A portrait of one village through the whole of English history sees 17th century dissenters, an 18th century writer and knitting factories.
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-Late Medieval, early post-Medieval creeping in.
-It was the pub.
And this was the Red Lion, and our little sitting room was the snugs.
We're following the story of the village of Kibworth
in Leicestershire from the Romans until today.
With the help of the villagers it's the tale of one place through the whole of our history.
The original rafter, and then that little cut-out...
We've been delving into their attics, prying into their Medieval tax records.
We've even traced their family trees.
And now we're going to take the tale on from the Tudors to the Industrial Revolution.
From the Civil War to the British Empire.
But for the people of Kibworth,
history still starts and ends in the village.
Here at home, profound changes in the village and the organisation of the fields
lead to the end of the communally organised farming society,
most of whose people from now on will be wage earning, landless workers.
It's another step on the way to them becoming us.
In the 1530s, seeking to divorce his queen so he could marry Anne Boleyn,
King Henry VIII broke with the church of Rome and made himself head of a new Church of England.
That split, in the end, would turn England into a Protestant country.
And in Kibworth, the villagers were now ordered to erase their Catholic past.
In September 1538, the vicar of Kibworth, William Pearson,
addressed his parishioners, standing here in the church.
He told them about the new hard-line reforms
from King Henry VIII's government.
There was going to be a new English Bible.
There had to be a list maintained of all births, deaths and marriages to keep tabs on conformity,
and the laity would be tested on their faith regularly.
To avoid the detestable sin of idolatry,
statues like the beloved Virgin of Kibworth over there had to go.
And so did the great crucifix.
The painted wooden image of our Lord above the arch in the nave.
After the meeting there was much discussion in the church
and the vicar let his feelings be known.
According to an informer, "He spake devilishly,"
and said that, "had King Henry died seven years agon, it had been no hurt."
Now to wish King Henry VIII dead was not a wise move, given his attitude to dissent.
The vicar was thrown into jail,
and it was the beginning of the end for the old religion in Kibworth.
Over the next 20 years the government forced four changes of religion onto the villagers.
First with Henry, who kept some Catholic customs,
then his son Edward who was a hardline Protestant,
then back to Catholicism under Queen Mary, and finally,
Henry's Protestant daughter Elizabeth I.
For many English people, the Reformation caused
a huge psychological wound but, of course, life had to go on.
In the three villages of our parish,
Kibworth Harcourt, Kibworth Beauchamp and Smeeton Westerby,
life still revolved around the old cycle of the agricultural year and the open fields.
And we can get an insight into their lives during the Reformation
from some of the 20,000 Tudor wills in the Local Record Office.
with intimate details of home, family and friends.
Among them, old Kibworth families.
-The Polles, yes.
That's his own name, it's almost illegible.
'Here at the very start of the Reformation is John Polle.'
"I bequeath my soul to God Almighty
"and our Lady St Mary and to all the holy company of Heaven."
Saints and so on, so this is a very Catholic formula.
The Reformation is going on but he doesn't know much about it.
And he leaves money for a trental, that is for 30 masses to be said
to save his soul, so he's very much a Catholic.
He's very anxious to spend some of his money on his own safety.
John was a typical old country Catholic, but he's also a rising yeoman farmer.
To his brother, Thomas Polle, a gown and a noble.
Noble is a gold coin, it's worth six shillings and eight-pence, so it's quite a valuable gold coin.
And he leaves a ewe and a lamb.
Look, he spells ewe Y-O-O, wonderful phonetic spelling.
So John had done well.
His farmhouse leased from his landlord Merton College Oxford,
but over the years he'd bought more land for cash.
Two yardland, 48 acres of land which, by the standards of the time, is a substantial amount of land.
So you can see immediately he's got the money to buy land
and he's go the ambition to acquire land,
which he can then hand on to a son who is not due to inherit.
They're becoming better off.
They're becoming more independent.
They see themselves of inhabitants of a village, not as the tenants of a Lord.
So, under the surface of the great national events,
the villagers were quietly improving their material lives.
Early in Elizabeth's reign, John Iliffe made his will.
An old Catholic, now a conforming Protestant,
the big thing on John's mind was his house and his property.
"John Iliffe, husbandman."
'John's a husbandman - that's a small holder -
'but he's got possessions in every room.'
A group of local neighbours would gather to hear their names,
you see William Clarke, Michael Coxon and so on.
They would go to the house and they would go round the house making a valuation of all his possessions.
So they start in the hall, which incidentally the spell H-A-U-L-E,
and it has the standard furnishings of a table and two forms, two chairs, and so on.
It then goes on to say two pots, two pans, and so on.
'We're almost at the beginning of the English living room.'
Any sense of luxuries? What were English farmers in the 16th century
buying for themselves?
They were not big spenders on furniture.
I mean, the valuations they put on their
two chairs and a cupboard and so on, is three shillings, not big money.
A bit of luxury perhaps in their bedding,
the coverlets and so on.
