Barwell in Leicestershire

Barwell over the years went from a small farming village to an industrial boot and shoe manufacturer of England.

top town and the war memorial in barwell leicestershire
Top Town and the War Memorial in Barwell in Leicestershire

Barwell in Leicestershire is a village and parish within the Hinckley & Bosworth Borough, the parish includes the hamlets of Potters Marston and Stapleton.

1086 Barwell is listed in The Domesday Book as 'Berryall' which later became Bearwell. The word 'Bear' is thought to mean boar and 'well' stream, this meant that the name meant 'the town by the boar stream' which is thought to be the stream which crosses Mill Street and is now called the Tweed. Barwell had 14 people that held three smallholdings, along with a priest and two ploughs. The value of Barwell village was £1.5.

1220 St. Marys Church was built along Church Lane, on the same site as a Saxon church which was thought to have been a wooden structure. The Anglican Church was built in a gothic style, which includes a Norman square tower that housed four bells.

1312 An area of 240 acers of forest was completely cleared which became a great asset to allow farming and market gardening to be done.

1377 A Poll Tax existed in Britain, it indicated that Barwell had 180 inhabitants.

1556 The Queens Head was built along High Street, in later years the pub would be owned by Sarah Powers in 1902, followed by the Haines family. The pub is now the second oldest building in Barwell.

1564 The Village had grown to 48 families according to a Church census.

1625 Barwell was struck by the Plague, one in six villagers would die from the Plague.

1640 Stocking frames first started to appear in the village.

1651 Captain John Shenton served in the Royalist army of King Charles I as a Cavalier, he fled for his life after the Battle of Worcester (English Civil War) back to Barwell. John knew that he would be found at his home (Bassett House at Stapleton, nr Barwell) by the Parliamentarians, so he would hide in a strangely shaped wych-elm tree which had grown along the nearby Ashby Road (A447). The tree would later be known as ‘Captain Shenton’s Tree’.

1660 The Manor house was bought by John Oneby, he went on to become a Bailiff of Leicester and would live until he reached 92 years of age.

1663 William Bradford was born in the village, he would emigrate in 1685 to Philadelphia in North America with William Penn to become one of the early founders of the printing trade. William would be the first to print a prayer book for the American colonies.

1669 Several religious meetings were held in the houses of John Oneby and William Paget when open dissent was illegal. These meetings would become popular attracting a great number of people.

1760 Alderman Newton purchased a local farm and founded the Green Coat School, 20 poor boys of the Church of England would be educated from the rent from the farm.

1797 The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was built along Chapel Street with a brick design, it would later be enlarged at a cost of £200 in 1829.

1807 Barwell Cricket Club was founded and is highly renowned for having the oldest continuous fixture in English cricket. There has been an annual match played between Barwell and ‘Coventry and North Warwickshire’ since the Napoleonic days in the 1800s. Local Barwell men George Geary, Albert Lord and George Ball all became County players, George Geary would go on to play for England. The Barwell Cricket Club currently play along Kirkby Road.

1820 Frame knitting would become established, the local authorities offered cottage industries allotments to help lower the level of poverty.

1834 Barwell became part of the Hinckley Poor law Union as a result of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act.

1849 The Free School was built by the founder Alderman Gabriel Newton, the school was for educating and clothing 20 poor boys, which was endowed with £20 10s. per year, from the Alderman Newton charity.

1851 The population of the parish had grown to 1,357.

1867 The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel along Chapel Street was further enlarged 38 years after the last enlargement.

1871 The National School was built in High Street which would merge with the Free School, the school would be enlarged in 1885.

1877 The first boot and shoe factory was set up. The boot and shoe industry of Barwell and neighbouring town Earl Shilton would become well known for boot and shoe manufacturing in Britain during the 19th century and would continue until the later part of the 20th century.

1891 The village now had water that was pumped from Snarestone.

1894 George Ward first set up his boot and shoe factory, which would become very successful over time. In 1918 he was manufacturing 20,000 pairs of shoes, and in 1938 the number increased to 80,000 a year.

1894 A service of horse drawn buses became available four times a day that ran between Barwell and the neighbouring town Hinckley.

1895 The National School was further enlarged only 10 year after being enlarged before; the school would now hold 350 boys and girls and 100 infants.

1896 There were 11 boot and shoe factories in the village, which made Barwell one of the leading areas for boot and shoe manufacturing.

1898 A Cemetery was built along Brockley Lane, using an area of 2.5 acres. A couple of Mortuary Chapels would be built in 1902.

1903 A new Wesleyan Methodist Chapel that would hold up to 750 sittings was built along Shilton Road when a number of cottages and adjoining land was purchased.

1911 The Council School was built along Brockley Lane to hold 230 children.

1922 The unveiling of the Barwell War Memorial at Top Town was done by George Geary and dedicated by Rev A.J.G Titley on 31st December. The memorial consists of three bronze tablets with 88 names of men of Barwell who died during the Great War, the cost of £1,200 was raised by public subscription. Later, railings were placed around the bottom.

1926 The Barwell Bowling Club was formed, they currently play along Kirkby Road.

1932 When Tom Powers, who lived at the Barwell Manor, died he was the largest agricultural contractor in the country. He owned 22 steam engines that had to be sold off when he died on 7th June.

3rd May 1941 The first time the Barwell Spitfire flew, it was paid for by generous donations made by the people of Barwell for the war effort.

1965 At 4.15pm on Christmas Eve, Barwell was struck by a meteor shower which caused some minor damage to some buildings. The largest piece of meteorite was found at the bottom end of Chapel Street, it weighed 103lbs and would become the biggest meteorite known to hit Britain. Astronomer Patrick Moore arrived in Barwell as soon as he heard the news, he found a piece of the meteorite and took it promptly to a local museum.

1970 Due to the increase in traffic around the area of Top Town, the Barwell War Memorial was dismantled and then moved to a new location along Church Lane, just outside of the grounds of St. Marys Church.

1980 Paul James Knitwear Ltd moved in to the old George Ward shoe factory on the corner of Hill Street and Dawsons Lane in Barwell.

1989 Ward-Whites factory closed down, it would be greatly missed.

1992 Barwell Football Club known as ‘The Canaries’ were founded, they play at the sports complex along Kirkby Road.

2011 The Census of 2011 has shown that the population has grown to 9,022.

Just a thought... Have you ever thought to sell your wife? It has been said that a wife was sold in a Barwell pub for two shillings and six pence.

Barwell in the Domesday Book

There were 102 places in the Hundred of Guthlaxton in the Domesday Book, Barwell was one of them. Barwell would later become part of the Hundred of Sparkenhoe.

Guthlaxton was a Hundred of Leicestershire.

domesday book barwell
Barwell in the Domesday Book.

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