Knaptoft

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Knaptoft is a civil parish in the Harborough district of Leicestershire, England, with a population of around 50. It is also a deserted village in this parish. Knaptoft is just off the A5199 near Husbands Bosworth. Knaptoft House Farm is a nearby bed and breakfast and stud farm. The medieval fish ponds were restored from 1976 to 1982 and are now run commercially.

History[edit]

The village was deserted in the 17th century, and the only visible remains are some farm buildings and a ruined parish church. It is recorded in the Domesday Book as Cnapetot. Cnape could refer to either a personal name, or derive from either the Old Norwegian word Knappr meaning a hilltop or the Old English word Cnap meaning a young servant boy (Old Norse Knapi). Toft is believed to derive from the Old Scandinavian toft which means homestead.

In 1301 the village was known to comprise a manor, a windmill, 2 fish ponds and 20 tenants. By 1624 only the manor and 5 labourers remained. The depopulation was due to the enclosure of the land for sheep pasture, which required less labour.

The present day farmhouse Knaptoft Hall Farm is thought to be on the site of the old manor. The manor was held by the Horton family from 1279 to 1761. The first of this line was Henry de Horton who became a free tenant in 1279 and built the manor next to the church. The manor was demolished in 1761 and a new house built on the site.

The Church of Saint Nicholas is now roofless but still contains headstones and the stone font. It is thought to have been sacked and destroyed by Oliver Cromwell's Roundhead forces after the Battle of Naseby in June 1645 whilst in pursuit of the fleeing defeated Royalist army. Certainly a skirmish occurred here, confirmed by archaeological finds. The church is said to be haunted. Church services are still held at the church at 3pm on the third Sunday of June, July, August and September.

The ancient parish included the chapelries of Shearsby and Mowsley and the hamlet of Walton in Knaptoft, all of which became separate civil parishes in 1866.[1]

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Coordinates: 52°30′03″N 1°04′40″W / 52.50071°N 1.07778°W / 52.50071; -1.07778