The historic county boundary between Leicestershire and Derbyshire is the River Mease, which runs through the village, with the village centre being on the southern (Derbyshire side), forming part of an exclave of Derbyshire.. Donisthorpe together with Measham and Oakthorpe became part of Leicestershire in 1897 when administrative counties were set up.
In 1086, Donisthorpe was part of the land given to Nigel of Stafford by William the Conqueror. It was then known as Durandestorp which has been interpreted as 'the outlying settlement associated with Durand'.
From: A Topographical Dictionary of England, published by S Lewis, London, 1848.
DONISTHORPE, an ecclesiastical district, in the union of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, partly in the parish of Nether Seal, W. division of the hundred of Goscote, N. division of the county of Leicester, and partly in the parishes of Church-Gresley, Measham, and Stretton-en-le-Fields, hundred of Repton and Gresley, S. division of the county of Derby, 3½ miles (S. W.) from Ashby-de-la-Zouch; containing about 1700 inhabitants, of whom 344 are in the hamlet of Donisthorpe. The district includes Oakthorpe and Moira; the Moira baths are celebrated for the cure of rheumatism, and there is a convenient hotel for the accommodation of visiters. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Bishop of Lichfield; net income, £150, with a parsonage-house. The impropriate tithes of Donisthorpe have been commuted for £87. The church, dedicated to St. John, was built and endowed in 1838, at an expense of £6000, chiefly by three maiden ladies of the name of Moore; it is a neat edifice, with a tower and pinnacles. A national school was built in 1840, by Sir John Cave Browne Cave, Bart., by whom, also, it is supported
From: Kelly's Directory of Leicestershire & Rutland (1899)
DONISTHORPE is a parish, formed in 1838, from the civil parishes of Church Gresley, Measham and Stretton-en-le-Field, and Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Seal, in Leicestershire, with a station on the Ashby and Nuneaton joint line of the Midland and London and North Western railways, 3 miles south-west from Ashby-de-la-Zouch, 8 south-east from Burton-upon-Trent and 114 from London, in the Western division of the county, hundreds of Repton, Gresley and West Goscote, petty sessional division, union and county court district of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, rural deanery of Repton, archdeaconry of Derby and diocese of Southwell. Donisthorpe and Oakthorpe hamlets form a joint township in this ecclesiastical parish.
This parish, formerly in Derbyshire, was transferred to Leicestershire under the provisions of the “Local Government (England and Wales) Act, 1888,” by the counties of Derby and Leicester (Woodville &c.) Order, which came into operation Sept. 30, 1897.
The church of St. John the Evangelist, erected in 1838, is a building of grey sandstone in the Perpendicular style, consisting of nave, west porch and an embattled western tower, with pinnacles, containing a clock and one bell: the nave was restored in 1889—90, and further restorations were effected in 1891, at a total cost of £700, and again in 1898: there are 500 sittings, 200 being free. The register dates from the year 1838. The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £214, including 17 acres of glebe, with residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Southwell, and held since 1885 by the Rev. Edward Bertram Lavies Theol. Assoc. K.C.L. Here are two Primitive Methodist chapels. A cemetery, containing 1 ½ acres was opened in 1875, and is under the control of the Parish Council of Oakthorpe and Donisthorpe and Urban District Council of Moira. There is a colliery, worked by Messrs. Checkland, Son and Williams, and the brewery of G. and W. F. Cooper. The principal landowners are the trustees of the late Lord Donington (d. 1895), Sir Mylles Cave-Brown-Cave bart. of Stretton-en-le-Field, the trustees of the late William Turner, Messrs. W. F. Cooper, S. Greaves, Drewry and some small freeholders. The soil is mixed; subsoil, chiefly clay. The chief crops are wheat, barley and oats. The area is 1,785 acres of land and 20 of water; rateable value, including Oakthorpe, £6,671; the population of the township in 1891 was 1,678, and of the parish 2,955.
National School (mixed), erected in 1830, for 82 children; average attendance, 82.
Wesleyan School (mixed), erected in 1875 & enlarged in 1894, for 142 children; average attendance, 130.
A Primitive Methodist Chapel was built in 1852 and the Ordnance Survey map of 1884 shows one just north of the Engine Inn, the Mount Zion Chapel that was demolished in 2003. By 1908 there were two Primitive Methodist Chapels together with a Wesleyan chapel.
58 New Street was assessed in 1993 as being a late 17th Century timber framed thatched house. The house was badly damaged by fire in May 2011.
