Heritage and history of Harborough District

Celebrating heritage and history of Harborough District

Harborough is a district rich in history and heritage.  This is evident in the district’s buildings and spaces and through the stories of the people who lived and worked in them.

Harborough's unique places

Protection of the historic environment is widely recognised for the contribution it makes to the country’s quality of life, cultural capital and economic well-being.  The district has a number of Scheduled Monuments, 6 Registered Parks and Gardens and 62 designated Conservation Areas.  The Grand Union Canal in the area has also been separately designated as a Conservation Area.

Conservation Areas protect the nation’s unique, local heritage.  They contain features and characteristics which make them unique, locally distinctive, historic places.  The concept of ‘Conservation Areas’ was first introduced by the Civic Amenities Act 1967 which defined a conservation area as ‘an area of special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance.’  Designation of a Conservation Area recognises the character of an area worthy of preservation and enhancement and ensures the safeguarding of the best of our local heritage as represented by both the buildings and the ambient environment, i.e.: the spaces between and around buildings when viewed as a whole.  Each area contains a variety of elements which combine to create its significance.  More information on the management of conservation areas in order to retain their local uniqueness is available here

Local List of Non-Designated Heritage Assets

Within the Harborough District there are 1281 Listed Buildings, 6 Historic Parks & Gardens, 65 Scheduled Monuments and 63 Conservation Areas; all of which are designated heritage assets and protected through national legislation.  However, there are many other heritage assets of architectural, historic or archaeological interest within the District that do not meet the strict criteria for national designation, but nonetheless make a significant contribution to the historic environment.  These can be recognised through the inclusion within a Local List of Non-Designated Heritage Assets.

Local Lists play an essential role in building and reinforcing a sense of local character and distinctiveness in the historic environment, as part of the wider range of designation. They enable the significance of any building or site on the list to be better considered in planning applications affecting the building or site or its setting.  This is a list of heritage assets within the Harborough district that the Council has identified as worthy of protection because of their historic, architectural or archaeological interest.  The entries currently detailed in this document are merely a snapshot in time.  This is not an exhaustive list as other non-designated heritage assets are listed in individual Neighbourhood Plans or are included on the Leicestershire and Rutland Historic Environment Record.  At present this list does not cover all asset types or all parishes within the district.  This is an evolving list to which nominations are welcomed. The Local List of Non-Designated Heritage Assets for Harborough District includes details of the entries included as at March 2023, how to nominate heritage assets and the selection criteria for inclusion on the list.

Celebrating people of Harborough - Leicestershire County Council Green Plaque Awards

The people who have lived and worked in the area also contribute to its unique history.  To celebrate the relationship between people and place, famous people who have lived and worked in the district are recognised with Green Plaques awarded through the Leicestershire County Scheme.

Brigadier-General James Lochhead Jack - Awarded the Distinguished Service Order 

Born in 1880, James Jack fought in the Boer war and fought on the frontline for the entire duration of WWI.  He recorded his experiences in a trench diary, since published under the title General Jack’s Diary. After WWI, he lived in Kibworth where during WWII, he helped set up a local Home Guard. Location: Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt

William Henry Bragg - Nobel Prize winner for Physics

Born in 1862 and raised by his uncle in Market Harborough, William Henry Bragg shared the Nobel Prize for Physics with his son William for their analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays. The mineral Braggite is named after them. Location: The Square, Market Harborough

Sir Frank Whittle - Inventor of the Jet Engine  

Born in 1907, Sir Frank Whittle was a pioneering aeronautical engineer whose invention – the jet engine - created a revolution in air travel. He worked with Power Jets Ltd at Lutterworth from 1938-1948 to develop the turbojet engine. Location: Ladywood Works, Lutterworth

John T. Kenney - Artist 

T. Kenney was the artist who between 1957 and 1962 illustrated six books in Reverend W. Awdry’s famous series, Thomas the Tank Engine.  His illustrations captured the image and personality of Thomas and his railway pals that endures to this day.  From Kibworth, Kenney was also a fine artist, painting mainly rural and sporting landscapes. Location: Kibworth Beauchamp

Reverend Dr William Pearson – Co-founder of the Royal Astronomical Society  

Born in 1767, Reverend Dr William Pearson was a pioneering astronomer and co-founder of the Royal Astronomical Society.  Appointed Rector of South Kilworth in 1817, he lived there and carried out decades of astronomical observations from 1821 until his death in 1847. Location: Old Rectory, South Kilworth

Jack Gardner - Heavyweight boxing champion of Great Britain. 

Born in Market Harborough in 1926, Jack Gardner began his boxing career whilst serving as a Grenadier Guard in the British Army.  He won the Amateur Boxing Association Heavyweight title in 1948, representing Great Britain in the Olympic Games the same year.  Gardner began his career as a professional boxer on 12 December 1948 in a novice tournament, winning all of his fights by knockout in the first round. In November 1950 he became Heavyweight Champion of Great Britain.  He retired at the age of 29 with a record 28 wins, 23 by knockout.  Location: The Memorial Gardens, Market Harborough

Local History Groups

Many Harborough residents are actively involved in research, discovery and conservation of the District.

Contact details for local history societies throughout Leicestershire can be found here:  http://www.local-history.co.uk/Groups/leics.html

In addition to this list the following local groups offer a programme of talks and tours which focus on our local history and heritage:

Local Museums

There are a number of local museums within the district at places including Hallaton, Fleckney, Foxton Locks, Lutterworth and Market Harborough.