Focus on Goadby Marwood
Peace and quiet of tiny hamlet rarely disturbed
Leicestershire Advertiser Friday July 15th, 1977
Driving between the Wolds Hills and down along the winding road to the main street of Goadby Marwood one immediately senses the almost eerie silence of the tiny hamlet.
Such peace and quiet is hardly surprising as most of the residents are commuters who work in neighbouring Melton Mowbray.
The only sign of life in the village situated a few miles from Waltham-on-the Wolds, comes from local dairy farm The Laurels, and one is so taken aback by the sudden noise from the whirring tractors and men’s voices that unless you are sharp to notice what is ahead your car hits a muddy track and heads for a field.
The only main road into Goadby is also the only main road out.
In 1831 there were more than 171 inhabitants and 37 houses. The population in the tiny agricultural community is now a mere 90.
All the cottage craftsmen, including a family of carpenters who did much of the wood carving in Goadby Marwood Church in the 1700s, have long since died.
The only sign of industry in the once prosperous village is the now-disused Goadby ironstone quarry, mined for many years by Eastwell Iron Ore Company, which provided employment for the men of Goadby.
Archaeologists descended on it just after the second world war, when two skeletons and a hoard of more than 2,000 coins dating back to the Roman Civilisation were uncovered in several ancient stone pits covering more than 30 acres.
The Leicestershire Museum and Leicestershire Archaeologists Society were called into investigate and also unearthed a mass of Roman pottery and trinkets.
There are no shops or pubs in Goadby Marwood. Apart from a small post office and a newsagents, there are few other village amenities.
The post office would go unnoticed in a larger village, yet this tiny cottage is a focal point for the community.
It has been run by 82-year-old Mrs. Sara Pizer for more than 46 years and, with her daughter-in-law Helen, she provides a vital service.
The laurels farm has been owned by the Woolley family for more than 30 years and their land extends to surrounding villages.
Strange, almost unearthly, noises come from one of the out-buildings. But there is no need for alarm.
Cages of brightly coloured and white peacocks - a hobby of farmer’s daughter Pat - are there.
Close to the farmhouse a small chapel-like building hides between thick bushes and the green foliage of trees.
Used until a few years ago as the village school, the building which is more than 100 years old, is now used as the community centre.
A recent achievement of the villagers was a fund-raising drive to provide toilets in the tiny hall.
Mrs. Eva Lambert was born and bred in Goadby and lives in one of the attractive ironstone cottages so typical of buildings in the village.
“There has been little change to Goadby in my lifetime,” she says. “ Except for the new houses at the other end of the village, the scene has probably not altered for centuries.
“Of course, the residents commute to and from work in Melton. The main employment used to be at Goadby’s quarry which closed about 20 years ago.
“Communication with surrounding villages and Melton Mowbray has only increased over the past few years, said Mrs. Lambert.
“The bus service has improved from one or two buses a week to a couple a day and such luxuries as mains water and electricity have also only recently been installed in the village.”
This rather harsh way of life does not seem to have done the villagers any harm. “We have many residents in their eighties and nineties who have lived here all their lives and they are still going strong,” she said.
Standing in an isolated position surrounded by more than 200 acres of beautiful rolling gardens and pasture land is Goadby Marwood Hall. Built to an early Georgian design, it has been the home of Miss Monica Sheriffe, daughter of the late Captain R. T. O. Sheriffe, since 1922.
Three large ponds are sheltered by overhanging trees and are the homes of numerous ducks.
An inscription in the church indicates that the sumptuous manor house was owned by the Villiers family of Brooksby in the late 16th century and by the Beaumont family before that.
Today the top floors are shut off. “Even so,” said Miss Sheriffe, “the house is very expensive to heat.” Passing through the large draughty rooms made me see, or rather feel, what she meant.
Miss Sheriffe’s passionate hobby for horses, and particularly racing, is obvious as we pass a staircase lined with trophies. Large pictures with a distinct equestrian flavour grace the elegant rooms.
The days when Goadby Hall was a well-known hunting box and accommodated hunts from the neighbourhood are over and racing is not carried on in its former style. But Miss Sheriffe still owns two race horses.
Proceeding back along the main street there is a familiar sight of the village church moulding itself into the rural scene. Fourteenth century St. Denys Church has a very sturdy appearance which reflects the solid spirit of the community.
Walking past the gravestone-lined path to the church door, a roughly written note pinned to the door catches the eye: “Please keep this door shut and the birds and bats out.”
Despite the vigilance of the villagers, strange squeaking and flutterings can be heard from the eaves.
There is little warmth in this austere church. The record of rectors dating back to 1300, lists a number of notable people. Among them is Dr. Edmund Cartwright, inventor of the power loom.
He was minister for six years from 1779 before moving to Doncaster where he changed his profession from wearing the cloth to actually making it.
Evidence of the historical background of the village, which appeared as Goutis By in the Domesday Book, can be seen on the church walls. Inscriptions such as “Near this tomb are deposited the remains of several members of the families of Maureward,
Beaumont and Villiers, who owned the Lordship of this parish in lineal decent from AD 1300 till 1680,” gives an indication of the powerful families who inhabited and owned Goadby in the past.