But they are not yet quite like us.
Private bedrooms are still only for the rich.
Did we have separate bedrooms by this stage?
No. You have a chamber, so you do have the beginnings
of an upstairs room but in fact what they used that for is to store wool.
It's not a living room at all, it's just a storage room.
The Tudor Reformation would haunt England for a long time.
It undermined people's most intimate feelings about life and work
and the natural world,
about ancestors, about death and the soul.
With its Lollard past, maybe Kibworth was more receptive to the new faith than most places.
But for many, the loss of their old world left heartache.
In the summer of 1580 Elizabeth Clarke made her will.
An old Catholic, she now makes a resolutely Protestant statement of faith.
"I, Elizabeth Clarke of Kibworth Beauchamp, on 1st June in the year of our Lord 1580,
"and the 22nd of the Queen's reign,
"being of sound and perfect memory, make this my last will and testament.
"First, that I bequeath my soul into the tuition of Jesus Christ,
"my creator and redeemer, and my body to be buried..."
But her biggest care is for family and friends.
"I give to the poor men's box 12p.
"I bequeath to Agnes, my daughter, 46 shillings and 8p,
"and 20 shillings, that was her late sister's part, to be paid unto her at the day of her marriage."
Elizabeth's will marks a silent revolution which took place over about 40 years in Tudor Kibworth.
Elizabeth Clarke was buried here in the churchyard at Kibworth,
in the Beauchamp half, towards midsummer 1580.
It would have been a sober affair -
the Protestant clergymen in black, no incense and requiems and masses,
no tolling of the great bell, not even the throwing of flowers on the grave.
And with that a line was drawn under nearly a thousand years of traditional English Christianity.
But what comes out most strongly in Elizabeth's last words
in her testament are the old imperatives of a farming community.
The importance of land, family and inheritance,
the attachment to neighbours and their children,
and care for the poor.
The topography of the soul and of salvation may have shifted,
but that of the village community had come out even more solid.
And Kibworth towards 1600 was a village community
no longer of peasants, but of yeomen farmers and husbandmen,
bound to each other by their common duties in the open fields.
But life for ordinary people was still hard.
The plague of 1604 killed 77 adults in Kibworth,
and then there was the Great Freeze of 1607.
For the first time now we've got images of the village.
From 1609, here are the village houses and plots with the names of the families.
The male line of the Polles, in the village since the 1200s,
has gone, but the Parkers, Iliffes and Colemans are still doing fine.
A few years later, still in the reign of King James I,
here is a plan of the village.
What will become the A6 is lined with well-built two-storey houses,
all of them now showing the new sign of social status and domestic comfort - chimneys.
And here on Main Street, you can still get an idea of the village in 1609.
Medieval and Tudor houses, the skin of red Leicestershire brick.
They would have been thatched then.
And there are those chimneys!
They're burning coal now, not wood.
Coal brought by local hauliers on carts from the Derbyshire coal fields.
Everybody's got two fireplaces.
The Rayes have got eight.
But the Reformation had bequeathed many bitter political and religious divisions.
A perfect storm of discontent was brewing,
which would now lead the nation, and the village, into Civil War.
The road to Civil War really begins
when the King dissolves parliament in 1629.
That's the start of what even in Kibworth became known as the 11 Year Tyranny.
The King was spending enormous sums of money on unpopular foreign wars
and on the extravagance of the court in London.
His taxes caused a fury in places like Kibworth, and by 1640, both sides,
the parliamentarians and the King, were preparing to raise armies.
And as civil war loomed,
Kibworth found itself literally on the frontline.
On the Big Dig we found a first hint of the war right in middle of the village.
Digging up the Jubilee gardens here. Hello, good morning!
It looks like a stone.
It's perfectly rounded though.
OK, take it over there. Better be safe than sorry.
Is this something?
-That's a ball, isn't it?
'And for once, what we found wasn't a surprise.' What did you find, Tom?
I got a cannon ball.
That's what we think it is. Civil War.
'We knew that for a time during the war the King's army had actually been billeted around the village.'
That's a stone cannon ball. That's exactly what I would think it is.
-Civil War, you reckon?
On the eve of war the local gentry on both sides set out to raise armies,
and military musters were held in Kibworth itself.
What we have here is the muster roll for the Leicestershire militia from the Gartree Hundred in 1639 or 1640.
So, this is the raising of troops locally in Leicestershire
-in the Gartree Hundred on the very eve of the Civil War.
Every now and again the government would say, "Muster your militia"
and that means that they all come together - they do training and drilling, and things like that -
but they are also counted to make sure that they are all present and correct and properly equipped.
-They passed muster.
-Have we got Kibworth in here?
Oh, yes. Where are we?
-Yes, here we go.
-Here we are.
Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt.
And you can see that each were sending four men - two musketeers from Beauchamp,
-one musketeer from Harcourt, and two pikemen and three pikemen respectively.
