A brief history of Caldecott
The name Caldecott derives from the old English word ‘ceald’ (meaning cold) and ‘cott’ (shepherds huts) so literally ‘cold huts’ referring to the village’s farming and agricultural history.
The following are brief snippets of village history, predominantly extracted from two books – with permission from Lyddington History Society. For further information and a more complete picture, please follow to links above to the pdf publications, archived online by Lyddington History Society:
- The Buildings and People of a Rutland Manor, 2015, Rosemary Canadine, Vanessa Doe, Nick Hill, Robert Ovens, Christopher Thornton
- Caldecott Rutland, A Pen Portrait of an English Village, 1954, Marian Neenan
Caldecott formed part of the Lyddington Manor between the late sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, which also encompassed Thorpe by Water, Stoke Dry and the medieval settlement of Snelston just north of Caldecott.
In the middle ages, poll tax records in 1377 revealed 85 taxpayers in Caldecott. Records show that in 1563, there were 32 households in Caldecott rising to 51 households in the Hearth tax of 1665. At the time of the first census in 1801 there were 306 people recorded living in the village. *
Farmers, bakers and corset makers
Caldecott is historically an agricultural and farming village, with most earning their living from crops and livestock. But there are also records from 1600s of tanners, shoemakers, wool combers, textile weavers, craftsmen and millrights, along with carpenters, bakers, butchers and cheesemakers. Two surprising additions to the textile trade in Caldecott were Milliner John Francis in 1640 and a Staymaker named as Hugh More in 1807. *
In the nineteenth century, Caldecott, with its access to the bridge over the Welland became a local centre for the distribution of materials such as coal; it also had its own mill, conveniently situated in the village, and benefitted from rich pasture lands in the Welland valley. The railway that came to the village in the 1830s brought further changes and opportunities for employment*.
Two Grand National winning horses were born and bred in the stables at 45 Main Street, Caldecott. Playfair, owned by Ned Baird, was trained by Tom Cannon and ridden by George Mawson in 1888. Forbra was owned by William Parsonage, trained by Tom Rimmel near Worcester and ridden by Tim Harney in 1932. The convenience of the nearby railway was probably a factor that led to the setting up of the stables. A local resident remembers Forbra being walked back to his stable from the station after his big race. *
Clubs and organisations
Caldecott’s village hall was not built until 1955, but photographs are described of a cricket club in 1879, of a country dance team in 1908 and again in 1927. There was a choral society in the 1920s, a tennis club ran for several years from 1936 in a field opposite the church and in the 1950s there was a football club and a men’s Whist team. A concert party formed in 1931, beginning with small plays and progressing to operas. In 1947 the group performed at Oakham Castle and in 1951, for the Festival of Britain, the party formed the nucleus of the village pageant enacting twenty-four scenes of Caldecott History with a cast of over sixty players. ***
Festivals and celebrations
Marian Neenan was a School Mistress at Caldecott School and her book contains many stories and anecdotes relating to 19th and early 20th century life in Caldecott.
She describes that in or around 1863 repairs were needed to the Church’s ‘Grate Bell’ the roof and interior costing £565, a huge amount at the time. Concerts were by then thought of as the best way to raise money and three concerts in rapid succession raised £22. In 1908 a great two-day festival was held in the Vicarage grounds with the Great Easton Coronation band in attendance. ***
In the early 20th century, a week-long festival would take place from around the 19th September on the Green and in the (old) Plough yard, with a feast on the Sunday. A visiting fair was situated in a field on the west side of the Eye Brook. The last time it visited was 1931.
Pancake day celebrations are a long-standing tradition in Caldecott. In the first half of the 20th century on Shrove Tuesday the Pancake Bell rang at 11am as it still does today!
First and second world wars
During the Second World War the Eyebrook reservoir was used as a practice site for the Dambuster raids. At sundown each evening there was increasing air activity, Guy Gibsons and his daring companions practices bombing the target in preparation for their historic visit to Mohne dam.
