Diseworth Village History

Diseworth is an attractive village of medium size, situated between the A453 and the B5401 a mile or so south of the East Midlands Airport. It has a very active local history society, who can be contacted through :


Several publications about the village are available for sale, and these are detailed at the foot of this page.

The village retains a number of old buildings and the following list incorporates the most interesting sites.

The roads which meet at "The Cross" have interesting old names. That running north is Grimes Gate, east is Clements Gate, south is Lady Gate and west is Hall Gate. Gate is a form of the old Danish 'gata' - 'the:way to', particularly appropriate in the case of Hall Gate as the site of the hall is believed to be at the western end of this road.

It is worth noting the massive walls of the local stone, which are particularly impressive at "The Cross", but can be seen at many points throughout the village. Some have a capping of large, flat flagstones. Strong measures are now taken to preserve them wherever possible. The same stone is used for the foundations and lower courses of most of the older houses and its presence provides a useful clue to the really old properties.

From the 16th century until 1920, much of the village was in the ownership of two major landlords - Christ's College, Cambridge and the Langley Priory Estate. Christ's College obtained land in Diseworth, Kegworth and Hathern by the gift of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Vll, and the then owner of the Hall, in 1506. It retained this property until 1920. The prioress of Langley Priory had the patronage of Diseworth Church in 1220. After the dissolution the Priory estates came into the hands of first, Thomas Grey, then the Cheslyns and then, in 1830, the Shakespears. Although the Priory has been sold into separate ownership, the Shakespear Estate still retains the two major working farms in the village (Nos. 10 and 14) and Whartoft Grange on the outskirts.

1. The Church.
Dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels, this is a Saxon foundation of considerable interest. It has a broach spire and is built of the local stone. Much of the fabric dates from the 13th and 14th centuries though there has been considerable restoration of the interior. The Saxon font survives and there are traces of herringbone work in some of the walls. It has a most interesting pulpit dated 1713.

2. No.12 Clements Gate.
This tiny building was known as the "pairing cottage", "honeymoon cottage" or Dovecote House because newly married couples stayed in it while they looked for somewhere permanent to live. It is built, like so much of the village, of local brick, and has black pantiles.

3. No.20 Clements Gate.
A half-timbered, brick-nogged cottage, with an old terracotta tile, found in the house, inserted above the old street door.

4. No.24 Clements Gate.
The Kiln House. So-called because the garden contains remains of the sole surviving kiln of one of the three brickworks known to have existed in the village in the last century.

5. Nos.11,13 & 15 Clements Gate.
Three old cottages with foundations of Diseworth stone and timber and brick above. The oldest part of No.11 dates from the mid-16th century but modern rendering covers the timbers. The roof is pantiled. The basement of No.15 was once a public house.

6. No.9 Clements Gate.
This was a cobbler's premises at the end of the last century. To the east is the site of the Old School House which functioned from its endowment in 1720 by one William Lane until 1862.

7. Pound/Pinfold.
Only the memory remains of the site of the village pound, just to the west of the first cottage on the north side of the street.

8. The Bull & Swan.
An old, half-timbered building underneath all the additions and alterations. Its double title stems from an act of artistic license. Some years ago a painting on a calendar, unmistakably of the village, appeared, with the inn-sign bearing a Swan rather than a Bull. The brewery, Shipstones, pursued the matter and in spite of the fact that it could find no definate proof that the name "The Swan" had ever been used, decided to adopt the double name. The traditional name was "The Bull's Head", and the original effigy of a head can be seen high up on the wall facing the church.

9. No.4 Grimes Gate.
This imposing brick house, with a purple slate roof, was the village bakery until the early 1940's; one of the many shops to be found in the village at the beginning of the century, which have now, sadly, disappeared. It also served for many years as the Post Office. Outbuildings, including a small barn, still survive, though the oven has gone.

10. Old Hall Farm.
This lovely double-fronted, gabled, stone-dressed, brick house with a tiled roof, was built on the site of an older Hall in the later 1600's. The bricks for the chequered brickwork in Flemish bond were made in the village. The decorative effect was achieved by using blue, vitrified, headers. Under the present front garden is a cobbled courtyard. The foundations are of well-dressed stone. The half-timbered barn, dated 1675, beside the road, is on the site of an earlier tithe barn. Built of cruck construction with square-framed panels with arch braces, it still has most of its wattle and daub panels. The end walls are of brick as are the panels in the other timber-framed barn on the east side of the farmyard.

11. The School.
The present, modern building was built in the early 1970s, immediately behind the old school, which was then demolished. Built in 1862, it had become unsafe. The old Schoolmaster's House, No.5 Grimes Gate, survives.

12. No.3 Grimes Gate - White House Farm.
This 300-year old, black and white, half-timbered house was a working farm until relatively recently. It was rescued from a state of considerable dilapidation in the mid-1980's. The square-framed timbers are brick-nogged in the lower panels with some plaster surviving above. The pantiled, brick barn and farm buildings were also converted into a dwelling house.