From Kibworth Beauchamp you've got Matthias Wood, he's a musketeer,
William Smith, corselet, pikeman, Richard Lenton, musketeer.
John Wilkington, corselet, and then from Harcourt you've got
Thomas Freeman, corselet, William Parker, musketeer, John Drake and Robert Parker, both pikemen.
And what class of people are these drawn from? Are they volunteers?
Or do you get volunteered by your village?
I think that's nearer...
The requirement was that the parish should send four men, say.
And so long as it sent four men,
officially they didn't care.
If they could find someone who was willing to go then that was fine,
but if not, what you have here is an English military force
raised by conscription, in effect.
I suspect they tended to be poorer,
perhaps the men dependent on the parish, and the parish would say,
"you get relief six months of the year on return.
"Off you go, you're a musketeer."
And when it came to the Civil War starting, if you're on this list,
do they come knocking on your door saying, "You've got to join the King's army now"?
Would these people have fought as pikemen and musketeers in the Civil War?
They may well have done, but they didn't as militiamen,
because of course both King and Parliament summoned the militia.
So, in effect, they trumped each other and that was that.
What they really fought over was the militia's equipment.
What they struggled over in Leicester was the gunpowder the militia had
and the muskets and the pikeman that the militia had.
If you want to get an idea of what it was like to have a Civil War army
march into your village, ask the Sealed Knot.
They're marching through Kibworth to one of their regular reenactments of the battle nearby at Naseby.
Round heads and Cavaliers, Cromwell's New Model Army.
It's one of those moments in our history we all recognise.
We've reached the 17th century and the English Civil War and, just as in earlier times,
the villagers get swept up in the events of the national story.
Before the Battle of Naseby,
the royalist armies camped here in Kibworth.
-There are about...nearly 3,000 of us in membership.
'As always in history, having an army in the village was no fun.'
How very kind, thank you very much.
'There were bitter complaints to Parliament about the looting of food and horses here in Kibworth.'
Leicestershire was a divided county and this village sits on the watershed between Nosely,
which is five miles up the road, which was the parliamentary house,
and Wistow Hall five miles the other way, which was a royalist house.
You get your shot. Your shot then goes down.
You put more wadding on top.
I think the engagement of the common man
with the national political issues, even then, was quite pronounced.
Mass politics is thought to be a 20th and 21st century phenomenon. It's not. It goes way back.
On a main road south, the village was in an exposed position,
and was occupied at different times by armies from both sides.
What happened here over the war years is revealed by
-the parish register which suddenly stops being written at all.
So this is the copied up version.
The neat version? And there are several folios missing?
May we go forward to the English Civil War?
'Later, in an apologetic note, the vicar explains why.'
"Know all men that the reason why little or nothing is registered from this year, 1641, until the year 1649,
"was the Civil Wars between King Charles and his parliament, which put all into a confusion until then,
"and neither ministers nor people could quietly stay at home for one party or the other."
Armies going to and fro.
Armies going to and fro, and also, of course,
whether the clergymen fitted in with who was in control or not.
Of course, yes, for one party or the other. You're in or you're out.
Dangerous times, but politically dangerous
and religiously dangerous too, so it may well be you couldn't find the vicar.
Early in the war the village had a royalist vicar.
Later they had a hard-line Puritan
who marched off with the Parliamentarian forces,
arm in arm with the Protestant fundamentalists.
1644, '45, Battle of Naseby. '46, still nothing happening, is there?
Let's just move on.
Cor, still blank sheets.
The King married a Catholic, and this is a Protestant country.
If our monarch marries a Catholic, where will that take us?
Surely it is to convert the rest of the country to follow their ways?
-It's Popery, isn't it?
Such opinions drove many Protestants in the Parliamentary army.
-But it was a living.
-Sixpence a day, it's quite a goodly wage.
DRUMS BEAT, MEN SHOUT
The decisive battle was fought just south of Kibworth at Naseby in summer 1645.
The King's forces were smashed by Parliament's army,
commanded by Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell.
The defeated royalists streamed north through Kibworth,
leaving their dead scattered along the street.
For the King, the war was lost.
Within a year, King Charles surrendered,
and Parliament put him on trial and found him guilty of treason against the commonwealth of England.
The execution of King Charles, here in front of the Banqueting Hall in Whitehall in January 1649,
led to an explosion of radical groups in England.
But it also opened the floodgates to religious dissenters, a great movement of Independents
and Presbyterians and Baptists and Quakers who'd been fighting for their religious rights
for a long time, but who now saw their chance to take on the state.
'And in their wake was a tide of smaller groups, some of whom were very strange indeed.'
You are welcome, sir.
Common people like you would've been not allowed in this building,
but now King Charles is dead, all common people may go inside.
-Great to see you again.
-And you, it's been ages.
Great events though, aren't they? I mean, I got a thrill coming down Whitehall and seeing this.
Execution of Charles.
