Volunteer-led walk

VCH volunteers visit Sileby

Leicestershire VCH volunteers met at St Mary’s church in Sileby on 17 June for our annual guided walk, led by VCH volunteer Eric Wheeler. Anyone who has travelled on the train between London and Nottingham has passed through Sileby, as the main line bisects the village, but few purposely visit. W.G. Hoskins, in the Shell guide to Leicestershire, described it as ‘one of the unloveliest villages one could find anywhere … red brick, dreary’. Yet, as the photograph shows, there are also timber-framed houses (with later timber additions) and walls built from Charnwood 'granite'. Once you scratch beneath the surface, a fascinating history appears, and Eric’s keen interest and deep knowledge of the history of this village were apparent. The physical form and character of Sileby were shaped by the pattern of land ownership before the railway appeared. Lacking strong lordship and with no dominant landowner, squatters’ cottages stood on the manorial waste (now replaced by permanent houses on the original footprint, creating a curious street plan), nonconformity prospered and factories and workshops grew up alongside houses. If you want to know more, you will need to wait until the VCH entry is written, but in the words of one of the volunteers who joined the walk, ‘I hadn't realised that Sileby was so interesting, as it is a place that we have only really passed by on the way to somewhere else.’