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Timeline Harby

History way back when to Modern Day

The original text was written by village historian Leslie Cram and the Harby history group. Over the coming months the page will be updated and enhanced 

The links will be updated as we update the information from the original site.
Links marked [  ]  are missing and will be repaired in time.

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Tudor Rose.png

Jurassic Period before Harby

       200 million years old fossils called "devil's toenails are found in the ground around Harby dating back to the Jurassic period. [Click on the picture to read more.]

The Ice Age

We all know about global warming, how cutting down the trees, burning coal, oil and gas is causing the world to heat up. We may not know so well that over the last million years the world was in the ice ages. The temperature and climate around Harby varied from being under glaciers like Greenland today to being warm enough for the hippopotamus. The cause is uncertain; possible due to the earth getting nearer and then further away from the sun as it circled in space. 

In the early ice ages the glaciers covered north and central Britain down as far as the Thames. In the last ice age, from around 100,000 years ago, the ice came into north and east Lincolnshire from Scotland and Scandinavia (the North Sea was dry land then as so much water had turned into snow and ice and was lying on the land) and into north Nottinghamshire from the Lake District and the Pennines. Mammoths, reindeer and Neanderthal man lived around here, leaving evidence of their presence by their bones and distinctive stone tools. Then modern people, just like ourselves, came around 40,000 BC, living among other places at Creswell Crags in north Nottinghamshire where they left examples of art in the caves. The arctic conditions ended around 8,000 BC.

What evidence for all this is there from Harby? The answer is the bits and pieces of flint and other foreign stone that we find in our flowerbeds. The glaciers brought these from miles away and left them here when they melted.

2,000 BC A flint arrowhead, probably lost in hunting by one of the first farmers in the Vale of Belvoir, has been found near Waltham Lane south of Harby. It is about 2 centimetres wide and fitted onto a wooden arrow shaft. It has a flat but very sharp cutting edge that caused the animal it hit to die by bleeding from the cut it made.     

The Roman Empire AD43 to AD 410

During Roman times there was a small Roman settlement just to the northeast of Harby and another perhaps no more than a little farm, towards the old railway-line south of Harby. This is shown by Roman pottery found in the fields. A stone head of Roman date, but from the practice of people before the Romans came, has been found in the south-west of the village.  [Click on the picture to read the full story.]

The Arrival of The Danes

About 850  Harby is founded as a Danish settlement. The settlement is called a "by" or settlement in the Scandinavian language and "heorde" from the Scandinavian word meaning herdsman, the village of the herdsmen. There are now two places called Harby, us and Harby in Nottinghamshire. Going back in time there were two others, one in Derbyshire and a second in Nottinghamshire. It was once thought that the name came from Hjortr, the name of the leader of a Danish settlement band. But it seems too unusual to have so many places with the same leaders name. So the herdsmen name is now thought the more likely for all these settlements. You can read about it in the book by Barrie Cox,  published in  2002  by the  English Place-name Society at Nottingham University "The Place-names of Leicestershire, part two, Framland Hundred". 

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William the Conqueror 1066-1087

                                                First Norman King of England

1086 Domesday Book is compiled for William the Conqueror. It is written in Latin and is the first record of Harby.

                                   Click here to read 


The present church began. The study of parish churches is a fascinating hobby and Harby St Mary the Virgin church offers hours of interest. There are the human heads to see on the carved corbel stones holding up the rafters for the roof. At the top of the tower is a frieze of carvings.

 As well as the corbel human heads inside there are human heads around the doors and windows all round the outside of the church. You can find this one wearing a mediaeval hat on the north side


Details of the clergy at Harby start in 1220, continuing to the present.

                                Click here to read

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The Reformation is sweeping England. Henry VIII separated from the Catholic Church of Rome and was in the throws of creating the Church of England.


We know that the reformation reached Harby in 1539 because the records tell us that a building in Melton known as Anne of Cleves was sold then and the Priory at Belvoir was dissolved.


Our Church, although largely completed, would probably have laid empty for anything up to 10 years. The king's men would have removed everything of value, belonging to the Catholic Church. They looted and sold everything!

This would have been a traumatic time for all of Harby. People

would not have understood what was happening.  


A description of Harby by William Burton sets out who owns the land, describes the church and says that in old deeds it is called Herdeby.


                               Click here to read


King Charles I at Belvoir Castle. Wiverton Hall just north of Harby was held by the kings' men from 1643 to 1645, controlling movement across this part of the Vale.   The book  "A Cavalier Stronghold - a romance of the Vale of Belvoir" written by Mrs Chaworth Musters in 1890 (who lived at Wiverton Hall) gives this picture of the old gateway.


The Society of Friends met in Harby according to  Archbishop Sheldon's inquiry into the growth of Nonconformity;  the Harby churchwardens provided a return which stated: "One conventicle of Quakers, about 20 in number . . . William Smith, a stranger, Eliza Hooton, a stranger, Leviston Patrick, a stranger, be their teachers. They usually meet at ye dwelling house of Chr. Levis, husbandman."


Two families from the Society of Friends in Harby, William Garrett (Garat) and his family together with Samuel Levis and his family, emigrated in 1684 to Pennsylvania.