First time it had happened in the light of day ever
in Christian Europe, and you can imagine what that meant to people at the time. Shock waves.
Now, the aftermath of all this, all these amazing groups come out, don't they?
-You mean the religious types?
The Adamites, the Familiarists, the 5th Monarchy Men,
all these crazy people believing that women could preach in an open grove instead of having to go to church.
-Yes! What was the world coming to?
Cromwell had to put a stop to all this, because otherwise,
once you challenge authority, that challenges Cromwell's authority.
So they let the genie out of the bag, did they?
They did and put it straight back in again.
Parliament had fought the war for a political cause, but now religion began to take over.
Radical groups who wanted to dethrone the Church of England from its position of authority.
These religious rebels became known as Dissenters, or Non-conformists.
It's easy to forget how important religious dissent has been in our history.
Many of the liberties we take for granted today were gained by Dissenters.
But at the time, the government saw such groups as a real threat - even the Quakers.
This is a copy of an order received in December 1668
and it's been copied into the book.
It's addressed to Lieutenant Bale and the rest of the other
commissioned officers in the militia troop of Captain George Faunt,
who lived at Foston, which is an easy day's ride, less than that really, from Kibworth.
And it says, "That there are great numbers of persons
"commonly called Quakers that assemble and meet together
"under the pretence of joining in a religious worship at Smeeton
"in the parish of Kibworth and diverse other places."
And it orders Lieutenant Bale to gather his troops together and to go and arrest or disperse them.
So this is quite remarkable, isn't it?
So they're Quakers, they're a threat,
and it says they're joining under the pretence of religious worship
so they're not even accepting that they're actually carrying out genuine religious worship.
Today we don't associate Quakers with violent assemblies and sedition
-and threats to the state, do we?
And now, Kibworth itself became a centre of dissenting groups.
They got a legal place of worship in 1672, when government spies reported
nearly 200 people of the middling sort from Kibworth and other villages.
And they would be a major presence in Kibworth until today.
These groups were fighting for freedoms we take for granted now.
Freedom of speech, freedom of worship.
In this time of religious and political turmoil in the late 1600s,
we get the first national and local newspapers.
And education was a particular focus for the dissenters, who saw that knowledge was power.
After the Restoration Act in 1660 Kibworth became a centre for people who expressed different opinions.
One person was Reverend John Jennings and he lived at West Langton Hall,
running a church for dissenters there.
And as they grew, they went to the stables, which was behind
the White House once known as the Old Crown Inn, in Kibworth Harcourt.
And the White House is still here.
Later a pub, the dissenters' first meeting place is a private house today.
So this is the main road before the building of the turnpike
and the modern A6, with coaching inns all along it.
We're sitting here now,
behind the Old Crown Inn.
51 and 53 Leicester Road at present,
now known as the White House.
And of course at one point it was completely white, painted.
We're looking for the non-conformists
who were so important to Kibworth in the 17th century.
And all the old accounts say that the very first place of worship
which they leased out was in a stable or a building, behind what was later the Old Crown Inn.
They talk about some sort of stable buildings or something like that, behind, don't they?
I think the stable and the loft were just behind us there.
There used to be more sticking out here, didn't there?
It used to go much further back there.
Do you know how bit the congregation was in those days, John?
I think it was about 150 initially.
I read somewhere that was nobody of any note in the congregation, which was quite strange.
So either everyone was keeping a low profile about it...
Ordinary Kibworth people, presumably.
Just ordinary farm workers' houses being used for the gatherings.
Until of course they were destroyed by fire, and at that point they decided they would
build a congregational chapel, which was paid for by public subscription.
One of the Dissenters' biggest complaints was that
they were denied a proper education as they were barred from university.
So here in Kibworth, they decided to provide a top quality higher education for their community,
a Dissenting Academy, an alternative university.
It's a great thought, isn't it? Kibworth constantly surprises -
the Academy of Kibworth and it had a national fame, in the 18th Century?
We've always known that Kibworth is important,
but you don't actually realise
how much it has had an impact on learning
and other things that were going on in the country.
It's almost in opposition to Oxford and Cambridge, isn't it?
Dissenters aren't allowed to go to Oxford and Cambridge
because they won't do the appropriate oaths and that sort of stuff,
and the allegiance to the church, so they can't go.
So they set up an academy here and what's amazing about it -
I don't know whether you've had a look at it - but the curriculum was amazing.
You could do Greek, Latin, Italian, French, Geography, they did Science...
And one extraordinary product of the academy,
who's only now being rediscovered,
was the daughter of one of the teachers, Anna Laetitia Barbauld,
born Anna Aikin in Kibworth in 1743,
a woman who understood that our political and religious freedoms depend on education.
This is another fable called The Young Mouse.
"A young mouse lived in a cupboard where sweet meats were kept.
"She dined every day upon biscuit, marmalade or fine sugar.
"Never had any little mouse lived so well."
A poet, anti-slavery and anti-war agitator,
Anna was also a pioneering writer of children's books.
