Our History

History Page

The Parish Council was created by Prime Minister William Gladstone in 1881, however the parish itself has a much longer history.

Listed as Herdeberge in the Domesday Book of 1086 (believed to be Saxon for ‘cattle or sheep on the hill’ the twin hamlets of Harborough Magna and Harborough Parva (known as Great Harborough and Little Harborough until around 1800) grew from a simple farming community to become home to several hundred people employed in the sawmills of Cathiron at the turn of the industrial revolution.

Timber from these sawmills was transported by horse and cart, then later by narrowboats on the Oxford Canal which was cut in the 1770's. Today the canal is used by pleasure boats, watched by fishermen enjoying the tranquillity of our rural setting.

There are a number of buildings in the village dating from the 17th and 18th century, including several houses and The Old Lion pub which was substantially rebuilt following a devastating fire in 1986.  

Most of the land, and properties, in the parish was owned by the Skipwith and Boughton-Leigh Estates until the 1920's and included many tithe cottages tied to the agricultural land.  Further housing was built in the village by the Rugby Rural District Council on Easenhall Road (1925), Hawthorn Terrace (1935), and Meadow Way (1969).

The rise of the internal combustion engine brought change to the village in the 1930s, the former village wheelwright next to The Croft became a motor repair shop.  The business relocated to Harborough Parva in 1960, and although the name has changed in the intervening years you can still get your car (or tractor) repaired in the village.

St Mary’s Isolation Hospital on Montilo Lane closed in 1948 and reopened the following year as the maternity unit of St Cross Hospital, a role it fulfilled until 1983.  Today it is a nursing home occupying a commanding location overlooking the village and across the River Swift to Churchover.

The village school was built in 1845 and educated the children of the parish for over 150 years before closing in 1996 with its role taken up by an enlarged primary school in Monks Kirby.  However, the buildings were reopened as a nursery in 1997 and today Early Birds is the foundation stage of The Revel School.

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