Donisthorpe Hall is early 18th Century and Grade II listed.
The Grange, 69 Church Street was though to date from 1761 with early 19th Century additions. However, a survey in 2010 showed the building was built in the early 18th Century not 1761 as shown on the rainwater head and it has a fireplace dating from 1690-1730. It is listed as a Grade II building.
When the colliery was in operation the village had 14 shops, 2 Post Offices and 5 Public Houses. Shops included a Coop Store (now the Scout Centre), a VG store, 2 Butchers, a Baker, general store/ grocer, a betting shop and a chip shop. All have disappeared since the closure of the pit. The village now has a church of fairly regular use (Sundays and occasional midweek meetings), 1 shop (opened in 2014), 2 pubs and DM's. DM's is the Donisthorpe Miners' Welfare Centre, which was closed during 2005. It is now used as a children's fun centre called "Jungle Madness".
The population of the village leans far more heavily now towards commuting professionals.
Donisthorpe was served by the Ashby and Nuneaton Joint Railway which opened a station near Church Street in a very deep cutting including three arch bridges. The line also had sidings to the colliery at Donisthorpe.
The station allowed passenger travel to Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Moira, Burton-Upon-Trent, Nuneaton, Hinckley and Coalville until 13 April 1934 when the line was closed to passengers. The line remained open to goods traffic until 1971, when the section from Measham to Shackerstone was closed by British Rail. The stub as far as Measham via Donisthorpe remained open to serve the colliery until 1981 when the stub near Overseal Junction was closed and lifted.
The site was still traceable after closure of the stub but has since been filled in and forms a footpath from Moira to Spring Cottage via Donisthorpe and Moira.
The village was also home to the Donisthorpe Colliery, one of the many to fall victim to the decimation of the coal mining industry. The pit closed in 1991, and the character of the village has changed radically over the last decade. At the time of the closure it was very much a 'mining village', with a strong but insular sense of community and 4 local shops (including a post office). The shops proceeded to close one by one, and the former mine site was developed into a housing estate. The colliery site has since become the Donisthorpe woodland park.
Sites of former employment in Donisthorpe (other than the pit) include a shoe factory and brickyard (Brick works chimney).
St John the Evangelist Church
Erected in 1938 it lies within the Parish of Donisthorpe and Moira with Stretton-en-le-Field, Archdeaconry of Loughborough in the Diocese of Leicester. It is listed as a Grade II Building.
Church Hall opposite, was donated to the village by Sir John Cave and was originally the village school.. It was later converted into the church hall, subsequently it fell into disrepair and was sold. The current owner is refurbishing and remodelling the building into a private house.
Further signs of the departing heart of the old community came with the departure of the vicar of St John's Church in 2006. It was announced there would be no permanent replacement, with the vicarage being sold, whilst the church hall has now been condemned. The Church is now part of a team ministry based in the nearby village of Measham. The erstwhile vicar Alan has moved to Thringstone Whitwick and Swannington where he has continued the vicaring career.
Donisthorpe War Memorial
The Donisthorpe Memorial Park was opened in as a War Memorial on 17 April 1920 by John Turner, High Sheriff of Leicstershire. The War Memorial Gateway was erected around 1922 (with additions for WWII), the Gateway is a Grade II listed building.
The cemetery is registered with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as having casualties (9 in total) from both WWI and WWII.
Donisthorpe Football Club
Donisthorpe also has 2 Sunday league Mens football teams (1st team & reserves) and play their home games at Ramscliffe Avenue. Founded in 2009 they currently play in the Burton & District Sunday Football League. Kick Off times are 10:30am and fixtures and results can be found on their Facebook or Instagram pages.
From the Football Club History Database (www.fchd.info):
1935-36 Joined Leicestershire League
1937-38 Results of two games not traced
1938-39 Leicestershire League Champions
1939-40 Peacetime season abandoned League reverted to title Leicstershire Senior League withdrew during wartime season, record expunged.
- The Domesday Book
- GENUKI page
- Donisthorpe Colliery - Northern Mine Research Society
- Donisthorpe Colliery History - I A Recordings
- St John the Evangelist Church - Historic England Listings
- Donisthorpe War Memorial Gateway - Historic England Listings
- Donisthorpe Hall - Historic England Listings
- The Grange - Historic England Listings
- 58 New Street - Historic England Listings
- Donisthorpe Cemetery - Common Wealth Graves Commission(GB)
- Donisthorpe Methodist Chapels - My Primitive Methodists
- Donisthorpe Brickworks - Leicestershire Industrial History Society
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