13. The Old Vicarage.
This house, which now has the appearance of an elegant late Georgian house, was originally a group of two or three cottages. It served as the vicarage until the early 1980's.

14. Cross Farm.
The farmhouse, a most attractive late 17th century building with a double-gabled roof and cross-gables, is built of local brick in Flemish bond, with the same decorative chequer-work as at Old Hall Farm. It has an imposing front door, well-defined flat window arches, two elaborate string courses in the brick and four blocked windows on the east wall. The farm stands high above the road next to the church and has an extensive range of stone, brick and half-timbered barns and other buildings.

15. Nods Lady Gate - The Old Forge.
This is a very interesting old building as it is one of the few surviving examples of cruck construction in the village. Old timbers, with craftsmen's marks, can be seen on the end abutting the road. On the south side is an external oven with an opening at the top for fuelling it with faggots. Though recently the home of the local farrier, it was not originally a forge but a farm. It was renovated in the 1980's.

16. The Baptist Church.
Built by the side of the Diseworth Brook, this is a rendered, brick building with a roof of graded, grey slates on the oldest part, built originally in 1773. It was enlarged and improved in 1824, 1875 and 1928. The first meetings in the village were held in a weaver's shop at Lilly's Cottage. (26) There is a small graveyard behind the church.

17. No.10 Lady Gate.
This was for many years the home of the village milk round, delivery being by horse and cart. The house is of brick with a roof of old, graded, grey slates. The barn behind is a fine example of ventilated brickwork. The dairy ceased to operate in the 1960s.

18. No.14/16 Lady Gate-Cherry's.
This house was once called "Tanner's Yard" and has also been a sweet shop. It is a pair of 18th century, half-timbered, thatched cottages. The end nearer the road is brick-nogged, the other retains its plaster panels. The end wall abutting the road contains a blocked doorway.

19. Lady Gate Farm.
The third of the remaining working farms in the centre of the village. The farmhouse, brick-faced, has a wealth of exposed timber beams inside. The farmyard has a range of brick buildings, including a barn with ventilated brickwork. To the south at No.11 is a half-timbered farm-worker's cottage with outbuildings, including a small barn and a pigsty.

20. Clapper Bridge.
One of the surviving clapper bridges in the parish crosses a tributary of the Diseworth Brook at Town End. Longmere Lane leads on past the site of Town End brickworks to the site of a windmill that was still there within living memory. In the fields on either side of the lane there are still traces of the ridge and furrow which developed when the fields were part of the medieval open field system which surrounded the village.

21. No.28/30 Lady Gate.
Pretty brick-faced, timber-framed cottages bearing the initials and date - CA 1776 - worked into the brick. They were renovated in the 1 970's and retain their internal exposed beams and inglenook fireplaces.

22. No.57 The Green.
This tall brick house was once the village workhouse. In the walls, the changes in the brickwork show how the house grew to its present size from a smaller cottage.

23. Nos.3 & 4 Page Lane.
Two estate cottages, built of brick on a base of Diseworth stone as are so many of the old buildings in the village.

24. Page Lane Farm.
Originally the site of two farms, this property retains its three-storey, brick farmhouse, dating from about 1800 and many of its outbuildings, including barns. All have footings of Diseworth stone.

25. No.4 Lady Gate - The Gables.
This attractive, 300-year old, half-timbered, white-washed house was thatched until relatively recently. The timbers are square-framed with arch braces. It has had a varied history during the past 100 years or so, being used as a butchers, a public house, a tinsmiths and a livery yard.

26. Lilly's Cottage.
This is the oldest, most spectacular and best known house in the village, being the home of the notorious 17th century astrologer, William Lilly. He was born in 1602 in the house, which was rebuilt in the lifetime of his grandfather. The original house has been dated to the 13th century. The present main house is a three bay construction, with one surviving cruck, on stone foundations. The walls are close-studded with timbers, the in-fill consisting of thin stones plastered over. There would originally have been no upper storey, and the old "wind eyes" to let out smoke, can be seen just below the line of the thatch. The thatch was renewed in 1989. There are many interesting internal features, including graffiti in the plaster of the wattle and daub walling. There is an old deep well in the garden. In William Lilly's day the house was part of a farm. More recently it was home to a weaver, whose room was used, as mentioned earlier, as a meeting-house by the first Diseworth Baptists. At the turn of the century the garden was the site of the village forge and was later used as a smallholding. The adjoining east-facing, brick and timber building was called Peacock Cottage because of the topiary in the garden.

27. Post Office & Village Shop.
The only surviving shop in the village. Booklets giving further details on the village, the churches and William Lilly can be purchased here and also at the church.

28. No.50 Hall Gate.
An interesting thatched, half-timbered house of cruck construction, once a shop selling sweets and tobacco. It bears the initials and date - CV 1692. The timbers are square-framed, with arch braces. The gables contain some brick-nogging, but all the plaster-filled panels survive on the front. The foundations are of high quality dressed stone.

29. The Plough.
Originally called "The Old Plough", this too was once thatch and in fact retained the thatch on the north side until 1989. It is now pantiled. Part of the building is of cruck construction.