-Charles, what are eyes for?
What are ears for?
-What is the tongue for?
-What are teeth for?
-What is the nose for?
-And what are legs for.
Then do not make Mamma carry you, walk yourself!
She begged her father to be taught Latin and a little Greek,
which was very unusual in those days
and reluctantly he agreed, but her mother was very upset
because she thought it would make her not a marriageable prospect.
What, knowing Latin and Greek?
Yes, she would be too clever.
-But in fact that wasn't true she did have a number of proposals in the end, despite her intellect.
Men seem to have fallen in love with her by the sound of it!
Yes, exactly, including, possibly, the French Revolutionary Jean Marat,
who was later on killed in his bath, by a woman,
but he spent some time in the academy.
She starts off as a poet and it's said that every library in the country had a copy of these poems.
She also went on to write against the injustices of the age, the fact that she as a dissenter,
and part of the community of dissenters, didn't have her proper civil rights.
But then she said that it was one of the most impressive things
that a person could do, to lay the foundations of the future in a child's mind.
"On the contrary very troublesome and mischievous, therefore..."
'She really revolutionised how children's literature should be presented
'in the methods that she used.'
Quite a lot of her work is dialogic so the child and the mother, usually it's the mother,
talk to each other and explore the world
in a language which is very clear and plain
and is designed to make the child think.
She's a real hero and in Kibworth, no longer forgotten.
"Possessed of great beauty, distinct traces of which she retained
"to the latest of her life, her person was slender,
"her complexion exquisitely fair with the bloom of perfect health,
"her features regular and elegant and her dark blue eyes beamed with the light of wit and fancy."
I wonder if anyone described me like that?
My husband for instance, all the time to his friends!
A charismatic women, then!
Absolutely. A combination of the beauty and the actual education that made her this draw card.
Ideas change us, they're the motor of progress
and in the 18th Century Kibworth opened up to the world in other ways, too.
The turnpike from London to Leicester
was run through the village, a specially surfaced toll road.
The village became a stop on the route north
and 24 coaches a day were fed and watered in its coaching inns.
If you look at the little fragments that are coming up...
'And in the Big Dig, we found their traces.'
The exception is chamber pots, we've had a couple of rims from chamber pots.
We're also getting quite a bit of oyster shell.
I just wonder if we've got a pub round here
some time between 1680 and 1750.
In Kibworth you've got a huge number of inns over the 1700s,
17th, 18th century, because of the road to Market Harborough and to London.
That clay pipe is not Victorian, it's older.
If you look at the shape of the bowl, that's an 18th Century clay pipe, maybe a 17th Century.
Actually, all along Main Street it looks as if there were
coaching inns with their big coach entry doors, doesn't it?
It's very obviously an awful lot of pottery being trashed and that's all the way along here.
So that's the sort of thing you'd expect to see in an inn, a lot of high consumption.
So it's coaching inns nine miles south of Leicester, a lot of people stopping here.
I mean rumours that there were other entertainments on offer beside drink and food apparently.
'So the Big Dig had came up trumps once again.'
I found a human finger bone!
-You found a human finger bone?
God! Some poor old person lost their finger on a trip to the shops.
That's absolutely terrible!
The finds from the Big Dig suggested that by the 1700s
England's population had recovered to the level it had before the Black Death.
This does seem to be quite indicative of real growth.
And, of course, some of the other finds are telling us the same story.
From the mid-Tudor period, 1550, maybe three million, is doubled by 1700, isn't it?
And you can see it in there.
But a revolution in agriculture was now bringing a huge increase in productivity.
The old communal medieval strip system was no longer economic, too labour intensive.
In the landlords' archive in Merton College Oxford,
the great map of the open fields was about to be rolled away, for ever.
"Topographical description and a brief relation
"of the manor of Kibworth Harcourt, in the county of Leicester."
And still, presumably, working as an open field.
The big local landowners wanted to scrap the open fields,
consolidate their holdings into larger economic units.
The money now was in grazing, in sheep and wool.
The strip fields had had their day.
These are the ridges and furrows left by the medieval plough teams,
all those centuries ago, just going up and down this hillside.
On 21st April 1779, at the Old Crown Inn, a meeting was held where local
landowners, led by the Hames, the Foxtons, the Humphreys, voted for the enclosure of the common fields,
which was duly ratified by Act of Parliament.
It was the great national robbery when the common lands were filched
from the poor, whose heritage they were.
And apportioned among the surrounding landowners.
So all around us, the post-enclosure landscape of Kibworth,
green pasture and sheep grazing everywhere.
But at our feet, the ridge and furrow left by the medieval ploughmen,
the deep bone structure of their world.
The enclosures of the 18th Century were a turning point in the story
of the village as they were for communities all over England.
A nearly 900-year tradition of communal labour
out in these field strips, every one of which had its own name -
Pease Hill Sic, The Blacklands, Banwell Furlong -
the old mental map of the village
This massive social and economic change has long been seen as marking
the transition from feudalism to capitalism.