During the first world war a few harmless bombs were dropped in the fields including a large unexploded one. A war memorial in the church reminds is of the Caldecott men who gave their lives in 1914- 1918. On their return, boys were enthusiastically welcomed back and each asked to accept a share of the £185 with the village’s deep gratitude; but the joy was marred by the absence of those who would never return. ***
The local area
Snelston was a medieval settlement north of the village straddling Uppingham Road, once part of Caldecott parish. The settlement was recorded separately in taxation records up to the early fourteenth century, but later on it appears to have been included in the returns for Caldecott. Surviving earthworks, used to reconstruct the settlement suggest that it comprised a single street, orientated east to west, with house platforms on either side. The site was later cut in half by the eighteenth-century turnpike road (now Uppingham Road). A settlement still existed in 1487–8 and the community possibly lingered on into the early sixteenth century, but it seems to have been abandoned shortly afterwards. *
The Eyebrook Reservoir
In 1937 the scheme to dam the Eyebrook and create the reservoir began and it was completed in 1941. The reservoir was a great icing rink on its completion during several weeks of severe frost. During the Second World War the Eyebrook reservoir was famously used as a practice site for the Dambuster raids.
Built only for utility, the reservoir added great beauty to many miles of countryside. Marian Neenan describes a walk from the Uppingham Road through Snelston or “Hobbijohns” to the crest of the hill, looking westward, is a view that might almost be Switzerland. ***
Rockingham Railway Station
The railway came to the village in the 1830s. Rockingham Station, just south of the village (where the Castle Restaurant now stands) opened in 1850, importing welsh slate and softwood for building. The station was named after the village of Rockingham, which although one mile distant and smaller than Caldecott, was thought to be more important because of Rockingham Castle. It closed in 1966, but the railway line and coal shed are still clearly visible.
Village houses and buildings
In The Buildings and People of a Rutland Manor, 2015, Rosemary Canadine explains how the local characteristic stone houses are vernacular in construction, built using local methods and materials. They were constructed using locally quarried brown ironstone (from an area between Lyddington and Stoke Dry) and a lighter limestone (from Gretton, Harringworth, Weldon and Ketton). Caldecott has a number of examples of striped buildings using both stones – a fashion of the seventeenth century. Most local houses would have originally had thatched roofs of wheat or straw from surrounding fields or made of slate mined at Collyweston. *
External doorways and windows of carved stonework are often a feature of local vernacular buildings, such as the doorway of Ye Olde House on Uppingham Road. Another feature are inglenook fireplaces. In the hearth tax of 1665, there was one building with eight hearths (Meadow Farmhouse), with two others having four hearths, the remaining having two or three hearths. *
Fifteenth or sixteenth century Cruck Truss structures have been discovered in two buildings on the opposite sides of Main Street; at 6 Main Street and at The White Hart, 3 Main Street (demolished in 1970). Tree ring datings also show several houses with wood samples dating back to the 1500s.*
Seventeenth century date stones in Caldecott:
- 1646 – 6 Main Street
- 1647 – Ye Olde House, Uppingham Road
- 1649 – Barn at Weldon House (reset), Uppingham Road
- 1651 – Meadow Farmhouse, 5 The Green
- 1684 – 1 The Green
- 1696 – Manor House, Mill Lane
Relatively few houses were built in the 1700s, but this century saw much work adapting, re-fronting and improving the houses of the previous century.
Eighteenth century date stones in Caldecott:
- 1712 – 39 Main Street, farm building
- 1729 – Glebe House, 1 Church Close
- 1774 – Monkey Tree Cottage, 4 The Green
- 1789 – 45 Main Street
By the middle of the 1800s brick had made an appearance in the village, it was used mainly for building alterations and facades. The brick terrace 11-17 Main Street was an exception for the area. The nineteenth century also saw professional architectural practices take over from local builders and in 1863 the Vicarage north of Caldecott was built. The grand Fernleigh House on Main Street was built not much later on the plot of several previous properties. *
The Village School on Main Street was designed and built in 1878, using stone purchased from a row of unused cottages that were demolished on Lyddington Road.
