on Harby History
About 50 to 400 AD 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.
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".
1086 Domesday Book is compiled for William the Conqueror. It is written in Latin and is the first record about Harby. When translated this is what it says.
In the Wapentake of Framland
For more details of Robert of Tosny click here
About 1200 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. Click to go to more details about these.
1816 The Ordnance Survey produced a 2 inches to the mile map of Leicestershire which includes Harby. The original is in the British Library and can be seen online on
1827 The present Harby Church of England Primary School began from the initiative of the National Society for Promoting Religious Education in the whole of the country. It was founded by the Rector about 1827, the exact date is not recorded, with the land given by the Duke of Rutland. The trade directory for 1846 tells us that the school master then was William Burnham. The 1851 census records the school master as William Chandler, his wife Emma being the school mistress.
1828 The windmill is built by the Grantham canal near Colston Bridge of brick with seven storeys.
1831 A "population formula" or census of Harby is conducted by Mr Stevenson, local Harby man. It gives a population of 488. Click here to see all the pages
1832 William Cobbet wrote that Harby had 457 inhabitants.
1836 The Granary is built which you can still see by the canal and mill.
The Duke and
Duchess of St Albans are married in Harby Church on May 29th. The Times
reported this on page 7 of the Friday 31 May issue 1839:
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.
1843 The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales (1840 - 1843) tells us:- "HARBY, a parish in the hundred of Framland, union of Melton Mowbray, county of Leicester; 8 miles north of Melton Mowbray, and intersected by the Nottingham and Grantham canal. Living, a rectory, formerly in the archdeaconry of Leicester and diocese of Lincoln, now in the diocese of Peterborough ; rated at £20; gross income £497. Patron in 1835, the duke of Rutland. There is a daily school here. Charities, in 1836, £13 16s. per annum. Poor rates, in 1838, £196 10s. Acres 2,800. Houses 96. A. P. £2,566. Population in 1801, 343; in 1831, 488."
1846 Click here for an account of the village from White's directory in 1846. During the previous two years 49 of the parish had emigrated to Australia, & etc. There are three public house, the Nag's Head, White Hart and Marquis of Granby. The population is 629 souls.
1850 Click here for an account of Harby up to 1850 written by an inhabitant.
1851 The national census records many young girls working making lace in their homes in the village.
1853 A map was drawn up of the parish of Harby showing the land belonging to the Rector. It was removed from where it has hung for many years on the church wall in 2008 because it was decided the location might lead to the deterioration of the map due to damp. It has been deposited on loan along with other parish church material in the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland where it has undergone conservation. The identification number there is DE 7663.
1854 Melville's directory gives an account of the village, click here.
1855 The Post Office directory gives a description of the village, click here. There are three public houses, the Nag's Head, White Hart and Marquis of Granby.
1860 The present Harby School is built at a cost of nearly £1000, raised by subscription and grants, to hold 120 children. The conveyance document says that the land was “given by me (Duke of Rutland) as Lord of the Manor as and for a site for a school for the said parish on or about the year 1827 but of which no conveyance has ever been executed”. The document goes on to state that the new building is – “to be used as and for a school for the education of children and adults or children only of the labouring manufacturing and other poor classes in the parish of Harby”. There was a new certificated school master, Henry Major, aged 23, born in Folkestone.
1861 Drake's directory gives an account of the village, click here. There are three public houses, the Nag's Head, White Hart and Marquis of Granby. William Watchorn runs the Marquis of Grandby and the census tells us that it was "near Stathern Road".
1863 William White directory says that there were 655 inhabitants, click here. There are three public houses, the Nag's Head, White Hart and Marquis of Granby.
1868 S Furmidge writes to his uncle W Hardy Esq., George Town, America. Click to read the letter.
1870 Harrod's directory gives an account of the village, click here. The population of the village is about 550. There are three public houses, the Nag's Head, White Hart and Marquis of Granby.
1871 the census of 1871 gave the population of the village as 539. Click here for details. The census tells us that the Marquis of Granby was run by William Medley and it was positioned on Stathern Road. People are entered as working producing lace, click here for more details.
1875 Barker's directory gives a description of the village, click here. It appears that the Marquis of Granby public house had closed at it is no longer mentioned here or in any later directories. The building was altered into two cottages, now a private house number 42 Stathern Lane.
1876 The church underwent extensive restoration, click here for details.
1876 The Post Office directory gives a description of the village, click here.
1877 for a description of the village by White in 1877 click here see also the website at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~framland/Ag/maps/harby.htm.
1879 The railway opened.
1880 The incline tramway opened bringing ironstone from the Eastwell quarry down Harby Hill.
1880 Wright's directory gives an account of the village, click here.
1881 Kelly's directory gives an account of the village, click here. The census records a population of 591 some of whom are employed on the railway.
1885 - 1902 Over these years Francis James King-King kept diaries of the hunting he did. These diaries have been donated to Melton Museum and they are being digitized and transcribed by the museum staff and volunteers. The pages are to be seen on
The Museum has kindly provided the dates in the diaries transcribed so far when Francis was hunting around Harby: -
1887 – 26th November, 3rd December, 7th April
If you are interested in joining as a volunteer this kind of work the Museum is doing please contact the Museum on firstname.lastname@example.org.