Gravestones in the churchyard become more common after 1700.​​

You can look at a map of the graveyard here​


The importance of the Industrial Revolution on Harby would have been slow to take effect. By the end of the Revolution period. (1840ish), their lives would never be the same. Some will have moved to the towns and cities seeking better pay.


Commercialism - Branding - Mass Production would bring a whole new

world of goods and services to our

sleepy village. 


James Watt Matthew Bolton First Steam Engine Patent Diagram c1795


John Prior produces a map of Harby showing a windmill to the south

There is a most interesting map of Harby of this time, held in the Leicestershire Record Office, which shows exactly where the fields were and the direction in which they were ploughed called ridge and furrow. Other old maps show windmills in different places from the windmill that we can see today.  

You can view maps of the village here 


Between1782 to 1785, George Crabbe was chaplain to the Duke of Rutland in Belvoir Castle.  His poem "The Village" draws on his observations of life around Harby and in the Vale of Belvoir.

Click here to read the poem 


The large open fields of Harby are enclosed and many hedges are put up.  This revolutionizes farming. The Wong field by the church is an example of how the old land divisions were altered.

The Inclosure Acts created legal property rights to land previously held in common in England and Wales, particularly open fields and common land. Between 1604 and 1914 over 5,200 individual acts enclosing public land were passed, affecting 28,000 km2


John Nichols publishes volume 1, part 1 of "The History and Antiquities of  the County of Leicester". This includes an account of "The Natural History of the Vale of Belvoir" written by the Rev George Crabbe, the same man as wrote the poem "The Village" referred to above. In 1795 he was vicar at Muston and had been in the Vale of Belvoir since 1782, including a time at Stathern. He mentions Harby in the account.


The Canal has now opened.

John Throsby (1740-1803) wrote about Harby, The principal land owner of the lordship of Harby is . . . the Duke of Rutland. It is about to be inclosed and contains about 1800 acres of land, clayey, but tolerably fruitful. The village which stands about 4 1/2 miles from Belvoir and 8 from Melton Mowbray, contains 68 houses and the Rector's new building. The church is tolerably decent, but the sparrows find in it room to rest. It has a heavy tower, three aisles, 4 bells and an old font. The chancel is large. In it is a stone to the memory of John Major, rector 35 years, who died in 1739, aged 67. The register begins in 1700. In five years upon an average the baptisms are 40 and burials 38.

Read more about John Throsby here


John Nichols wrote this description of our village in his book "The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire".

Harby, like many other villages in the Vale of Belvoir is destitute of woods and streams; no high road leads through or beside it. A heavy clay spreads over every acre in the parish and the uniform operations of husbandry give a sameness to the country, which a stranger might view with disgust; but cultivation has made it fruitful, and its inhabitants feel no envy at the variety of other soils, where the sterility of one part may balance the luxuriance of another. Industry here makes the prospect, and the produce alone is the beauty of the soil. There are about 1800 acres in the parish; and, whilst the field continued open, the method of tillage was, first year fallow; second, barley and wheat; third, beans and pease. The families of Harby are 60, its inhabitants 322, among whom are many small freeholders. There is no mansion or antient building in the village; but the present rector has lately built a neat and convenient house, the probable residence of his successors.

Click here to see the pages of the book on Harby.

             Take care because John Nichols wrote a lot in Latin!

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The first Harby Church of England School began from the initiative of the National Society for Promoting Religious Education in the country. It was founded by the Reverend William Evens Hartopp, in about 1827, the land was given by the Duke of Rutland.


The windmill was built by the Grantham Canal, near Colston Bridge of brick with seven storeys.

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Click To See a Larger Image 


A "population formula" or census of Harby, is conducted by Mr Stevenson, a local Harby man. It has a population of 488. You can look at Harby's census pages here.


William Cobbet wrote that Harby had 457 inhabitants.


The Granary is built which you can still see by the canal and mill. 

The Victorian Period Begins

Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on 20 June 1837. She was only 18!

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The Duke and Duchess of St Albans are married in Harby Church on May 29th. 

Page 7 of the Friday 31 May issue 1839: MARRIAGES





On Wednesday, the 29th inst., at Harby, in the county of Leicester, by the Rev. W. Evans Hartopp, His Grace the Duke of St. Albans, to Elizabeth Catherine, youngest daughter of the late General Gubbins, of South Stoneham, Hants, and of Killrush in the County of Limerick. After the ceremony, the happy pair left for Redbourne Hall, the seat of the Noble Duke.

Elizabeth was the cousin of the wife of Rev Hartopp who performed the ceremony. She was living with the Hartopps in the Rectory after both her parents had died when she was 19.

As a gift to the parish, the Duke gave the Church a new clock. The also gave £30 which is invested at interest for use of the poor.



The Parliamentary Gazetteer of  England and Wales (1840 - 1843)

tells us:- Population in 1801, 343 in 1831, 488

Click To Read the Full 


White's Directory 1846.  During the previous two years, 49 of the parish had emigrated to Australia, & etc. There are three public houses, the Nag's Head, White Hart and Marquis of Granby. The population is 629 souls.

Click To Read


The Methodist chapel is built

Click To Read

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