Mills and Dovecotes
The Water Mill over the river Eye was originally situated further down Mill Lane rather than where the present Water Mill (housing Mill Garage) currently stands. Caldecott also once had a Windmill located in the area of Mill Lane. In common with many Rutland villages, Caldecott also had an impressive dovecote which was situated at the old Manor house.
Caldecott still has its’ Pinfold intact next to Pinfold Park. Pinfolds were a feature of most English villages by the 16th century; they were open air animal pounds for stray animals that had been rounded up. If not claimed, the animals were driven to the nearest market and sold, the proceeds going to the impounder and pound-keeper.
For the Festival of Britain in 1951 the Women’s Institute cleared the Pinfold area and turned it into a wayside garden installing a teak bench and holding a celebration for residents. The Pinfold was then repaired in 2022 by the Parish Council.
The Plough Inn (now The Old Plough B&B) had been a hostel or malt house since 1578. It ceased trading in 1948, when the license crossed the road to its present position on The Green.
There were previously at least two other Inns or malt houses in the village including the old Black Horse Inn (near to the site of the present Village Hall), which ceased trading in 1927 and The White Hart, 3 Main Street, previously named The Kings Head as shown on a 1904 map.
The present Village Hall was built in 1955 near the site of the old Black Horse Inn. The Village Hall Committee accepted the offer of the material from the semi- detached bungalows erected for their workers by Stewarts and Lloyds, the firm that had built the dam on the Eyebrook. They were dismantled and used to construct the new Village Hall. *
St John the Evangelist Church dates from the 12th century although there is some Norman fabric remaining in the form of a small window in the chancel south wall. It has a west tower with spire, south porch dated 1648, nave, south aisle, chancel and organ chamber which was added in 1908. The church underwent a major restoration in 1865 when the chancel was rebuilt but the church retains most of its ancient features intact. In the 13th century the church underwent expansion when the south aisle and arcade were added, the tower and spire date from the end of the 14th century and the clerestory from the 15th century. The font is ancient and although has been altered dates from the 13th century.
The tower is of three stages marked by strings with moulded plinth and large buttresses, the tower terminates in an embattled parapet with a grotesque gargoyle at each angle. The spire was struck by lightning on 30th July 1797 and afterwards built of Weldon stone**
Marian Neenan in her book describes how in 1797, the Church steeple was hit by lightening, destroying a yard and a half of the steeple which fell off completely. The frames and the wheels of the bells were shattered so only the forth bell could be tolled. Chasms and holes were made in the masonry and the north wall of the nave cracked from top to almost the bottom, but no glass was broken apart from a small pane in the steeple. Repairs were undertaken by Caldecott people immediately. ***
The tip of the spire that was hit by lightening is still visible, to the left of the Church entrance door – lump of stone about 2 feet high.
A war memorial in the Church reminds us of the Caldecott men who gave their lives in 1914-1918.
When the Church chancel was rebuilt in 1865 several Roman tiles were found in the chancel area, also when the plaster was off the walls a stone about 2ft square with a border was found over the middle of the chancel arch having a crudely carved sculpture of two human figures in relief, it was plastered over again. **
In her 1954 book, Marian Neenan describes evidence of a roman camp:
There is ample proof that a Roman camp actually occupied the site where the main village now stands, though so far, the name is hidden in obscurity. Quoting from a MSS. 1860, the camp extended ” from the angle of the White Hart orchard wall, the N.E. corner up Butler’s lane to the town street and into Mr. Brown’s premises opposite.” Then it continued a straight line a few yards from the turnpike road into Mr. Edward’s home close where a conspicuous piece of bank and ditch remain, into Mr. Stoke’s windmill close where the N.W.corner may be plainly seen (here some years ago a carriage way from the Manor House, where Mr Stokes lived was made to the Uppingham Road). The line then proceeded southwards across North Holm and where the Mill Dam now stands, which was the S.W. corner. From there the line turns across the entrance to the town into Mr. Hunt’s home close, near the brook and new railway, where the S.E. corner was, and a line back to the White Hart completes the circuit of the camp.” ***
Did you know?
