Ivanhoe Ashby de la Zouch U3A U3A Group Logo

The History Group

Leader:  Jane Harris - history@ashbyu3a.co.uk - phone 01530 838025

Any U3A member is welcome at our meetings.

All meetings with speakers will be held at Packington Memorial Hall.
Doors open for Packington meetings at 2pm, with a start as soon as possible after that, hopefully by 2.10pm.

Details of visits will be advised closer to the time.
The following dates have been arranged, but may be subject to changes which will be announced on a rolling monthly basis.

Future programme

Thu 26th Sep2:00 pmPackington Hall. Stephen Flinders - 'The Old Curiousity Box'
Thu 24th Oct2:00 pmPackington Hall. Janet - 'A History of the World from the bottom up'
Thu 28th Nov TBA'Tissington Hall at Christmas'

Thursday 22nd August

1620's House, Donington le Heath

29 members turned up for a fascinating tour of the 1620's House.

It was a very pleasant day, and after an introductory talk on the history of the House we were split up. Half went off round the gardens, whilst the other half was further split into two for simultaneous tours of the buildings.

The house was founded in the late 13th century, although the present configuration and fittings are aligned with early 17th century practices. The property has, however, been through many changes, both in ownership and condition over the decades, including one spell as a pig sty! It is now run by Leicestershire County Council.

The main house is on two floors, with the ground floor divided into a scullery and a parlour. Originally these two rooms would have been used by the staff to prepare meals, do laundry and such like, but later tenants separated the spaces and inserted much bigger windows to make the main room useable by the family. There was originally a fireplace in the scullery, which is suggested by a chimney in an old engraving, but is no longer there. There was a third floor, evidence for which is windows in the gable ends and the roof, also showing in an old engraving. The floor was taken away to reveal the full glory of the magnificent roof timbers and the craftsmen's marks for assembling the timbers.

The upper floor is also in two parts: one is a room about the same size as the scullery beneath it, but kept empty. The dividing wall has been constructed by English Heritage to show the methods of construction, and the wattle and daub infilling. The other is fitted out very pleasantly as the Family room with a table with removable top, and children's games, sewing and spinning facilities and everything the family needed for all its daily round.

Attached to the building are two wings at right angles. On the first floor of each wing is a bedroom, one of which is a rare separate Master bedroom, with a fire exit using an oversized original door, possibly giving onto a long-gone tower room. The other bedroom is a corridor room sharing a common access with the study of the Master at the time, Mr James Digby. The study seems to have doubled as a clandestine chapel, at a time when this could have brought serious trouble on the family. The corridor bedroom holds a four poster bed which is supposed to have been the one Richard III slept in, in the Blue Boar Inn, before Bosworth. The ground floor rooms of the extensions are given over to the pantry/Buttery and the dairy.

Our tour guide was excellent, giving us a clear view of life at the time, both for the Family and the staff.

The garden tour was a real contrast, as the gardens are laid out in separate sections, each given over to different types of plants, mainly herbal in nature. The gardeners among us had a marvellous time talking over the various plants and their uses.

Finally, we were ushered into the cafe for a cream tea (extra cost!) which included a scone, butter,jam and a cuppa with a generous slice of cake to boot. Or take home as many did!

A lovely day out at a wonderful local gem.

Earlier history meeting