Does that make any sense to you?
What do we mean by that when we talk about these things?
I do think that phraseology,
dated as it is,
still encapsulates the very real changes that were going on, the decline of the peasantry,
the rise of the farmer, the decline of the community, the rise of the individual,
the end of the open fields and the development of the enclosures,
the production, partly at least, for the consumption of your own household
and, increasingly, entirely for the market, specialising for the market.
I mean, these are big changes in the way people behave and that is,
can be summed up, by that phrase, "moving from feudalism to capitalism."
Inevitably, the biggest losers in the enclosures were the poor.
Compensation was often minimal and many were forced out of work and some into crime.
First of all, welcome!
I can't believe that we've met up!
'Jean and Neil Beasley have come from Australia to try to find out
'about their Kibworth ancestor, Charles Beasley.
'He was a highwayman condemned to death back in 1793.'
One of them was Charles Beasley from Kibworth Beauchamp and here we are.
-Now you're Beasleys?
-He's direct blood line.
Fantastic. And you're the researcher, are you, Jean?
I'm the researcher!
Great stuff. Born in Kibworth, comes from a big family, do we know?
It was a big family.
I had about seven children, but Pat has informed me it was 12.
There were 12 children, but five of them died.
This is the actual register.
Let's find Charles' baptism.
This is the page for the Christenings of 1776,
and there we are. Charles William Beasley.
Well, it's spelt Baisley, but there are a lot of spellings.
Well, we quite understand that a lot of them couldn't read or write.
Charles William Beasley, son of Henry and Suzanna Beasley,
born December 6th,
baptised December 19th, 1776.
I'm holding the book!
'Beasley, it turned out, was a teenage tearaway, the son of unemployed framework knitters.'
We knew that he'd been in trouble with the law and that he'd robbed a stagecoach and also that...
he had robbed a shop. But we didn't know he belonged to a gang.
The trial was in the Old Bailey, wasn't it?
And the Old Bailey...
'And with the help of the National Archive, we've found the transcript of the trial.'
This is Driscal who's one of the ones who's going to be executed,
"On the day of the robbery, Beasley, Rabbits and I..."
it sounds like a Roald Dahl story, doesn't it?
"They purchased a pair of pistols.
"John Rabbits and Charles Beasley were indicted for feloniously making
"an assault on the King's Highway on James Sayer on 11th July."
And lo and behold, there's the full transcript here with the eyewitnesses.
"A little man jumped into the chaise with a pistol in his hand,
and he said, 'Damn your eyes, your money or I'll blow your bloody eyes out!'"
Fantastic, isn't it? "And I said, 'I don't know what the matter is,
'but take that thing away from my head and I'll give you my money!'
"So I put my hand into my pocket and gave him two-and-a-half guineas
"and he stepped back on the step of the chaise and he looked at it and he said,
"'Damn your eyes, you've got more money than this about you!'
"and he stepped back out, and I said, 'You damned rascal,
'shut the door after you after taking my money!
'I will have you if I never have another!'
"and I immediately jumped out of the chaise and called out "Stop thief!"
"and people came out of the Rose and Crown public house and pursued them."
And they get him. And then the verdict, Charles Beasley, guilty.
'Spared because he was only 16, Beasley was transported to Australia
'to a new life and the beginning of the story of a new nation.'
Here we are trying to pursue the heart of the English story,
the quintessential English story, and suddenly our village
broadens out to being the Australian story.
If they'd hung him, he wouldn't have been here.
I know, it's an amazing tale, isn't it?
It's more than we'd hoped to find,
much more, much, much more,
emotionally, it'll probably...
take a while...
to leave, I think.
So with feminists and highywayman, 18th Century Kibworth was full of surprises,
but it was the canals that really opened the village to the world.
The Grand Union canal was dug along the southern edge of Kibworth parish during the 1790s.
This is the coming of a new age, this.
This is the Industrial Revolution coming into the countryside of Kibworth.
Close by Foxton Locks is one of the engineering feats of the age
at the junction of what was then Britain's newest transport system.
They're no longer carrying heavy goods today, but the canals are as busy as ever.
The villagers of Kibworth - which is there, isn't it? -
the coal for their fires would be unloaded here off the boats.
They got timber from there, I gather.
Oh, right, yeah, yeah.
It's amazing to think that pre-motorways and pre- trains this was the...
That was the main way of getting round and everything, yeah.
Could you go down to London from here, if you wanted?
Oh, yeah, you go Foxton Locks and then you go down to the Grand Union,
through Rugby and then down to London and down the Oxford.
We're going down to the River Severn, aren't we?
Going on the Avon and the Severn next.
-Down to Tewkesbury, we've got a party down there.
-Couple of week's time, chap down there.
It improved transport so much. Before the canals arrived, if you wanted coal delivering,
if it didn't arrive before September
it probably wasn't going to get there.
