes. This building was converted in 1974 using material from the old Hall – roof timbers for the stairs & flooring and floor tiles from the old kitchens. There was a Reading Room on the site, but has since been demolished. Previously the ‘Reading Room’ was a school and subsequently the Village Hall. Also here was a Lambing Yard run by a Mr Glover.
Just past the Tithe Barn on the left hand side is the entrance to the Old Rectory, now called Clatterpot house Next door is the Old Brew House – this was believed to have been the brewery at one point and then the wash house for the Old Rectory.
On your right (15-17 Mill lane) you will see The Farrier’s house formerly Sunnyside. This house of 18th and 19th Century, grade II listed, with welsh slate and pantile roofs belonged to the Gainsboroughs until 1965. (19 Mill Lane) is Lilac Farmhouse (6). A part thatched part slate 18th Century house which is grade II listed. This property is part of the Exton estate. The Faulkner family used to deliver the milk and papers by bike to the village and also to Market Overton, Greetham and Exton. The farm was the location of another tap for the village water.
In the grounds evidence was found of late Anglo-Saxon and medieval occupation (410 AD to 1349 AD). 245 shards of pottery recovered as well as iron slag and furnace lining confirming the area was a metal working site (850 AD to 1349 AD).
Opposite are Nos. 16, 18 & 20 Mill Lane. All grade II listed thatch cottages. No.16 is dated 1734 with an over door stone tablet with ‘T.B.A. 1734. Nos. 18 & 20 are mainly 18th Century with 15th and 16th Century origins. Past the new houses built on the Lilac Farm land we come to the site of the old Sheepdyke. Turn right into the continuation of Mill Lane, formerly known as Sheepdyke and on your left is 37-39 Mill Lane. Now one cottage but previously 2 of 18th and 19th Century grade II listed with thatch and pantile roof. Three cottages here were destroyed in 1948 and were replaced by 2 new houses.
Sheepdyke was not just a pond, but a brick built pond with edging stone. This was the Cottesmore washdyke. The cottages in Sheepdyke used the water for washing and bathing but not drinking. About two weeks before shearing, the sheep had to be washed to remove dirt from the fleece. The ownership of the washdyke was shared among the local farmers. It was last used in 1950 to collect water and subsequently filled in. (This dried-up due to the ironstone quarrying in the area.) Exiting Mill Lane by the school, St. Nicholas’ CE Primary School, walk down the footpath (un-named) leading to Clatterpot lane. Clatterpot Lane, so called because of the clattering of pots at the Bakery, the site of which you will come across at the end of the lane where it meets Main Street.
On the left you will pass the back of No. 7 Clatterpot Lane (7). This is a grade II listed cottage from the 18th Century with a Collyweston slate roof. This is an Exton Estate property.
Shortly after this is a former Primitive Methodist Chapel, opened in 1890 and closed in 1964. It was converted to a house sometime after 1970. During the war the Americans referred to this as ‘Sunshine corner’.
Moving down a little further you will come to the back gate of the Church. To the right is an area Known as the Camphor Dyke. This was a place where villagers used to do their washing. It was liable to flooding in the past. This is part of a stream which runs through the village (now underground) through to Greetham.
Continuing down Clatterpot Lane you will see on your left Little Cottage, No. 8 Clatterpot Lane. This cottage was previously known as ‘Hope Cottage’. It is believed that the property was once owned by Lord Gainsborough and the current owners have a date plaque for the cottage from 1725.
Opposite Little Cottage were 2 thatch cottages, but these have been demolished and the area is now St. Nicholas Court. The village Bakery was once housed here.
It was on the site where St Nicholas Court is now that Ron Barker and Colin Easson started up their commercial vehicle repairs workshop. The successor Eassons garage can be found further up Main Street.
As you approach Main Street on your left is an office. Originally this was the site for five cottages. On the opposite side of the road at 41 Main Street, you will see the Chip Shop & Restaurant. These premises and the house next door have been any number of different trades including a delicatessen and latterly a butcher. It was also once Collards the grocers.
On your right is the Shop & Post Office. On the land adjacent to the Post Office, excavations in 1998 revealed several finds indicating a Boundary Ditch from the Iron Age, Roman domestic activity, Late Saxon domestic activity, Early Medieval activity, Late Medieval activity and Post Medieval activity. The village baker previously occupied this site.
A little further up and again on the opposite side of the road is (No.35 Main Street) the old Post Office. Next door is the Old Smithy (number 33 Main street) which was previously the village blacksmith shop.