1887 Wright's directory gives an account of the village, click here. The population is over 610.
1892 Wright's directory gives an account of the village, click here.
1897 The school was thriving and here is a photograph of the pupils and teachers. Click on the photo for the full size image, and please be patient while it opens.
1899 Wright's directory gives and account of Harby, click here.
1891 The census records a population of 652
1900 Ironstone mining took place along Harby Hills at Eaton and Eastwell and to the south from 1882 to 1962. websites giving information are
1904 Harby St Mary’s Church, seen from the east. Click on the picture to see the full size image. From an old postcard kindly loaned by Neil Cunnington. The vestry extension on the left of the photograph was built the year before and a new organ installed at the same time. The postcard was sent to Netherfield in Nottingham at 5 pm on 26 June 1909.
1906 This map of 1906 shows the extent of the parish. Click here.
1907 HARBY SCHOOL IN 1907. The School was built in 1860. The spire on the front of the building is gone now and there is an extension. This postcard was posted in Harby at 5.15 pm on 17 August 1910 to Nottingham . From a postcard in the collection of Neil Cunnington.
1908 Kelly's directory gives and account of Harby, click here.
1909 Click here for some details of the Methodist chapel in 1909.
1910 Click here for an account of life on the canal around this time.
1911 The census records a population of 605.
1914 – 1918 Nineteen young men of Harby were killed in the First World War.
1916 Kelly's directory gives an account of Harby, click here.
1925 Kelly's directory gives and account of Harby, click here. The Men's Instiute was opened, later called the Village Hall.
1927 The Women's Institute began. A long account is published of Stilton cheese and Harby. Click here for a reprinted version.
1928 Kelly's Directory, click here, tells us there were 9 farmers, 9 graziers and only one of the farms was over 50 acres. There were 2 cheese manufacturers, 5 tradesmen, 2 publicans, 7 retailers and a carrier who had an omnibus and sold coal. Four people in the village had a car. The population was about 625 men, women and children.
After the first world war of 1914 - 1918 war the old cross was reused as a memorial to the 19 people from Harby who had given their lives. Click on the small picture for the full size view about 1920. Since this picture was taken the names of the two people from Harby who died in the second world war have been added. Houses have been built behind the cross.
A memorial plaque was put up in the Methodist chapel, now on the west wall of the building used now as the Valley Christian Fellowship. Click here for details.
1932 Kelly's directory gives and account of Harby, click here.
1936. Dot, the oldest pony in the world, which lived in Harby, died on 14 September. Click here for an account.
1936 The canal closed. Kelly's directory gives an account of Harby , click here.
1937 The coronation celebrations are a startling success. Click here to read the account.
1938 Harby windmill goes out of use.
1939-45 Two young men of Harby were killed in World War II.
Langar airfield built in the Second World War. Click
for an account.
1944. Great activity was observed around June 6th on Langar airfield for D Day although nobody knew till later what was happening. Click here to read a poem written about it at the time.
1950 The Illustrated Leicester Chronicle publishes and article on Harby, click here.
1952 The Royal Canadian Airforce came to Langar airfield.
1956 Mr Kemp is recorded talking about life in Harby, Clck on this link to hear the recording http://sounds.bl.uk/View.aspx?item=021M-C0908X0056XX-0500V0.xml#. Click here for a transcript of the words.
1957 The Leicester Advertiser publishes an article on Harby. Click here
1960 Railway closed. Incline tramway bringing ironstone from the Eastwell quarry down Harby Hill closed.
1963 The New Rectory is built. The Canadian airforce left Langar.
1964 The Guardian Journal publishes an article on Harby and cheese making, click here to read it.
1968 AV Roe left Langar airfield.
1969 The Leicester Advertiser publishes an article on Harby, click here.
1973 An article is published in the Leicester Advertiser on Harby School. Click here.
1976 An article is published in the Leicester Advertiser on the village and the possible new coal mine, click here. Click here for magazine articles on the possible coal mine and farming in the village, especially egg and cheese production.
1977 The St Ivel cheese factory in Harby opened. Click here for an account of Stilton cheese.
1979 The talk of a coal mine at Harby continue and is included in the account of Harby in 1979, click here. The mine was eventually put at Asfordby.
1983 Pat O'Brien, the District Nurse, retires. Click here for a newspaper account of her working life.
1984 The Nottingham Evening Post publishes article on Harby, click here.
1986 The original Domesday record was made in 1086. You can read the Harby entry toward the top of this page. In 1986 the BBC launched an ambitious project to record a snapshot of everyday life across the UK for future generations, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/domesday.
Harby School second and third year pupils wrote the entries for Harby in 1986, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/domesday/dblock/GB-472000-330000. The text is also brought together on this website, click here. The text is copyright BBC.
1999 The Melton Local Plan was produced. It included a description of Harby click here.