The roads would just disappear in the mud.
A horse pulling a narrow boat full of coal can shift 25 tonnes.
The same horse on the road it going to be struggling to pull a tonne.
It cut the cost of coal by half.
But not only that, they could then get their own goods out,
because everything you can imagine went by boat.
There's even records of a boat-load of bulldogs going to the Leicester Show.
So the canals were a crucial catalyst in the rise of industrial England.
The canals and the turnpikes brought about a revolution
in transport in England, maybe the biggest since the Roman roads.
For now, even a rural village like Kibworth, was connected to a national transport network,
and beyond that, to a global trading system, as the British Empire spread its power across the world.
Tom Gamble of Kibworth was on the fighting Temeraire at Trafalgar.
Rob Shaw fought with Wellington.
Rob Fletcher signed up for the East India Company and did 20 years in the plains of "Hindoostan".
Back in Kibworth on the village history day, among the Roman brooches and Anglo-Saxon coins
brought in by local metal detectorists, there was even a hat badge from the 1820s in India.
Hindoostan, that old fashioned spelling.
But many people also brought in memorabilia from the industry
which from now on will dominate their village.
Our famous garage.
I've heard stories from more than one people, "Oh, you should have seen Bert's garage!"
I don't believe it, a vampire jet in the garage!
'No, not that one, but this.
'The framework knitting industry.'
This was a big industry in this part of the world, presumably, was it?
Yes, it was partly local history, but he was a Sales Director for a knitting machinery agency.
'Local engineer and history enthusiast, Bert Aggas, saved many old machines.'
He'd take all these things apart and put them back together again, making them work.
This is just amazing here, isn't it?
That's one of the original machines, isn't it, from the 19th Century.
Framework knitting was a major industry in the East Midlands from around 1700 till the 1950s.
Making hosiery clothes and gloves, it employed half a million people.
Nice and gently!
This is the old factory near Kibworth at Wigston.
This is the workshop
which was built in 1890.
Come on then, gang, all go in!
'At its height there were 100,000 machines across the East Midlands in homes and factories like this.
'Closed down and locked up in the 1950s, the factory is literally stopped in time.'
So this is the workshop where...
the men would work 12 hours a day, if work was available.
These frames are 200 or 300 years old, we're not quite sure.
They've been recobbled time and time again.
And this is a winding machine, which winds bobbins of yarn
from the hang onto the cone.
And, Miss, would you like to come here.
If you put your hand on there
and turn it round, you'll have to reach up.
Can you see, it going onto the bobbin because there's no tension.
Again, adding to the noise of the place.
Well done, Miss, woah!
Otherwise I've got to spend all afternoon winding it back.
Initially, these frames would have been in your kitchen in Kibworth,
but Master Osier, who owned the house,
brought all the frames into here so that he got control over the workforce and the yarn.
Would they have to do it on the weekend as well?
No, they didn't work on Sundays.
What did they make on these machines?
Gloves. Which was a highly specialised job.
A glove like that, there's your cuff,
there's your palm and there's your thumb.
What kind of people worked here. How old were they?
The children in the family would come here as apprentices, or go somewhere to learn it.
And we know, to be an apprentice they would stand here watching the man operate the frame
and it was a seven-year apprenticeship to become a fully qualified framework knitter.
There is instances, though I don't believe it, where they chain somebody to this so they don't get away.
'It was repetitive work but demanded fierce concentration.'
Would you like to sit on here and have a go, Sir?
Come on George Henry.
Can you do it, me old duck?
-Now don't lose any fingers though, will you?
Can you reach them? Hands on here.
And press those in, pull this forward.
'But in places like Kibworth, it was often the only work available for landless workers...'
Well, done! '..whose families were long-term unemployed in the decades after the enclosures.'
Take your foot off, and pull it forward. Look at all the stitches you dropped, look here!
You'd soon be out the door and on the dole.
Nice and evenly.
'A later invention was the Griswold, small and moveable,
'you could use it in your living room, so simple even a child could do it.
'With your own Griswold in hock to the owners, you really could end up end up chained to your machine.'
In Kibworth Beauchamp and Smeeton, frame knitting became the main employer.
Many families worked together at home
and with Nicky and Bob Tully and their children
we discovered the story of one family of framework knitters
who'd lived in their house 170 years before.
We've lived here 25 years now.
The terrace itself was originally a workhouse, we believe,
circa 1770, something like that.
Then in the 1800s it was turned into private dwellings.
And I think if you see the different coloured brick up there that actually says Smeeton Terrace.
You can actually see the letter "A" just at the right-hand edge of the window frame.
From deduction, you can tell that the floors are sort of concrete, or equivalent.
I don't know whether concrete was about in 1770,
but there's a layer of concrete and the straw layer underneath,
so it was obviously built for something substantial.
It's most likely that the tenants of the houses, when it was sold in 1836,
were framework knitters, and that would explain the floor being strengthened
and also it would explain the windows because they needed an awful lot of light.
