Kirkby Mallory – Short History of our Village.

by | Mar 6, 2023

Our village of Kirkby Mallory is located approximately 8 miles southwest of the city of Leicester.   With links back to medieval times, connections to Lord Byron one of the most flamboyant and notorious English Romantic poets. His daughter Ada Lovelace, the mathematical genius; alongside the iconic Mallory Park race track, for a small village we are quite an interesting place.

Medieval Times

Kirkby Mallory is situated on an old Roman road, connecting Leicester to Watling Street.  Watling street is now known as the A5 and was the Roman arterial road from London to North Wales. The name Kirkby Mallory originates from the Malory (or Mallorre) family who owned the land back in the early 12th century during the reign of King Stephen. It’s thought the family originated from France and possibly came over with William the Conquer.  The Mallory family was connected to the village for many generations.

St Mary of the Meadows ownership.

During the reign of King Edward III in 1361, the ownership of the village was transferred to the Abbey of Saint Mary de Pratis (St Mary of the Meadows) in Leicester. With the manor being sold to William Clowne the Abbot.  The village was under the control of the Abbey for 176 years until the dissolution of the monasteries.  In 1538 under the orders of King Henry VIII the abbey was destroyed.  The lands and wealth were confiscated by the crown, the village included.  Rather interestingly some of the Abbey foundations were excavated in the 1920/30’s, which exposed how impressive Leicester Abbey was. You can explore the ruins at Abbey Park Leicester.

Battle of Bosworth

With Kirkby Mallory being located on the old Roman road leading to Leicester it is highly probable that shortly after 22 August 1485 the Body of Richard III, would have travelled through Kirkby Mallory on the way to Leicester.  The famous ‘Battle of Bosworth’ marked the end of the War of the Roses, with Richard III’s death and Henry VII’s being proclaimed King. We highly recommend a visit to the famous Battle of Bosworth field site during your stay or why not try out our local walk too?

Noel Family

In 1541 King Henry VIII granted the lordship of Kirkby Mallory to Thomas Harvey, a local wealthy landowner. Upon his and his wife’s death, it was inherited by his granddaughter Anne Fowler. Anne went on to marry John Noel the son of Andrew Noel, Sherrif of Rutland and started the village connection to the Noel family, which lasted for over 370 years.

Byron and Lovelace connection

It is through the Noel family that the connection with Augusta Ada Byron later to be known as Ada Lovelace and Kirkby Mallory arises.  Ada spent much of her early childhood at Kirkby Hall with her grandmother, you can find out more about her here.

Kirkby Hall

Kirkby Hall was built in the 17th century by the Noel Family, it was situated within approximately 160 acres of land.  The Hall consisted of an inner hall, a ballroom, a library with secret doorways, a billiard room and a smoking room.  To the rear of the hall were servants’ halls, a kitchen, a plate room, a distillery room, 2 larders, china and housemaids cupboards and a boot hole.  The cellars housed the wine, beer and minerals.  The first floor had 15 large bedrooms all with a dressing room. The second floor and attic had a total of 15 rooms for male and female servants.  A 1696 rent roll described Kirkby Hall as:  ‘A mansion house with spacious fine gardens and orchard and belonging to it a very fine wood.  A large park very well wooded and stored with deer.’
Mallory Meadows HQ, our home, was once the gamekeeper’s cottage for the Kirkby Hall estate.

Church of All Saints

The Church of All Saints is a beautiful grade II listed 13th-century building located next to Mallory Meadows.  Do pop in if the church is open and you have time for a visit. Look out for the Jacobean choir stalls and the wrought iron communion rail, dating back to 1615.  The addition of a new chamber to the north to house the organ, and the redesigned west arch and window took place in 1888.

Mallory Park

Mallory Park race track started off as a temporary military base, during WWII RAF Kirkby Mallory was used as a relief landing ground. The grass runways were used to disperse aircraft when air raids were imminent at RAF Desford.  Occasionally RAF Kirkby Mallory was used for night flying practice using gooseneck flares.  Kirkby hall was used as billets for military personnel, in 1947 the base closed, and sadly the buildings were left in a state of disarray.

After several years of neglect and decay in 1952 Kirkby hall was demolished leaving just the stable block and coach house standing. These buildings still stand today, are used as race track offices, and have Grade II listed status.

The grounds of Kirkby hall were transformed into a pony trotting circuit and in 1955. The estate was bought by a local building company that created the Mallory Park Circuit and landscape that can be seen today.

We have many interesting grade II listed buildings in our village too, check out our Village walking loop post to take a closer look.