30. No.31 Hall Gate.
Another half-timbered, brick-nogged house with foundations of Diseworth stone, which was originally thatched. It used to be a haulier's and was nearly pulled down as the front wall had, for many years, to be propped up. The timbers are square-framed with arch braces, of an almost identical pattern with those of No.50.

31. Nos.27 & 29 Hall Gate - Fox Cottage & Rose Cottage
Both are late 17th century, timber-framed, brick-faced cottages. When alterations were being made to No.29, graffiti dating from the Civil War were found scratched in the plaster beside the fireplace. They were removed and pieces can be seen in the church. The two properties shared a pump. The garage of No.29 was once a cobbler's shop.

32. No.25 Hall Gate- Hallstead.
Cruck construction, late 15th century thatched cottage with rendered exterior. it was extended and altered in the 17th century and has a wealth of exposed beams inside. It was once a butcher's shop and many of the hooks remained in the beams. More recently it has been used as a smallholding.

33. No.36 Hall Gate - Village Farm.
The fourth large working farm. The farmhouse is of brick with stone footings and a tiled roof. Most of the original farm buildings have gone, but the half-timbered, brick-nogged, pantiled dairy to the south of the house remains.

34. Nos.15 & 17 Hall Gate Hall Cottage.
The house has its lower courses, and all of a massive chimney breast, built of very high quality, well-dressed stone There is speculation that the stone came from the old Hall.

35. No.24 Hall Gate - The Woodyard.
The house is believed to be 17th century and is timber-framed with a mixture of brick and plaster-filled panels Some of the stone footings are of well-dressed ashlar. In this house, the local bricks are very pebble-rich. The village woodyard has been a centre of activity since the end of the last century. Local craftsmen replaced much of the woodwork in the church and made many of the beautiful fittings.

36. No.13 Hall Gate - Cockthorn's Farm.
Three-storey, late 18th century brick farmhouse with many outbuildings, including a small barn of cruck construction, in a very beautiful garden. The brickwork is in Flemish stretcher bond and the window arches are elegantly cambered. Cockthorn's was the name originally given to fields to the north of the house.

37. The Methodist Chapel.
Tall, red brick building dating from 1887. Land to build a chapel on the site of an old barn was originally acquired in 1799, by which time Methodism was well established in the village. Six stone plaques record the local craftsmen involved in the building and the date the foundation stones were laid.

38. No.11 Hall Gate - Chapel Farm.
Set back from the road, rendered and whitewashed. No longer a farm, the old cowsheds and barn to the north are now dwellings. The house has chimneys big enough to be swept by chimney-sweeps, and flagged floors, the stones of which are said to have come from the old Hall.

39. No.5/7/9 Hall Gate- Primrose Cottage.
Originally three farm-workers' cottages. White-washed, rendered, timber-framed, thatched house with many internal beams and surviving wattle and daub walling.

40. No.16 Hall Gate.
Tiny, half-timbered cottage with a mixture of brick-nogged and plaster-filled panels in the square-framing. Believed to be early 17th century in date.

41. Slte of the Old Hall.
This is traditionally the site of the Old Hall at Diseworth and there are earthworks in the field which may show the position of the foundations. There is no documentary proof of the status of the site, but it is mentioned as 'Hall Close' in a history of William Lilly, when the ruins of a house, outbuildings and dovecote, and traces of fish ponds are described.

42. No.14 Hall Gate - Brook House.
White-washed brick cottage probably dating from the 17th century. Originally a small farm, it has stone footings, wattle and daub walls and ceilings, earth floors, now tiled, and an ornately chamfered beam in one of the ground floor rooms.

43. Hayfield Farm.
No longer a working farm. The stockyard buildings were rebuilt as dwellings in the late 1980's. The farmhouse, of local brick, remains, together with the dairy and a stone-built barn beside the sheepwash. All the buildings have stone footings.

44. Sheep Wash.
Where Hall Gate crosses the Diseworth Brook is the site of the communal sheepwash. The brook could be dammed as it passed through the culvert to fill a pool between the stone built banks. Extra water came from the lake at Langley Priory. On the northern side there is a ramp to facilitate access. The sheep were washed before being taken to market and dipped against vermin at other times.

Beyond is "The Bowley" marked on an old map as the "Bowling Alley". One can only speculate on whether this had any connection with the Old Hall.

45. No.5 The Green.
Elegant, three-storey, brick-bullt house, dating from about . 1800, which was once a farm. The brick-work is in Flemish bond and the large windows are adorned by impressive stone lintels.

It is curious that in Diseworth "The Green" does not lie in the centre of the village, but is the name given to the road which marks its southern limit.

Text Copyright 1990 Diseworth Local History Society


Publications Available about Diseworth



Available From :
 Diseworth Village Trail  ?, ?
 Diseworth, A Brief History  ?, ?
 Diseworth Postcards  ?, ?
 Diseworth, The Story of a Village  Sue Brompton and Nikki Hening   (ISBN 0-9539565-0-4)

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