Ahead of you is No. 32 Main street (Church House Farm). This was formerly part of a farm owned by the Fountains. For this reason next door, No 32a is known as Fountain’s Barn.
Across the road is No. 29 Main Street – named Pinfold House (a relatively new house) this was the site of the village Pinfold (Originally built to hold animals which were found straying from their owners land or were found grazing on the common without common rights. The animals would not be released until a fine had been paid to the "pinder" who was an officer of the lord of the manor. Breaking into the pinfold to release the animals was an offence punishable by a fine, imprisonment or both. They were also used by drovers taking their stock to market. The pinfold was used to pen the animals overnight for a small fee). This was before the area between Main Street and The Leas was used by Bland’s Coaches (The company used the name 'Pride of Rutland and was founded in 1929 by Reginald H Bland).
Continue right up Main Street and on your right is No. 20 Main Street (Reed Cottage). This a 17th Century thatch house which is grade II listed. This was the site of the old butchers and slaughterhouse. By this cottage there used to be a small cottage called Pump Cottage. Villagers came here for their water – the pump was called “Issac’s pump”.
Further along on the right-hand side is Fir Tree Farmhouse, No. 16 Main Street. This is a thatched house grade II listed from the 17th/18th Century. The outbuildings included a milking parlour and pig sties.
Next is Holme Farmhouse. This is a house from the 18th Century, extended in the early 20th Century with a 20th Century tile roof and is grade II listed. As the name would suggest this was a former farm though it ceased to be an active farm 30 years ago. The barns and cowsheds were converted some 25 years ago and the farmyard and field (Now the Spinney) were developed around 15 years ago. Originally this property was part of the Exton estate.
If you continued to follow the road exiting Cottesmore you would come to the housing development built in the sixties. This was on the site of the old school known as the Central School (now Wenton Close – named for the lost hamlet of Wenton which was once part of Cottesmore). These were ex: army nissen huts with tin roofs. It was around this area in 1906 that artefacts from about 700 BC were found. These are known as the “Cottesmore Hoard” and can be seen at the Rutland Museum, Oakham.
Turn back towards Cottesmore once more. On your right hand side is The Thatch, 5 Main Street. This is a grade II listed 18th Century thatch cottage. Mr H D Smith (HD), headmaster of the school lived here in the 1930s. He also lived at Ivy Cottage next door. It was here that a Mrs Challoner ran the ‘Scottish Tea Gardens’. Also on the right you come to The Limes, 15 Main Street. This is an 18th Century cottage with pantile roof and is grade II listed. The man in charge of the ironstone horses (the horses used in the quarrying in the surrounding area – visit Rocks By the Rail to learn more) once lived here. Next door is 17 Main Street. This is another grade II listed cottage of 1775. It has a Collyweston slate roof with stone coped gables. These are the oldest examples of terraced houses in the village. There is an overdoor stone tablet carved with ‘John Abbey, 1775’
COTTESMORE GRANGE Granges have monastic associations, and there was a relationship with a priory in medieval times, but there are no definite details to be found. However, the Enclosure map of 1807 shows no hospital, no grange or building of any kind.
After research at Leicestershire Records Office, and conversations with Dr Vanessa Doe, it is thought that the house had been built in three stages with the two northern gables first, but at different times. Further, it was natural to believe that the inscription of 1811 on the south wing, referred to the year when this part of the house was added. We know now that this latter assumption is not correct.
It seems that the north-western gable was built first, in Thomas Dain’s time as agent to the Exton Estate (1811-1827?). The north-eastern gable was added in Richard Westbrook Baker’s time as steward to Lord Gainsborough (1826 1860) : a plan in the Leicestershire Records Office refers to “an addition to Mr Baker’s House”. The plan is un-dated but the extension was substantial: a barrel-vaulted office, a staircase to two rooms above, a strong room and a new scullery with access back to the old house behind. Both floors were of stone with a vaulted cellar beneath. This second part of the house is where Richard Westbrook Baker received tenants who came to pay rent, and where, probably, important documents related to the running of Exton Estate, were kept.
As is known, Mr Westbrook Baker was a man of innovation in farming, and his standing in the community rose. He founded the Rutland Agricultural Society and also became High Sherriff. Thus he was eventually able to build the southern wing of the house to reflect his status in society. He lived at Cottesmore Grange until his death in 1861.
Why the inscription in stone at the front of the southern wing, says 1811,(in Roman letters) is a puzzle, but it may simply be that Richard Westbrook Baker wanted to record the date of the beginning of the house. Perhaps also, there was status in living in as old an house as possible.