Hugh Beavin

From Saxon Origins to the 21st Century

The modern day town of Hinckley may be the bustling home to thousands of people but is a far cry from the time 1,200 years ago when Saxons first settled in Hynca's clearing.

For although there is evidence of neolithic and Bronze Age man living in the area - and the occasional Roman villa - it wasn't until the days of the great Offa, King of Mercia, that Hinckley became properly established.

Shortly after the Norman invasion in 1066 Hinckley was known as "Hinchelie" and became the proud possessor of a castle.

The Domesday Book records that: "The same earl (Aubrey) held Hinckelie. There are 14 carucates of land. In demesne there are four ploughs and eight serfs, and 42 villeins with 16 bordars (smallholders) and three sokemen (freeholders) have nine-and-a-half ploughs.

"There is a meadow six furlongs in length and three furlongs in breadth. It was worth six pounds, now it is worth 10 pounds. (Harding with his men held this land. Earl Aubrey had it afterwards, now it is in the King's hands."

Over the next 200 years the ownership of the growing settlement changed hands several more times until it eventually passed to the de Montfort family of Leicester who became the new Lords.

By that time there was a substantial trade in wool being carried out - enough to warrant St Mary's Church being rebuilt.

The next big leap forward for the town occurred in 1640 when the first stocking frame was installed and Hinckley fuelled the textile revolution in this country.

The 18th century saw an explosion of religious dissent, the rapid growth of local charities and a revolution in land tenure and use of enclosures.

As the 19th century developed it saw sharp divisions created between the prosperous few who owned the knitting machines and the emerging factories and the poverty-stricken workers.

These divisions have been largely eradicated during the progress of the 20th century as the town has rapidly expanded and broadened its industrial base away from textiles and into a plethora of other activities.

Author: Hugh Beavin

Written for: Hinckley-on-line