Final pages from Caldecott Rutland, a Pen Picture of an English Village – by Marian Neenan, 1954;
- In a severe winter nearly 150 years ago, a Caldecott man saw an ox roasted on the frozen Thames.
- Caldecott once had two crosses, one on each green.
- A one fingered clock was installed in the church in 1724.
- A mill grindstone is somewhere used as a doorstep.
- There is a cheese-window in one of the houses.
- ” A ghost – witch sways on yonder tree.”
- Thomas Browne, apothecary of Uppingham, who married Prudence Kirkby, a Caldecott girl, was a descendant of the Robert Browne’ of Little Casterton and Achurch, originator of the Brownists and Congregationalism.
- In the 19th century the population was 360; in 1938, 222 for gas masks, and now is 275.
- One house is in the continental style with a room over the gateway.
- 100 years ago, if work in Caldecott was scarce, men without family ties went to work at Fen drainage.
- A Caldecott man on holiday went round into the next street for a shave, got lost, and had to go back by train.
- As recently as 1931, a board saying ” Tea, Tobacco & Snuff was over Mrs. Burchnall’s door.
- Caldecott always used to speak of itself as a town. ” Town Garden,” ” Town Pump ” ” Town Houses.”
- That Playfair in 1888, and Forbra in 1932, both Grand National winners, were born and bred in Mr. Hunt s stables.
- Until 1691, all entries in church registers were in Latin, after which marriages and baptisms were entered in English, and even ministers did not agree over the spelling of names, e.g. — Cately, Kately, Keightley, and Wignel, Wignal, Wygnell, Win-gel, Wigfall.
- The Plough Inn ceased to be a hostelry in April 1948, having been one, or a malt house, since 1578.
- ” The Hall is the seat of Captain Townsend.” 1885.
- In coaching days a toll bar stood where Messrs. Ellis and Everard’s shed stands. The office of toll-keeper was re-let annually. Saddle horses were charged 2d. and waggons 3d. A butcher’s shop was near where the kiosk now stands.
- Bradleys’s shop was a blacksmith’s and there was also a forge in the Plough Yard.
- The Salvation Army used to meet at the N.E. of the village.
- A servant girl, Ruth Salmon, was said to have been murdered in an orchard 200 years ago.
- Caldecott boasts an ancient pigeon cote.
- The custom here is said to be borough English. (Youngest son being heir).
- Some years ago, plum cakes—called Kattern cake—used to be baked on the eve of St. Catherine’s Day, November 24th. St. Catherine is the patron Saint of lace makers.
- In 1846, Caldecott’s inhabitants included a surveyor, two tailors, a London merchant, a malster, a stay maker and a wool comber.
- The feast at Queen Victoria’s Jubilee was held in a barn which stood between Burgess’ Row and Mr. Billson’s yard.
- During part of the great seven weeks’ snow in 1947, Caldecott was entirely cut off from the rest of the world for several days and had to dig itself out.
- In the following November there were nine and a half days of continuous fog.
- Caldecott once had a bleaching ground, and in one house are two Caldecott woven sheets. ***
Thank you to Andrew Davidson and Rosemary Canadine for helping with this section. For those interested in learning more, you can join the Caldecott History Society, visit Lyddingtons Bede House, or the Lyddington History Society website.
If you have any more information or photographs relating to Caldecott history that you would like to see published here, please get in touch.
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