Just before I came up I did a little trawl in the National Archive and it's a bit difficult to read.
Do you want to have a look at that, Nicky?
You can see, it's the Parish of Smeeton Westerby,
selling off a building that was owned by the parish,
so presumably the workhouse up to that point.
-That's right, yes.
-It's got a series of people, Robert Iliffe, John Johnson, Job Johnson and others,
who were framework knitters or seamers of stockings and this kind of stuff.
I mean, Job Johnson must have been...
If he was 42 in the 1851 census, then he's in his 20s at that time.
They've all got families, clearly working with them, I think.
It was a very good way of making a living.
A lot of people were attracted to this area and it expanded and expanded.
But gradually, as the markets contracted, still more people
going in so there's great over-production and the living standards begin to fall very badly,
so that by the 1840s framework knitters were in terrible straits.
And in 1843, 25,000 framework knitters from Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire,
petitioned Parliament saying we want a commission to regulate wages and regulate disputes.
So we've got this report where they recorded all the witness statements
and it's a sort of vignette into what's happening to the industry at that time.
And the nice thing is, we've got two witnesses from Smeeton Westerby
and one of them is Job Johnson who we know was living in this area.
Fantastic, from this terrace! And it's a family business, is that right?
I mean, Bob would be at the machine, Nicky would be...
You'd be doing the seaming, and you'd be doing the winding.
What would Charlie be doing?
Oh, you'd be big enough to be at frame, I'm afraid.
Looking after your smaller brothers and sisters.
And the little girl puts in the frame at nine.
I don't know, are you old enough?
-So this is your terrace in the 1840s.
Job Johnson, this bit here, yes.
"I'm Job Johnson of Smeeton.
"I work 14 hours a day.
"I have to feed my wife, myself and five children.
"I have no money to send them to day school for, until this year,
"I was paid in goods or tokens, not in money."
He was nearly always paid in goods, not cash.
Well, there were a number of problems oppressing the framework knitters and one of them was trap payments.
Trap payments are payments in goods or tokens that you could only use at your employer's shop.
-Instead of ready money.
-Just like the Great Depression in America.
Yes, and it was actually made illegal in 1831.
This is 1843, but no-one had told the framework knitters!
And they bitterly resented it because they were so open to exploitation by the employer.
When they were being paid poor wages anyway, it was a real... well, they talk about being
in a tyranny of oppression, it was a real problem for them.
Well, they were constantly working to live, there was no spare.
They're paying out their own expenses, the frame rent, carriage rent, seaming...
As their wages fell so disastrously at the beginning of the 19th Century,
frame rent actually went up.
There are people in Kibworth who say that can't afford bread so they're eating potatoes four times a day.
-Can't afford bread?
"I am by trade a framework knitter.
"I have a wife and one child.
"One child I have lately buried.
"My wife is far advanced in pregnancy.
"I am reduced to the greatest distress
"and have no means to procure the common necessities of life."
"There is no race of people under the sun so depressed as we are
"who work the hours we do for the money we get.
"It would be my delight to bring my family up to a school.
"I cannot bear the thought of bringing up a family in ignorance, so as not to read a little."
So it's been bricked in, but you can see what they were originally.
And you can see in the floor where it goes right down where the machines
were and where their feet used to move.
Oh, right, yeah.
'The voices of these poor stockeners, weavers, and Luddites
'are only now being rescued from what one modern historian called,
"the enormous condescension of posterity."
But they weren't just victims of history, like their medieval ancestors they were also its makers.
Out of their struggles in the early 19th Century,
in part inspired by non-conformity, a new England began to emerge.
The peasants had become the working class and their time had come in English history.
The education the framework knitters dreamed of would follow.
And with education would come representation.
You are to do the A and the B and C and so on.
And the creation of a working class culture with sports, music,
entertainments, humour, which is still the basis of our popular culture today.
The theme of our next song, Miss Ellie McCann.
And next in the final chapter of the story, the Victorians, the World Wars and us!
-My Lords, Ladies, and Gentleman, good evening!
# Daddy wouldn't buy me a bow-wow, woof woof
# Daddy wouldn't buy me a bow-wow,
# Woof woof
# But I've got a little cat and I'm very fond of that
# But I'd rather have a bow wow wow! #
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Email [email protected]
Groundbreaking series in which Michael Wood tells the story of one place throughout the whole of English history. The village is Kibworth in Leicestershire in the heart of England - a place that lived through the Black Death, the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution and was even bombed in World War Two.
The tale reaches the dramatic events of Henry VIII's Reformation and the battles of the English Civil War. We track Kibworth's 17th century dissenters, travel on the Grand Union Canal and meet an 18th century feminist writer from Kibworth who was a pioneer of children's books.
The story of a young highwayman transported to Australia comes alive as his living descendents come back to the village to uncover their roots. Lastly, the Industrial Revolution comes to the village with framework knitting factories, changing the village and its people forever.